These are letters to Jack, my son, and my daughter, Audrey. You have given me the gift of motherhood. This is just a little gift back. I want to share my experiences with you of your childhood from my perspective of watching you grow - of being your Mom.
Friday, August 25, 2006
Walking the Line
This entry today is more about setting realistic expectations for being a parent than not.
I think it’s important that someone confess to the battle with time constraints that a parent faces so that others who are about to enter parenthood or who are early into it realize that they are not struggling with a battle that others don’t.
I have found that juggling parenthood with the other titles that one holds in life – wife, employee, laundress, dishwasher, pet caretaker, housekeeper, shopper, etc – is one that forces you to walk the line of what is acceptable and what isn’t.
There’s a secret to walking the line. The secret is that you can’t cross over the line when walking it into what is “unacceptable” without consequences….. except when no one is looking….
What a lesson to pass along to your kid, right? That’s horrible! What kind of an example am I setting?
I’m not sure. I hope I’m not doing any permanent damage by confessing this, but I have a compulsion to do it. I feel that I need to appropriately set your expectations for the future so you don’t believe in the Hollywood movie hype and have unrealistic expectations of “happily ever after”.
“Happily Ever After” does exist, but you DO have to work at it and it takes being realistic and finding the humor and happiness in all of your situations, even the less than perfect. THAT’S happily ever after.
So – back to walking the line and crossing over it. How do I do this?
Well – EVERY DAY! It can take the form of:
• Long lunches at work so you have time to pick up something from the store, change over a load of laundry, put in a load of dishes, let the dogs out, get in a brief exercise walk for your own health, return a video so you aren’t charged some ridiculous late fee, and on and on and on…..
• Doing homework and class reading when you are at work
• Maintaining a blog at work (this is entirely my own decision – not yours – so don’t worry about that! )
• An addiction to entering contests while at work in the hope that you will win one of them and NEVER have to work again!!!!
• Sneaking off at lunch to visit your child wherever they are and running late getting back
• Being a little late in the mornings because you tried to sneak in one too many last minute chores before walking out the door.
• Using sick days too flagrantly for creative reasons that you call in until they become suspicious to the higher ups
• Taking small office supplies or leftover food home from work because I’m a klepto and I just can’t NOT do it
I find that I have started to risk doing a tango on this line of acceptability bargaining that I won’t get caught. I’m gambling that every time my feet step over that line, someone is looking the other way. It’s a dangerous little game, I know, but I can’t seem to risk taking it. Because – if I’m successful in the gamble, when I look back on these years - I’ll know that I was able to squeeze every last ounce of life out of them and didn’t leave anything to chance; that I took advantage of every single moment and hopefully to the benefit of all of us as a family. That’s the gamble that I’m taking. I certainly hope it pays off.
I don’t know what work life will be like when you grow up and enter the work force. Maybe there will be many jobs that currently run out of offices that will be run out of the home. Employees may report to work through the internet and do their work from their home offices, making it a little easier (or could it be harder) to juggle life’s responsibilities. Whatever changes or remains the same, though, the juggle will exist and I just want you to know that there is a lot of grey out there. Sometimes, you know you probably shouldn’t do something, but you might do it anyway.
My rationalization when I make these decisions is to ask myself – have I done everything at work that is expected of me? Am I on top of things and not dropping any balls? If I am, I allow myself the leeway to tango on that line in order to maximize my productivity in ALL areas of my life so that I can be the most capable Mom, Wife, Sister, Friend, Daughter, Grand-Daughter, Daughter-in-law, Sister-in-Law, Niece, Laundress, Dishwasher, Pet Caretaker, Student, and last and least Employee – that I can be.
Pardon me, but the music is about to start…. Right or wrong, I’ve decided that I’m going to go dance!
Here's a picture that you made today on foam with markers: