This post was going to be an Illustrated Gossip Girl Primer, complete with T’s Fisher-Price Blond, Squinty, Mom-Lady Person swathed in my beaded necklaces (Serena) and the Weird, Glowering Brown-Haired, Hat-Wearing Man lurking in a skeevy fashion beside her (Chuck), but I couldn’t find adequate stand-ins for the rest of the cast amongst the piles of itty bitty doll people littering my living room, so instead, your stuck with this: a “real” post. (At least until I find suitable doll people.) So, here! Have a little brutal honesty to kick-start your Friday:
I am not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom.
I say this plainly, matter-of-factly, and humbly, in the manner of who has been through some sort of war. A war fraught with literal crap, vomit, and more than a few tantrums in Target. I have spent the past thirteen weeks on maternity leave, and the past week in particular watching both kids myself all day, every day (my nanny is on vacation), and while we’ve had a lot of fun together, it has also been incredibly draining, in more ways than one.
I return to my job tomorrow, and I will do so happily, by which I mean, tongue-kissing my office desk and having Impure Thoughts about my neatly-arranged filing cabinets. Because as I’ve mentioned in the past, I firmly believe that I’m a better mother to my kids when I work.
I’ve been thinking lately about what that says about me. (And please note, this post is in NO WAY a judgment of any mothers' decisions to work or not, but simply my thoughts on my own decisions related thereto. AND THAT IS ALL.)
Since I had T and returned to work over two years ago, the time I spent with him was by and large fantastic. Because in sum, I had a half-hour with him each weekday morning, and two hours with him at night (as well as the weekends, of course). I really cherished all of that time, because it WAS limited, and as such, I was preternaturally patient (if I may say so myself), and had a boundless supply of energy when I was with him. We had a good thing going.
When I realized my maternity leave this time was going to fall out during the summer, I was really excited. I had visions of us giggling together nonstop and frolicking in assorted meadows. (Well, not meadows, so much as local parks, but whatever.) While we did have our fair share of that this summer, I must say, being at home was really hard for me. And if I’m being honest? REALLY honest? It was probably not 100% awesome for my kids, either. When I was home with them, I wasn’t myself. I found myself much less patient with T than I usually am, and was occasionally, um…slightly reclusive. I’m not well-versed in the Laws of the Playground, and just the thought of approaching a group of “established” moms, (i.e., not ones who, like me, are only around for a few months) made me break out in hives. And I don’t even GET hives. I missed the feeling I had before, where almost everything T did was cute and fun, and I wasn’t having thoughts like, “WILL YOU JUST MAGICALLY TOILET TRAIN YOURSELF ALREADY, MY GOD.” Or “THIS WHINING IS GOING TO BE THE END OF ME. NO, SERIOUSLY.” I was also—dare I say it—a bit resentful of J, who got to leave for work each day, and would come home with the relaxed, patient attitude I used to have.
I worry that this makes me sound selfish, but I guess, in a way I am. I truly like going to the office each day. Yes, the subway I take to get there is full of actual deranged people, and it’s no fun getting your new white pants ruined by a sloshing mud puddle, but the act of commuting, that time to decompress and totally space out, all alone, is something I NEED. And (I will take a page here from How I Met Your Mother and disguise identifying factors about my career with the term “ninja”) I like interacting with grownups, fellow ninjas, who respond to logic and reason, unlike certain people to whom I gave birth. I like using my ninja training and yes, even attending business meetings of or related to the ninja milieu, to keep abreast of issues facing us ninjas. I mean, there was a
I love my kids dearly. (I don’t even want to say “more than they’ll ever know” because I hope that if we do our job right, they’ll be fully aware of just how much we cherish them.) But I also enjoy my job, and I don’t think the two should be mutually exclusive.
I think it was fitting that today—my last day of maternity leave—I witnessed my kids engaged in something that made my heart nearly explode from the cuteness of it all.
I had left both of them in T’s room for a minute so I could wash dishes, and came back just in time to see T pulling Lo’s seat towards him, saying “Come closer, baby sister! Look at my house!” I was so touched by it, and I’d hate to think that there would ever come a point that I’d be inured to moments like these. Which, knowing myself, I might, if I was with them 24/7.
I know I’ll be missing some special things now that I won’t be with the kids during the day, possibly moments like this, which saddens me. But the trade off is that the time I do get to spend with them will be (mostly) all good. I never want to take any part of motherhood for granted, and to make that happen, I need some distance from my kids. For better or for worse, it’s who I am.