This is my typical day.
It's not totally in focus, it's not carefully framed or edited in any way. There is clutter along the edges and details I wish you couldn't see. It's also a snatched moment of joy and love, and I feel lucky to be able to say it's my life.
A dear friend of mine has been struggling lately with adjusting to life at home with her sweet little baby. I remember her telling me, when I was pregnant with Phoebe, that she dreamed of quitting her job and staying home with a baby of her own, making art in her studio all day while her darling daughter played happily beside her. I loved her hopefulness and her vision and I didn't want to tell her that it wouldn't ever be that way - because if there's one thing I have learned about motherhood, it's that everyone does it differently and there's no way to predict what it will look like for anyone - but I knew that, for me at least, that sweet dream was never going to be reality.
Being a mother to a preschooler and a toddler isn't everything I ever dreamed of, but that's in part because I never really knew what to dream it would be like. Every day I write my job description anew. And thinking of this as my full-time job - okay, one I don't get paid for, but my job nonetheless - makes it feel different, somehow. I'm not just a stay-at-home mom. I quit my day job to make this my day job. I "do what I love" - or at least I spend my day with what I love most in the world - and how many people get to say that?
I'm not the mom I pictured I might be. I don't have an immaculate house even though I thought I'd have one simply by being home all day (wouldn't that be nice - cleaning that is accomplished by being present near cleaning supplies? Sign me up for that direct-sales home party guest list!). I haven't started the graduate school courses I figured I'd be done with ages ago. I don't play violin and piano with an adoring audience sitting and listening to my practice sessions. My almost four-year-old can't write her letters yet and doesn't know how to bake a cake by herself, despite what all those little kids in France are supposedly able to do by now. No one is putting me on any magazine cover or interviewing me on any talk show or even featuring me in a blog or IG post. I'm not amazing at this in the way I pictured or hoped or dreamed I might be, back when I didn't really know what motherhood meant.
But I'm raising these two girls, and they love each other. Real love - best friend love, that is such a privilege to watch blossom and grow. We play pretend all day long. We read stories and go on hikes and make messes that we sometimes clean up. I have time to myself sometimes, now that I'm out of the infancy trenches, to make gifts for friends and go to book club meetings and sing in a choir and play board games with my husband late at night over big bowls of popcorn. It's really hard when I have days where I don't live up to my own expectations and I'm not the mom I want to be, and I admit to feeling pangs of jealousy when I see the amazing things my former colleagues accomplish. But this is what I'm able to accomplish right now. Actually, take away that "but." This is what I'm able to accomplish now. It's a quiet, cluttered, imperfect life, and I'm lucky that it's mine.