Wednesday, October 30, 2013

the internal conversation right now

This installment of WTF Wednesday is more of an internal dialogue from my own head.
It goes a little something like this: Vanessa, WTF are you doing with your life?!

Now, don't get me wrong. I don't hate my life. (Well, not usually at least.) I am grateful for the life I have. I am grateful for a husband and three beautiful kids that make my life worth living. I have supportive and loving family members. I have my good health - well sort of... (I am giving you the middle finger right now, Diabetes.) I have a roof over my head and food on my table and an amazing bed to sleep in.  And now that I have acknowledged that I do indeed appreciate all the truly positive things in my life, I can move on to what I actually want to say.

Some days I just can't help but feel a little Meh. And some times between cleaning up a diaper explosion and witnessing a fight over a fake carrot (seriously) for the 4th time in 10 minutes, I think to myself,
"This is my life?"

And that's not to say that I didn't want this life, because I did. And still do. I was never 100% positive of what I wanted to be when I grew up. But I always knew I wanted to be a mom. I imagined reading  books and pushing swings and watching my kids play together in the yard while I baked something chocolaty in the kitchen. And there was a husband floating around somewhere in all of this too. I knew I wanted all this, but I needed to add more to the game plan.

So I took our guidance counselor at her word when she said our grades were important if we wanted to get good scholarships for college. Being able to afford college sounded like a good plan, so I worked hard and did well. And when senior year rolled around, I was expected to answer the usual question: what do you want to do with the rest of your life? the rest of your life. Keep in mind, high school seniors are all of like 17 or 18.

Well, I picked nursing. And picked is the right word.
I didn't feel nursing was necessarily my "calling."
I didn't receive a visit from an angel of the Lord bathed in white light, letting me know nursing was the right career path.
I just picked it.
I went to school. Anatomy and physiology almost kicked my ass, but I soldiered on. I transferred schools and found a better fit. I barely passed pathophysiology with a C, along with about 99% of the rest of the class. And while it took a semester longer than expected, I graduated with my Bachelors degree.

I worked for a couple of years on an intensely busy and challenging floor at a large hospital. And while some days it was God-awful, some days it was fabulous. There were times when I was doing something intense and challenging and downright cool, and feeling all empowered I thought to myself, "I'm a nurse, and I'm badass!" I was managing four to five patients a day, pushing Ativan to detoxers like a pro, and safely navigating the occasionally treacherous waters of the CNA-to-RN relationship.

But then Bailey came and things changed. My husband and I looked into daycare, but I couldn't imagine leaving our tiny 3 month-old baby (with a cleft and special feeding needs no less) in the care of someone else. Someone who probably wouldn't love her the way we do. The 12-hour shifts, rotating days and nights, working every other weekend - it wasn't going to work. At least not with both of us doing that. I found a new part-time job, and Jared and I arranged our schedules so that one of us was always at home with Bailey. And when Avery arrived 14 months after her sister, our arrangement didn't need to change.

But then came Graham. And boy did he have his ideas of what would be convenient* for him. (* = Mom's boob, in his mouth, whenever needed, no substitutions.) This guy went on 24+ hour hunger strikes if I left for a day. And even if he would've taken a bottle, 3 kids under 3?  Forget about it! There is no point in working just to pay for daycare.

So here I am.

And while most of the time it is where I want to be, there are those moments when I miss what I did before.
I miss the interaction with patients.
I miss hearing their stories.
I miss IV drips and assessments.
I miss chats (especially the inappropriate ones) with coworkers.
I miss feeling like I am making a difference.
I miss having an identity that is truly my own.

