My daughter sailed into La-La Land about 6:30pm last night and I wanted to follow suit. Maybe get over this cough I’ve had since Christ was a child. But that didn’t happen.
Instead, I laid in the dark feeling an unexpected solidarity with other women doing some – same version of being a full-time working mother.
I understand the “role/combo” isn’t a newsflash.
In fact I read a cartoon years ago that had a man standing on a sidewalk berating a woman for leaving her children because she was ‘going to work’ and then the next slide was the same man berating her for staying home (with her children) — doing “nothing” to contribute.
The entire sociological piece of “mother’s damned if we do(work)/damned if we don’t” is too big for this post.
But it is real.
We’ve carried the ‘privilege’ of advancement for decades now and if I truly resented it; I would also resent the exorbitant student loan debt directly tied to my PhD.
I do not.
I stand on brave shoulders.
And I am tired.
Like a so-tired it’s sitting underneath the word “tired” in some crazy separate language symbolic abstract drawing kind of experience version of the word.
A type of tired that still allows me to have pre-frontal cortex functioning without scientific back-up.
And let’s face it. I’m old. On the border of geriatric. My daughter just six and I turn forty-five in short order.
This is vulnerable for me.
I personally know more than a few working moms who integrate yoga with a good run on the side. Regularly.
I could too.
I have the treadmill. I think about using it. A lot.
And I like the words “Self-Care” or sweet mantra’s such as “Be Good to Yourself.”
But writing truth about private imperfections when brave faces and fortitude are all that’s on the culturally acceptable menu is not easy.
Sometimes there just isn’t enough Brene Brown out there to make women more empathic.
Fessing up takes guts because we fear the whisper or the nod.
At least I know I do.
- I’m fat. (Well, eat less and move more! it’s not rocket science.)
- I’m drinking too much wine every night. (Oh reaaaaaalllllly……??)
- I wonder if I made a mistake by choosing a career. (I do think the children suffer with your long hours)
- I sometimes feel like the worst mom. (Well……….your past IS a bit on the rough side.)
Because I remember being that woman who, too quickly, quipped back nonsense. Hearing friends lament the impact of those roles.
I had soooooo many (un-thoughtful) answers to their problems. I couldn’t shut up and just get the fact I had ZERO idea about their experience.
An “answer” wasn’t the answer at all.
A little humility and a “yeah, I have no idea what it’s like. Here’s a cup of coffee. I’ll straighten the kitchen while you take five and stare out the window.” could have gone a lot further.
What’s more *this* is all so inevitable and unchanging — generations upon generations, being female, choosing to honor a calling and becoming a mother is always, always, always going to be hard work.
Just think. When I am fifty-five my daughter will be sixteen years old. Probably running her own business: calling shots and taking names.
I think I’m looking haggard now?
I’m going to start laughing again. The half-crazed maniacal sort.
A mother’s work is never done. A woman’s work is never done. (Didn’t Kate Bush write an epic song called “A Woman’s Work?)
It’s *never* done.
And here’s the kicker.
I don’t want it to be.
I love being a mother to my daughter.
And I wouldn’t change a thing about my professional life.
I’ve just changed and I think, somewhere, all women do if we hold these two roles in our world.
We knew we would when the job offer came, or the baby was born. We weren’t stupid.
But getting used to this new part (aka: bone weary fatigue) is like an acquired permanent appendage. Not as creepy as a third arm, or a strange growth we can’t cover up.
But it is a part that isn’t pretty. Just like those secret truth’s.
My version of TIRED is NOT pretty. I don’t know if it ever can be.
And I want to put out there that it’s okay.
I’m not alone. You aren’t alone.
I think back on my year in Japan. It was 1993 and I was visiting Harajuku with a friend. We saw Elvis impersonators lining up the beginning of a particular section that rocked out with band, after band, after band: a literal cacophony of western music/Japanese style.
As I stood there observing “Elvis” do his thing; I looked at other American tourists. We caught each other’s eyes, smiled, and gave the nod. We just understood what Mr. Japanese Elvis never could. Some things you just can’t recreate.
It’s like that now.
This post is about finding you, mom, out there in the community and catching your eye as you try and order a coffee from Dunkin Donuts so you can make it home for the shift change…your bleary eyes meet my bleary eyes and I smile. (I get that you might not be able to.)
That’s kind of the whole point. I feel you.
Maybe when we’re 65 we’ll meet again and swap stories about how we made it – because this writing hasn’t even touched the third dimension of integrating needs of a relationship – and our part in all of that.
Rest for now….when you can.