But, it puts one in one’s place in a metaphorical sense too.
Pre-motherhood, I was an honors history teacher. I loved it. No, seriously, LOVED it. I was one of those rare people who actually looked forward going to work.
I thrive on intellectual stimulation, loved teaching, loved researched, loved it all. When my daughter was born in March, I was convinced I’d make it as a stay at home mom until September, when she’d be 9 months. Then I’d need to go back to work. Not for the money, per se, but for my enjoyment of it. I couldn’t see myself devoting years to itsy-bitsy-spider and Gymboree, playdates and playgrounds.
Then, of course, I fell in love with my daughter. And couldn’t see someone else devoting years to her and itsy-bitsy and the playground, I wanted to be there for it all. 9 months of SAHM turned into a year, then 18 months….and now my daughter is a little past two and there’s no plan for me to go back any time soon.
Do I miss it? Yes, some days terribly so. Would I give up time with my little girl? No.
So, now that motherhood is my full time job, I’ve thrown myself into it. You see, all my life I’ve been a type A personality. If you can’t do it right, no, actually, if you can’t do it PERFECT, don’t do it at all, was how I lived. From undergraduate to graduate studies to my teaching, I was dedicated. I spent a lot of time, and got a lot of joy out of, reading professional journals, presenting at conferences, improving my teaching and my understanding of history.
So, naturally, I tried to do the same with being a mommy. I read so many books it’s obscene. I researched every philosophy of child rearing I could. I talked to moms of every stripe, age, ethnicity, you name it. I even tried to go to conferences on child development..but I couldn’t get a sitter (how ironic). I immersed myself in infant brain development, infant psychology, Gymboree, playdates, and yes, itsy-bitsy spider.
Recently I decided to go back to work part time. I taught history one night a week at the local community college. I wasn’t away from my daughter that much plus it got me out of the house and gave me intellectual stimulation in a field I love.
Well, for this fall, the college offered me two courses. I’d be away from my daughter for all day Mondays, and half days on Wednesdays. We could sure use the money after two years of me not bringing in a salary. The chance to teach more would be great.
But I’m driving myself nuts about it. Because of my perfectionistic drive, I’m having angst. Working part time while being a full time mommy means I can’t dedicate myself to work. I can’t go away to conferences whenever I want. I can’t spend hours researching the latest teaching methods. I can’t make sure my lessons are polished and perfect. I have a toddler at home.
And, of course, working part time means I can’t be the “perfect” mom (as if that even exists!). It means for a day and half my child will be in Grandma’s care…and she doesn’t do things like I would. It means that I may not have time to make and laminate flashcards for my daughter, I have to grade papers. It means Grandma will have to take her to that Gymboree class on Mondays, I’ll be working.
And the thought of doing even one thing less than perfect bugs me and here I’m contemplating doing two things less than perfect. Oh, the horror!
So, motherhood is forcing me into my place, is forcing me to live in the gray and not the black and white, is forcing me to be ok with imperfection. Motherhood, then, can work like the best anti-anxiety drug: calm yourself down and let some things go, girl!
Will my daughter get the best mommy all the time? I don’t think so.
Will my teaching be the best it can be? Probably not.
But will I be striving for that elusive balance, striving to allow myself to just be me and not worry about the details? Let’s hope so.
As a teen, I used to scoff at the whole “working mom/stay at home mom” debate. I used to think that those who made a fuss about trying to balance a career and motherhood were nuts; that those who felt guilty while at work AND at home were nuts.
I had that teen confidence that I’d be the first mom to do it perfectly and with emotional clarity.
But, then again, as a teen I also thought age 30 was old and your life was “basically over” as I wrote in my diary.
Now, the view from age 40 is my life is just beginning….beginning with less perfection, but more richness.
This is an original post for Jersey Moms Blog by Annie, aka JerseyFresh, a New Jersey mom.
Photo credit given to ByDianeDaniel.