There are days, sometimes weeks and months where I think DH and Reasonable Child would be better off if I just wandered off into the woods and didn’t come back. It’s times like that when it doesn’t seem to matter what I do or say, I’m getting it horribly horribly wrong. I look at the other moms, with their hair done and their shiny white Escalades, and I know they don’t make their kids do their own laundry or pull weeds for 10 cents a stalk to replace yet another pair of 40.00 headphones. I know their husbands can count on having arm candy for the baseball gala, and sure as shit don’t have to make their own supper at the end of the day.
But after nearly 13 years of trying to fit myself into a role and a nice size 14, I’m just bloody bloody fucking tired. Sure I’ve had jobs and things to do outside of the home, but nothing meaningful, and nothing that ever took true priority over the parenting. Which is the way it’s supposed to be as a mom. I get that. I made a choice to be a parent, and spent 10 years putting my needs at the very way bottom of the list. Some of you might say “Well that’s how it is, and you have a lifetime yet to go of coming last, so suck it up princess”. But I don’t think I can hack it.
Ten years of pushing and plotting, waiting for the day when I wasn’t 24/7 required for the survival of a small child. Who now is old enough to more or less think I’m an idiot, challenge and question everything I set before him and is now capable of doing his own laundry, packing a lunch, and walking his own ass 2 blocks to school. I think it’s finally my turn.
DH says he gets it, but I’m not sure he really understands. He’s been busting his ass, moving his career forward, paying the bills, and doing all the wonderful Man stuff that only Men can do. Providing for the frazzled wife and growing son, and coming home at the end of the day wondering why there’s no dinner some nights and the house is a mess and he has no clean underwear. Because the Frazzled wife made it just out of bed and completely checked out. Again. She looked around and screamed in her head “WHAT’S IN IT FOR ME?!” and sat down to cry.
Many months ago, before we even knew we were moving, I uttered a prophecy. “Mommy’s getting a Camp Job”. It was all very “ha ha” at the time- I had just finished my EMR training and was still riding the high of my success and feeling all empowered and capable and independent (why can’t that last?). And Reasonable Child had wandered off from the dinner table leaving his dirty plate and an explosion of crumbs and sauce and mess in his wake. I asked him “Um, are you forgetting something?” and he stared blankly at me and said “Huh?”. And that’s when I said it. ” Mommy’s getting a camp job”… “See how well you survive with me gone for weeks at a time! You’ll all starve and die in your own filth!”
And here I am. The nature of my career-to-be entails “Having to start somewhere”, and that will likely mean a Camp Job. 2 weeks in, one out, or more or less depending on where they want to post me. Sitting in a band-aid truck for 12 hrs a day (or night) waiting for someone to hurt themselves badly enough to have to report it. I’m trying to be excited. I’m trying not to be afraid. And I’m trying to mentally and emotionally prepare the boys (and myself) for the reality. DH will have to call around and find back-up child care. DH will have to remember to give the kid something for his stuffy nose, and not too much something. Take him to karate, remind him about his library books, shop for the friend’s birthday party. And Reasonable Child will pass his dad on his way up the stairs to bother me in the bathroom for something to eat and I won’t be there. I will be away, feeling useful and getting paid for my skills.
I’ve watched my mom, and my grandma(s) and my aunts and all the other Heroes of life give everything to their husbands and kids. Everything. And I admire them, and I wish I could be more like them- the giving everything and making it look like they don’t mind coming last- although I know perfectly well they do mind. But we teach people how to treat us- these boys of mine seem to believe that my needs are the same as theirs; at least that I need to meet their needs. But the very fibre of my being says “I need to feel empowered and capable and independent” and while making the Very Best Birthday Cakes is fun, and someone has to do the Karate Run, those things aren’t giving me what I have to have to go down the road.
And if I can get any of those needs met, I can be a better mom and a better wife. I can enjoy being home and picking up socks when I know it’s not the only meaningful contribution I can make in the world.
Now all I need is someone to hire me.