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2ManyOpenTabs

The hectic life as a mom, wife, daughter, + writer equates a continuous and simultaneous running of all cylinders.

Month

June 2016

A Guttural Instinct

I met my husband while on a girls trip to San Francisco alongside two of my best girlfriends. At the time, the three of us all lived in Chicago and two things topped our list of prerequisites: warm weather and good wine, making SF and wine country the perfect destination. After a dizzying and life-altering encounter, my now-husband and I became inseparable and our love grew almost immediately. After about eight months of dating long-distance which included routine trips back and forth to visit one another, the time came to make the move. While short on resources but so full of love, together we combined our paltry eclectic assortment of belongings, along with our newly acquired pup. What we lacked in size, we made up for by being starry-eyed in love in our shoe-box, albeit, charming and quaint Victorian apartment. And as meager as things were and as tight as our budget was, we would forever dream of one day, owning our own home in the Bay Area.

Fast forward nine years, 2 kids, and several jobs later, we’re finally living out our ultimate goal of homeownership, and yet I can’t help but feel like the bubble will presumably burst at any minute. Around any corner now, the inescapable harsh realities of life will come crashing down and expose the realism that so often unfolds. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t consider myself a pessimist, but rather more a realist with the expectation that both good and bad things occur all the time. Rainbows form and so do rain clouds. Butterflies flutter and bees sting. But why is it that I’m always waiting for the ubiquitous other shoe to fall?

Maybe my thoughts of impending doom like that of a seedy character lurking around a dark corner, is a way of lightly peppering the good in a tactic of self-preservation. This innate mindset might be a way to decrease the likelihood of feeling bamboozled when things go south. It must be engrained in me from somewhere, although its distinct coordinates and precise whereabouts are still unclear. Perhaps it points to the alphabet soup of ill after-effects of being a child of a divorced family, or as a result of the unfortunate, and yet all- too common reality of being a woman in a male-dominated world. What I do know, however, is that the inability to fully live in the moment and enjoy the truly happy times in life, doesn’t seem to be relegated to just myself. The notion that once you’ve met your current quota of happiness and things start to feel too good to be true, there you are again, at that dark intersection you know all-too well.

I’m sure this is one of the many limitless reasonings for why therapists are part and parcel to our somewhat functioning society and why they’ll forever find abundant job security. Life seems to throw us a lot of curve balls when we’re least expecting them, and so perhaps instinctively, my thoughts of upcoming ominous circumstances are my way of creating a buffer to lessen the impact. Either way, life is good—for now, anyway. And in this current moment, I’m housing happiness.

I’m a fraud

I pretend I’m the perfect parent, that I have all my ducks in a row, but I’m so far from it. I project that I have it all together, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. I present myself as having everything in order —all of the time—but I’m sorely misrepresenting things. Afterall, I’m a real parent, with real flaws and very common shortcomings with an even bigger dream of keeping it all afloat. But what remains a mystery, is why we feel the need to pretend that everything is simultaneously achievable when we all know damn well that it isn’t. It’s impossible to keep all the plates spinning when those said plates include overseeing our children’s well-being, a career, a household, friendships, our children’s social calendars and rare, but necessary interspersing of some personal care from time to time. It’s simply not feasible to be on top of it all at all times because unless I’ve missed the big announcement, being in more than one place at one time, still isn’t physically possible (although, I’m sure a Mom will invent how to make this happen sometime soon).

What I wish is for all moms to let go of the notion that this is what we should strive to be; something unattainable. Can we learn to rid ourselves of the guilt associated with not feeling worthy unless all our responsibilities are satisfied before we lay our head down at night? Don’t get me wrong, it feels great to check things off the ubiquitous ‘to-do list’ and have a satisfying day of abundant accomplishments, but we shouldn’t define our self-worth by our ability to do so. Giving the dog a bath while on a conference call with dinner in the oven and laundry in the dryer isn’t what makes us ‘good’ parents. In fact, I’d like to argue the opposite, in which doing less is actually much more. So often at night when I read my kids their bedtime books, I’m not focused on the words or their reactions to them, rather, I’m running down my endless mental checklist of things that I still need to do or emails that I need to write or people who need to be called back or lunches that can’t make themselves or dishes I should clean or the impending articles that need to be written. I’m simply.not. present. And the enemy of multi-tasking and its assumed forefront position it’s taken on our lives, is to blame. The only way I see this changing is if us, as a society, to change our perception on what it truly means to be a succeeding parent.

I don’t expect this shift in societal views to happen overnight, if at ever, but that doesn’t mean a positive shift can’t occur within our own individual lives. Let’s start by being real; with ourselves; our friends; our partners. Let’s stop pretending to uphold these impervious lives that don’t really exist. Parenthood is hard. Really hard. So maybe if we can come from a place of honesty, life would feel a lot less of a hurdle and much more of an achievable goal. Perhaps I’ll put that on my list of to-do’s.

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