Thursday, April 29, 2010
just let me lie down
Is that not the best title ever? It's totally not mine. It's the title of the book that the Silicon Valley Moms Group is doing for our April book club.
Just Let Me Lie Down was written by Kristin van Ogtrop, the managing editor of Real Simple magazine. Which I imagine as being one of the coolest jobs on the planet. Kristin is also the mom of 3 boys, which is another of the coolest jobs on the planet. The book is a mostly tongue-in-cheek glossary about finding the time to do both of those jobs well.
It's funny and very fast reading.
As I've mentioned before, I've been pondering about my time as a SAHM. Waxing nostalgic about my time as a WOHM in a career I loved. And planning for a new career that will hopefully help me balance my family and a job I think I would love.
I don't regret choices I have made, but I often wonder how things would have turned out if I had taken another path. What if I had stayed in my job? What if I could have found a great part-time solution? What if I had done consulting and contract work from home?
Reading Just Let Me Lie Down was like taking a trip to the land of What If. It's what my life might be like if I had stayed in the working world. Of course, I wouldn't be the managing editor of Real Simple magazine. Maybe more like Law Library Journal. (Not quite so exciting.)
So, here's the upshot: Life would be crazy. But you know what? Much of the craziness that Kristin describes in her house, exists in my house too. (More on that in a minute.)
She's conflicted, sometimes. But you know what? So am I. I NEVER feel like I am doing the absolute best job I possibly could. I don't bake homemade bread, I don't homeschool and our laundry is NEVER clean. And for some reason, I will never feel like I am the absolute best mother I should be unless I do those things. (And it ain't never gonna happen. So that little life disappointment is just my personal cross to bear.) But I can relate. I don't make every school awards assembly. Or every game my kids play in. Or turn in every form on time, or even check their homework every night. I just can't.
But in the end, she's happy. She loves her job. She's good at it. Her family runs the way it runs and it runs well and everyone is comfortable and it all somehow works. In the end, isn't that what matters? Why do we torture ourselves trying to live up to unrealistic ideals of who mothers are supposed to be?
One of the coolest things about this month's book club was that several of us got to have a conference call with Kristin. We talked about the fact that the craziness is found in all homes with kids, whether or not the mom works outside the home. And OMG, her kids have the same SOCK ISSUES my kids do, in that they wear out the heels of their socks just MOMENTS after putting them on AND they leave them lying ALL OVER THE HOUSE. You can literally walk into my house at any time of the day or night and pick up 20 socks in your first 10 steps in the door. It's so good to know we're not alone. (And perhaps Real Simple could road test kids socks for heel endurance.)
My very favorite passage of the book was a section called "Quest through the chaos, a.k.a. quest that leads straight to madness" which talks about getting a note home from school saying SOMETHING must be sent in THE NEXT DAY, and SOMETHING could be (as in Kristin's case) pictures of her child from "kindergarten through fifth grade along with any candid shots they had gathered over the years."
And she says, "OK, I thought, just kill me now. I might as well have been asked to fly to Egypt and dig up a pharaoh."
The day before I read this passage (I was reading while sitting at a college baseball game where Tide was lucky to be acting as batboy (although note to everyone, college baseball players use the F bomb a lot, especially when they are losing a game by 20 points, I'm just sayin'), it was windy and 45 degrees, Shout was assaulting the mascot who for some reason thought she was hilarous, and Bounce and Cheer were running around the stadium like maniacs, annoying everyone else there, and did I mention it was the LONGEST GAME IN COLLEGE BASEBALL HISTORY?? 4.5 hours? - totally unnecessary parenthetical just to show you a little slice of my crazy)... I found a note in Cheer's backpack saying "Your child is missing the following supplies: gluesticks, erasers. Please send them in by tomorrow."
I've been doing this school thing for 7 years now, you'd think I'd have it down. But I had a full-blown panic attack.
It was 5 o'clock, I was cooking dinner, it was pouring rain and my husband was not home. There was no way I was taking 4 kids out in the rain after dinner to buy gluesticks and erasers. A better mother would have that stuff on hand throughout the school year. In a neat and tidy cabinet marked "Extra School Supplies"... me, I had some dried up glue sticks at the bottom of the crayon drawer.
So the next morning, when Cheer announced he had a sore throat, it was totally not lost on me that it was my hall pass to an extension on the glue sticks. He stayed home. His sore throat miraculously cleared up as soon as it was apparent I wasn't going to change my mind about letting him stay home. And then we went school supply shopping.
You can see a round up of all the posts on Just Let Me Lie Down on DC Metro Moms.