A few nights ago, my Facebook feed alerted me that a mom-pal of mine was quitting her job to join the ranks of SAHMs. A few days earlier, another friend had officially dropped her status to part-time. As for me? I was planning to head into work the very next day...a Saturday.
After I had wiped the last sleep-deprivation induced tear away, I remembered that I love my job. And I love my kids. And loving both my kids and my job is tricky, but I am grateful that I live in a post-feminist-movement world where I get to do more than iron my husband's work shirts and pop children from my hoo-ha (thanks for burning your bras ladies, I know they're not cheap).
As it stands, most of my mom-friends are working moms. They have degrees and post-graduate degrees, and pretty remarkable careers. They don't necessarily work harder than SAHMs (three months of maternity leave is still fresh on my mind, so I would venture to say the SAHMs have it far worse), but they seem to have found a balance; one I struggle to find myself.
In fact, I was observing a vaguely familiar-looking young woman at work the other day who seemed particularly well put-together. Her hair was flawless, her makeup was perfection, and she had a bright smile that told me she had gotten at least eight hours of sleep last night.
My first thoughts were these : 1) now there's a woman without kids and 2) I miss being 25.
I was also immediately conscious of my yoga pants (with their maternity waist), running shoes, fleece jacket, and award-winning mega-frizz ponytail. I was also racking my memory for the last time I had showered.
Deciding to befriend this woman who was clearly my antithesis (rather than strangling her in a jealous rage), I complemented her shoes. She responded by brightly reminding me that we had been sorority sisters in college.
A few moments of conversation revealed that my first instincts about her were totally wrong. This flawless, bright-eyed beauty had not one, not two, but three stinking kids; the youngest being only a year old.
And that's about the time I decided to just go ahead and knock her off her cute shoes and strangle her stupid throat. Which I might have done except I think there's something in our sorority bi-laws against it and she's actually very sweet.
So it's safe to say that I will never be much of a bright-eyed beauty (I'd be lying if I inferred that I put much effort into my looks before I had children). But I do strive to eventually qualify as a functional working mom who can recall the date of her last shower.
After careful thought, here are some promises I will make to my children as I struggle to balance parenthood and a what passes for a haphazard career at best:
I will wear your spit up to work and hopefully notice it sometime before lunch.
I will set my alarm for 430am so I can squeeze in your meal before my workout and a workout before my work day.
I will spend my commute and my lunch break with plastic funnels attached to my boobs and zone out to the the hypnotic 'whoosh whir' of my electric pump.
I will not talk sh*t about SAHMs because maybe I'm a little jealous or maybe I'm a little worried I'm making the wrong choice but definitely because I have too much respect for all mothers to talk sh*t about any of them.
I will be horrified, but not entirely surprised, when I hear you curse for the first time.
I will be sad when you don't seem to care one way or another as I leave you with the sitter.
I will be equally sad when you won't let go of my legs and look at me from behind big wet tears, making me curse my stupid job.
I will worry about you every minute I am away.
I will wear makeup again...someday...maybe. Until then I will secretly scowl at all women who have time for makeup (and a shower).
I will take two trips to the car in the morning: one for the you and your brother and the other for the pump bag, lunch, coffee, and breast milk.
Trip #2: nursing moms, can I get a 'what what'??
Yeah ok, then I will take a third trip for whatever it was I forgot during the first two trips.
I will worry like a crazy person during that last trip that something really bizarre will happen to me (brain aneurism, heart attack, epileptic seizure, zombie apocalypse...you know, really plausible situations) and you will be trapped in your car seats, alone and scared. Because I'm a nut job.
I will spend at least 5 minutes a day boring my coworkers with recent photos of you because I think you are the most beautiful things I've ever seen.
I will not know what day of the week it is because they all blend together when a complete sleep cycle is never fully achieved and because I am sometimes off on Tuesdays and work on weekends.
I will rely on your daddy to cook dinner, to crack a joke when I feel I might crack myself, to offer midnight bottles, to make you squeal with delight, and to pick me up when I am feeling overwhelmed and under-appreciated.
I will be horrified when I discover I have not shaved my legs in weeks. And then I will continue to not shave.
I will miss out on some of your 'firsts' and it will fill me with a strange mix of regret and pride when the sitter sends me a photo of you bravely mastering a new skill.
I will make the very most of our days together so I don't feel so bad about the ones we spend apart and because one day I know you won't break into a huge half-toothy grin every time you see me.
I will call in or leave early when your cough doesn't sound right or you have a fever.
I will do my best to show you what it means to be a strong and capable career woman in hopes that you will grow up to treat those women the respect they deserve.
I will love you with my whole heart and a little bit more; bunches and bunches and always and everywhere.