Sunday, August 4, 2013

Christy Martsolf, BA, BSN, RN

Yesterday Grant gave me a beautiful gift of some hours with no responsibility. Just me and my book and an umbrella. Since it was raining, he needed the car to fill his hours with Purslane and Knox. So the three of them dropped me off in Regent Square where I waved goodbye with the same vague sense of guilt I always get when I know I should want to be with them but have to acknowledge the shady emptiness that comes from not paying attention to myself for too long.

My friend had mentioned that she was taking a morning to herself as well and I texted her as I settled into Square Café and my handsome waiter wearing a Gay Pride Pittsburgh t-shirt and a colorful full sleeve poured a cup of coffee into my heavy stoneware mug. Almost immediately I received a return text that said she was at the bar at Square Café and where was I? I turned around and saw her back turned to me as she casually flipped through the morning paper. We took advantage of the beautiful coincidence and took up a small corner table for almost two hours during the busy Saturday morning rush- bottomless coffee, veggie omelets and paprika loaded hash browns.

She told me as we were leaving that she had every intention the next opportunity the two of us had to have a long conversation without babes and husbands to talk about SHE and I- just us as humans. What books we were reading, clothes we were liking, cocktails we were making, foods we were discovering. We would laugh, chatter and share our Top Five lists.

Instead we spent two hours in heavy conversation about the most intimate bits of our lives at present- parenting and wife-ing. What these relationships were like right now, how we have adjusted who and what we are to thrive in these relationships, how they have made us feel big, small and every sort of color inbetween. The details are just for Lydia and I, but there are few things in life more precious then a connection between two women who want so much to love well. Neither of us want mediocrity or "good enough" or low maintenance relationships. We want passion and charm and confidence at the end of the day that no stone went unturned.

We talk lots about going from professional person to stay at home Mom. The pros and cons. Things we anticipated struggling with and things we never imagined would be difficult. The beauty and the privilege of having the option to be our beloved children's first teacher.

Then she shared with me a thought from a book she is presently reading on that very subject, being a teacher to your child. (might even be the name of the book?) And when she spoke the paraphrased thought, I truly felt like the world stopped spinning and came completely into focus. Maybe some of you will tilt your head to the side the way Grant did when I jumped into the car later that afternoon and shared this revelation with him. You have never thought of that before? I have known that about you for three years.

Women who are college educated should have the freedom not to expect to be completely fulfilled staying at home raising small children.

I really felt like someone had slapped me in the face with the softest and most exquisite of all anxiety relieving gifts. I don't need to have the innate desire to stay at home and raise children in order to be a good parent. This can be hard for me without meaning that it's something I shouldn't be doing. And it can be easy for someone else and not as easy for me. Just because Purslane and Knox are my children does not mean that I am specifically endowed with the ability to gracefully parent them seven days a week. I am a good mother when I accept that I need support in order to parent well.

I trained and studied for a long time to become a nurse and now am good at it, very good at it. Walking in the door of the hospital makes me feel confident, in control and stimulated. I love what I do professionally and I am constantly learning and developing my skills to become an even better nurse. I have seven years of experience to fall back on when faced with new situations and very rarely feel out of control.

There is nothing about parenting that guarantees control. There is the illusion and the crapshoot and the old school tradition, but at the end of the day every parent does the best he/she can to walk beside their individual child and help them become productive members of society, gracious and loving human beings, and in our case, make sure Purslane and Knox know without a doubt that God loves them and so do we.

And I love it, I do. I don't feel like it even needs to be said that I cherish the years I have to be their first teacher. No one, even Grant, knows them like I do and that is a gift. But recognizing there are elements of parenting that I will have to learn instead of be naturally good at is important.

In my previous blog post, I raised the question to myself of whether I wouldn't be a better Mother if I were working full time. Lots of women make this choice and are successful in both arenas. But the bottom line for me is that I chose to stay home and work very part time. This is my choice and I need to stop second guessing it. What I need to do is figure out what support I need in order to be a stay at home Mom. Some parents have the capacity to spend all day every day with their children and that makes them feel the same way I feel when I am in my scrubs at the bedside.

But me? I need time away. I need time alone with Grant. I need help cleaning my house. I need to sleep in the upstairs bedroom some nights when Pursy's sleepwalking into our bed is keeping me from getting a full night's sleep. I need older women in my life to give me advice. I need to always be reading a book. I need sex on a regular basis. I need beer dates with friends where we talk about how lucky we are to have the lives we do.

I am a college educated woman who is trained and gifted to do a particular job and made the decision to do something else. So I need to do it and there is too much at stake not to do it well. Any support you can offer me and have been holding out on, let's have it.

Because the beautiful thing is, after a few hours to nourish my soul (and my belly), I could not wait to see my husband and children. I made the right choice.

I captured the exact moment a peaceful wagon ride turned into a dump truck analogy.

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