Nugget and I went on a safari this morning at the Olympic Game Farm. It's called a game farm because it is privately funded and not because you can shoot the animals. You can't. But I did bring the bright orange vest my mom bought Nugget when we moved here, just in case.
Visitors are permitted to feed the animals bread, and the animals have come to expect it. They were unbelievably pushy about begging for food. Had I stopped long enough, I think the car would have gotten surrounded, stranding us out there. We did not feed them bread, which did not stop them from terrorizing us in the hope that bread would be produced. In fact, I was afraid to even open a window most of the time.
The bison and elk did not bother to get up and come look for food, which is good because they really could have done some damage if they were hungry enough.
But the yaks and llamas, sometimes working collaboratively, were diabolically clever: they walked directly in front of the car first, forcing us to stop or slow down to a crawl (I don't think I ever got up to the 10 mph maximum), and then they came alongside and pushed their noses against the window. Nugget thought it was hilarious. I thought it was creepy. Some of the llamas even ran to get in front of the car to make us stop. Sneaky devils. No way was I cracking the window.
The carniverous animals--including lions, a tiger, cougars, wolves, and bears--were behind fences or in cages, fortunately for us. Unfortunately for them, some of the cages were quite small and depressing and I'm not sure I want to go back for that reason. Also because I may have nightmares about the llamas.
All of which is not the point of my post. I have a bad mom confession. After a while when I realized that Nugget could not see the shorter animals--rabbits and roosters and peacocks--that were all over the place, I freed him from his car seat and let him sit on my lap as I drove, Britney Spears style. And when he started complaining that he wanted to take a nap, which I did not want him to do because I paid $11 to get in and he was going to enjoy the hell out of my $11 whether he liked it or not, damn it, I fed him candy to keep him awake. I am going to mommy hell.
Back to the stay-at-home vs. working mom thing, because a dead horse can always use more beating, to my way of thinking. I have discovered that Trent was right--being home with a kid full-time is incredibly hard, in many ways, some of which I did not really expect. Some things don't bother me, like the isolation. It may not be good for me, but I like to be isolated. So that's not affecting me yet, although if I don't force myself to get out and talk to people I likely will become increasingly weirder and sketchier until I have reached the Emily Dickinson stage and my doctor has to examine me from the other side of a closed door.
I think I have written already about the mental, emotional, and physical strain of having a very needy appendage that makes frequent demands, has a shallow grasp of reason, is subject to volatile mood swings, and requires that I be on my guard even when it appears to be content or at rest. By which I mean my beloved child, of course. I think I am coping pretty well with that, better than some but certainly no supermama farting sunshine.
Then there is the feeling that I am allowing valuable skills to lay fallow while the rest of the world toils on. The lazy sow rooting in mud with her piglets when she could be feeding the world bacon. OK, bad analogy because it implies self-sacrifice and I don't believe that's necessary. Which gets me to the breakthrough I had in thinking about this. SAHM vs. working is a continuum, not a choice between two exclusive extremes. I wasn't happy working 60-80 hours a week, and I won't be happy devoting myself exclusively to child-rearing and homemaking. That much is clear. There is a balance to be struck.
What's more, that balance is different for everyone. Some parents are happier at the extremes, most are probably happiest somewhere in between, but we all fall at different points along that continuum, and that's ok. It's ok for us as women, so long as we are the ones making the choice, and it's ok for our kids. If mom and dad aren't happy, the kids won't be either. There are no hard and fast rules about life and parenting, except maybe the one about not feeding your kid candy while you drive with him on your lap. We all have to find our own way. The tricky thing about that is that when you know you were miserable at a given point in the spectrum, it's hard to understand why other moms seem to be happy there. And so we get into these arguments about what's best that can never be satisfactorily settled because the answer is different for everyone. So stop it already. You're all right.
Sorry, I think I just farted a little sunshine there.