Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Stay at Home Sentence

Get Born Magazine is looking for 'firsts' for their Spring publication.....not sure if this will make the cut but this is my essay on when I first realized I needed to be a stay at home mom.....

Stay at Home Sentence:

We sat across from each other in the ICU. Our 6 month old was stable but knocked out on seizure meds; there was nothing else to do so we worked. I typed to the tune of her heart monitor, answered emails, closed deals, made sure my team had everything they needed.

It was January 30th. I had to close last minute sales in order to make commission for the month. My head was buried in my laptop. My husband’s head buried in his laptop….we worked….in the Intensive Care Unit at Children’s Hospital.

My husband looked up from his computer. “When are you going back to work?”

“I’m not.” I answered, finishing my email. I am not. I finally had the nerve to meet his eyes. He looked at me and nodded…agreed….I am not going back to work. His eyes went back to the screen. I paused and looked the ceiling, watching the words I just uttered dance across the lights.

What did I just commit to? The fact that Samantha was so sick and we were both answering work emails was ridiculous. Someone needed to bite the bullet. Someone needed to be at home with her. I knew that someone should be me.

I had always entertained the idea of being a stay-at-home-mom but once those words…I’m am not going back to work , vomited from my mouth I felt like I had lost myself. I had lost ten years of ladder climbing, schmoozing, selling, getting on the managerial fast track…I had just committed career suicide…identity suicide. Who am I if I am not working???

Truth was I didn’t even like my job. I wasn’t saving lives or changing the world. I worked in marketing….trying to convince people to buy things. My daughter was very, very sick and I was negotiating with clients who were trying to convince people to buy things…Important things….garden gnomes, aprons with cute sayings, fart machines…life changing items

But it was what I did. What do you do Heather? Well I work for a company that tries to get people to buy garden gnomes and fart machines. This is what I do. And even though I didn’t really like what I did, there were parts of my job that I loved.

When Samantha was four months old, I had to go on a business trip to New York. I coordinated her care with my mom and husband. I cried as I said goodbye. I felt guilty and called myself a bad mom…..

And then I got on the plane and took a four hour nap. I then took a taxi to the W Hotel in Manhattan, checked in, changed into my pajamas, ordered room service and watched four hours of back to back episodes of Sex and the City.

I woke up the next morning after having the best sleep since I was pregnant.

The next morning room service brought me an omelet, fresh orange juice and coffee. I ate, uninterrupted, still in my pajamas and watching the Today Show.

I took a twenty minute shower and doused myself in Aveda products. No baby shampoo in this shower. No baby to have to listen to while keeping the soap out of my eyes.

I called my husband and pretended to feel guilty about a 2 am feeding. This was difficult because the W Hotel in Manhattan does not recognize 2 am feedings or poopie diapers or projectile vomiting. They only recognize things of the fabulous and sexy sense.

I dressed in a black silk suit, kitten heals and marveled in the fact that my jacket showed no signs…what so ever….of baby vomit.

I was fabulous in the meeting; witty and charming. I closed the garden gnome deal. Our team celebrated at a restaurant off of 5th Avenue.

Two months later, I sat in two-day underwear in the ICU at Children’s, watching over my daughter. I was feeling very un-fabulous, sad, beaten down. I did not care about my garden gnomes.

But my clients love me, they need me.

But my daughter needed me more. I knew I was doing the right thing…perhaps the life saving thing. Samantha needed someone to scour the internet, bother the doctors, ask questions, write down answers and ask questions again.

But I couldn’t help but be sad about a decision that was not mine, a decision that came out of necessity. I missed my kitten heals.

And I became a somewhat bitter, stay-at-home mom.

I protested for a while. I wore only sweat suits and refused to shave my legs. I traded my United Airlines Visa card for a Grocery rewards card. I watched a lot of Oprah. I also focused on my daughter, her care and realized the job I was now doing was rewarding, life-changing and life-altering. I wrote, I advocated. I discovered the sweet, sweet world of the afternoon nap.

I emerged from my funk a couple months later. Perhaps there is life beyond the garden gnomes. My new feet no longer fit my fabulous kitten heals. They were traded for a pair of sensible Merrells. The silk suit still has a place in the closet…hoping for another Manhattan date with the W.

9 comments:

Deana said...

Love it!!! "Two day underwear"...crack me up...I know it too well!


I got my W-2 today from my first job since I was pregnant. I felt accomplished, and like I was really contributing something to the family again. But then I was reminded that this was just bonus...the real contribution is what I give in time and energy to Max's needs!

