As a mom I have had moments when I’ve questioned my sanity—what was I thinking—sort of mentality. The rewards are suspect and intermittent for such a tough job. The hours are endless and the pay non-existent. If you are considering motherhood, see the mom’s job description before deciding. You might change your mind upon reading.
There were discussions early in the courtship about having children, but nothing concrete. After the big day, we agreed to give it a couple of years before discussing again. I was after all a newlywed, had just left my home in sunny Southern California for London, and was having to reestablish myself professionally. There were long hours in the office and after hour libations in any one of the gazillion wine bars and pubs that are found on just about every street in town. It made sense to wait.
On weekends, there were mini-breaks to every major European city that had an airport. For a gal who had never been anywhere outside of the US, I was living in my version of La Vida Loca. I LOVED IT. Every crowded city, nosey bar, museum, historical monument, the languages I didn’t understand, the endless varieties of bread and cheese was staggering. Until traveling, I had assumed cheese came in a box wrapped in foil and was called Velveeta. Who knew there was double cream Brie made especially for crispy banquettes.
Life was humming along nicely. I had landed a job with a prestigious British bank, had made friends, realized the US and the UK were two countries divided by a common language, and that drinking tepid tea was a cure all for anything that ailed the human sprit.
Then there was a romantic evening in London’s Mayfair, a fancy dinner, candlelight, hand holding, and too much wine. Nine months later on a blustery day in old Blighty came a nine-pound bouncing baby girl.
I remember thinking, what do I do with this pink thing that wails constantly. I was a hard-hitting career woman who spent her days in the exotic world of Investment Banking. I wore designer suits and bought impractical walking shoes. IT WAS ABOUT ME.
There were sleepless nights, no more lazy mornings in bed, projectile vomiting, ruined silk blouses from baby spew that seemed to come out of nowhere and for no good reason. There was the purchase of a super-sized washing machine because of the spew and the hundreds of times a baby needs changing during a single hour.
Life was no longer about me, or my designer suits. My shoes didn’t fit anymore because the pregnancy wrecked havoc on my body. There were lumps and bumps, where smooth terrain once ruled.
Being a mom wasn’t what I expected. I suspect I’m the not the only woman to have felt this way but who confesses to the world, I am unskilled labor, haven’t a clue what I’m doing, and what happened to my mental and physical self-where did they go? I didn’t go gently into mommy-hood. There was never a question of love or commitment. I fell for my girl on sight. The moment the midwife laid her in my arms I wept. It’s what I call instant love. There is nothing quite like it, I mean nothing.
I embraced motherhood, even the spew, but I refused to sacrifice my life for my child. This was my conflict. I had a dozen cities to visit, cheese to sample, and a world to conquer. I had no interest in mommy groups, sitting on a park bench sharing stories about my bundle of spewing joy. I was an anomaly. I didn’t know other women who felt like I did or wanted something more. It was a scary time for me. I was on my own.
I hid my notions of womanhood from the world. I also put all the mommy and me, how to be mom, motherhood and all it’s glory, books I had purchased in a box and donated them to a local charity. I would write my own guidelines. My girl and I would figure it out together.
I cannot quantify the number of mistakes I’ve made on the job. Sadly, none of them got me fired. I’d like to say I know a thing or two about being a mom and that the road I paved with my first-born was perfect, but I’m not so sure I can. Mom skills are fluid and the job changes daily. The fact is—and I’ve said this before—motherhood is not an exact science. I liken it to being on par with MacGyver’s job. Never leave home without a paperclip or duck tape, or, a plan b and c, up your sleeve. Be prepared for the absolute worst because if you are, you can react to any situation level headed and compassionately. And know this, what you learned yesterday with child one isn’t a guarantee it will work again tomorrow or with child two.
I have two children, a girl, and a boy. One was born in London and the other in San Francisco. Each are as unique as the their sex, the type of pregnancy I had, and the City they were born in. One slept through the night after the first month and the other took two years before getting the hang of it.
My momfessional, I did it my way. Was it easy? Hell no. Every person I met along the way had an opinion and gave it to me even though I didn’t ask for it or offer up any of my own. Something I never understood.
The next time a new mom comes to you quivering from head to toe, from either fright or lack of sleep, listen to her words. Make thoughtful suggestions and be clear, what worked for you, might not work for her. I promise you’ll make a friend for life and help a fellow woman stay sane.
(And for the record, wherever I have gone my monkeys were along for the ride. We continue writing the guidelines on parenting together.)
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