I'd been prepared for the sleepless nights and the colic and the screaming and the horrifying diaper changes. What I hadn't been prepared for was the fact that I'd feel like absolute dog shit every time I didn't measure up to my impossibly high standards as "Parent of the Year."
Parental guilt at its finest: you're damned if you do and damned if you don't.
That, my dear friends, has only just begun.
The years I've been a parent range from "Oh the Good Lord of Butter, have I really been doing this for 11 years" to "Awww, look! A cuddly lump of baby!" and everything in between. The guilt, too, has ranged from "I'm not giving the precious baybee enough stimulation -- crikey, my son doesn't even know three languages yet!" to "I can't believe I have to miss a school play because my kid didn't tell me enough time for me to hire a sitter."
And those are the good days.
As some of you know, I went back to work outside the home for the first time in nearly six years, which is challenging enough, but necessary since freelancing doesn't quite cover the bills. Besides, I was turning into one of those scary shut-in people, hardly ever interacting with actual human beings, and that's not my personality type. I'm the "talk paint off walls" kinda person, not the "talk to the paint on the walls" kind of person.
So in one sense, it's been fabulous. I have my own office, a parking spot, a phone plan, and insurance. I'll be making enough to move from my apartment, the FBI Surveillance Van, into a slightly larger FBI Surveillance Van. I'll be able to go to the doctor and (fingers crossed) pay down any outstanding bills.
Plus, I have the added freedom of not having to count each item at the grocery store, hoping I'll have enough money to pay for our food stuffs. That's a pretty big awesome, if'n you ask me.
On the other hand.
While working from home made me skittish in the "real world," it did afford me the luxury of being able to say, "Eh, I have no inspiration. Imma watch the entire Mad Men series. Again." Even better, when my children needed me, I could be there without a problem.
Now? Not so much.
Chicago just got hit by "SnoTORIOUS BIG," which means that traffic was near-standstill my entire hour home from work. By the time I got home, I was exhausted merely from the drive.
My husband was in the same boat.
While this is the night that I generally have the kids, neither of us felt it was quite safe enough to take back to the roads and make the (normally short) commute from house to FBI Surveillance Van.
While I understand that logically, this isn't a huge deal -- I'm Captain Fucking Safety, dammit, and I'm not going to expose my kids to the potential dangers of driving in a river town that's just been blanketed with sleet and snow, I'm still not happy. I'm sitting alone in my quiet apartment, wishing like hell that I had said "Fuck it," and gone to pick them up.
Doesn't matter that parking my ass in the FBI Surveillance Van is the right thing to do; I miss my kids. I should BE there for them.
And I can't be.
There are no words to express how my heart hurts right now.