I missed posting last week. I fully intended to write while I was on the plane- but I am the mom of a toddler- as soon as the plane touched the clouds, I was out.
I get defensive. Easily. It isn’t my finest quality. Nor is it something I justify to allow myself permission to ignore it. But damn, it’s hard to break. Mostly because it comes from a place of fear. Fear that I’m doing something wrong- or not enough.
Fear that I am making mistakes I don’t even know about.
Last week I took my first work trip since becoming a single mom. I had the pleasure of being whisked away to the exotic lands of Iowa for three days. Three days chock full of product knowledge, technical jargon, business connections, and missing the loves of my life. Feeling like part of my being had been temporarily detached. Inserting commentary about them as often as socially acceptable and relevant.
Executing a trip like this brings into focus how much support I have. Moose and I have a tribe that is unwavering. An asset that I could not function without. All parents need support. All parents need a little help from time to time. But doing this crazy, exhausting job alone? I wouldn’t survive without our tribe. I wouldn’t make it through the struggles without the kind voices on the other end of the phone telling me I am doing the right thing. The people that help pick up the slack when I just cannot do it all, no matter how much I want to. The people that choose to be here in the trenches with me. The ones that love my monster even when he is being, well, a monster.
This beautiful collection of people not only support me and keep me moving forward, but they are helping shape Moose into a man. A man I know I will be proud of. These individuals are showing this little boy unconditional love. They are an example of putting other’s first- of how support and tenderness are executed. They are showing that family is not only comprised of blood relations, but choice. That love is love, no matter who it comes from. Family comes in all shapes and sizes- that’s what makes it the incredible tapestry that embraces you when you need it most.
While on my whirlwind trip, we had a lot of time to chat with our group members. There were hours spent on planes, buses, and sharing meals. We talked a lot of business. A lot of business. We also learned more than I realized was possible to know about windows. I may get a little too much joy from touring factories. I digress. Woven through all of the talks about fenestration, codes, partnerships, and philosophies we migrated to the personal subjects, too. As mentioned previously, my son peppers all conversations. He is one of the constants on my mind. So naturally, one night at dinner we chatted about children. Surviving the toddler years. The tantrums. Parenting styles. Triumphs. Struggles.
I am an honest mother. Maybe to a fault. I don’t sugar coat parenting. It is hard. Right now I am knee deep in two.
Stubborn, loud, inconsolable, energetic, sweet, chatty, beautiful two.
And two is hard. It brings a weariness I feel in my bones. And fear. So much fear. Panic that he will be an entitled jerk forever. That I am shaping him wrong. That I am not the mother he needs me to be. That I don’t feed him all of the right things. That when I ignore his antics mid tantrum that I am withholding love. That he will never grow out of the tantrums. The list is endless.
But two is also incredibly beautiful. Two bring generous hugs given with intention. Laughter the rises from his belly and lights up his face. Snuggles- though brief and even a little rare- so very sweet.
As we discussed this roller coaster ride that is the toddler years, I laid all of that out on the table. I didn’t hold back my struggles- or my immense joy. And then I got the question that I always have a hard time with- what it is like being a working mom. I had to swallow my defensive reaction. I have to work. But moreover, I want to. I worry if that makes me a bad mother.
I love my son. Anyone who asks me about him can tell instantly by the smile that spreads across my face at the mere mention of his name. But I also love my job. I love the sense of accomplishment it gives me. I love bringing my clients joy. I love the laughter my father and I share daily- even when the adventures bring us stress accompanied by a touch of chaos.
I have days that my heart aches when I drop my son off at daycare. Everyday I anticipate seeing his face at the end of the day. I fantasize about playing hookie and staying home in our pajamas all day. But even with that, I don’t want to give up my job- even if I could. If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would still work, the focus of my business would only adjust to a new focus.
I think that stay-at-home moms are made out of the same stock at saints. They are battle hardened by these tiny dictators. They have a patience that I can only dream of. I couldn’t do it.
As much as I admire- and sometimes envy- stay at home moms, I think my job makes me a better mother. It gives me the fulfillment that I crave. Sometimes the accomplishment helps save my sanity- particularly when I feel like my home life is falling down around my feet. It helps me retain some of my identity. Identity that I nearly lost before Moose’s father left. But sometimes that defensiveness kicks in- I feel like I have to defend the love of my job. The pride it gives me. The hours I put in to help my business thrive.
So right now, I will put that at my feet. Unburden myself from the perceived judgement. The sensitivity that rises up within me. Because my son is not harmed by my work. If I was a stay-at-home mom, he would learn different things from me. Not better, not worse. Just different. But I am teaching him hard work. I am showing him passion. Pride in my work.
I guess what I am trying to say, is that every family is different. Every mother is different. There are so many opinions out there- how to best feed your infant, if you should work or not, how to parent. They are all contradictory, if you listen to them all. So we have to stop. We have to stop listening. Hell, we have to stop making them. You know what is best for your family. You know what is best for you. Is your child fed? Loved? Safe? Then you are doing a good job. I am doing a good job. My son will know he can chase his dreams, because I chased mine. My son will know that I am a safe haven when he makes mistakes- because I have made plenty. My son will always know he is loved- no matter what else changes in my life, that will never waver. And that, is what makes me a good mom.