For ME, going from SAHM to WAHM was a necessary evil. I do not regret the years I stayed home, but it just was time for a little more up and down than stagnant…I was going down a very slippery slope – that being one where I was weighing my own worth on the merits of my kids. I have always been a perfectionist. No matter what I set out to do, I was going to do the absolute best I possibly could do and settle for nothing less. I was a good student. I went for internships that were so-called unattainable. I attempted to learn tennis over and over again. I was a doting granddaughter. You get the picture. I set the bar high and I mean high. I still do this.
However, when my sons were both well-situated in grade school, I realized something very dark and sinister about myself. I had nothing available and ready to set goals for myself. Except for what my kids were up to…Which at the time was basically being kids. You know, they were doing homework (sometimes better than others but not always), playing sports (sometimes more skillfully than others but not always), behaving (not always), learning to be nice, kind and fair (with mishaps), and doing everything else that kids do being average joe kids. The only issue is this: As a SAHM, I saw what my kids were doing out in public as a performance review of my sole job. Of course, to a certain extent, we all feel that way as parents. It is our job to raise our kids and they are a reflection of us, but For ME, when this was my only job – it was a recipe for disaster.
I began to see visions of myself doing something Tiger-Momish but on a whole new level because I had all the hours of the day to devise a plan. Parent-Teacher Conferences set off a panic like none other. And, if there were no bananas in the house, how were the boys going to get their potassium? Thus, this was my job to make all this work top notch, and was remarkably harder and harder on myself.
For ME, it was not going to fly. Notice, how I keep saying For ME? Let’s skip the judgement here because I am talking about ME. Everyone is different. I always admired the moms of newborns who could just BE at home for a few months cuddling and nursing and cocooning with their babies. OH, NOT ME. I was whipping around the neighborhood with the jogging stroller, hitting the mall when the weather was bad and shlepping anywhere that I could dream of to occupy time and space. So, it seems to hold true that while my boys were at school, I was not at home straightening their toys or making cookies. NO way – I was developing strategies for my next parental performance review and this was very, very, very bad For ME.
I could see that my sons were not learning to roll with the punches, adapt, or deal with potential bumps in the road. I wanted to solve and arrange everything perfectly. Just yesterday, the Atlantic Monthly published a story of a tangled web in which a teacher caught a student plagiarizing and it turns out the parent ACTUALLY did it because the student was too stressed over the assignment. I thought to myself: That could have been me. Rather, I was always on time for pick up, lunches were never forgotten, we ran back to school to get items left behind, haircuts were done on time, and everything always ran smoothly and life is not smooth. I should know this – I rolled with many punches as a kid. I decided to change it up a bit and For ME – it was the right choice. 100% right. A+ right.
Last week, I forgot to send a lunch for one son. I have been known to call the school with alternate pick up instructions because I am caught up with something. Some days, the boys eat applesauce in the morning rather than fresh fruit. My oldest has served detention. My youngest got his Lego magazine lifted from him while reading it in math class. My oldest made the honor roll, but not the high honor roll as he came to tell me. I actually did not care because in the same conversation, he and I chatted about an upcoming freelance assignment for me and he was PROUD and excited For ME. They are learning to deal, cope, and roll with it while taking notice that I also have to do the same. An editor doesn’t like something…They tell me, I fix it, and move on. For ME, this is working and working well.
I always hear Life is a Balance. I say – Not so much a balance, but a see-saw and I always thought going up and down on the see-saw was way more exciting.