Today I planned to be my charming and witty self…instead I’m plagued with fever, a sore throat and consequently, find myself in a weakened state, philosophizing…
It’s been nearly 7 months – SEVEN WHOLE MONTHS – since I started on this new chapter in my life as stay-at-home-and-sometimes-work mom. How did I get here? When did this all happen? Just the other day I was telling a friend that I’ve only just recently felt like I’ve started to get into the groove of my new situation. For I believe that although I am very much a mother, my “mom gene” may actually be missing.
While many of my friends eased into motherhood, I have struggled, every single step of the way.
For years, my companions were spreadsheets, business strategies and financing contracts – the stress around soliciting financial terms and conditions or negotiating during high stake meetings was my permanent state. Oftentimes, when I’d be “playing hookie” and getting a much needed eyebrow wax or buying groceries, I would be reminded that I was at the mercy of work by the cold sweat that would instantly trickle down my spine and the breath that would get caught in my throat when my phone would “TING” with a new email. Call it PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), call it habit, it’s that edginess and state of constant readiness that had taken over every aspect of my life. Even when I’d try to slow down, there was something in me that would not allow it for nothing other than complete responsiveness would suffice…until I realized that the price I was paying was much too high.
So, MBA in hand coupled with more than a decade of experience at one of the world’s leading global professional services firm, I figured I could take all that I had learned and apply it to my new job. No longer torn for having to choose between career and family, I eagerly accepted my new position.
My first order of business would be to deal with all the things that I had neglected over the years: healthier eating, more exercise, doing homework right away after school rather than cramming it into the wee hours, and even doing some things I’d always dreamed of like finally improving my French, learning Spanish, and how to drive a stick shift. My ambitions were lofty but the flow charts I’d devised in my mind made me confident that I had it all figured out.
In these last seven months, those flow charts, plans, strategies, and all the learning I did as a middle management plebe slowly unraveled – they may has well have been flushed down the toilet!
I came to realize that while negotiations in the professional world have certain rules and a logical tempo, negotiations with my children are like navigating through land mines (permit the metaphor) and nothing like any business dealing I’ve ever known. There seems to be only one pattern in negotiations with my children best illustrated by the car ride to school this morning:
- My request to please cease and desist playing the flute in the car for it may cause the driver (me) to get into an accident (logical reasoning)
- Their blatant ignoring of me – they neither hear me, see me or show any indication of acknowledging my presence (savvy technique)
- My request repeated at a higher volume –they must understand that I hold their lives in my hands?!
- #2 again (persistence)
- Me turning into a crazy banshee lady screaming at the top of my lungs (*FLUSH*)
- Still no response – though I did get a millisecond of silence before they started again (mastermind geniuses using torture techniques)
- Me feeling guilty about acting like a crazy banshee lady and now overcompensating by resorting to bribery (loser)
- Acknowledgement and completion of request (winners)
- Utter defeat and feeling a failure as have become cause of ruined futures (digging hole)
- Picturing great catastrophic events like man-children permanently ensconced in basement playing video games and eating pizza. (burying head in said hole)
No, the job of “mom” is much harder, the stakes are infinitely higher, and the pressure for perfection is, on some days, omnipresent – and pungent, like a cloud of sulphuric acid. Where did it say in the job description that I have to be all-knowing and able to answer the myriad of daily questions? That I need to bandage every boo-boo and quiet the hormonal rage borne from an empty stomach? And speaking of job descriptions, where’s the training manual?!!?
Slightly feverish, and now panicked that soon it will be time to pick them up from school and once again start on the crazy rollercoaster called motherhood, I’m on the verge of a breakdown…I need a (mental) sick day but I know I can’t possibly have one! Suddenly, my philosophically-laced downward spiral comes to an end as I’m brought back to the present by that familiar “TING”…and you know what? Just for one second, a tiny split second, I was transported back…but wait! No cold sweat. My breath is flowing freely and I realize – I am so lucky, my world is one that I am designing, flaws and all! And my current bosses don’t know how to email…yet!