Missing in Action

So yes, I’ve been missing.   The reality is that I’ve started back to work on a part time basis.  I know for us stay at home moms that first step back into the work force can seem a bit intimidating.  Well as someone who’s going through the process let me put your mind to rest.  IT IS INTIMIDATING on so many levels and you should definitely fear it.

First off, everyone is so YOUNG.  When did we start letting grade school kids go to work?  Aren’t there still child labor laws still in effect?  They come in so perky and bouncy; men and women.  They eat yogurt with fresh fruit and drink green tea.  What the heck happened to greasy donuts, and coffee that’s so old it puts hair on your chest?

Then, there’s the issue of trying not to talk about your kids all the time.  THAT’S HARD.  Picture everyone standing around for a break, drinking the stupid tea and eating yogurt like it tastes good and they’re discussing the fascinating things they’ve been doing.   When they look to you and ask

“Where do you work?”

Images of your laundry room, kitchen sink and bathroom floor come to mind. You just don’t know what to say.  My stories of the past six years revolve mostly around some sort of bodily function that has ended up on my shirt, or my shoe, or in my hand.  

Then there’s the whole getting dressed thing. Probably not a big deal for some but for my entire professional life I wore exactly one thing; a uniform.  It was the same thing every day.  I didn’t have to match shoes, bags, pants and jackets.  Don’t even talk about different jewelry options.  Oh, and my hair?  I wore it up.  Every day I wore it up.  On the weekends I’d put it down just to see if I needed to go buy some extra bobby pins but I certainly  didn’t have to worry about the cut, the last time I’d washed it, or if the weather was going to turn it into porcupine hair.  It was so cold here one morning that the static electricity was horrible.  I remembered my mom used to take coat hanger from the closet and run it under her dress to get rid of the static build so Einstein that I am I was up in my bathroom at 6:30 in the morning rubbing an iron hanger over my head.  One of the boys came in and thought I’d been drinking.  The little smart aleck came down and Googled it and brought me a drier sheet.  As he took the hanger from my frantic hands he said quietly,

“Try this mom, it’ll be okay.”

I’ve also come to realize that high heels are about as much of a torture device as pantyhose.  Since I’m basically nobody where I’m working, I have to park and walk what seems like a mile in pointy little shoes that I’m sure some man with a mommy complex designed:

“Hey, what do you want to do today?” little Peter Prada asked little Davie Dolce as he’s pulling the legs off of a spider.

“Oh I know.” replies cute little Davie.

“Let’s design shoes for women that make their entire bodies rest on the balls of their feet.” 

“Great idea.” Says  Peter. 

“Oh, oh, and then we can put a four inch spike coming out of their heel.  It’ll be so fun.” 

Voila!  High fashion was born.  My crocs are a lot more comfortable and a lot more practical but my fashion savvy sister said it wouldn’t be right for me to wear them. Jerk.

The good news is, once everything got rolling I fell right back into things.  Seems your basic abilities don’t wilt and die on the vine like you are imagining when you’re home with the children.  I remember feeling some days like the clock was literally moving backwards as I spent yet another day doing finger paints, watching Barney and doing Everyday Math homework.    I would think of those Sponge Bob cartoons where the scene would come up that says,

“Six hours later” 

As I was folding yet another load of tiny little outfits.

So here’s the revelation.

I’m glad I stayed home with the boys.  I’m glad I’m only working part time and I’m glad I’m back to working.  I’m glad I wear crocs most days, and don’t have to worry about matching handbags, but I’m glad that I’ve got some new clothes hanging in my closet that make me feel good when I get dressed up for work.  I think my time with the boys has given them a great start in life, and in all honesty it hasn’t detracted from mine.  It’s given me a different perspective on the obligations we take on, a much greater appreciation for those moms that were working and had children when I was full throttle committed to my profession, and it has made me very, very thankful for the planning Steve and I put into having children so that we had the option of me staying home.

I know not everyone has that option, and I know that as moms it is our nature to feel guilty about EVERYTHING we cannot accomplish.  When I left work I felt guilty that I wasn’t working.  I felt I’d abandoned what I saw as an obligation to the organization that gave me so much.   But I knew in my heart that I could not answer two masters and I would always feel like I was shirking some responsibility somewhere.  I couldn’t do that to either my family, or the men and women I’d come to love professionally.

I guess as a grown up you’ve just got to make a decision and live with it.  My new lesson learned is that things will evolve.  It will change.  New doors will open just as familiar ones close.  Having choices is the legacy women who’ve come before us, have given to us.  I’m thankful for those options and supportive of whatever choices women make for themselves.  There is no one size fits all for motherhood and lord knows there’s no one size fits all definition of success.

So go out and define your success.  Embrace whatever is right for you right now and understand that it will change.  I’m not sure I believe everything happens for a reason, but I do think we can find the reason in just about everything. 

Have a brilliant day!

Parenting Tip of the Day:

If you are staying home with the thought of returning to a professional pursuit one day, don’t underestimate the value of volunteering in positions that will enhance your resume.  Four of the past six years I’ve spent as a board member of my school’s PTO.  That allowed me to put valuable experiences on my resume, such as “President of a federally recognized 501c (3) organization comprised of 150 volunteers with a budget that handled over 100,000 dollars in transactions each year.”  I left out the cookie and cakes sales part but really every bit of leadership and organizational experience you can show will help a period that you’ve gone without working and the PTO ladies helped me stay sane. 

8 responses to “Missing in Action

  1. That was worth the wait, D! And everything IS going to be ok, it already is. Thanks for the dryer sheet tip – didn’t know about that one!

  2. Not supermom but honestly I was going INSANE!!! You know people can say whatever they want but when you do have talents and you’re home feeling like you’re not using them you can become MISERABLE. I had to do something and I just made that work. I’d take poor little Danny from the time he was about 19 months. I remember him saying in the hallway once “wait for me mommy”. I said “I am waiting for you”. He said “Noooo, if you up there wakin with Bennimen then you NOT waitin’ for me.” You know they adjusted. They did food drives with us, toy drives ectera and it really turned out great (although if you don’t believe in miracles you needed to be at my house when we had to be at school by 8 am). You’ll know when you can make it work. And then make it user friendly for other moms…like toys at the volunteer locations, snacks etc. It’s amazing how much that inspires folks to be a part of what you’re doing. Of course hubbies have to help as well.

  3. volunteer work – great suggestion. but how on earth did you find time to do it while being home with the boys? are you secretly a super mom under that cape?

  4. See–we’ll feel guilty about everything!!! And what’s amazing is we’re all doing amazing things. I’d love to do freelance–but am sure I don’t have the talent nor the discipline to make it all work. Cleaning – AHAHAHAHA…hang in there and thanks for popping by…I think your stuff looks fab. d

  5. for me, it’s not so much that i don’t get to spend the time with my son, becuase i work full time and do freelance, it’s more what i can’t accomplish at home…the cleaning, organizing, more designs to add to my trove of stuff, all the ideas…that’s the stuff i mourn. i mourn the extra minutes i used to steal to do these things. i feel like i’m wasting time at work. 😦

  6. Thanks Lisa–sorry about the coffeee…Davis thanks for the note. Since this blog is mostly about my children I suspect I’m just getting my stories out in a different venue. Thanks for stopping by regardless.

  7. Oh my gosh… once again you have made coffee come out of my nose and brought a tear to my eye… how can you do that so brilliantly?

    Worth the wait…. and no offense taken to the jerk comment LOL

  8. I for one appreciate your awareness that we don’t want to hear every detail about your kids. I have a coworker I’d love to hear that.

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