"I'm sorry, but mommy has to work right now." Those eight words kill me just a little bit every single time I say them to my sweet girl. Not because I don't want to be working, but because they embody all of the tension, and uncertainty, and love, and pain that is tied up in being a mother, and being a person who has dreams, and vision and plans that stretch outside of my motherhood. When I first had Jane Shenandoah I was a full time stay at home mom. At the time I felt it was what I was supposed to do, and I let go of any plans or dreams that I had outside of caring for her. However, over time, it became clear that I really wasn't thriving there. My soul felt shriveled, a little starved, and under inspired. I feel terrible saying that, because there is something inside of me that says my child should have been creative inspiration enough. I shouldn't have wanted more than that beautiful job. But deep down, I know that isn't true. I know that the person I was created to be longed for something else too, and I've come to terms with the fact that that is a gloriously beautiful thing. I absolutely love, and respect, the mothers who choose to devote their entire lives to raising their children. I couldn't do that, and I'm inspired by their sacrifice. I am also in awe of the mothers who go back to work full time. I'm not ready to do that either, and I'm amazing at their energy, strong decisions, and sacrifices.
Honestly, I don't know what the hell I'm doing right now. I don't know how to balance working from home, raising my daughter, and being a functional person in society. Sometimes I realize that I've spent a whole day telling my little girl that I don't have time to play with her, and sometimes emails and phone calls go unanswered because there are 20 dolls in the living room and my child needs me. Sometimes I'm gone at night because I need social interaction, and sometimes I cancel on my friends because my child needs her mothers interaction. And slowly, I'm beginning to accept the tension. I'm beginning to realize that at this point in time, there may not be an "answer." My life may be chaotic, by virtue of being the person that I am, but chaos does not always equal failure. Because here's the thing: I'm thriving. Here in this chaotic, emotional, messy life my roots are growing deep. And for me, that's a key to remember. When I doubt myself (which is pretty much everyday, in case you wondered) I can remember that although those eight words are the hardest that I say, they also tell a story that I think is incredibly important: they tell her my heart. I'm not going to get this parenting thing "right" (and if you care to hear me rant about that you can see it here "You Will Fail Your Children."), but I'm going to do the best I damn well can, and above all else I want my daughter to know my heart.
I want her to know that my choices are not made lightly, and that they aren't always easy. I want her to know that sometimes it kills me when I leave her, and sometimes I wish I had nothing else to do but soak her in. But I also want her to know that I have dreams, and visions, and plans. I have things I want to achieve, and my world does not revolve around her, even if she is one of the most important pieces in this story. And I want to show her that I am pursuing those things, exactly like I will tell her to do. I want her to know that I feel and dream, just like she does, and that that is exactly what it is to be human. To not have it all figured out, and listen and learn along the way. I chose this road. She may choose another. But perhaps she will at least know the joy of peace within tension and love within longing.
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