Yesterday when I was washing out the uneaten contents of the school lunch I packed her earlier that day, Cecile said to me, "I like Daddy more than I like you. He is better." I didn't crumple at the sink, silent tears joining the water going down the drain. Nor did I turn red-faced to my daughter and fire off a verbal catalogue of the many tedious, monotonousness things I do, of the many sacrifices I've made, of the identity crises I've suffered on her (and her sister's) behalf. Those were the screenplays on reel in my mind. Instead I reacted by just saying, simply, "Oh."
Maybe I wasn't completely caught off-guard. What little I know of Freud could have played a part in my cool neutrality. Maybe I, too, believe Jon just is, well, better than I am. He is at least more interesting than I am at this present moment in space and time. The mere fact he leaves for an office where work doesn't involve wiping noses and folding underwear (at least not in the literal sense, he would correct me), makes him far more mysterious, his work far more provocative than the predictable domestic responsibilities that consume my days.
The truth is, I'm tired. Lately I've been at battle with my former self, or my perception of what that former self was once. (I am a journalist! (I was a journalist?) This motherhood gig is merely a placeholder! I have a truer, deeper, creative self! Let me prove it to you by folding your boxers into origami swans!!) And this internal war is wearing on me. There are many afternoons when everything can seem like an impossibility. Unloading the dishwasher is impossible. Toast is impossible. (A blog post, written with clarity--impossible!) This maddens me because I am the one in this lean-in/lean-out conversation who has the luxury of choice, who has made the choice to stay home with our kids. And someday I will miss this monotony. I will miss the drippy noses and the dirty laundry because someday my kids will be grown and will not need me as they need me now (or as I tell myself they need me now). So I try to value this time, these chores, these small mental battles waged on a rainy Friday in June. I am trying to teach myself to miss what is not yet gone.