Jake posted a photo on Facebook today. I don't love it, but at the same time, I love it. It's the kids and me taken at the park. The kids are dirty, sweaty, and disheveled--which they were. I look tired and overweight--which I am. It pretty much sums up me and my job for the past eight years. Happy Mother's Day.
As I write this, I am exhausted and only half awake. In a few short hours I will be getting up to frantically get the entire brood ready for church, where I will be playing the organ and the piano, and then teaching Sunday School to 3-year-olds. I will likely be getting up once or twice before then to feed the baby and possibly change a diaper or two. But the thing is, this is OK with me. In fact, it's more than OK. It's freaking awesome.
I graduated from law school and management school eight years ago. I gave birth to my Ellie about a week before graduation. I decided to stay home with my baby, just for the first little bit. My plan was to re-enter the workforce soon thereafter, but I realized that I didn't want to leave my daughter in someone else's care. (My mom even offered to take care of her at one point!) So I put off going back to work. And then I got pregnant with Judd. And then Lu. And then I realized that this career thing was just not going to happen. I am well aware that the longer I am out of the market, the worse my situation becomes for someday re-entering. Yet here I am. And then I had another baby. I might be crazy.
Or, maybe, deep down, I really love my job. Even though it has cost me my career. It has cost me hundreds of hours of sleep. It has cost me my fit body. As I was drying my hair this morning, I realized that it is now costing me my hair. It is definitively turning grey. Actually, that's probably just a function of age, but I'm going to go ahead and blame my kids for it. Then there's the issue of all the damaged property caused by all these little people.
Believe me, I am terrible at my job. My house is an insane mess. My kids are dirty most of the time, despite mandatory daily bathing. I don't revel in all the stuff that kids do. Reading to the kids? Let's hope they pick a book with only a few short sentences. Play with the kids on the playground? Rule Number One with this mom: if you can't play with it by yourself, you can't play with it. Soccer games? Do I have to go? Ballet recitals? My own personal hell.
I can't verbalize exactly why I do this. Maybe someday when I'm better rested I will be able to explain this clearly, but for now this is all I can say. It has something to do with waking up in the middle of the night, maybe even a few times, for a fussing baby. I hate it, but I love it more.
Is anything better than this? I'm pretty sure there is nothing better than this.
It has something to do with driving 8 hours to the beach in a crowded minivan while the kids fight and scream most of the way, then having to throw together a birthday party for one of them. All while very pregnant. I hate it. But I love it more.
He still says that was the best day of his life.
It has something to do with spending most of the day in the kitchen, cooking, then cleaning it up, then cooking again, then cleaning it up again; and then, cleaning up after everyone else. Sometimes my kids eat what I cook. Sometimes they won't touch it. It's about 50/50. I hate that. But it makes me laugh. So I love it.
Here I am, doing things I hate, but loving it at the same time. That is what keeps me here. I guess it makes sense, then, that I keep my license to practice law in my wallet and carry it with me wherever I go, even though I have never practiced. I remain conflicted about that decision every single day. I pull the card out every so often and look at it. I think about what life would be like if I was working. More money. More car. More house. More respect. But I always put it away. Maybe later.
Happy Mother's Day.
Mother-of-the-Year advice: to capture all of the kids at once in a photo, line them up in front of the TV. They won't budge.