I haven’t been blogging very much lately, although many biggish things have happened. We flew to Brisbane. We flew to Singapore. We had in-laws come over. My mother’s been well. (Hooray!) We’ve been sick. (Boo.)
We ran out and bought a new car so now I need to go back to work.
The last bit isn’t entirely fair, and isn’t entirely accurate. The new car is one of many reasons I need to go back to work. The new car is one of many reasons I even want to go back to work. But I’m still building up to it.
Lately, I’ve been racking my brains to remember what my mindset had been before I had Arddun. To remember the version of motherhood I’d believed myself capable of, Before Child. And it’s blowing my mind how differently I feel now. I remember warning Tony over and over. About how I’m not one of those women who could do the whole barefoot-and-pregnant schtick. About how all the women in my family for at least three generations have been working mums. They’d gone out. Earned the bread and butter. I’ll be like that too, I had told him. In my blood. Can’t help it. I reminded my husband, over and over, how I suffer dreadfully from cabin fever. How being a homebody would destroy me. I pictured a life of spilt dinners, soiled rags, Teletubbies and tedium. And I shuddered at the loss of independence. The seeming lack of mental stimulation. The irretrievable disappearance of personal identity.
And in part, some of those “losses” have happened these last 16 months, 3 weeks and 3 days. Or at least bits of me have eroded, faded, or given way to something new. Part of me is infinitely mushier. I used to look at babies and think, “Squished little thing.” And now I peer into the prams of total strangers and sigh adoringly at their precious gifts from God.
Part of me is harder. I understand more. I feel like I have more to lose. I know I have a new great purpose.
And yes, part of me has been put away for now. The self-absorbed me, and I don’t mean that I’m less selfish now because I am still incredibly selfish at times. But I’m talking about that sense of separateness and individualism that free adults enjoy. You lose some of that when you become a wife because your life is entwined inextricably with another’s. But I found I lost a lot of that when Arddun was so very tiny and so very helpless. She came from my body, but I largely became hers.
And so for over a year, I’ve been very happy to lose myself in Arddun and to lose myself in my family. I feel like I’ve poured myself out, which probably accounts for the constant gooey, liquid feeling I carry around inside of me. I’ve been on a high – I am still on a high.
But now my family might need me in other ways, and so I am at a crossroad. Because I’ve had to re-evaluate what I think motherhood should look like and for 16 months, I’ve been hoping the answer is something like “Stay at home forever! Or at least for 5 years! Have 2 babies! Maybe have an accidental third!”
But the other voices in my head are starting to say things like, “You can’t have your cake and eat it. Money doesn’t grow on trees. You have family you love outside of Tony and Arddun. Your world is shrinking and you’re getting insular. What about your other God-given talents? You have to stop being so selfish.”
What a twisted world we live in.
I look at my friends who’ve chosen to stay at home for their children, and I love and admire them greatly. I acknowledge their sacrifice and selflessness, I applaud their resourcefulness and economy, I love their happy products – their beautiful, Godly children. Their humble, cheerful homes. Their sense of peace and calm. And rather erroneously – even sinfully – I think I’ve been ascribing a higher value to their family choice than the choice of many other beautiful mothers who have gone back to work.
I mean, everyone says that the best job in the world is being a mother, right? So isn’t the best job in the world that of a full-time mother? And therefore, shouldn’t it follow that working mothers are not the best mothers? Isn’t that how the equation works?
That’s the guilt talking. That’s been the guilt talking for 16 months. And it’s been hard, hard work trying to look at it any other way. And then I feel HUGE guilt for inadvertently passing judgement on the many other mothers who have chosen to go back to work.
Because that’s the rub, isn’t it. Whatever parenting choices you make already passes judgement on the other options you rejected.
Very long story short, I’m preparing to re-enter the Corporate World. Which means I’m waiting for childcare to get back to me, which means I’ve talked to my boss, which means I’ve been tuning my brain to think corporatey things and I’ve been spending my evenings writing more corporatey gook. I’ve started working out clothes Arddun can wear to childcare, and ordered name labels to paste on everything she owns. And it’s been hard. Honestly? Part of me is heartbroken I’m even doing this but as the days wear on, I’ve also been getting strangely excited.
Because it feels good to embrace parts of my old self again. To flex those muscles and air out dusty rooms in the corners of my mind. Coupled with my new priorities, I feel a lot more purpose-driven about where I need to be, and where I don’t want to be. And so I’ve taken steps to shift the course of my professionally development. Just one or two inches to the left or the right. Which is more than what I’ve done for my career in the last 5 years.
The lovely thing is that I’m surrounded by many mothers who have already rejoined the corporate world. Who have already gone through the heartrending bit. Who’ve cried in a lonely toilet cubicle when they missed their child’s milestone for the first time. Who are currently managing the whole part-time work schtick really, really well. They have been such an edification.
“I am a better mum for it,” at least two have assured me repeatedly, and I believe them. I don’t think they’re just saying it to make themselves feel better. “I appreciate my child more. Every moment really counts. I’m a better time manager. My priorities are crystal clear now. And the house is a mess but I don’t care.”
And so I’m on my way.
On a completely separate note – the car we’re in the process of buying? Reverse parallel parks itself. PHWOOARRR!
11 November 2012 at 10:48 pm
I totally hear you, sista. And soon I’ll come to the same crossroads as you do now….
*hugs!* I know God has a great plan for you !
11 November 2012 at 11:17 pm
Thanks, Audrey! xx
19 November 2012 at 8:03 pm
Velle, this is such a beautifully written post! When I look at how you have embraced the last year+ at home with Arddun, the words that come to mind are ‘with joy and relish’. You have built beautiful bonds and memories and it’s been so encouraging to watch. But those days are certainly not over and while you adjust to yet another ‘new phase’ for you as well as Arddun I know you will take it all on with aplomb (and hopefully lots of blog posts!) and both of you will continue to grow and flourish! I think the cool thing is that our indentity is in Jesus so no matter what role we play for what amount of time at different stages, He is kinda the constant over it all and while ‘roles’ ebb and flow, we know God is working it all for all our good – and we are always so much more than whatever role or label we are in at that stage!
Oh and just wanted to add that I wouldnt EVER call you selfish for focusing on your daughter and hubby over the last season. More like self-LESS (but that you love it too is a sweet bonus!). Rock on, sister xx
19 November 2012 at 10:31 pm
Thanks for the encouragement and the kind words, Kate! Yeah… it’s a tough one. I look at the home that you and Mark build and I want to emulate so many aspects of it. But at the same time, I’m learning that I have to find our own brand of parenthood and managing the home. I just feel like I’m not a “hardcore” mother for ditching the SAH life and going part-time.
On that note…
We got knocked back on all our childcare centre options! Yes, even after waiting 15+ months! And so now I’m waiting and seriously contemplating selling Tupperware. :D
20 November 2012 at 7:19 am
that’s right Velle, we all create our own little parenting path and can learn from each other without feeling like we need to imitate… all our lives are so different!
crazy about the childcare – knocked back like they said no way she is getting in as lists are so long!? geez, maybe you should consider opening a creche, must be where the money is!! ;) or tupperware! or freelance?! or… child modelling for arddun ;) Praying something amazing works out xx