My eyes scroll up to the top of the menu bar in Google Docs. “New Folder” it says. But I want a new document. How do I open a new document? Why is this so hard?
“Joel what can I do?” My husband comes to my side of the table and with a click shows me the button.
“Oh,” I say, “Geez, I remember that button being somewhere else.”
My attempt at filling in a nine-year gap in my work resume with, well, something is getting off to a rough start.
“I swear Word documents were easier to open a decade ago.”
“It’s not Word babe, it’s a Google Doc.”
My eyes meet his over the rim of my computer monitor. He was laughing. Not a big laugh, but a snicker, no doubt aimed at my obvious technological ineptitude. But it was enough, just enough to puncture that oh-so-fragile bubble of self-confidence I’d built up around my secret insecurity . . .
Returning to the workforce after nine years of child-bearing, nursing, diaper changing, storytelling, and hand-holding.
I mean. I’d worked, from home, in my sweats, at my computer (in Word), and dabbled part-time in this and that, but stepping back into a world of pantsuits (do people still wear those?) and complete sentences—I am overwhelmed.
The long nine-year gap is laughing at me too, that big blank space in my resume where all I can think to write is “Carpool.” How can I even think about stepping back into the roaring gears that turn the world economy if I can’t even find the “New Doc” button?
“They changed the location of the drop-down menu. I know they did!!”
“They didn’t, “ he says.
I feel like an idiot, so like any self-respecting adult, I confront my failure by walking away in a huff, plopping into our king-sized bed, and hiding under the covers.
Real mature grown-up stuff.
Give me a bleeding child with gashes and tears, and I’m the picture of self-possession. “Grab the bandages, and I’ll wipe off the blood.” That’s me, not this cowering, angry woman hiding from the world under her feather-down comforter. I lay there stewing, my hot tears mixing with the sweat on my face, and I think of all those years sacrificed for them. THEM! Those grubby little humans stole the best years of my life!
Just then a little head peeks in under the covers. Her hand finds my face, brushing it softly, “Oh, you’re sad,” she says, giving my eyes a butterfly kiss. Pulling back the covers, she nuzzles her face in my tummy and whispers in my ear, “Mommy I’m hungry.”
My children always know where to find me. Whether I’m hiding under the covers, in the bathroom, kitchen, garden. They always find me. They always could, and they always have. Maybe that is the point, I think, as I lie here, Cora’s hand squeezing my arm.
The last nine years were more than just a blank resume.
More than just a series of playdates, snack times, potty explosions, and time-outs. It was their time to find me, and my time to help them find and discover themselves.
I grab my laptop, haphazardly thrown on my husband’s side of the bed, and open up my resume template. Wow, it really is sparse, I think, but I don’t care anymore. With my daughter snuggled close beside me, I click on “Special Skills.” So what if I can’t write physician, philosopher, and superhero in that big blank space. Boo-boo mender, human encyclopedia, and savior of the empty stomach. I can write “Mother.” Suddenly that big blank section in my resume doesn’t feel so blank anymore.
Later that week as I fill in Cora’s kindergarten questionnaire, I feel a swell of satisfaction. The questions are not hard, but I know every one.
About: loves unicorns, my little pony, all animals, the color purple pink and “Frozen” blue, her brothers, sea creatures. She wants to be a sea scientist, but only if she gets to use a shark cage.
Special Talents: Event planning, tea parties, stuffed animal triage, smiling, swinging upside down, feeding her plants, making up songs.
Do you feel she’s ready for kindergarten? Yes. She’s curious, loves to learn, but most importantly, she knows who she is and understands her worth.
That doubt still likes to creep in now and then.
The question of whether I gave up too much for them, stayed home too long.
My lingering doubts are quelled when my 9-year-old son reaches for my hand in the pick-up line. It was all worth it.
I did eventually finish my resume, and it’s not half bad. Among the myriad of special skills I was able to list, the one I’m most proud of is “Mother.”