I matter to him.

“Maybe I just need to go back to work,” I said to my husband with a shrug. My sentence didn’t come out as a statement; the words fell into each other in a long sigh, like stale breath exhaled after being held too long. It was yet another conversation about tightening the budget, something we’ve done constantly since we decided that I would give being a stay at home a chance. I had never really realized how much we’d been spending, until I had given each dollar a careful examination before setting it free into the world. In truth, it was more than our budget. It went a lot deeper than that for me. It was a suggestion imploring to be closed, denied, and followed up with reassurance that I was doing the right thing by staying home.

I’ve always been insecure. Well, maybe not always, but since arriving at the age of breasts, periods, and bullying, my self-confidence was always at low tide. Today, I’m responsible 24/7 for our offspring, someone we waited and longed for, but suddenly made me insecure and depressed with his arrival.

The first months were easy. I never slept, instead running on love, joy, and adrenaline. I was all too happy to lose myself completely in motherhood. But now I constantly wonder if I made the right choice. Was it the right thing to stay at home? Can I even handle this? Am I doing a good job? Is he eating enough vegetables? How do you feed an infant vegetables, anyway, when most of them are choking hazards and he now refuses to eat purees?

Maybe I am looking for validation, something that makes me feel like I am doing something worthwhile, some physical evidence of my efforts well spent. The extra cash wouldn’t hurt either. In truth, maybe I am just looking to run away. It seems easier to sit at a desk all day than deal with a highly demanding baby: tantrums, nap time refusals, and poopy diapers are just the tip of the postpartum iceberg. Maybe, just maybe, my inner critic is right. “You can’t do this,” she often tells me, “you’re not good enough.” Whether it’s motherhood, my blog, or my choice to nap instead of doing something productive, she is always there to remind me of my inadequacies.

As I stand in the playroom, I half watch him play independently and half scroll through Twitter, jealously eyeing all the mothers who seem to have it all: happy kids, a self-made career, and most importantly, they seem to have showered that day. Unexpectedly, he looks up at me. I almost missed it, lost in the rabbit hole of social media. He looks me right in the eyes and a huge grin lights up his face. I find myself genuinely grin back at him. We hold each other’s gaze for a minute, and he turns back to his toys. The exchange didn’t last long, but it filled my heart to the brim.

Using no words he told me everything I needed to hear. I am a good mom. I am doing a good job. He is happy and loved. I might not matter anymore to my old coworkers. I might not matter to the blogosphere. My opinions might not count to anyone but our family. But my son doesn’t care. With no words he told me the one thing I needed to hear most, and that is that I matter to him.

10 thoughts on “I matter to him.

  1. From small number of weekends I was alone with my children when my wife was travelling, I learned that being a stay at home parent to small children is the hardest job in he world. But those grins make it all worthwhile!

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  2. Thank you for your post! It’s so beautifully written. I’m also a mama who decided to stay at home after working at a high power job. Society doesn’t recognize our accomplishments as a stay at home mom in the way that it should and I’ve often left feeling vulnerable and sad that I no longer have it all together. I wonder if I should do something, anything, just to have meaning to my life. When in reality, meaning is whenever my son smiles at me or when he plays peek a boo or comes over to give me a slobbering kiss.

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  3. Beautiful — and I feel you! Love your description of that gaze. I probably miss a few of those enormous pockets of love due to the social media hole, and it’s always good to be reminded.

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  4. You are where you are needed. If you ever decide you want to find outside employment, do it because YOU want to, or if you should really TRULY need the money (I know that it’s not always a choice for everyone). Don’t do it because you don’t know if you are spending your time wisely: you are. You are giving up those outside things to be focused on your son and your family and help it run efficiently, or on those bad days, to just bang the pipes with hammer to keep things going.

    Liked by 1 person

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