As long as I have been a mother I have also had some sort of part time job. A few hours a week I have been able to teach lessons here and there which have brought in extra income and given me a professional outlet. It’s been a healthy balance and I am grateful for those experiences.
Now is a different story. Right now life is chaotic and committing to specific days and times is not an option so for now, I am just a mom.
There’s this tug in the back of my mind though, this drive to be something more than “just mom.” Getting paid actual real-life dollars helps validate my contribution to the world and reduces my anxiety when signing the bill after a haircut and highlight.
This week I had a meeting scheduled to discuss the possibility of teaching again, but those plans unraveled as quickly as my morning. Getting my nine-year-old out the door to school usually requires some sort of divine intervention but since the heavens do not typically part and shine upon us, I am left to mere mortal mothering. I should have known better than to schedule anything important on a stupid Monday.
After eventually getting her to school with her “forgotten” homework in tow and the wrath of the third grade English teacher subsided, at least for now, I sat on the floor paralyzed. My dead-pan gaze into oblivion was fortunately interrupted by the ring-a-ding-ding-ding of the iPad.
My husband, half a world away, called on FaceTime. All I could do was look at him. He asked if I wanted to talk about what was bothering me and I shook my head. He began to talk about his day and that is when the muscles of my face began to pull the corners of my lips into a legitimate frown and salty tears began to pool in their ducts.
He asked if I needed to cry. I did. So I did.
The stress of a chaotic weekend and feelings of consecutive “mom fails” oozed out of my eyes and tumbled down my face.
“I can’t do this,” I mumbled.
“Why don’t you call the babysitter so you can get a break,” he suggested.
“No. It’s not that. It’s the worry.”
Is my son too shy? Shy enough to need professional intervention to ease his anxiety? When will my relationship with my daughter be at peace? Why is my preschooler’s nose running? Still?
A day out on my own would certainly help, but what I mean by, “I can’t do this,” is, “The weight of motherhood is leaning so heavily on me and I don’t have the strength to carry it.” It’s the constant worry I signed up for when I carried each baby home from the hospital.
After gaining composure, a new stripe on my badge of motherhood, one more wrinkle and three new gray hairs, it occurred to me, I am doing enough. Being a mother is enough.
Planning healthy-ish meals for dinner, anticipating anxiety attacks when homework is not finished as we walk out the door, getting pee soaked sheets through the sanitary wash cycle and back on the bed before noon, canceling plans for a potential job to take someone to the doctor, being there at after school pick-up, wiping tears and applying Band-Aids to freshly skinned knees, all of that. All of that is enough.
I do my best to volunteer in the community and practice my professional skills, but I am not tied down to an employer. My mini bosses are my children and I am here to care, teach and love. It won’t be like this forever. My time will eventually return to me and I may or may not look back on this time as the “best years of my life.” Keeping my head above water in the throes of the motherhood is what I do and for now, that is enough.