Monday, February 22, 2010

Who are You, Really?

In a few, short weeks, I will be a free woman.

Last month, I resumed working at the tutoring center at my school and began attending my most recent grad class. Granted, the class is a lot of work, but you would think a person could handle fifteen hours of work and one, measly class, right?


Now, I'll be the first to admit that I am a lazy individual. One of the only things I enjoyed about pregnancy was that I had an excuse to sit on the couch and request that things be brought to me. I will forgo an extra cookie if it means I have to get up and get it myself. I am a master procrastinator, especially when it comes to my school work. And, I hate getting up early for work; I have been known to whine all through a work day about how tired I am. Superwoman, I am not. However, if something in my life needs to be done, I get it done. I might be kicking and screaming the whole way, but I do what I need to do, and I have successfully held down a full-time job and gotten A's in many grad classes at the same time.

So, why am I having such a hard time this quarter? The answer to that question is at home with her daddy, eating animal crackers and pushing all the buttons on the DVD player.

I never thought I would become one of THOSE moms. The ones who can't be separated from their kids for more than a few minutes without totally losing it. And, really, I don't think that I am. I am in the process of trying to convince my mother-in-law to keep Charlotte overnight so Chris and I can drink and stay out late at my mom's St. Patty's day party. I've gone to concerts without her. I like to get out of the house to write. Sure, I always miss her while I'm away. But, it never stops me from going away to do the things I care about.

And there it is. The reason I am so resentful about being out of the house for fifteen hours a week has less to do with the fact that I am away from the baby and more to do with the fact that it isn't worth it. I want my Master's degree, sure. And, I will get it. But now is not the time. Right now I want to write. If I'm going to be away from Charlotte, it had better be for something I am passionate about. So, I'm taking a break from school and concentrating on pursuing a career doing what I love to do. I am very fortunate that I am able to do so at this time.

I've always been a big believer in maintaining an identity that is separate from your identity as a mother. Even though I now realize how much motherhood permeates all the facets of my life, how it has changed me from the inside out, I still believe that it is crucial to not lose sight of who you were before having children. I think we all need to have something we are passionate about, besides our kids. For some people, that thing is their job. And, hey, that's awesome! If you can get paid to do what you love, I say that's a win-win. Unfortunately, some people hate their jobs. Their very necessary jobs. And that, well, to put it eloquently, blows.

And then there's me. Like I said, I am very fortunate that, at the moment, we are able to stay afloat on Chris's income so that I can be a stay-at-home mom. I want to soak up every second of Charlotte. I want to feed her every meal, put her down for every nap, change every diaper...

Ha! Kidding. Can you imagine?

Truthfully, I want to be with her most of the time. I really enjoy the day-to-day responsibilities of taking care of my family. But, as much as I enjoy folding laundry in the company of a good television show, I wouldn't exactly call it fulfilling. And as much as I adore making my baby laugh, I wouldn't call it intellectually stimulating. I, and we all, I would argue, need something else. A creative outlet. Something that's just for us.

I started this blog a few months ago, and since then, I have grown to love writing. I am having fun doing it, and I want to make this my career. I have a book I want to write. I'd like to spruce up this blog and see it take off. I would like to do freelance writing. For the first time in my adult life, I have a career goal that I am legitimately excited about, something I am motivated to work hard to achieve. And that feels really good.

I am a mother first, sure. Charlotte and any future children I may have will be my priority. But as much as I don't want to miss a second of my children's lives, the reality is that I might HAVE to. And that's okay. Mommy guilt is a potent and powerful thing. It whispers lies into your ear, lies about not being good enough, making bad choices, and letting your kids down. Our children need us. No question. And in a way, they might always need us. But, isn't our job to teach them to grow, to be independent, and to ultimately take care of themselves? And, if we haven't been taking care of OURSELVES in the meantime, nourishing OUR dreams and goals, where will we be then? We'll be more in need of our kids than they are of us.

Please understand that I am not knocking being a stay-at-home parent. I'm just saying, make sure you are taking care of yourself. It can be so overwhelming, being a woman today. We are in a constant state of maintaining a very tricky balancing act. My husband told me last night that for him, it is so simple. He goes to work, comes home, helps with the baby, and sleeps (soundly). He told me that he appreciates how much more complex my life is. I take care of all appointments (social and otherwise), I keep the house clean, I do the shopping, I do all the packing and organizing for schlepping the baby, I try to go to the gym, I try to plan meals, and I go to work and school. I constantly have about a million things on my mind, including, now, my career. For more on balancing motherhood and a budding writing career, check out this post by Brooke, of Mommy In Chief. It rang so true for me, as I'm sure it will for any woman who struggles with maintaining more than one title.

No one said this was going to be easy. But, I am having a blast figuring it all out.


  1. I love the line about nourishing our dreams as an example to our children. The next time I'm sitting in my chair, computer on my lap, Yo Gabba Gabba permeating the air, I'm going to remember that. If my kid grows up wanting to be a fluffy green monster with Go, Go Gadget arms (I won't even tell you what I think of Muno), I'll know who to blame ;)

  2. I love this post (and the one you linked to - Brooke's blog is one of my favorites!) and was sitting here yelling YES, YES, YES!! (Not in a dirty way...hahaha...) I feel the exact same way. It is a weird place to be - half SAHM, half (kind of) working mom... like a centaur or something!

    For what it is worth - I think you are a fantastic writer, and you definitely have talent worth nurturing. So nuture that while you nurture your little one! ;)

  3. Thank you! That does mean a lot to me. :)

  4. I'm glad that the internet was in its infancy when you were young. I shudder to thing about what I might have written when I stayed home. (Like the time I was stuck in the house with a 2-year-old and a 4-year-old and I drank all the beer in the house trying to cope and then was afraid your dad would notice that there was a six-pack missing.) I was not a very good stay-at-home mom.