I Miss Being a Badass
Being a SAHM has its perks. I was never a clothes horse, and although working in the lab didn’t require me to dress up, staying at home has allowed me to relax my dress code even further. The frantic morning rush now only involves me getting the kids to the bus on time and not trying to get them and myself ready. I am not constantly trying to juggle a work schedule and kid schedules.
And there are so many great days when I can just let the day unfold as it will and let the children and their imaginations direct our life. I love those days.
But when I sit back and reflect about the changes my life has taken over the past 9 months since I stopped working in the lab, I realize that I do miss some things. And the thing I miss the most right now is being a badass (or at least feeling like I am a badass).
I miss the feeling of striding confidently into work knowing that I have the skills to handle whatever the day might bring. I miss feeling competent, knowing that I was trained to do the tasks at hand. I wish I could have a day again when I have laser-sharp focus for several hours on a single thing. I miss finishing something, wrapping it up and putting it away, knowing it was my best work.
There are so many times as a parent that I just feel damn incompetent. I have not been prepared to deal with mind-numbing tasks, incessant whining, repeating myself a hundred times a day, feeling my brain go to mush, and keeping my cool when 3 children are having meltdowns and screaming in my face.
I wish I had been trained better to deal with nightmare shopping trips dragging 5 kids through the stores, the relentlessness of kids, the reality that with a large family, it is almost a given that at any point, someone will be unhappy.
I struggle with trying to see the importance in everyday life. Spouse spends his days operating on and saving children. I spend mine running errands, chauffeuring kids around, playing with Playdoh, saying no to screen time, and negotiating peace treaties in the ongoing 3 Year Lego War.
I also struggle with the fact that there is no tangible reward system to gauge my progress. I have always considered myself a marathon type of person, rather than a sprinter, not requiring regular affirmations, but able to keep going knowing that in the end it will be worth it. It is one of the traits that made me a good scientist. I just never imagined how long the parenting marathon is. If I had a magic ball and I could see into the future and know that my kids were happy and healthy and doing something good in the world, it might make me feel better.
I know deep down in my heart that raising my children is more important than anything I could do in a lab. I also know that I am the only person uniquely qualified for the job: I am their only mother. But it is still hard.
When I was pregnant with Number 1, I used to take a walk every night down our street where I met an elderly neighbor. I would stop and talk to her and she would tell me about the multiple children she lost, the ones she couldn’t carry to full term. She also told me about her son, the one that did make it, and how much joy he brought to her life.
One day she said to me, you are doing a great job. I asked her what she was talking about. She said, a great job carrying that child. I just thought you should know, that you are doing good.
I think of what she said a lot. Six little words that said she noticed me, acknowledged I was doing something important and that I was good at it. And that it made me feel great; like a badass.
Maybe I don’t need to go to work to feel that way again. Maybe I just need to recognize that I am doing good. One Lego War peace treaty at a time.