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Saturday, November 15, 2008

11/15/08 Putting Myself First

CLIFF NOTES: I started off to write a somewhat funny note about one of my teens who had a rant last night, and somehow ended up on the shrinks couch below. I’ve been feeling kind of melancholy since my good news and happy day Thurs. and I couldn’t figure out why. Apparently, I’m feeling guilty for putting myself first by going through this process. Hey at least it saved me an hour at the pre-op psych visit…tee hee. Don’t bother reading unless you’re there too… (Back to myself now, thank you.) -BG (I'm saving the rest just to remind myself of this.)

It seems just yesterday I had a job I loved at a Fortune 500, and was on the fast track up the ladder with a very bright future ahead. But I was traveling all the time and my (2 then) kids were in daycare for LONG days. I could only involve them in things that were only on the weekends (try telling your 5 yr. old daughter she can’t take gymnastics classes on Tuesday’s after school with her friend). DH was gone many night’s working hard on his Master’s part-time for 8 years at night, and his job also required a little travel, so we were mainly a “Weekend Family”. It only got harder and harder as the kids got older (I thought they needed your time most as little kids-BIG “wrong”). I couldn’t find that elusive “Super Mom” balance between work and family and we needed a change (I so admire those of you who can do it all- some of my sisters included).

I was pregnant with my third when DH was offered a promotion to a sales position back to my home town where a lot of my family still was. I didn’t hesitate one second…It was a happy change for us all. We moved and we were now able to afford it, so I stopped working. If I’m being honest it was a hard transition going from the “fast track” to “homemaker”. With a new baby, and DH now traveling I’d go days without seeing an adult. Also, it’s kind of like being fat…people stereotype you...and with the move, no one knew I had had a career…I found people suddenly treating me like I didn’t have a brain…the topics of conversation in my life suddenly changed. Even I was guilty of this at first …I’d been friends with neighbors for years before I’d asked anything other than about life as a Mom. There were lawyers, nurses, teachers, all kinds of “formers”. And yes, those who’d never had a job also had lives outside their families…wow I was guilty of not thinking homemakers have a brain too…there were volunteers for great organizations, those that had hobbies like mine, brilliant women! Anyway, I had to keep busy so I volunteered for everything; was the Girl Scout Leader, the “Homeroom Mom” for all three of them every year (for as long as they’d let me-about middle school), and I was a former art teacher, so the schools used my talents for all kinds of things and I was there with my youngest in tow most days. I helped start a “play group” in my neighborhood for Moms/little ones. I immediately signed my two older ones for so many things they’d been asking to do. We all appreciated our new life. That first summer, I counted 14 “legs” in the car one day with the baby zigzagging the older ones around town…not good either…

We found a balance and the kid’s all were able to dabble in many thing and they each found their gifts/niche. We’ve since moved again (I designed our current home with the help of an architect software program, not a huge house, but it meets our family needs perfectly!) and the kids are now older; two teens and one is 21 (I can’t believe I’ll be down to one at home next year). I’ve certainly never been bored at home as I’ve always been busy. My youngest, 13, still needs the most time from Mom but my “job” at home has evolved more and more into time devoted to major home reno. projects; tiling, painting, sewing curtains, finished the basement/bath (I’ll never mud drywall again), built a pond with waterfall, designed and built a finished clubhouse for the kids, etc. (with help from DH & the kids). I love tackling learning something I’ve never done so I’m pretty handy, and I feel good that I’ve saved us tons of money doing all this myself (even my neighbor friends who are at home sometimes tell me I make them look bad). As a homemaker, I’ve had to come to grips with the fact that you can only get those pats on the back from your family mainly, and they get used to your capabilities, so the pats don’t always come as often. Gone are the work days when a job well done meant you had whole teams of people singing your praises…and forget getting a promotion!

I haven’t regretted anything…but with my youngest turning 13 I’m suddenly finding I no longer have that little kid in the house who thinks you know everything and glows at every little thing you do…and you’re the hardest working mom on Earth. Getting through these teen years is just difficult some days, and I knew it would be. Some days they act like/tell me I have no clue. My sister gave me a magnet that says “Ask your Teenager now while they still know everything!”, and yep, I still have a brain. It’s funny, my kids hardly remember me working and they’re wonderful kids, hard workers, not spoiled, but as teens often do, they don’t always appreciate the sacrifices you’ve made in your life for them. They don't like it when I have to said “no” (I’m the disciplinarian and DH is the softie…he’s still working on it), but I know they love me and they do show it/say so. They unknowingly say hurtful things like “I wonder why you don’t have a job?” like their friend’s mom. There’s some days I want to scream “What do you mean I don’t have a job…who’s raising you? Don’t you know I gave up working for our happiness? Do they realize how different things would be for them even now if I was working?…Don’t they remember…” Of course they don’t. I’m happy with my life…I’ve got a wonderful family and a great life, and again, I don’t regret anything…but some days-TEENS! I get glimmers of hope that they’ll get this someday…my daughter’s about ready to graduate college and she’s coming out of that teen funk; she’s starting to ask me about things that let me know she gets it.

Reading this over I’m sounding so negative, and that’s not me at all…I’m a  giving person who gives out of love, not looking for appreciation; the typical nurturer – family first. *Lightbulb* I just realized this week when I saw this Lap Band thing was probably going to be a reality I was feeling guilty that I was putting myself before my family. I felt guilty I was taking time to do this just for me. That’s probably at least part of the reason I’ve let myself get to this state of health, never putting me first. Writing this was helpful for me to realize the whole family will benefit from seeing me work hard, and yes, just for me! (even if only my DH knows about the LB)…I realize the one thing I’ve yet to be able to balance in my life was sometimes putting myself first.

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