Missing Snowmen

As I was preparing to leave for work a few days ago, my son asked me a question that hit me deep in the cockles of mi corazon.

He said:  Mom, are you going to come to my last karate practice tomorrow to see me get my belt, like last year?

Thwwwwaaaappp!!  That’s the sound of an arrow of guilt striking me right through the heart.

Of course, I had to respond:  “No sweetie, mommy has to work and won’t get home until after karate is over.”

And once again, I had to break my son’s heart just a little bit by telling him that mommy can’t be there for him when he asks me to.

This is not the first time I’ve had to miss one of my sons’ events because of my job.  And it won’t be the last.  It is just the nature of the beast of being a mom who works outside of the home.  There are many things that I can’t be there for.  And it is weighing very heavily on me.  Each time I miss another special event and once again disappoint my kids, I feel more and more like a horrible mother.  And while I know that the whole “super mom” thing is a total fallacy which only sets parents up for failure, not being able to participate in special events with my kids just makes me feel like I’ve failed.

A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to experience the joy of joining my kids for one of those special events.  It snowed on a weekend, for once, so I was able to go out with them and build snowmen, throw snowballs, make snow angels and then make hot cocoa for them afterwards.  It was a lovely day in which I was able to spend some real quality time with my kids, and just be a fun mom for a change.  Instead of the mom that is always running out of the door, headed to work.  Or the tired mom at the end of the day, home after a long commute and eternal day in court, cranky and snapping at them during dinner.

Picture 7694-001

Of course, this one snow day set a precedent in my 7 year old’s mind, so that the next time it snowed, on a weekday this time, he asked if I was going to go outside with him to build a snowman.  But it was a Wednesday.  And even though my kids’ school was closed, I still had to go to work.  So, I would be forced to miss the snowman building, which I reluctantly informed my son when he asked.  I was then once again treated to an all too familiar sight . . .  watching his face morph from hopeful anticipation . . . to disappointment.  I abhor that look on my son’s face.  Especially when it’s me who is the cause of it.  It carves a chunk right out of my heart each time I experience that sad puppy dog face of his.

Lately, I really feel as if I am missing so much of my sons’ lives.  Not just the special activities like snow days and karate belts, but the day-to-day minutia.  The everyday little things that a stay at home mom experiences, and gets frustrated with, of course, is something that I never really have to deal with.  And while most of that is just annoying or boring daily activities, and I don’t necessarily miss all of that, I still feel like a huge part of my children’s lives are just passing me by.

I am very fortunate to have an au pair.  Someone who is there to take care of my kids and tend to all their needs.  This way, I am able to work, knowing that at least someone is on hand and available to my kids at all times.  But there is a serious drawback to this, as well.  Like when my youngest calls out to ask me a question, and instead of saying, “mom?” he says, “Maria?”  The au pair’s name.  Because he is so used to calling on her, instead of me.  As far as I know, he doesn’t call her mom, but I assume that can only be the next step.  And it terrifies me.  I am no longer “mom, the caregiver.”  I am “mom, the neverthere.”  And I’m not sure how and when this happened.

I have always worked.  Before my kids were born and throughout their lives, I have always been gainfully employed.  It is part of who I am.  I am a lawyer.  A professional woman.  I have never identified myself as a mommy.  I mean, I am a mommy, but that never seemed to be the role that defined me.  I hear stories from stay at home moms about how they lose their name and become known only as “Junior’s mommy.”  I have never been “Junior’s mommy.”  I’ve always been Misty.  But lately, I have this crazy feeling welling up inside of me that is pushing against that sense of self.  A feeling that I want to be Mommy.  Not just Misty.

Really, for the first time in my children’s lives, I want to be home with them.  I want to be the one doing all of those little annoying daily things for and with them.  I want to be the one they call on instinctually when they need or want something.  I want to be there for them.  Not just for the special moments, but for all of the moments.  I want to be a mom.  Just a mom.

Wait, what?  Holy hell!!  Am I crazy???  Who the hell just wrote all that crap?  Did my blog get hacked?  I’m not even sure what is going on any more . . .

I may be having some sort of mid-life nervous crisis breakdown or something.  Somebody, please send some help.  Or some drugs.  I may be having an out-of-body experience right now.  I don’t even know who I am any more!