And when someone asks what I do, I truly miss being able to say, "Oh yeah, I work *here*."
Because if we are being honest, the worst thing about being a stay-at-home mom is the body language and the "Ohh... That must be nice" response you get from other people - especially women.
I get the feeling that many are either jealous of you for the "luxury" of being able to stay at home with your children OR they envision you lying on the sofa popping chocolates in your mouth all day.
{Get real - I pop chocolates in my mouth all day while doing the dishes. There's a difference.}
And while I know how hard it is to work and be a mom, it isn't a walk in the freakin' park being with your kids 24/7 either. {Especially in the winter. Please God let my children love the snow so I can throw them in the backyard to buy myself a few minutes of silence.}

It's hard work. Because even as bad as some days were working as a nurse, I got to leave it all behind and go home. Now? Umm... work IS my home. And my office is a toy-strewn living room. If the kids are driving me insane, I can't start counting down the minutes of my shift until I can leave.
Because my shift doesn't end. Ever.
And that is when being a SAHM sucks. I want to actively love them every minute of every day. But I can't. Because I am human. And they are toddlers. And toddlers whine. A lot.

So that is why I get annoyed when a stay-at-home mom says things like, "I stay home with my kids, and I love every single minute of it!"
Oh shut up.
No you don't.
And quit saying that crap just to let everyone know what a wonderful mother and person you must be. Do you love your children and love most of your minutes with them: yes.
But I think you would be hard-pressed to find someone loving those individual minutes when their child throws a colossal tantrum in church or when they find that the dog has crapped on the floor and their 9 month old is playing in it. (No personal experience on that one or anything...)
Admitting that there are times when you want to get in the car and drive far, far away from it all doesn't make you a bad mother.
It makes you human.
And since we are human, we have a limit. And sometimes that limit gets reached more quickly than others, which might be due to those very early mornings - every. single. morning.

And it is in those weak moments when I have those thoughts:
WTF are you doing, Vanessa?!
Seriously?
You busted your ass at college just to spend your morning cleaning up fruit snacks that were ground into the carpet?

It's also in those same moments that I can't help but wonder if I am squandering away my knowledge and the skills I learned while working. I imagine that I will have to start over from the beginning whenever I return to the workforce. How am I going to spin this big ol' gap in my resume into a positive? Yes, working with some health care patients is sort of like dealing with crabby toddlers, although I doubt any future employer is going to appreciate that view being shared in an interview.
Am I going to find a job I like?
Wait...do I even know what I like???

It's just that some days it is harder than I thought it would be, and I already knew it would be hard to begin with.
I try my best to love these regular days as much as I can.
I don't love breaking up fights over a stuffed Elmo and a random slipper, but I do love my kids.
I know it is a gift to be able to be such a huge presence in their little lives - something many, many women would give almost anything to be able to do full-time.

So right now I am trying to focus on the positive aspects of being a stay-at-home mom and not worry so much about the future. I hope to pick up some PRN shifts again one of these days. I pray that one day I am lucky enough to have an outside-of-the-home job I like, not just one I go to for the paycheck. And benefits. And the quiet drive to work.
So I guess the answer to my initial question is
... the best that I can.

11 comments:

  1. have 2 jobs (plus selling Mary Kay and an occasional day helping mom and dad on the farm) and there are days I wake up wondering "WTF am I doing with my life?" or "Am I supposed to be doing something else?" I think a lot of people have these thoughts, they just don't always express them. No matter how much you love your job there will always be some sort of downfall and you catch yourself questioning what you are doing, and I think that is perfectly normal. Some people just question themselves more than others. At the age of 17/18 you still have so many changes to go through and trying to decide on your career is nearly impossible when the future is so unclear at times. So like you said; you just do the best that you can and go with it.

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    1. I love you sister.
      And with those 4 jobs, you can definitely avoid having to room with Bernita. For now at least...

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  2. I absolutely LOVE this post. Your words echo mine, exactly. I went from loving a career, to staying at home. Some days I wonder what the hell I've done... And when the day comes when I'm ready to go back to work what the heck is my resume going to look like?
    The other thing that has weighed on me is *what* do I call myself? I recent wrote a post, very similar to this one... And, I had no idea my *title* would raise such a discussion among my working-mother friends and those who stay at home.
    http://d-and-s-macke.blogspot.com/2013/10/please-dont-call-me-that.html
    As mommies, we're all just doing the best we can for our kiddos, all the while trying to survive this crazy thing called parenthood.

