Why am I writing? Why why why? I keep coming back to writing, as if I put it on paper, in the right order, with the right words, some great bit of wisdom will be bestowed upon me. A mystery will be solved. That’s not even the truth. I feel like if I can tell my story in some exact way, maybe I will reach someone, maybe I won’t feel so alone. Maybe I will be more than myself.
Perhaps I just need to get it out. Exorcise the demons so they will quit roaming in my head. No, I’m not a heroin addict. I’m not a criminal. I’m not on skid row. Why do I speak of demons? I’ve always been a drama queen. Maybe that is why the monotony of my day to day existence is wearing on me.
Let’s just get it out there. I am a mother of two kids. Just my saying that labels me in most social circles. We all define ourselves and are defined by others, but I didn’t think my labels were universal until I was a mother. To my family, I am the stable one, but my husband would call me a little crazy. My mommy friends think I’m a creative free spirit, but my artist friends most likely think I’m a poser. My job has never defined me, until now. I went from shit job to shit job, always thinking I was better than what I did for a living.
Maybe that in and of itself is a definition. The movie “Office Space” is very accurate in a lot of ways. I do not think it is an exaggeration to say I did fifteen minutes of actual work when I was employed. Well, maybe thirty. One of the main reasons I went back to college was because I could take courses online, and I figured getting a degree while I “worked” might be a better way to spend my time instead of playing mah jong and looking at people.com every fifteen minutes.
I worked jobs that had a minimal amount of responsibility and social interaction. At most, I might book travel for an executive or schedule a meeting, but there was nothing in my day that caused any real stress. I liked that. I also liked that I put in my forty hours a week and the rest of the time was mine. I was offered positions where I could travel, earn bonuses according to performance, etc. My bosses always thought I had “great potential” and wanted to see me move up the food chain. I turned them down. Because I knew what they didn’t- I don’t function well under stress. Despite having the least amount of responsibility possible, I still called in “sick” at least once a month because I just couldn’t face the day.
Motherhood was a slap in the face, followed by a right hook.
The best analogy I can give for my initial feelings about motherhood is to compare it to the first time I went swimming in the ocean. My husband and I honeymooned in Maui. We ran hand in hand out to the beach. I had never seen anything so vast and overwhelming. I was overcome with emotion. I felt both insignificant in the face of greatness, but also as if my life had a special and unique place within that system. I was nervous and exhilarated as I ran into the water.
I am not a strong swimmer. I love to float and splash. I have an awkward but passable stroke. I like my feet to be able to touch the bottom. I have trouble with my breathing technique, so I generally keep my head above water.
I gingerly walked into the ocean, careful not to get in too deep. But the sand gave way underneath me and before I knew it, my feet had left the ground. Waves began to crash over my head. It was too much, I wanted to get back to land, back to safety. I was able to straggle my way back towards the shore, but every time I tried to exit the water, a wave would knock me down from behind. I couldn’t stand, I couldn’t breathe. I could see my husband on the shore, beckoning me, but I couldn’t fight through the waves to meet him on the sand. He finally ran into the water and steadied me, and I was able to collapse on my beach towel.
Over the next couple of days, I got better at swimming in the ocean. I learned how to steady myself as I exited the water, so the waves would not knock me over. I even used his snorkeling googles to look underneath the surface at the exotic and somewhat frightening creatures below. But I was never confident in the water. I didn’t want to know the true shape of the slimy material that brushed my leg. I was cautious to wear dark solid colors and remove my jewelry before entering the water, so as not to attract sharks, even though I was never more than thirty feet from shore. While outwardly displaying a carefree, jovial honeymooner, inwardly I was focused on sharks, jellyfish and other potential attackers.
Yes, those are my feelings on motherhood, in a nutshell.