My daughter started preschool this month and it was as difficult for me as I imagined. I walked out of the school with tears streaming down my face and spent the remainder of the day crying off and on. For many of my Mommy friends, it was a relief to drop their kids off and get a few hours free. For me, however, it was as if I’d been stripped of my Mommy title and as a result, lost my purpose in life. (Now, understand I realize how dramatic it sounds and I certainly realize that coming back to an empty house and looking into her empty room and sobbing might have been a slight over reaction . However, it was MY reaction and my feelings were very real).
If you would have told me 5 years ago that I was going to become a mother at 36 and spend every second of my life caring for this beautiful little person, I would have given you a good old Elaine Benes “GET OUT” shove and laughed it off. We hadn’t planned to get pregnant when we did … We weren’t married at the time and I had actually just lost my job. Having a child was something I always wanted, but something I didn’t think I would ever experience. The years were going by very quickly and as I navigated through the acting/waitressing/auditioning world, then switched to the agent/manager world, and then decided to go back to the former … It was evident that the right time might never come. I would tell myself that being the fun Auntie to my niece and nephews was incredibly fulfilling, but deep down, I knew I yearned for my own child. I cannot tell you how happy we are that we have our sweet silly girl and we both know we are better people for creating her and loving her more than life itself. If we had tried to make a plan to be in the exact place we are now, it never would have worked out. What is that saying, If you want to make God laugh, Make plans? Not having a plan miraculously resulted in the BEST plan.
Becoming a mother was natural but difficult too. I am so fortunate to have been able to be home with her the last 2 years thanks to my incredible hardworking husband. But understanding my value without contributing financially is uncharted territory for me. It was and continues to be a challenge to find value in myself if I’m not bringing home any bacon. For the last 2 years my bacon has been nursing , diapers , bathing , cooking, laundry, cleaning , grocery shopping , and the huge responsibility of shaping this little girl into some sort of kind, bright, and thoughtful human. I found myself constantly thinking , well I better have toilet brush sticking out of the bowl and loaf of bread baking in the oven when he comes home or else ! (All of this added pressure brought to you by moi.) Just as I started to realize that indeed I AM working and it’s actually ALL of the time , it seems I’ve already started to work myself out of a job !
I love being Mommy. Mommy is awesome. Mommy does everything. Mommy is hands down the best person I’ve ever been. Going through my pregnancy and giving birth is my greatest accomplishment by far, and given the opportunity, I will talk about it ALL! When my child looks at me and throws her arms around my neck and says,” I love you Mommy”, That is EVERYTHING . There is nothing else. But as my mother, (who really is THE greatest Mommy), once told me, “if you do your job, after 18 years, they won’t need you anymore .”
What???? That’s such bullshit. You don’t get a promotion or a bonus or a damn write up on the company website; you’re just done. I mean- in theory. I ask my Mom for advice everyday and she’s technically been retired from me for 22 years! Yep…the word on the street is that in many ways, adult children are harder than actual children children! What??? I can’t even handle preschool 2 days a week! What if SHE decides to be an actress and move 3,000 miles away?? (I can already hear mother saying , “…what goes around comes around dear….”)
I’m honestly not sure who I am anymore if I’m not ONLY Mommy. I can’t say that I’m even sure how to figure it out ….I think I’m just going to have to start over at 40…or pick up at 40? Unlike other Mommies, I don’t have my successful career to go back to. I don’t have a closet full of blazers and heels that hides behind my jeggings and comfy shirts. Is this my time to discover it? And how do I DO it? It’s funny, ever since I was a child, I’ve had this sense that you get to this place in life and you just sort of arrive at your “adult place”. You essentially remain there until you retire and get a cake in the office conference room and your co-workers sing an uncomfortable refrain of, “For she’s a jolly good fellow”. You then play tiles and mahjong at the pool with your friends … Right? For me to be at my mid life and still be growing and figuring things out is daunting. Yet, it’s all so strange that I would even have these thoughts of “adult place” in my mind considering I pursued a career in the arts! I haven’t been a child for years! You would think my own experiences would have allowed me to discover that my journey might just be different than my parents and that it’s OK. I think of my childhood and my parents just seemed so secure and firmly planted in “adult place”. I can’t imagine them opening up a bottle of wine after we were all asleep and my mom saying,” what the hell are we doing? I thought we were going to travel the world together … There are so many things I want to do….Who ARE we…?”, as she sneaks a puff from a cigarette out the window.
It’s a relief to know that my mother had moments like that, (likely without the smoking I’m sure). She had days where she felt overwhelmed, days where she felt invisible, or had no identity …. But she found herself again. She went back to school and had her career and …well… actually found a way to “have it all” … And I have always looked at her like she was the most perfect Mommy in the world who always knew exactly what to say and what to do. She was my safe place, my happy place. She was the person that made everything ok just by being there. But I am realizing that I look at her exactly the same way my daughter looks at me now and I am humbled to be in her company.
I think my Mommy job is still safe for now. Now let me call my Mom and ask her what I should make for dinner.