Friday, February 17, 2012

Try to be everything to everyone

My daughter, who is three, layed on the floor today and proclaimed "I just want someone to love me" as she whined and cried. This was in response to my asking her to HAND me her brother's binky, her throwing it at me and me reminding her that it is NOT NICE to throw things at people. 

As she laid there, I realized how hard this job would be on a day to day basis.  How do you balance the needs of multiple kids without one of them inevitably getting their feelings hurt?  It was clear that she was upset and hurt.  She wanted my full attention and I wasn't and haven't been able to give it to her.  Trying to balance the needs of an energetic toddler and a newborn is a huge responsibility and challenge. 

Staying home is definitely an honor, but it's a job that I don't know that I could do full time.  I admire women and men who can.  It takes a lot more patience and sacrifice than I think I can handle.  I have been spoiled with adult conversation and jokes, music and free time. 

I like driving alone in the car to work, where I am more than a servant, laundry doer, dishwasher and baby diaperer.  I think it's the balance that is the important part.  I need to find a way to be all things...ah, there's the rub!  How do you do that?  How as a working mom, can you be a mom, wife, worker, etc?  I think it is possible, but at some point, one or both of your "jobs" suffers. 

You just can't be everything to everyone all of the's just knowing how to make sure that your family is taken care of and your job is done.  At the end of the day it's a balancing act, a delicate dance that requires support from friends, family and sometimes, even the stranger at the park.  It is the ability to multi-task, organize, breathe and most importantly laugh. 

Thursday, February 9, 2012

the mourning period

It's hard to explain the transition into nothingness that takes place when you become a parent.  I remember when I went back to work after having Olivia.  I remember the feeling of freedom I had when I dropped her off at daycare.  It wasn't that I didn't want to spend time with her, but I wanted a few hours with adults - a few hours in dress pants, a few hours where my time wasn't spent elbow deep in breast milk and baby poop.  It was during that first month back at work in 2008 that I came to grips with the mourning that parenthood brought for me.  I mourned the loss of the independence I had, the freedom to go out and have a beer if I wanted, to sleep in, to actually be a person who was valued for more than just their ability to feed a baby and maneuver the remote control simultaneously.

It is because of this feeling of mourning that I would never make a good stay at home mom.  I blame this on the push women on my age have felt to go to college and make careers for ourselves.  There was a time, before I was born, when a women didn't necessarily have to work outside of the home.  A woman felt value in staying home with her children...with being a wife, mother and homemaker.  For me and women of my age, we have been given the freedom and control of our destinies that the mothers before us didn't have.  I was told that I would go to college, get a good job, maintain a career and all the while, I was expected to at some point settle down and have a family.  It is no wonder that it takes most of us near to 30 years (if not longer) to begin to think of settling down.  We wait.  Wait for our careers to get established, to make money, travel, drink wine, dance, kiss unexpected boys in the rain and discover ourselves.  By the time most of the women I know found the time to have children they had spent nearly a decade building a life for themselves.  They had careers, were in management and most of them had multiple degrees. 

It is natural in my opinion for most women to mourn the loss of themselves during the first few months after childbirth.  Even as I sit at home on my 2nd maternity leave I continue to mourn.  I am mourning the loss of more of my hard earned money to daycare, the loss of the renewed freedom my husband and I had with a 3 year old.  We are starting over with a new child - back to diapers, bottles and toilet training.

Mourning is different than post partum depression in the sense that it isn't about feeling sad, it's just about feeling the loss of self that I feel during this time.  Right now I am unbalanced and lonely.  I am figuring out how to be a mother to two very different people and a good wife and in a few more weeks I will add work back into this equation. 

I won't mourn forever, after the loss comes acceptance...and then comes the joy.  It just takes me a few minutes to get there.