And how friggin’ bass ackwards am I?  Whereas, most stay at home moms quit their jobs to stay home with their newborn babies, and if they return to work, it is usually when the kids go to school.  Me?  Yeah, I work throughout my kids’ babydom, then decide I want to be home with them when the youngest is just about to start kindergarten.  I am the most appropriate, ever!

As you can see by the disjointed and schizophrenic nature of this post, I don’t really know what I want right now.  But this feeling of possibly taking on a new and previously undiscovered role in my children’s lives has been steadily and persistently surfacing in my mind as a possible option for what to do with my future.  But also, as much as it has become a real thought, it also scares the hell out of me.  On the one hand, if I were to take the leap and become a stay at home mom (oh my god!), I would never have to miss any more of those little moments.  The snowmen, the karate, the class parties and trips . . .  I could be present for all of that.  No more absent mommy.  No more, “Maria?”  But on the other hand, am I ready to quit my job, ending a much needed source of income, and completely abandoning all sense of professionalism that I have always maintained and strived to obtain?  Not an attorney and a mom.  But just a mom.  It’s a possibility.

Who knows what the future holds.  But the thought persists.  It is pervasive.  And I am considering it . . .

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41 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. The Cutter
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 09:02:36

    I feel you. I would love to be able to not work full time and spend more time with my daughter. But sadly, that’s not the way life has broken.

    Reply

  2. JM Randolph
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 09:09:11

    Oh, preach it, sister. I soooo get this. When my husband and I struggle to come up with the right name of the kid standing in front of us, naming all of their siblings before we hit the right name (I never understood how my parents could do this until it happened to me), they inadvertantly do the same thing, running through the names of all the nannies before they get to us. Worse than the disappointed face when you say you can’t be there is when they stop asking, stop telling you about special things. We work nights & weekends and have a high number of events we have to miss. I try to weigh them out to see which one is worth missing a day’s pay for, if it is even possible. Did you read that article in the Atlantic last summer? By the way, it makes perfect sense to me that now is the time you’re feeling a pull to stay home (instead of the baby years).

    Reply

  3. pegoleg
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 09:36:19

    I get it, too. And there were times when the kids called the babysitter Mom, and it DOES cut like a knife in the heart.

    I am a product of the woman’s movement. I’m not dissing what those pioneers did for us – the ability to choose. But 30 years ago it never occurred to me that one of those choices could be staying home with my kids. Thinking, self-fulfilled women didn’t do that any more – those were “mommy shackles”.

    I do believe/hope that we’ve moved past that thinking, and now women really ARE free to choose, with dignity and worth in all of the choices.

    I know regrets are futile, but that is one of my biggest. I deeply regret that I didn’t stay home with my kids. If you can, without undue hardship (I mean ending up on the street, not having to cut back on vacations) and you truly want to, go with your gut, Misty.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Mar 26, 2013 @ 13:38:45

      Yeah, growing up it was all WOMEN CAN WORK, GO GO GO, and it seems like that has come full circle again with women being all, “but what if I WANT to be home with my babies?” Now it seems more acceptable to stay home without it seeming like you are letting the feminists down. At least that’s my take.

      It would be super tight, but we wouldn’t have to live in a box. We would probably have to sell my car (my beautiful beautiful car, sigh), but we could probably do it if we really truly buckle down. We’ll see.

      Reply

  4. thoughtsappear
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 09:37:36

    Awwww…I think it’s sweet.

    Staying home now sounds better than when they’re newborns because there are no diapers involved.

    Reply

  5. TheOtherLisa
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 09:47:23

    I was one of the “quit until they go to school” Mommies. On the one hand, I was able to be a very active part of their lives for a long time and wedged stuff around my job when I did go back to work. I’m grateful for that. I also hated it. Lost my mind. Going back to the office saved my life, my sense of self and once my husband got used to it again, my marriage.

    The grass is *always* greener from the opposite side of the fence. I feel for you sweetie.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Mar 26, 2013 @ 13:40:51

      Yeah, that’s what I’m fearing. That I’m romanticizing it. I’m trying to be as realistic as possible. One of the many reasons I always listed as why I DIDN’T stay home, was that I needed that outside career so that I didn’t lose my mind. Why am I considering this again? 😉

      Reply

  6. about100percent
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:13:22

    The fact is that your kids need you at any stage of their lives. And you are there for them, even if you work from home, for home, or away from home. You love them and provide for their needs. No one is perfect at any of it.

