Damned if you do, damned if you don’t.
I am in my home office as I start this post. I am working. I can hear Little Miss down the hall with her attentive babysitter and she is chattering away owlabaloobahbah uppa! and I am here typing and I want to abandon my clicking keyboard and join her. Her uppa! tweaks my heart in a previously undiscovered place. I want to catch every silvery moment because I know that soon enough her sweaty blonde curls will never lay against my chest while she shrugs in her sleep and it will be all about friends and school and whatever it is that girls older than my daughter are all about.
But I sit in my swivel chair and work.
But I want to be sitting here working. I want to Succeed and Kick Ass and Use My Brain and Solve Problems and Expertly Swoop In. I want to Use My Education and Pull My Weight and Know the Answers. I want these things. I really want these things. Before I started working again I would hear from my Lawyer Friend and my Business School Friend and sometimes it felt like everyone was running faster and harder and better while I perched on the ground looking up with hopeful eyes and idle hands where no one saw me or needed me.
My daughter needs me. John needs me. My family needs me. I know that.
I was at a bbq over the weekend (for an hour and 15 minute post nap and pre-dinner meltdown) and I was talking to people with Real Full-Time Jobs. Being a mom is a Real Job but sometimes it doesn’t feel like it. I was telling one of my (male) friends that it can be hard not having a Real Job. Now that I am working I can say, “Marketing and Business Development” (capital M, capital BD, of course) when people ask the universal icebreaker, And-What-Do-You-Do? Before I said, “I’m a stay-at-home-mom” (cue patronizing/bored smile) or “I’m doing the full-time-at-home Mom thing” (cue uncomfortable/absentminded nod) or “Well, uh. I’m at home now, my daughter was born last year and, you know, I’m enjoying being home with her, and we’ll see how long we do that for and it’s nice, you know, although sometimes it’s tough because I really like working, it’s been a huge part of Who I am, you know?” (cue eye-glaze and escape to the bathroom and there goes my small-talk companion).
It’s my insecurity, I know that.
Because I really do enjoy being home with her. Like when she yells “mamma mamma maaaammaaaaa!” as she waddles down the hall and tightly wraps her arms and legs and head around me like a warm, diapered monkey and I hug her warm little body until she’s ready to let go. And when she squeaks “bee-you?” (bear) and “babee?” (baby) over and over until her little arms are full to the brim with stuffed monkeys and plush babies and she nods that she and her entourage are now ready to go to the park. And when she calls Kayloo so she can sneak her some of her unwanted lunch. And when she says “pig” for the first time. And when she says “down” and pats the floor beside her inviting me to look at her animal magnets. And being here to help her with every single memorable and forgettable thing she needs.
But I get such a thrill from a perfect project plan. And talking with people who don’t talk about nap times (although, truth be told, I am more than willing to fill an hour with sleep talk). And launching mom power photo projects. And, hell, let’s not overlook depositing a paycheck. When remembering to take the sheets out of the washing machine and googling “quick dinner recipes” are my biggest intellectual challenges for the day, remembering the price tag on my education makes me want to throttle myself with a Lamb Chop puppet.
So here we are again: damned if you do, damned if you don’t. I’m damned either way. There is no such thing as having it all. At least not all at the same time, I see.