A couple of weeks ago, something really cool happened to me. The company where I had been doing some independent contracting decided to bring me on as an employee. It’s a small company for now, but they are expanding and really wanted me to be a permanent part of the team. Knowing several people who are unemployed, and with the current state of our economy, I did not take this lightly. Did I strut around my house like a rockstar for a few days? Oh hell yes! But other than telling family and a few friends, my celebration ended with that victory lap around my crib.
Recently a few of my friends have quit their jobs to stay home with their kids. When women make this decision, it always seems to be met with huge fanfare and a lot of “atta girls” for making the right choice for their families. Each one of them broadcasted it on Facebook that they would now be staying home with their kids. A storm of “Likes” followed, along with all positive feedback. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the kudos being awarded this decision – in fact, in every case, I posted a “congratulations” and even threw in a few, “you won’t regret it’s”. I’ve been there, and while I don’t regret it, it’s just no longer the path for me.
So here I was, more firmly planted back in the workplace and seemingly more “away” from my kids than ever before. I didn’t send a mass email or post the news as my Facebook status. I simply changed my employer in my Facebook profile info and waited to see if anyone noticed or commented. No one did and that was fine, but I did wonder while I wasn’t viewing myself as a total badass for my accomplishment. Was this a case of “mommy guilt”? Whatever it was, I was pretty content to think of it as “no big deal” until… enter REALITY. (that &%$#* son of a $#*&%!!!) As soon as I was given new employee paperwork to fill out at work, all hell broke lose at home. Join me as I summarize the timeline of the first days of starting my new job:
Day 1 of new job: The vet calls to say the dog is ready to be picked up from being boarded. I show up for what I think is a 5-minute deal. I’m told that he has a serious ear fungus/infection. Here’s the short version: They ran tests. He should be OK. But before you go, we need to explain every little medical “what if” detail to you while you’re here. Oh, and here’s a million drugs for him that cost more than your car… Good thing I have my job! Which speaking of, I’m really late. No big deal. I’ll explain that the dog is like our “firstborn child” and I’m sorry the appointment took all morning. I’m sure my boss is an animal lover despite the fact that he shoots a wide variety of wildlife creatures on the weekends and posts photos of the carnage in his office. But yes! ..he’ll understand. First days are just practice anyway, right?
Day 2 of new job: Oldest daughter wakes up with a high fever. Dad has very important meetings all day and can’t stay home with her, so that leaves me. No biggie. They will understand at work. These things happen and are out of our control. I resist worrying that my “mom-ness” is showing to my co-workers. One of my well-meaning male friends says, “oh no, aren’t you afraid that right out the gate you’re looking like one of those women?” I should have punched him to calm my unsettled nerves, but instead I decide to have a beer and end up having 5. Luckily, I have a job now and we can easily afford the luxury of beer! (even though everyone knows beer is a necessity)
Day 3 of new job: Oldest kid wakes up with a high fever. Dad is running meetings all day and can’t stay home with her, so that leaves me. No biggie. They will understand at work. These things happen and are out of our control… (holy mother of God, everything is repeating, it’s the f’n Groundhog Day movie!) Except now my co-workers hate me. Did I mention I am a key person who is supposed to be working on a very important audit??! Yeah, they are probably wiping snot all over my chair in my absence. Can’t really blame them. I am starting to smell my own suckage.
Day 4 of new job: Oldest kid wakes up with a high fever. Dad is now out of town on business. I take her to the doctor and she is diagnosed with a flu-like illness (can’t we just call it the flu? you’re just as screwed as you are when you have the flu.. what’s with the “like”? FLU would be taken more seriously, dammit!) There is no treatment but she is not to return to school until the fever is gone for 24 hours, blah blah blah. That’s OK because now I too am feverish. OUTF#CKINGSTANDING. Kid takes one couch. I take the other. I doze off and have nightmares about whether or not someone at the office will be willing to pack up all my shit when I get canned… then I wake up and realize that there is no shit since I HAVEN’T STARTED THE JOB.
Day 5 of new job: Still wallowing in flu-LIKE (bastards) misery. Despite the fact that the oldest and I are on day 4 of being stuck sick at home, we are handling it just fine. We’ve put Barbie doll heads on top of coffee stirrers, we’re communicating by playing recorders from her Music class, and we’re considering setting fire to my youngest daughter’s Justin Bieber doll while she’s at school… NOTHING to see here..
Day 6 of new job: Kid is feeling better. I still feel like asscrack. Despite that, I try to go to work for a couple of hours. The only saving grace to being drugged up and feeling like shit was that I too incoherent to know if my co-workers were welcoming me back or openly swearing at me. “F#ck you” does sound a lot like “bless you” when you’re taking cough syrup with codeine, just so you know. I’m running way behind all day and that continues as I’m trying to run kids to activities after school. My daughter’s soccer coach makes a snide comment about how I’m lucky soccer practice isn’t on the other side of town since we’re never on time and the field is only a mile away from our house. I call him a jackass under my breath and claim victory. (I NEED a triumph.. work with me here)
Day 7 of new job: I discovered head lice on my two daughters late the night before. (apparently in all the glory of the last week, I missed the letter from school that it was going around..YAY!) I thoroughly treat the cranium critter circus on both kids and send them to school as instructed. Despite the fact that I have 18 trash bags full of bedding, clothes and stuffed animals that need my attention, I feel I should go into the office for awhile because I really need to work… ok, ok, it was because I didn’t want to deal with all the bagged lice-ridden shit! While sitting in a meeting about the audit – the audit I had all but managed to dodge, by the way – I notice some co-workers are staring at me. I figured it was just because they hate me until I caught a glimpse of my reflection in my boss’s iPhone. I still had a lone barrette on the top of my head that I had used to pull hair away in my search for lice. Despite looking like a total dumbass, I leave it so I can better see if any of those damn parasitic f’ers are jumping around on my head. I’ll have to rely on my boss’s phone to see them because I know none of my co-workers will alert me.. they all want me to die (BELIEVE ME, you idiots were having more fun than I was!) At this point, I’m hoping their wish for my demise comes true, especially after I get home and see those 18 bags of crap. I am certain that setting fire to them would be easier than de-licing their contents. (but we can’t afford new crap if I’m going to get canned, so I don’t torch it.. YET)
So after enduring a small piece of hell, I learned something that I’m sure I’ll never forget. No matter if you’re a “working mother” or not.. you’re a mother working. The load is still heavy. The reward is still great (even though sometimes you have to search for that fulfillment… yeah, total realist here). The word “mother” stays intact no matter what personal decision you make for your family, and my choice to work outside the home was the right one for me. And after the last week of mad mothering, I was tempted to wear a t-shirt that said, “You can’t really blame me for being batshit crazy, it came free with the vagina.” One thing’s for sure, I’m definitely going to start telling people about my new job! (if I’m ever able to work a full day, that is..)
“Working mothers are guinea pigs in a scientific experiment to show that sleep is not necessary to human life.” ~ Anonymous