    I am a stay at home mom. I love it and hate it sometimes, which is exactly what you are experiencing. No role is ideal, but it seems as if you manage to make it work for your family. It’s all any of us can do.

    The guilt will always be there. It’s the nature of being a parent and knowing that you will never be everything you want to be for your kids. I am here for my kids every minute and I still feel guilt, for providing only cereal for dinner or not being able to attend their activities or not wanting to go on field trips. Because I am just one person, and I am not perfect.

    You are doing what’s right for your children, and if the time comes that you decide to stay home with them and be ‘only’ Mommy, you will be doing what’s right at that time as well. Because you love your kids.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Mar 26, 2013 @ 13:43:19

      Thank you. That was wonderfully written.

      I guess if I really loved my job, and it was my passion, this would be less of an issue. I AM there for my kids when it counts, as much as possible anyway. But I am miserable, so the alternative of being home with my kids, whom I love to pieces, seems so much more attractive. I know there is no perfect situation. But the pull is strong.

      Reply

  7. JM Randolph
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:20:52

    No coincidence that this post was in my reader today too: http://nurkingmoms.com/2013/03/19/balancing-act/

    Reply

  8. Holly Folly
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:25:56

    Although I don’t have children (so take this with a grain of salt yadda, yadda,) I have a policy that work comes first. It has to come first, becasue whether I like it or not, it pays for all of the things I have and want to have. So I give up days on my farm, nice clear days when I need to make hay, or dry days when I need to dig post holes, for work. I give up time with my friends and family, I have given up my birthdays and anniversary. Because I need money. All the money.

    Since you know, it’s looking less and less likely someone is going to pay me to stay home and be awesome.

    Reply

  9. Leauxra
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:41:22

    Is it OK that I want to be a stay at home… uh… person, and quit my job and never miss… ummm… Days of our Lives again?

    I don’t even have kids and I get this. Like I am somehow missing out on my whole life because I spend so much time commuting and at work. I imagine that it would be that much worse if I there were little people involved.

    Reply

    • Leauxra
      Mar 20, 2013 @ 10:41:39

      P.S. Hey, sorry I’ve been so absent lately. I’m going through a thing.

      Reply

      • mistyslaws
        Mar 26, 2013 @ 13:45:36

        Why do people have to work again? I mean, except for the money and the upkeep of society and business as we know it . . . you know, besides that.

        I’m sorry about your thing. I totally get it. Seriously. HUGS.

        Reply

  10. The Cotton Floozy
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 11:05:47

    You know what? You will feel guilty however you mom it. I was a stay-at-home mofo when my kids were young and yet I “still* missed out on so much of my kids’ speshuuulll moments because I was tired and cranky and day-dreaming about the grass-greener in Hot Man Land (England). I was there and yet I wasn’t. You will miss some of the great moments no matter what. Mom? Lawyer? How about you just call yourself a hilarious blogger and pour a glass.

    Reply

  11. christicorbett
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 11:06:17

    Have you ever considered doing both? And by that I mean, have you ever considered taking one day a week off from work (the slowest day) permanently?

    That way you could get a taste of what it’s like to shuttle your kiddos around to/from school and be there when they get home to do the little things with them that day. And then during the day when they’re at school you could use technology to work from home?

    The pay cut wouldn’t be as severe, and your workplace might be open to the idea?

    Christi Corbett

    Reply

  12. hiddinsight
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 12:05:01

    Welcome to mid-life, Misty. Some of us buy cars, some of us dye our hair pink, and some of us wrestle with STUFF. It’s all part of it, and I get how it is. I had an affair. I swear it’s like someone just turns a switch on (or off, as in my case) and we just WANT stuff we never thought we would ever want.

    Maybe there’s a way you could be a lawyer in a different way…? Work part time.

    To be honest, I have felt the working mom “I want to be home” syndrome as well as the stay at home “I want to be working” syndrome. Somehow you just have to learn to live with the guilt and call it something else. Like “life.”

    Reply

  13. She's a Maineiac
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 12:06:32

    This was such an honest post. I think so many moms can relate to what you’ve said. I am coming from the opposite end of things, but I can still get what you’re saying. I think we all feel we’re missing out on certain things in our kids’ lives.

    My kids are finally both in school all day long, but I do get to be with them after school and weekends. Being a stay at home mom has come with huge sacrifice, having only one paycheck certainly has put a major strain on finances, no sugar coating that. We’ve struggled plenty over the years. But this was a choice I made for myself. It’s not a better choice or a worse choice, just what I felt was right at the time for our family.

