the hardest job of all – and yes, i don’t care what any other opinionated person or article out there claims, i believe it is a job, albeit one we don’t get financial compensation for, nor are there any required skills, but a job none the less, period, end of story – is raising people. motherhood has been the greatest challenge of my life, and though i fully believed that becoming a mom would not change who i was fundamentally, i was wrong.
there are many things about me that are the same. i still enjoy a glass of wine or two (when i’m not vowing to remain dry) and i love the same music, shop more than i should, desire to create fun things with my hands, chat with my friends, hate crowds. i probably drink a lot more coffee and sleep less, though i still binge watch my favorite shows and despise talking on the telephone (which is problematic for a toddler who just loves to chat).
but, as a caterpillar emerges from a chrysalis as a butterfly, i would be lying if i said haven’t become something new. from sleepless nights and sorting out breastfeeding, i think i’ve managed to dodge the curve balls this parenting thing has thrown at me so far with a strength (and dare i say grace?) i didn’t know i possessed. the next challenge, aside from getting dylan into a change of clothes without a 10 minute meltdown of candy-snatching proportions, is deciding whether this new version of my self is ready to get back into the “real” working world.
someone recently asked me if i was ready to “grow up” and get a job. seriously? grow up? i was so offended because really, i think i’ve done just about the most grown up thing a person can do, other than signing up for their own life insurance, buying furniture from somewhere other than ikea or pre-purchasing a burial plot. i carried and then pushed out a tiny human being and now i’m doing everything in my power to convert said human being from a bouncing ball of toddler and sugar fueled energy into a successful and decent grown up person. in every sense of the concept, i have contributed. i have done my part to ensure the continuation of human kind.
comments like those, however, hit closer to home, since i can’t deny i’ve been feeling the tug of responsibility beyond my daily duties as a mom. as a self employed person who, until the moment i realized we were pregnant had no intentions of being pregnant any time soon, i did not benefit from maternity leave. we’ve been surviving on one income for quite a while now, and i think a lot of families around the world understand how much of a terrifying struggle that can be.
i share the same dreams as most everyone else – to own a house, a car, go on family vacations, dinner out a few times a year, presents and special occasions, bills paid, food in the fridge, and a decent education for my kid(s). i don’t want to or need to rely on my partner to provide all of that for us. though it may have been SOP 50 years ago, it’s a tall order. for two people who weren’t planning on starting a family, having this level of responsibility thrust upon you is enough to disrupt things for a reasonable amount of time, if not worse.
so, we have finally reached this juncture where i need to start making thoughtful decisions about my immediate future. do i continue to wade forward with my hands over my eyes and hope for the best? or do i make that step back into the full-time working world? the part-time thing i’ve been doing, while enjoyable, is not as lucrative as i would have liked (another source of stress that freelancers world-wide understand all too well).
every mother will face this decision, the time to leave that little part of her in the (hopefully) capable hands of someone else. this short but intimate time we share with our babies and then toddlers over the first few years of their life is so intense. in the blink of an eye everything you knew has changed. you’ve just started a new chapter and then, after precious few paragraphs you’re forced into a new chapter yet again. this story is moving too quickly. it’s heart-wrenching to become so accustomed to this and in such a short time have to give it all up. as much as having her constantly on my heels can be overwhelming, the thought of not having her behind me is causing a deep, vast emptiness in the center of my chest that breathing and meditation cannot touch.
i know i need to get back out there and start being financially responsible. i do miss the feeling of pride and accomplishment of a job well done. the satisfaction and stability of a weekly pay cheque. the relief of benefits. i’m going to have to let her fly some time, and i know they say there’s no time like the present, i just wish the present was in the future and she would stay this little person a while yet. as much as i’m excited for her to experience her life, i just want to freeze these moments and live in them so i don’t have to feel this fear and trepidation of the unknown. as a grown up, i can admit that i’m afraid, but i guess the real grown ups acknowledge that fear and move forward in spite of it. so i guess the question really is, am i ready to grow up? the answer is obvious, but i think i’m going to hold onto this fantasy just a few moments longer.