Joni Mitchell would be proud. I've seen life from both sides now. There were no bows and flows of angel's hair (except for a few bows perched atop ringleted curls), and unfortunately no ice cream castles in the air. But there was a milkshake reward for a successful first day, and a lot of deep sighs on my part. And in the end, I must admit, I really don't know this life...at all.
Translation, the kids and I have transitioned from a 'stay at home mom' family to a 'working mom' family. Granted, we're still adjusting (5:45am wake ups, rushed breakfasts, tears at separation on both parts, and general exhaustion), but we're making it work.
That is not to say that there weren't snags along the way.....like last week when I got in my car for my first day back at work in 4 years and the battery was dead. It was one of those moments where you throw your hands up and say, "Yeah, ok universe, I get it, but I'm going anyway." That of course was followed up by the car needing to be in the shop the morning of the kids' first day of school. You know that guy Murphy.....I hope he's getting royalties on those laws of his.
In any case, we all had our first 'official' day of school this morning, and we managed. I knew we would. But I now have a greater appreciation for both sides of the great 'Mommy Debate'. As a stay at home mom, I struggled with the tedium of life with two kids under 3. You know, the wiping and the babbling and the cleaning and the isolation. I was lonely, starved for stimulation, and desperately seeking outlets for both myself and the kids. I thought I'd found it in that greener patch of grass, just over there, on the other side of that shiny new white picket fence. You know, the one just outside the playground and inside the office park.
Well, I've been there. I had lunch there. I sat awhile. I even left my kids in a different patch of grass while I went and explored the supposedly greener one. And it was hard. The emotional pull that I felt for my children was more overwhelming than the adjustment to a new job and life back in the work force.
All day, my children were not far from my heart or my head. And since I work as a teacher in the same building where they are schooled, I am in a constant state of anxiety, wearing my 'mommy ears', listening for their cries, struggling with the desire to check on them vs. my obligations to my own students. I spend my day poised to respond to my own students' prepubescent issues, and the separation anxiety of my young children as well.
And the exhaustion.....not from the work. The work is wonderful, inspiring, stimulating, everything I'd hoped it'd be. No, not the work. The emotional pull is exhausting. The emotional prep work that must be done to acclimate two young babes to the culture of the working mom is, dare I say, debilitating at times. And my desire to be back in my living room, rolling around with them, pretending to cook eggs in the plastic kitchen is nothing short of surprising to me.
And so, you stay at home moms out there, the ones who are desperately seeking the outlet of the working world, and thinking that that patch of grass will be so much greener than your own.....I have news for you. I have news for all of you, working and stay at home moms alike, neither side is greener. Neither is easier. Neither is better. In the end, they're just different patches of grass, equally difficult to navigate, equally demanding, but entirely different.
And accomplishments in both, however big or small, are equally worthy of praise.
Kudos to all you moms out there. All of you who are wiping, or typing, or teaching, or playing, or cleaning, or writing, or computing, or driving, or carpooling, or consoling, or crying, or hugging, or whatever. Your work is important. Your work is vital......no matter which patch of grass you may find yourself in.