    Still, now that I’m heading back to a full time job again after so many years, I’m already feeling that bit of guilt creep in. I think that no matter what a mom chooses to do, that will be there. The guilt, the feelings of loss as our kids grow up and grow away from us…even the feeling of losing our identities. It’s all a big mixture of emotions I think defines being a “mom”.

    I say go with what your heart is telling you to do. It’s not like it’s a permanent thing either. If I can go back to work after so many years, you can too, if you decide to. If you decide to keep on working, I get that, I personally am more than ready to get back to work again and all the freedom that comes with having security in a paycheck to provide for the family. I also do think it’s possible to do both. I think we can work if we want to and be there for our kids when they need us.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Mar 26, 2013 @ 13:50:19

      Yeah, it’s all one big hodge podge of guilty, isn’t it. I hear you on the ability to go back. I am so glad you are doing that now. I know that I could always go back to work if I decide to. But for right now, I’m feeling like this is what my heart is telling me to do.

      Reply

  14. Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 13:04:47

    Whatever you decide is ok. That you have these feelings shows that you really care and are careful to try and make the best of the time you have with them.

    Reply

  15. Danielle Charlton Geer
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 14:14:05

    Oh, honey.

    No matter what, your boys know you love them more than all the grains of sand in the world. And that means more than all the other stuff put together. I promise you that one day, when they are in their 20s, they will call you up and say, “Thanks, Mom, for everything you did for us, for how you raised us, and for how much you love us.”

    When they need you, you are there. And they know it.

    Reply

  16. Go Jules Go
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 14:54:41

    Welp, I feel tooootally unqualified to comment on this post, but I think how you’re feeling is COMPLETELY normal, and you’re not schizophrenic at all!

    I think part of it probably has to do with how unsatisfied you’ve been with your job / the people you work with — why would anyone want to be away from their family to deal with a job they don’t love?!

    I’m with Darla – if you go with your gut, I know you’ll find the right balance. And it’s perfectly okay to want to be “Mommy” (I totally get wheere you’re coming from there, even though I’m not a Mommy)!

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Mar 26, 2013 @ 13:52:45

      What do you mean? You are TOTALLY qualified. I mean, you are a mommy to Uncle Jesse afterall!! 😉

      It is definitely the unsatisfaction with the job. If I loved my job, I’m not sure there would be as much of a pull. Probably just more guilt.

      Reply

  17. winopants
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 15:02:57

    Is there a way you could work part-time? I’d love to be able to say, “you can do it all!” but there’s some serious truth to the importance of being there as a mom. But I’m like you, I need my own life and accomplishments! Ack!

    Reply

  18. Valerie
    Mar 20, 2013 @ 23:46:15

    I know exactly how you feel. I have always been Valerie before Mommy. Not in a selfish way… Just in a way. But as my girls grow, I find myself wanting to be there more… For everything.

    These are the days of our lives… Oh wait… Wasn’t that a soap opera?!?

    Damn this delicious wine…

    Hugs!

    Valerie

    Reply

  19. Cheryl S.
    Mar 21, 2013 @ 09:11:04

    I totally get it. I’m a full time working mom. My dream would be to work part time. Sort of a foot in both worlds. Good luck deciding what to do. Since you’re an attorney, you could always hang out your own shingle and take only what you want!

    Reply

  20. Jennifer June Clark
    Mar 22, 2013 @ 17:09:43

    Can you take a leave of absence and see how the stay-at-home thing works? A sabbatical? Job share with another?

    I have stayed home for 7 years now. The floors aren’t always clean, there’s baskets of clean laundry all over the joint and I dread homework time. But it’s what is best for our family. We also struggle with the financial aspects and I would be happy to find a PT job, but! I can’t make enough in our area to make it worth it. I would be spending what money I made on child care, so what’s the point? But I bake, and cook, and apply bandaids, and read books with kids, and clean the kitchen. I’m glad I can do it.

    Reply

    • mistyslaws
      Mar 26, 2013 @ 13:56:08

      None of those are really options. I’ve thought about all of them.

      Yeah, the money would be tough, and I would hope to try to do some freelance stuff to supplement, but not sure that’s going to be feasible. I would have to go into it assuming I would be salarly-less, and see how it goes.

      Reply

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