Caveat: This is not an upbeat post. I'm dealing with some life issues, and as always, you're invited to come along. It's not a laugh-a-minute post, just how I've been feeling lately.
Life is busier than I ever remember it being.
I love my job. I do. I love it, and we need it to keep us financially afloat. God has used it to graciously provide for us to live, and I am so grateful.
But with the "new" (sorta) job comes more hours and definitely more work. Part of my being overwhelmed comes from rushing home to spend time with Sam and trying to squeeze in conversation and dinner with Brett (still eaten in shifts– as one of us entertains Sam, and the other eats).
I am going to be completely honest here. I resent the loss of my time.
There, I said it. MY time is gone – whoosh, poof, vanished!
Now, I wake up and rush to work. I rush home. I rush to sleep. I rush to wake up. Rinse, lather, repeat.
I get inexplicably mad at my husband for wanting me to come home after work.
I envision a stop at Wal-Mart as a time for me to unwind, wander, and refresh my mind as I buy baby food we can barely afford. Instead, Brett calls me almost every day right at quitting time. He wants to know when I'll be home. He doesn't push. He's not panicked. He understands my new job requires more working hours, but he still misses me.
Thankfully, he's not overwhelmed with Sam. He's a great stay-at-home dad. But, he gets cabin fever. With only one car, he and Sam have only Brett's legs to carry them wherever they wish to go. And with heat indexes pushing 100, air-conditioned, toddler-friendly spaces within walking distance are few and far between.
So, he calls me.
"When are you coming home?"
I tell him. Then I casually mention my stopover at Wal-Mart on the way. "Pick us up first," he suggests. "We'll go with you. It'll be fun."
I know, I KNOW I should be thrilled to spend time with husband and especially my (nine-years-prayed-for) baby, but all I really want is TIME BY MYSELF.
It irks me. It irritates me. And what could be a pleasant family trip to Wal-Mart ends up being a huge hassle. All because all I really wanted was a MOMENT for MYSELF.
Now, look I get it. I was thinking how selfish it was for me to be this way. I pray nine years for a baby and when I get one, I can't get away fast enough? But that's not entirely the case. The truth is I love, love, love being with Sam, and I'm with him a lot of the time.
It's just I need a break. A breather. A few moments peace while I make the transition from work to home, from professional to mommy, from provider to homemaker, from the person I used to be to this new, harried self.
I miss being me. I miss Ann-Marie. I miss the girl who got lost somewhere along the line. I liked her. I liked spending time with her. Now, all I get is a glimpse in the mirror in the two minutes I get by myself in the bathroom. (And I hear those moments disappear as kids get older and figure how to open doors.)
I was berating myself, self-flagellating verbally to my friend Carleen about this the other day. As I was very nearly in tears explaining my horrible parenting, she stopped me.
"Ann-Marie, I don't think it's being completely selfish. I think it's that there are two kinds of people in this world. People who like being by themselves, and people who hate it. I hate to be by myself. I get lonely. I feel alone. So, I had three kids. I'm never lonely, and I'm definitely never by myself."
At this point I was nodding. I understand never being alone. And I happen to be married to a person just like the one she was describing. Brett hates being alone. He always wants to be with me. He always wants to be with Sam. He misses us desperately if one of us is gone.
She went on. "Now, you're a lot like my sister. You both like being by yourselves. You like spending time with just you. You don't feel lonely; you feel refreshed and recharged, just as you would if spending time with a good friend. So, with the loss of all your 'me' time, you're essentially grieving the death of a dear friendship. There's nothing wrong with your parenting. You love your son, and you love your husband. You just need some time with your friend – yourself."
Her words made me feel 100% better, as I realized she was right. I tried explaining this to Brett, but he kept thinking I was saying I didn't want to be with him.
I said, "No. I want to be with you. I just don't want to be with you ALL THE TIME. I want to be with me, just me, for a little while." Still, he was hurt and insulted. We talked for a while, so I could explain how I needed to recharge.
I told him I understood he was home with the baby all day, but that didn't mean I had to go "on call" for all the baby duty as soon as I walked in the door. I needed the transition time. I also needed a weeknight away. I offered the same for him.
At first, he was reluctant, but when I explained it would mean a free night for him to go to his favorite place, the bookstore, once a week, unaccompanied by a squealing little person, his ears did perk up.
Alone time isn't nearly as important to him, but some quiet time sounded pretty darn good.
I am still struggling with the loss of my friend, the loss of my own identity. The truth is that I think there is some selfishness mixed in there.
I didn't think I would have to lose myself to become a working mother, but I think I have. A part of me is just gone forever, and I'm not happy about it.