Rachel Macy Stafford Stay at Home Parent

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Sometimes I find myself sitting behind the wheel of the car thinking,


Enough with the bickering.

Enough with the chauffeuring, the gas-guzzling, the bumper-to-bumper.

Enough with the gum wads stuck between cracker-crumb filled crevices where nice leather seats used to be.

Enough, I say. Enough.

Sometimes I find myself staring at my reflection in the mirror thinking,


Enough with the wrinkles, the puffiness, and the sleep-deprived eyes.

Enough with the loose skin and the unstoppable gray hairs.

Enough with the laugh lines that look anything but happy.

Enough, I say. Enough.

Sometimes I find myself standing in front of an open refrigerator thinking,


Enough with the meal prep: morning, noon, and night.

Enough with the picky eater, the slow eater, the dirty dishes, and lack of counter space.

Enough with finding the unachievable balance of nutritious and kid-approved.

Enough, I say. Enough.

Sometimes I find myself gazing at photos of tropical beaches and secluded getaways thinking,


Enough with the perpetual ticking clock,

Enough with the steady stream of demands, the dust bunnies, and missing library books.

Enough with the needs of others that never seem to be satisfied.

Enough, I say. Enough.

But then something happens to pull me out of my negative abyss and set my head on straight.

I arrive home from a school meeting—a meeting that every fiber in my body wanted to skip. But I went because it’s one of my parental duties, to be informed for my children.

I get home, and I creep into the house praying they’ll all be asleep.

“She was really sad, so I assured her you would kiss her goodnight when you got home,” my husband tells me about our youngest child with an apologetic look.

I huff. I sigh. And then I climb the stairs with lead feet, as if my energy has suddenly been entirely depleted.

I open her door softly. The light from the hall spills into her darkened room. I see tear-streaked cheeks that are still wet. With a visible sigh of relief, she smiles at me and quickly wipes her face, clearly embarrassed by her state of duress.

“I don’t like it when you’re not here to tuck me in,” she offers as if her breakdown needs explanation.

I open my arms and hold her for a moment. And like an overextended inner tube stretched beyond capacity, my child is the key to releasing all that is pent up. I feel the pressure slowly seep from my body as my shoulders begin to relax.

“There’s something on your bed,” she calls out as I bid her good night.

I promise to go look, but my thoughts are focused solely on taking off my uncomfortable shoes.

But it is there on my pillow waiting for me—a note in sublime kid penmanship, the most exquisite font available.

The note reads: “I’m glad that you are my mom.”

Suddenly. Powerfully. Salty tears begin streaming down my face, and I am reminded.

If I am not here for the bickering and the battles,
I am not here for the hugs and the hallelujahs.

If I am not here for the gray hairs and the grown-up worries,
I am not here for the giggles and the growing old.

If I am not here for the kitchen table sweeping and serving,
I am not here for the dinnertime prayers and praises.

If I am not here for temperature checks and teddy bear retrieval,
I am not here for the bed tucking and nighttime talks.

If I’m not here for the upheavals and the breakdowns,
I’m not here for the high hopes and the healing hands.

Sometimes when I say, “Enough,” I forget that enough has two sides. My life’s little joys—like morning hugs, sweet lips, and mispronounced words—are the soft side of enough. They are the cool side of the pillow on a sleepless night. In one turn, these little blessings soothe away the bad, the draining, and the ugliness of my life.

These small loving gestures are enough—enough to get me back up to do it all again tomorrow.

And although sometimes I find myself thinking, “It’s hard to be here today,” when it comes right down to it, there’s nowhere else I’d rather be.


About the Author

Rachel Macy Stafford

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December 2014
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