Who am I?
Trent Reznor made me understand today.
While coming home from the grocery store, my Sirius/XM memory alert thingy ding-donged and let me know that one of my favorite songs was on another channel. I absent-mindedly switched over.
Then, I suddenly found myself alone in my car, radio blasting something from Pretty Hate Machine, singing as loudly as I could. I was 16 again.
My Sirius is almost always tuned to Lithium. I often hear them say, “You used to Rage Against the Machine. Now you just rage against the washing machine.”
That pretty much says it all.
Neither did I.
Thought you were angsty, lost and uncertain when you were in 8th grade, though? Try becoming a parent.
I realized today that one of my biggest struggles as a mother has been figuring out who I now am. I thought I knew. And, as I left my twenties and entered my thirties, I felt like so much more of myself and I was thrilled to leave a naïve, self-conscious young girl behind to become a strong, independent woman. But, then I became a mom.
Everything I thought I understood about the person I was becoming -who I hoped to be- had changed.
I had been driven in my career – focused, interested in moving up, begging for more responsibility.
Now I wish they’d let me just work part time. Or telecommute. Or just pay me to stay the hell home and do as little as possible.
I had been independent. I enjoyed nights when my husband would work late because I’d take a long, hot shower, watch my favorite TV shows, read a book and eat Ramen noodles for dinner and drink a glass of wine.
Now I am pissed when my husband has to come home late because I am left by myself to deal with screaming tantrums, a family dinner he may or may not get home in time to eat, pureed peas in my hair, a pile of laundry, a stack of work to be completed for – you know – the people who PAY me, and a bank of shows in the DVR that might be watched sometime before the summer of 2064. And, you know, just walk away from your desk and come home, jerkface. I can’t just stay at work whenever I want for however long I want. Why are you special?
When I was in high school, I knew exactly where I was going. I didn’t need a guidance counselor to help me figure things out. Now I just wish I could find someone to help me sort out my life. Since I was born with a vagina, I have to choose now between primarily being a parent or being a careerperson. There aren’t many ways to be both and to do both jobs as well as they can and should be done. Interestingly, men don’t seem to have to make these kind of decisions.
Though I always figured that I wanted to have children, I never really knew that doing so would make me feel as though I had lost myself. I am probably not ever going to get that PhD. I had always wanted now. I will likely not, conversely, make it to every recital, meet, match, game, concert and event in which my children are involved. Truth is, I don’t really know who I am anymore, and I don’t know anymore what I want to be when I grow up. But, trying to be a supermom isn’t working out that well.
There’s a whole lot of animosity between stay-at-home moms and working moms. Many working moms don’t respect the stay-at-home moms. And, the stay-at-home moms don’t understand why the working moms want their children raised by nannies or institutions. We should all start banding together and demanding more of American culture – demanding better workplace-based childcare, opportunities for at-home moms to be a part of working society, job flexibility, job sharing opportunities, more paid time off for family sick leaves, and more mom-friendly business practices in general.
Though I found a little piece of the 1993-me I thought I had left behind today, I am glad not to be a teenager anymore. I do really love my children and I consider myself to be incredibly fortunate. I just wish that I could retreat for one afternoon, listen to Liz Phair on my Discman, paint my toenails with Revlon Vixen polish and watch reruns of My So-Called Life. Just one afternoon is all I ask. Maybe it will make me feel a little better…