Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Where Did She Go?

9.5 days out of 10 I feel incredibly lucky to be a stay at home Mama. To be the one person who knows my babes better then anyone. Even their very involved Dad has to ask me sometimes what Pursy is saying or what it means when Knox arches his back when you pick him up. I love my babes and love being a Mama, so let's just get that out of the way and talk about the next level of staying at home. The complete and total life change and the denial of everything I thought defined me.

I met a sweet girl at church last week who asked me right off the bat a very intriguing question- "what do you do?". I used to dread this query- usually making a joke about working a highly stressful full time job with employees who didn't let you go to the bathroom alone. When asked by one of my many female acquaintances working on a PhD, I tend to say "I chose to stay home with my babes while they were little"- usually with a little bit of sass and making it very clear that it was MY choice and challenging them to tell me it wasn't the most important job in the world. Truly, I only remember one conversation between Grant and I where he asked me if I was certain I wanted to quit my job as a nurse and be the stay at home parent. We had a small window to sign up for day care, and he wanted to make sure we didn't make any decisions we would regret. He was fine with me staying home and he was fine with me working, and so the choice was truly all mine. And I knew what I wanted. I loved working full time as a nurse but knew that my time with little babes was short and as we had the luxury to be able to make the decision based on things other then finances, I chose to stay home.

So here I am. Staying home. My alarm clock is an awake baby looking either for a boob or a cup of juicewater, depending on which one wakes up first. My uniform is jeans in the winter and a skirt in the summer. My Starbucks is a plastic shatterproof french press, lovingly given to me by dear friends who heard the pain in my voice when I wrote about my old press shattering on the floor. My lunch break is a salad bar from the fridge usually thrown together and eaten over two cranky babes who are getting close to nap time. My afternoon meeting is with the couch for an hour or two holding a sleeping Knox because if I do not hold him, I spend those two hours going back and forth up to his crib rocking him back to sleep so he doesn't wake up Pursy. My Happy Hour is a beer on the back porch with Grant when he gets home. All the time inbetween is spent changing diapers, going for walks, the Children's Museum, nursing, puzzles, finger painting, Yo Gabba Gabba, books, time outs and laundry. All the things that come with parenting young babes.

And I have found ways to be myself and do what I want while engaging in these activities that have nothing to do with me. I cloth diaper my babes, we read classic children's books and put together wooden Melissa and Doug puzzles, I feed them real, natural foods with lots of variety and color, we spend lots of time outside usually without shoes, and in general I get to choose things that fit with my preferences. I do not feel like motherhood took over and left me with disorganized bits that I try to fit into the shape of my single and even married self. But then there are those parts of myself that I couldn't make work in this time of my life if I pushed and pulled and negotiated as hard as I can.

Clothes: I miss being able to walk into any store and find something I like. When your main requirement for any outfit is being able to get to your breasts quickly, options are not abundant. I love clothes and especially vintage or consignment things that do not have regular sizes or washable fabrics.

Movies: I love movies, and cannot remember the last time I watched one from beginning to end. If we watch a movie at home, I am asleep halfway through. And the theater means babysitting, money, a free evening and all the other planets aligning.

Coffee Shops: My favorite afternoons used to be a book and a cup of coffee. The luxury of putting your feet up on the stool next to you and watching people walk by the window.

Dinner: A full dinner. Eaten from beginning to end without getting up and down 27 times to grab a bib, a napkin, a cup of juice, a banana. Having a conversation across the table without speaking over happy yelling and "Mama- I all done!". Preparing dishes like the recipe says, with the full amount of curry powder or red pepper flakes. Having hours in the kitchen to prepare gourmet dishes, prepping obscure vegetables and stirring constantly some fragile sauce or roux. Of course with a glass of wine.

Browsing: Anything, really. The New Releases shelf the library, the nail polish display at Target, the build your own 6 pack room at D's, the purses at Goodwill, the fresh pastas at the Public Market. Just taking my time and touching, looking, reading...

Getting Ready: Spending however long it takes to get the look I want. Whether it's makeup or hair or clothes- trying on things, experimenting, new products- just taking time to play around and maybe find something new that actually works. A friend of mine showed up at a recent dinner party with a fantastic hair style that I admired openly. She said she found it on Pinterest and watched the tutorial on YouTube and it was now super easy to pull off. She lost me at finding it on Pinterest. I have never been to the site and still have no idea how it works. I still have the pipe dream that if I just had enough time and the right haircut, I could be mistaken for Zooey. The bangs are growing out now though, so I am that much further away. No time to blow them out in the morning. Bobby pins are easier.

So some days I really do have to look hard in the mirror to see that girl I thought I knew. But I really don't have time for mirror-gazing either... which is why I usually end up doing my eyebrows in the car on the way to church. But one thing I will not give up, will always find time for- whether I have to spend $40 at the salon or whether I have to lock the bathroom door and keep screaming babes and attention needing husband outside- I will always have pretty painted toes. When the apocalypse hits and my body is found buried in the rubble of my bombed out house, they will identify me by my beautiful feet.

Sometimes We Wear Masks

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