I have been in hibernation for 22 months. Yes, I suppose I have always been unsatisfied as a stay-at-home-mom, this much is true. It wasn't that it wasn't meaningful work or even that I was unhappy, but that it was not enough to make me be the most me.
I had been actively looking for work for almost two years, and had all but given up on the search when my previous employer contacted me about a technical writing position (one I had, in fact, applied for several months ago, but they took me on as a contractor instead).
I jumped at the chance and for exactly the 15 minute ride home from the job offer meeting to arriving at Jess's to pick up Bowie, I was elated, empowered, and really excited.
Then something odd happened. I started feeling these chords yanking, these ties binding. They were not unwanted, and their presence wasn't entirely a surprise; however, their intensity surely was! The bond with Bowie had always been there, but without it being yanked on, I suppose I didn't realize how strong it was. For the next three weeks (to now, as I write), I have been decidedly heartsick. No one I knew could watch Bowie full time, so I was left with having to hire a nanny.
I realize so many people do this, and so many people have practice that I never had at leaving their kids with people they didn't know (and how I will become accustomed as well, building a necessary callous to the pain). I realize now how hard it is for people to leave their children, how many people we interact with daily are in a torn place, actively fighting guilt and confusion about how to maintain themselves, their work, and their families. Surely I wasn't carefree before kids (have I ever been carefree without help from gin?), but it's awfully tempting to remember it thusly. The freedom of decisions, the leaving the house easily, the simplicity.
These thoughts spiraled me into a pit of mud-soaked anxiety and deep weepiness. My heart began to feel bigger than my brain. Where once I had developed a logical distance from Bowie's crying, now every single time she cries I am flooded with horrible visions of abandonment and sadness. I cried during the singing time at preschool. I cried making her breakfast. I cried in my bedroom while trying to work from home and hearing her say my name desperately. This reaction bothered me, yes because I fancy myself an evolved mother who can see beyond her instincts (I KNOW she is not abandoned or traumatized, but feeling the transition deeply and doesn't know what to expect each day now), but more because it hurt. It fucking hurt.
I think I am more dealing with the truth of my long-term place in Bowie's life than I am about leaving her with a nanny for the next months. I will not know everything about her from now on, know everything she ate or said, know how much she slept, know her mood. My job is to raise someone to take care of themselves and in so doing extend themselves and their own resources out into the world. I cannot keep us in this bubble, this little stage of life where it's just she and I and we sit at home and read. Not only because I can't, but more importantly - because I don't want to, and that simply has to mean something.
I need help; I need work; I need my own thing. I need Bowie to see a woman pursuing herself and working outside of the home (or staying home) as an empowered, free choice. Not just because she has to financially (another nuanced question to wrestle with here. It's hard to think that we are all miserable because I wanted this change, not because life forced it upon us. It's my doing.), but because she is most fulfilled in this manner.
Oh, the shitshow that was finding a nanny. I thought I had one that was fabulous, but she took another position in a strange miscommunication. I then flew up my mom last minute, and she stayed with Bowie for two weeks while I interviewed and hired someone else. 15 conversations, 7 candidates, 5 interviews, 1 hired nanny from SPU (she's awesome! English Lit major!) and then all the logistics of training and care. So.Ex.x.x.hausting.
But then there was the work, the work that I wanted so badly, the work that would make the leaving her okay. Only it wasn't. It never will be. That sick little punch-to-the-gut lesson being learned, I began to enjoy the work immensely. I am doing more marketing technical writing than technical writing, and I absolutely love it so far. I get to be on the cutting edge of exciting technology AND get PAID TO WRITE. PAIDREALMONIESTOWRITEWORDS. It's magic. Each task feels almost tailor-made to my desires and strengths, and the work culture is fabulous. My manager is perfectly suited to me (former teachers unite) and I have the flexibility in scheduling I need. There are significant challenges in staying creative all day, but I welcome the use of atrophied brain muscles.
|First day of work bathroom self-portrait|
I want both lives; I guess I'm greedy that way. But I do feel severed. Heart-wrenchingly torn. Stuck between two shores of a lake like a canoe set adrift **. I am buried in it and holding on. It's harder than I ever imagined.
But I know myself, know what I need to be happy, and have done everything in my power to make sure Bowie knows she is loved and known. I've taken pains to ensure that this new person in her life will be just another chapter in the Bowie book, the same story I've been telling her all along.
Bowie, you are loved and love is everything.
Bowie, look up.
Bowie, you are worth attention and respect.
Bowie, you are independent and capable.
Bowie, you are a part of something bigger than yourself and you must contribute your passions to find meaning.
Bowie, you are not immune to the confusing conflicts of life.
Bowie, you are allowed to be scared.
Bowie, you are never alone.
Bowie, you have your own story and the power and support to write it however you desire.
Bowie, you have to learn to let go and are able to courageously adapt.
Bowie, dance it out.
Bowie, question everything.
Bowie, be courageous, but know that caution is not lack of courage. Be wise.
Bowie, live long and prosper.
It's the same story I read myself night after night.
It's a page turner.
**my favorite song/band right now. sorry about the lude cover, but it makes me laugh.