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.