I remember years ago seeing a clip from Jon Leguizamo’s one man show in which he talks about his mother reaching a point in her life when she was “no longer about re-production, but about ME-production”. That phrase has stuck with me through the years, not only because it was hilarious, but also because I have eagerly awaited the day when my own life could once again become about, well, me.
It’s so easy for us moms to lose ourselves in parenting. I don’t want to be sexist here, but truthfully it’s mostly the mommies whose lives turn upside down once baby makes three, or four, or ten (Kate Gosselin, you know I’m talking to you.) That’s not to say that dads don’t make sacrifices or undergo changes when families expand, but it’s a rare day when you hear a dad say, “I just don’t know if I should quit my job and stay home—the idea of day care scares me. Plus, I’m not sure my employer has a place where I can discreetly use my breast pump.”
I’ve always struggled with the work/care balance. I’ve tried so many schedule variations—working part time, working full time, working and using a babysitter, working opposite the hub’s schedule so we don’t have to use a babysitter, working within my field for personal satisfaction and working outside of my field for a paycheck. Trying to balance family life and work seemed so overwhelming to me with small children. I cried many times as I let opportunities pass me by because I just couldn’t give my kids and my house the attention they needed and support a successful career. There were times when I was convinced that my path was forever going to be about parenting.
But recently, the death grip of parenting little children has begun to ease. As my children get older, and more self-sufficient, I’ve begun to see glimmers of potential. I realize that I’m years closer to the Monkey leaving for college (please, God) than I am to the day he was born. I have more time, more energy and more motivation to seek out my own rewards. That’s not to say we don’t have the toughest years of parenting still to come, but as my children grow and become their own independent people, I’m beginning to re-claim my own individuality.
And it’s a delightful new world.