I let go of a big part of my former life this past week. It was one I admittedly had a love-hate relationship with, but it was also one that has helped define who I am. And now, I am a journalist no more.
I suppose I was never truly a journalist. That’s not the title that defined me. I’m a writer, and I always will be. However, the job that I did for the past seven years of my life was a part of me.
It was the byline that made my heart race a little. It was the strange office humor that is only present in a newsroom. It was the bond that tied me to a community in strangely intimate ways as strangers would ask me about my child in the grocery store or I’d get invited to dances at the seniors’ home. It was a great time in my life that I will always look back on fondly.
Yet, it never pushed me to stop hitting the snooze button and excitedly run to get my day started the way my new role has. I no longer count the days until a long weekend or groan when my “boss” demands yet another task of me.
And I guess that is really what the decision came down to; nothing has ever made me feel quite as alive as being a mom, and I don’t think anything ever will. The thought of not spending every possible second just soaking up all the awesomeness that is my child’s existence is pretty much unthinkable to me.
As such, I am now officially unemployed.
The decision really wasn’t as easy as I just made it sound. In fact, I was even surprised by just how difficult it was to let that piece of my life go. Why you might ask?
My upbringing, now looking back at it, was one of competing ideals.
On one hand, I always had a stay-at-home mother and I have no doubt that it was a large contributing factor to many of the best things in my life, including the very close relationship I now enjoy with my mother. In fact, Baby K and I enjoy breakfast with her everyday via Skype.
However, on the flipside of that coin, society raised me to believe something else. I was raised in a generation that was led to believe that because women could, they should do it all. They should have the husband, the six-figure salary, the book club, the perfectly coifed ‘do and manicured nails and the minivan with the perfectly adjusted kids. Women before us had fought for equality, and I felt very strong messages that I needed to do more than laundry, cooking and child-rearing to really matter.
Once I was out in the world and working, I found that I liked the fact that I was going places. I loved bringing home a paycheque and contributing to our bottom line and growing vacation fund. I felt a little thrill every time I clipped out a published article and added it to my portfolio.
That all started to change when that little pink positive sign showed up.
When Baby K came along, I was determined to be the picture-perfect housewife and make it a true trial run for being a stay-at-home mom. I quickly realized that things just weren’t going to go how I wanted them to.
The laundry piled up, the dishes got done in the wee hours of the morning and our living room usually looks like someone pitched a small grenade straight in. I kind of felt like a failure. I felt like I wasn’t contributing to our home, despite my husband’s insistence that taking care of Kaelin was a full-time job and he was happy knowing that she was getting all the attention and care she deserved.
I knew (and still know) that he was right. Taking care of a child IS a full-time job and probably the most stressful ones I’ve ever had. In fact, in recent years, parenting almost seems to have become a sport where mothers compete to see who can be the most well-read, play-date loaded, over organized and (quite frankly) obnoxious mom of all.
Really, being a mom is waking up to feed and soothe your child as many times as they need in a night. It’s cleaning up poo-namis, finding lost teddies and ensuring a bottle is warmed to precisely the right temperature for a little one’s liking. It’s wondering about how high is too high when it comes to fevers and counting to ten to calm yourself when they just won’t cooperate. It’s learning every nursery rhyme and shamelessly performing a killer rendition of Slippery Fish in the grocery store line-up to hold-off a meltdown. It’s a thankless job with no lunch breaks, no holidays and an absolute inability to even enjoy a two hour movie date as you sit there and hope that they’re not crying for you as their babysitter tries to calm them.
It’s also being on the receiving end of smiles so big that it makes your child’s whole body vibrate. It’s wet kisses, tiny hugs and cuddles at 4 a.m. It’s someone who always laughs at your jokes, gently strokes your face when you’re feeling down and bonds you to your significant other in ways you never dreamed possible. It’s a feeling of accomplishment like no other when you watch them do something new every single day. And it’s forever.
It took me until the very last second to let go of my former life, but I never really had any doubt I would. Because I am (in fact) contributing to my household, and I’ve truly got the best job in the world. It is more than enough for me; it’s more than I ever could have hoped for.
So move aside -- I’ve got a child to raise.