And my silk suit...it's a skirt and shirt combo from Banana Republic...with some killer Cole Haan heels. I'll meet you at the W...one day.

Anonymous said...

I love it, there is life after gnomes. But it is hard giving up who we were. I've always worked in the human service, non profit world--no money, no perks, but I know I make a difference. And I love it. After Aaron was born I had no daycare options and I still stubbornly thought I could work. So I got my CNA, worked night shifts at a nursing home and in home care/hospice, adolescent psych--anything so that I could still have some identity other than 'mom' But when the kids were so sick and I realized I couldn't even sell tupperware anymore (which, by the way as a former theater geek was quite fun since I always held theme parties!) I went into a deep depression. I knew what I was doing was necessary, was valuable, was important. And I loved my kids. But I remember a fight my husband and I had after he'd won an award at work and when we went to awards dinner, I hadn't read a newspaper, hadn't showered for days, hadn't listened to the news, watched tv or anything.I'd just been doing O2 levels, g tubes, vomit and poop. And I was exhausted. I had NOTHING of interest or value to say to anyone else at the table and I felt fat, stupid and out of it. --Not valued as a mom, just dull witted-- We got home and got into a fight where I pointed out that I didn't get a performance review for being a mom, I didn't get a raise, no one gave me awards and you know what? I wanted those things.(ok so the next day said hubby came home with a 'performance' review which I totally aced, as well as flowers and dinner) But the thing is, staying at home is hard. Wonderful, hard, amazing, joyful and everything in between. And you do it with grace and strength. You totally rock. Enjoy who you are--and keep those silk suits and heels handy because these days will fly by!

Renee W

Shauna Quintero said...

I love this blog.

I ALWAYS wanted to be a stay at home mom. I, too, worked in marketing. Loved the accomplishment of closing the deal but hated the fact that NOTHING I did meant anything to the world.

When I was in the PICU with my struggling son it was quite clear I wouldn't be going back to work. My career is now to heal Christian, advocate for him, and as a side job advocate for others that don't know they need it.

But I do daydream about what it used to be like to socialize with friends at work, go for Starbucks runs, accomplish stuff. Just be common and normal. A land far far away from the world we live now.

I'm about to clean out my closet. Throw away my work wardrobe that hasn't been touched in about two years. Trade it in for track suits, yoga pants, and my husband's t-shirts.

I also have to say I didn't realize that vast amount of isolation there is in being a stay at home mom of a special needs child.

However, I REALLY wouldn't have it any other way and I am right where I need to be.

Thank you for this blog.

ferfischer said...

I agree with Deana -- I KNOW the "two day underwear" thing!

So, I still work out of the home. Full time. And it kind of sucks. But, we have full-time intensive therapy for Cici for free until she's 4, so that helps. I've talked with Maria about this at length too - I just don't know how long I'm going to be able to keep up this pace. I'm slacking at work, I'm dealing with Cici's needs, extra therapies, and doctors appointments full-time, oh, and also TWO other kids under 4 years old. I'm SO tired. But giving up my salary (which is higher than my husbands), and more importantly, insurance, isn't really an option yet. And, I'm still working on getting my CNA so I can "add" that as a job too. Maybe when that happens I can cut down on my other job's hours.

Oh, and I don't get any of the perks of being a "working mom" - I sit in an empty office (albeit alone, which is a HUGE perk, I guess), I never go to lunch, I "work" from home (or the hospital) a lot, and I don't do any of the work stuff outside of the few hours I'm in the office.

Some day, something is going to have to change. I just don't know what it's going to be. I'm not even sure what would make our lives easier at all. But we're getting by now, and I guess that's ok. OK - so this turned out to be a vent in a comment in your blog. hey, sorry about that - that's what you get when you know me! :)

Terena said...

Excellent. Well written and from the heart.

HeatherS said...

Love you ladies and love your comments. Thank you for your stories and your honesty....oh and we will have that Manhattan date :)

Maria said...

Hi Heather,
I like this one! It can be a hard and an easy decision. It has been a gradual decision for me (still working a bit each week), and I think as long as we all can find other avenues to keep our minds stimulated, and once in a while using our silk suits - we will all be fine!
Take care, Maria.

Amanda said...

Ditto, girlfriend...I still sometimes ponder - who am I and well, how did I get here? Yes, David Byrne I am letting the days go by!

marion said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Lucy

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