    You're doing a great job!!

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    1. Thanks for stopping by. I have to admit I love getting comments from people that aren't related to me by blood. ;) And of course I had to check out your blog. So cute! I could definitely take a few pointers from you on the whole graphics design aspect of blogging.

      I also happened to see that you attended ISU. Are you from Iowa originally?

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  3. New job. New city. New living arrangements. Still no clue if I'm on the right or wrong road. I don't think I'll ever know! I should be excited and ready for the future but instead I spend all my time wondering if I'm on the right path and making the right decisions. Life is hard but I think we all need to just take a day at a time and do what makes us happy. :)

    You're awesome.
    -Macie

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    1. Thanks Macie. I think you are pretty awesome too, even if Cody did steal you away from RC. ;)
      "New" is definitely exciting and terrifying at the same time. As far as life and decisions and being on the correct path go, I think that if it feels right most of the time, it probably is. But at the same time, worrying is something I have a hard time giving up... I hope you are having fun with all your new ventures!

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  4. Great thoughts, as always! I think every person can relate to this feeling. Most people that know me know that I am constantly wondering about the past, the future, and what road I am on now. And it doesn't do me ANY good 99% of the time! For me, I will compare my life to others and think I need to be farther along in my career or I should have a family and kids by now. And I do strive for those things, but they aren't coming in the timeline that I want them to. Sometimes I wish I was more laid-back about life...and feel positive about the things that are going right and not worry about the rest.

    And Vanessa, you have the toughest job in the world! You are raising kids (the RIGHT way) and making sure to prepare them for the world ahead of them. I wish there were more parents like you! Teachers would be eternally thankful. :)

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  5. This post couldn't of came at a better time. You made your youngest cousin not feel like I'm the only one, with these thoughts. I wake up everyday and think wth are you doing with your life, Kayla? I wonder where I'm gonna be in 5 years, and what I'm gonna do. Spent two hours last week with my college advisor trying to figure it out. I think everyone has those days. Chin up, Vanessa your a great mom! Ps. Sometime if you need a break I would love to come play with the kids. :)

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    1. College is a huge time of upheaval. You're changing roommates and apartments yearly it seems, along with the stress of class and/or work. It's fun, but it's a challenge sometimes. And I know I should take my own advice here, but try and enjoy it while it lasts. I really miss all those fun, carefree moments of college! And all the time spent with friends, staying up way too late, making tons of awesome memories. I am sure you will find the path you're meant to be on. And in the end it may take you a bit longer than you expected, but it will be worth it.

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  6. I enjoy reading your posts. I can remember being young, with young children, thinking the same exact thoughts that you are having. Now that I am a grandmother, I can honestly say, that those thoughts were all a waste of time and energy. I so miss those days, the loud, crazy, messy days!!! I did things a little opposite of you. I didn't go to school until my youngest started school. I am now a (past) middle age woman with a job I love, but, i would so enjoy being able to go back to the time when my children were small and, many days, a pain in the a$$. My days now consist of working, cooking, cleaning and anxiously waiting for the days my children and grandchildren visit. Honestly, you will yearn for these days in years to come - so ENJOY them now.

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    1. Thank you - I am glad you enjoy reading my little blog. :)

      I enjoy getting the perspective of someone who has been-there/done-that. And most days I think the same things in my head that you are telling me now: enjoy this, it is going to be done and over with before you know it. But as you know (especially going to school with young kids!), that is easier said than done. I LOVE that you can advise a young mother to enjoy these days while still remembering that your kids were indeed a pain in the ass sometimes! I definitely appreciate that kind of honesty.

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