A child will always need their Mom.
But is staying home for them the best option?
Maybe not right away. Or forever.
When I was a young girl, lots of my friends Moms, worked. So, they were always surprised to come my house after school and see my Mom - there. And while I yearned to have my Mom in those high powered suits and heels, they yearned to sit down on their own couch and have a conversation... with their Mom.
Childbirth. It's a lot. Your body goes to the brink and back. Those babies are big... coming out of a small hole... it hurts. It tears you up. Literally. I knew child birth was going to be hard on that day... I'd seen all those movies and TV shows with those screaming, reckless, psycho ladies trying to get that baby out. It didn't scare me... it prepared me.
But what no one really prepares you for is what happens after... yea, no one talks about the day you go home and there's no more nurse or drugs or cafeteria. It's just you trying to figure out everything - but - you can't even walk. I was unable to walk like a normal person, I'd say, for about 2 weeks. Going to the bathroom? That was only the scariest thing ever. You feel like your insides are literally going to fall in the toilet. And breastfeeding. It takes over your life. You feed that new little bundle what, like, 10 times a day? As soon as you're done, they go to to the bathroom, you change them... then play for a bit and they sleep (if you're lucky) for a few minutes.
It's right about now you thank God for maternity leave but, for most of us, it's only 3 months. At the end of that time you look at that tiny baby and think... I can't hand her over to someone else - she's too small. NO WAY.
But I did.
My mother, on the other hand, didn't. She quit work when I was born and never went back. I was an only child and she was always at home waiting for me after school, volunteering in class, driving me around, making me food, sorting through my problems. And I saw that as weak. You know? Why wasn't she DOING something?
Others Moms were out selling real estate, going to an office, lunching, wearing shoulder pads... they weren't watching their daughter cheer for the JV Football team. They were making deals and money... movers and shakers... as my Mom did housework and waited for the moment I needed her. It was around this point I made a pact to myself: I WILL be a working Mom. I will make money, "do lunch" and have no extra time. Yes, I will be a Mom, but I will balance it with my children while wearing high heels.
So when the time came and I had my first baby.. you're darn right I went back to work. I was proud to do so... I was a reporter for an NBC morning show in Phoenix, Arizona at the time and someone watched my precious little girl. I was glad to go back... it was more relaxing than the craziness that is new motherhood. Having someone care for my baby also gave me the opportunity to run errands, get an occasional pedicure, do what had become my "normal" tasks in my previous life. That was necessary for me since things had changed so drastically. Having my job kind of eased me into motherhood, which became a small blessing.
But as time went by... those heels became less comfortable. Wearing them as you report on murders, sports events or just man-on-the-street interviews can be a pain... sure you're on television and people expect you to be "glamorous" but when you're in the field, honey, you need hiking boots cause those heels are gettin' stuck in the MUD! Something, for some reason, I think my Mom knew all along.
After a couple years, I found myself caring more about what was going on at home than what was happening in the newsroom. Sure it was important to me to prove that I could balance work and motherhood since my Mom never did... but this was becoming impossible. I got sick all the time, slept very little, the schedule was difficult, I wanted holidays off, the need for me to be there for my daughter, husband and home was growing greater by the day. I soon no longer wanted to wear those high heels... now flip flops were calling my name.
For years, I believed my Mom was the one who was missing out. But now, all of the sudden, it occurred to me that maybe... she wasn't. Perhaps, the women with the shoulder pads were missing out more. So when the time came to quit... I did it whole heartedly. I knew what it was like to be a "Working Mom" and I was ready to turn the page.
Today, I sit knowing what the "other side" is like and I appreciate the view from here even more. If I wouldn't have gone back to work I would have taken this new job for granted. Maybe even resented it a bit. Now, everyday I'm here feels like a blessing. Even the tough days... because I just imagine my job on top of it and I exhale... for this day wasn't so bad after all.
I am now a full time Mom. I am here when my daughter, and now, son... needs me. I drive car pools, listen when they talk, plan play dates and prepare food ALL DAY LONG... I have found as my children grow the responsibilities of being their Mom don't diminish, they just change and evolve. See, when a child goes to school, parenting doesn't stop... it just gets harder and the stakes are higher. I've learned that when kids want to talk they won't wait for you to be available... they'll just move on and you'll miss out. And as the years go by, everything gets more complicated. The issues are simple when they're babies... not so for children. Hardly for teens.
As my flips now run around frantically to catch up with my children... I have also decided to do something, a small thing, for me. I write. I started a blog called OnePickyChick.com and, in a way, my Mom taught me that too. I make no money on it... have no real sponsors to speak of... only about 10 people actually read it but it fulfills me and it makes me happy. Because in the end, when I left for college, I think my Mom was a little empty inside. Most Moms probably are at that point, I know, it's a big loss. But while my Mom made the choice years ago to stay at home with me, a choice I had now come to appreciate and respect, when I left I'm not sure she really knew who she was anymore... without the daily activity of being my Mom. Her hobbies, her dreams and her heels were all put aside for me. Maybe too soon and for too long.
So I guess in the end, unbeknownst to her, my Mom taught me 2 lessons... not only to be careful of those heels... but to keep an eye on the flip flops. Turns out they can get stuck too.