The Ten Year Nap, by Meg Wolitzer. In it, you read about different women and their experiences of going from careers to being full time mommies. They feel as though they’ve lived in some sort of cocoon, like they’ve been shunned from the outside world. They wonder what it would have been like had they not stopped the clock on their own lives, and focused on the lives of their children.
It’s an OK book. A good read, but a little on the wordy side. Doesn’t flow as well as I’d like. However, whenever I’m able to read a chapter or two (while waiting in line to get Ben from school, or during one of Nolan’s naps) I always feel incredibly reflective on my own life.
It was roughly 10 years ago that I would give my older friends with children a hard time. We’d make plans to go see a movie, or go have a drink at some hole in the wall bar, and there were almost always cancellations. A very good friend of mine would have to bail out due to one of her kids getting sick, or having some school concert to go to, or just because her child wanted to spend time with mommy, and I would get incredibly pissed off. She never reciprocated. She’d look at me with this “oh little girl, you have SO much to learn in this life” look in her eyes, and simply say, “You’ll see one day.” And that would piss me off even more, because I’d always prided myself on being able to put myself into someone else’s shoes. Why wouldn’t she want to spend time with me, to get out of the house? Why wouldn’t she want to have time for herself, when she was “stuck” with her kids every day?
My oldest son Ben was born May 12th, 2005. “WELCOME TO THE MOM CLUB!” My friends with kids exclaimed. My plan was to stay home with Ben for six weeks ONLY. None of this staying at home crap. I had somewhat of a career under my belt, no way would I lose that. Only, Ben looked up at me with these big eyes right after he was born, slowly blinking, and then looking around the room, quiet, and something happened in that moment. I couldn’t go back to work. I had to be with him. And as he got older, I had to be there to see the new things he could do, or be the one to show him the new things he was capable of. Now, I’m not saying that it’s not OK to work while raising a family. Many women do it. I myself work part time on the weekends, because I understand the need for a break, to have something that’s all your own, that isn’t interrupted by screaming, or spit up, dirty diapers or fighting. My point is, something changed within me, that only would come from being inducted into the Mom Club.
Some days I swim adrift on a sea of what feels like monotonous daily routine “kid stuff”. There’s no way I could re-enter the world of real estate and manage a property, because I’ve lost the want and need for that. I’m strictly a “weekend girl” leasing apartments at this point in my life. I’ve had to give up so much in terms of time. I barely know what’s going on with my friends anymore. My husband and I are in a race to the finish when it comes to dinner, getting the boys bathed and off to bed, so that we’re able to have a few hours to ourselves before the race begins all over again the next day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been puked on, peed on, and pooped on (projectile poop, no less), how there have been times my boys have brought me to tears of frustration, where I want to run screaming out the front door and see if someone else wants my life for a few hours, so I can reclaim some sense of sanity. Even just a little bit.
Yet, Ben prays for me, the days I’ve been too tired to tuck him at night. Nolan has this incredible smile when I go in to get him after he’s napped. And seeing Nolan’s face light up at the sight of Ben, creates this feeling inside of me that is nothing short of pure love. I understand the reason behind my friend letting go of her own free time to be with her children. And, I’m now the one who has to let a friend down gently when I can’t do something, because I am running on a different time zone completely.
We have our whole lifetime ahead of us, and such a short amount of that is spent taking care of our children. It’s a small price to pay.