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.
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 . . .