Earlier this month, I celebrated my birthday. Sandwiched between the birthdays of kid #1 and kid #2 (oh and yes, I am one of those moms who live for themed birthday parties), I didn’t really have the time and energy to give my own special day much thought. I was just going to go about my day in my usual way, taking to and picking up the kids from school, run a couple of errands in between, help my first-grader with his homework, then go to mass in the evening. I could probably coax my husband to take me on a spa date (everyday’s a good day for a massage), and a nice, family dinner. But to my surprise, he went ahead and did one better.
He took the day off from work so that he could spend the day with me. Not to take me to the spa, but to just be with me–taking the kids to school, running errands, picking them up from school for a late lunch, and attending evening mass.
A usual day for me. But having Peter by my side (and doing all the driving), I must say, made all the difference.
Because it made me feel reassured about what I already knew anyway–that we’re in this together, that he’s got my back, that I’m not alone.
I don’t know, maybe it’s a wife/mother/homemaker thing. I mean, I know I do important stuff at home, and it’s not as if I’m feeling unappreciated or burned out or taken for granted. But not all days are good days, and there are times when I find myself thinking about my delayed career, or how I could (should?) contribute to our household’s monthly income, or about my career, or the places I want to go to, or (you guessed it) my career. It’s a recurrent dramatic episode that plays in my head every now and then, even in the midst of the sweetest hugs and kisses, the tenderest “I love you, Mama,” or the warmest squeeze of my hand.
I remember watching the movie Before Midnight a few months ago, Peter and I being fans of the earlier 2 movies about Jesse and Céline. On our way home, Peter said he doesn’t remember Céline being so paranoid and needy as she seemingly was in the third film. I rushed to her defense, “But that just shows how their being together with kids changed her. No matter how much you love your kids, you’ll always think about what you’ve given up, what you’ve sacrificed. I could actually relate with her there.” I think I scared my husband a bit.
But see, those days just come, and I can’t help it. I feel wistful about the dreams I’ve temporarily put on hold, then feel enormously guilty about feeling that way (What kind of a mother am I? Don’t I love my kids?!). Those days, I really do feel like the mayor of Crazytown (you’ll have to watch the film).
But I think I’m starting to discover how to be okay with all this–by repeatedly telling myself that “It’s okay.” It’s okay to still want to pursue a career, it doesn’t mean I don’t care for my children. It’s okay to decide to take a couple of years off from work to just be home with the kids, it doesn’t mean I’m throwing away my more than 10 years worth of medical education.
And it’s okay to be conflicted about these things sometimes because, as spending my birthday with my husband reminded me, we’re in this together, he’s got my back, and I’m not alone.