August 29, 2011

Not Funny But True

I woke up Friday morning, ready to go!  It was the day of my first appointment for my new job.  I was armed with as much information as I could possibly fit into my little head.  And I had done well stressing and cramming and telling my son I had to study 10 times that morning.  It was a morning fraught with guilt, nerves and absolutely no idea how well I would do or not do at my appointment.  The only good thing about the morning was that I had been able to put together a fabulous look.  And I realized what my husband had been telling me for years—

that it was really hard to leave the kids.  Now mind you, I had only planned to leave my son for a couple hours’ at the neighbors’ in-home care.  I felt this singing pain when I had to explain that mommy had to work.  I wondered if I was doing the right thing.  Then I looked down and saw my darling pants and shoes, and I knew I was going to get something out of this day.  I couldn’t back down now.  And I had made a point to cuddle with my little man for 15 or 20 minutes when he awoke, telling him this was our special time since today would be a crazy day. 

I tried to do thirty things at once, wondering what important items I would miss.  I had packed for anything, but certainly no one gets it right the first time.  And I glanced again at my son.  He was sensing my guilt, and giving me a harder time than usual.  That’s ok.  It’s his privilege, I imagine.  But I couldn’t sit down and play for 15 minutes and turn myself into a panicked, LATE wreck.  I fought the urge again.  Boy, I felt lucky to have been there every second for the last–almost 5 years of his life.  What a gift I have had.  What an opportunity.  And what an interesting change to do something away from the home.  There would certainly be things I hadn’t anticipated.  It would be like my new job.  I would be trying to anticipate and be ready for anything, but I wouldn’t be ready for everything. 

I took my little boy to my friend’s care.  My son bounced in happily.  He couldn’t wait to play with the other kids there.  He was beaming and happy.  I felt confident for a moment, kissed him, squeezed him, and told him to have the most wonderful morning.  He smiled and said, “Bye, mom!  I love you!”  Wow, being a mom was cool.  I walked out to the car and jumped in.  My mind started spinning with details, how do I start the meeting, how hard do I pitch, or do I let the appointment roll out as it will.  How much do I allow my manager to take charge?  What do I ask about and what not, given I feel I know nothing even though I know much more than I did a month ago. 

And then it hit me.  This was why I decided to get a job now.  I floated above my body while I saw myself dressed up, looking sassy and throwing ideas through my head at a rate quicker than usual, given my focus of attention on one thing.  I didn’t even turn on the radio.  I was totally engaged in one thing, and I felt great.  I realized for the first time in who knows how long—I heard myself thinking about something other than my children.  A small burden lifted from my shoulders for a moment.  My oldest was safe in school, learning.  My youngest was at a dear person’s home, who could be trusted with my soul if needed.  And I was free to take care of something just for me, something I wanted to succeed at–that didn’t have to do with my children’s or husband’s response.  Wow, it was weird and really quite cathartic (you know I love that!).  I made the right decision for now.  And it was time to kick some ass. 

We forget sometimes that we are people outside of our children.  It’s not that I won’t be caring about my children as much.  In fact, they will still get more than their fair share of attention.  And I may even be so excited to see them tonight, that it will feel spectacularly exciting. 

It did feel that exciting.  It felt like Christmas.  I picked up those kids, beaming from ear to ear.  I slathered my brain in every detail they shared with me about their experiences that day.  It’s weird not to be the one who does everything for your kids.  It’s strange not to be the one who knows EVERYTHING about everything about them.  And it was wonderful too.  I sat and hugged them both for half an hour that afternoon. 

Okay, so I’m not sure why it was important to share all this, except that when a friend called to see how my appointment went.  That’s what I told her (shorter version, of course).  She said she had had a conversation with her girlfriend that morning, both of them stay at home moms.  She said she thought she probably should have always been a working mom instead, so she wouldn’t have worried so much the last 6 years.  Now I can’t say that that would be true.  We’ll always worry.  But it was an interesting thing to think about.  Some of us work from the beginning, some don’t ever work.  Some worry more than others, but we’re all moms.  We’re all trying to do the best for our kids and sometimes, it’s important to do what’s best for us too.  Maybe there’s a different balance for everyone.  Maybe this was the start of the next best chapter of being a mom for me. 

Here’s to being the best version of mom we can be.  Here’s to the good, the bad, the ugly and learning not to judge ourselves–but to love ourselves through the whole process.  Here’s to stay at home moms and working moms.  Here’s mostly to moms who know how to take care of themselves AND their children.  What a balancing act! 

Oh, and here’s to the little pieces of humanity we have the privilege of sharing our lives with!