We all have that moment of weakness. When bedtime rolls around, I slowly survey my surroundings. I have nothing to show for the last 15 hours. I have no visible proof that would explain my exhaustion. No financial restitution for my aching limbs. In fact, instead of warm cuddle and hug of gratitude from my child, I was rewarded for my relentless efforts with kicks and screams.
In that dark moment, I feel like the weaker sex. I am not the breadwinner in my home. My ambitious to-do list boxes remain unchecked yet again. I did not clean out the cupboards like I had planned to do. I did not scrub the bathroom tiles. I did not cook a 3-course meal. With food bits littered around the high chair, milk spills on the counter top, and goldfish crackers and cheerios wedged in between couch cushions, the home is in worse condition than it was 15 hours ago.
But, then I come across an article like this, where a man describes his day as a stay-at-home dad. It’s slightly reassuring; I am not the weaker sex. It is not me, it is the job. A million recounts of what goes into a day’s work with small children can be written; and, it will still do no justice to the utterly chaotic ongoings. Every brain cell, muscle cell, and blood cell in my body is taxed to a point I never knew possible.
And, I have nothing to show for it.
At the end of a particularly bad day, when the nursery rhymes, shrieks, and cacophony of musical instruments are finally replaced with the lonely sound of my fork and knife scraping my dinner plate, the dreaded what if seeps into my thoughts.
What if I went back to work? Then, I would have something to show for a day’s work.
A pay cheque.
A tempting thought, yes. I visualize myself getting ready in the morning like I once did — dressing in decent clothes, wearing makeup, doing my hair, wearing heels. I grab my keys, and turn around to say goodbye.
Those big, beautiful, brown eyes.
I sit in silence for that moment and am very aware of my body’s physical response to that what if question. A single tear makes its way slowly down my cheek to my chin. It drips on to the corner of my dinner plate. With that single tear every brain, muscle, and blood cell, and every exhausted bone in my body miraculously heals; but, my exhaustion is replaced with an ache in my heart so deep I am clutching my chest to keep my body from collapsing.
I choose exhaustion. I happily choose exhaustion. Today, tomorrow, and as long as I possibly can.