Saturday, April 07, 2007

Oh Joy!

Can I just tell you, CAN I JUST TELL YOU how utterly wonderful these past three hours have been!? It's so strange, the things I have done, would have never equalled a fabulous late morning-early afternoon before I became a Mom. It's such an odd realization...
Katy came for three hours today because Noah is on spring break. Knowing that I had a full THREE hours, to do what I'd like, to not worry about driving half way across town to get back to nursery school, or strategically leaving where I am 3o minutes early to pick Noah up right on the dot, was just wonderful. I was relaxed, felt productive and free. It makes me such a better parent to have "me" time during the week. It's not time spent in a spa or on a shopping spree, it's just some space. Space to get the grocery shopping done without a screaming toddler throwing cereal out of the cart. It's time for actually feeling like a 29 year old adult, quietly standing in line (INSIDE!!!) the bank like the rest of the world does instead of being forced to do the drive-up ATM with Noah.
We were married, bought a house and had a baby all in 9 months and 2 days. Sometimes I look back, as most of us do, and wonder where the old me went. For Jon and I though, the three huge milestones of growing into true adulthood happened much more quickly than for most people. That abrupt switch, makes me a little sad sometimes and I miss just being me. I miss being "Lauren, the girl who saw herself as a girl", not as "Lauren, slightly haggard looking Mommy." I saw myself before our wedding as "Lauren, the girl with her whole life ahead of her", the world was mine, so many avenues to explore in career and travel, hobbies and friendships and love. Now, I'm just "Lauren, frustrated, struggling Mommy who is a stay-at-home, but kind of wishes she has a part-time career so she could talk to adults and feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose like her husband does, but can't find work that would really cover the cost of good childcare and besides her son would miss her and I'm sure after 4 hours away from him, she would miss him too."
Now I'm tearing up (I'm fine) because I really am so conflicted. You've got to understand, several years ago, we had moved back to Detroit from San Francisco and I was full of excitement and energy. So many exciting things were going on besides our up coming wedding. I was looking at schools where I could possibly continue my interior design minor and sit for licensing, or even start from scratch and get the counseling degree I had always wanted. I was scouting jobs and making crafty little, adorned baby tee's and barrettes to sell, and was in my first craft sale. It was a fun time, but most of all, I felt that amazing feeling of being young and being free, the world as my oyster.
Having a child not only ages you instantly and for me, took me out of the most of my friend's current situation in life, it can also put a giant stop sign on any future aspirations you might have for quite a long time. Five or six years to some might not seem like a lengthy amount of time, but when you are at the starting gate, ready to zoom out, being faced with a five or six year hold on your plans, it can be a little bit of a let down.
Just call me "Tangent Girl". Where was I.... the point is, is that I felt so ALIVE, to be just ME at the bank! Nobody saw me as some poor schlep of a Mommy. I was just an adult in the world, I was just "Lauren". I miss that so much. When you are a mother, especially a stay-at-home-mom, your identity to yourself and the outside world is as a "mom". Sure, that can be fine, but sometimes I want to be seen as just plain old "me".
Katy came over just before 11:00 and I happily went out on errands just as "me". It was great! First I headed over to the house that my parents are going to be moving to shortly. The house was in need of some updating and they ended up renovating the whole place. At one point the original kitchen's counter tops were taking out. Those counter tops are made of Corian and much nicer than our simple laminate counters. We are due to replace them because of scratches and stains, so my mother is letting me have the Corian tops installed at my house! I went over to make sure that they were something I wanted and to check out the length. My mother introduced me to her contracted as "Lauren, my daughter" and it struck me that this was the first time in a while that I was introduced to someone new without Noah. I thought about it as I left that for all he knows, I'm just a 29 year anything! I could be a 29 year old interior designer or an accountant or mail woman. He didn't automatically see me as just a mom. Odd to think so deeply on such things, but so be it, those were my thoughts.
After giving the counter tops a "go", I went over to the bank. As I pulled into a space, I heard some honking, looked up and saw my mother speeding down the street, on her way to meet a tile guy. I thought it must be nice to have so much "me" time, to have the freedom to get her new house done or to paint beautiful paintings and rescue dogs like she does. As my mother has reminded me on more than one occasion though, and this does make sense, she too, as do most people, spent many years as a mother and in a full time career. She works hard to this day and loves what she does, which may be the ultimate point in life.
I went into the bank, no toddler in tow, and took out some money to pay Katy with. Our balance was right where I expected to be, no panic, so in my book, a great trip to the bank all around.
After the bank I made the drive across town to Home Depot to buy some sand for Noah's sand table. On the way I listened to the Dian Rhem show, one of my favorites on NPR. Most any day is a good day with NPR playing in the background. It was nice, I don't always get to listen to NPR in the car, I have to be fair to Noah and play his music for him, at least most of the time.
Home Depot had the sand. I got a great parking space. The 50lb. bag of sand felt so heavy. It seems much more difficult to carry a 50lb. bag of sand than a 50lb. kid around. At least, I think. The guy who checked me out made a slightly anti-Semitic remark to me about ladies bitching him out for not having propane today because they needed to cook their passover chicken. So i had a lot of fun making him put his foot in his mouth as I told him I was Jewish and said that we are all crabby (Jewish or not) somedays. (By the way, I am half Jewish but frankly, for the record, I'm fundamentally a mix between a secular humanist and a Hindu. Just so you know..)
After Home Depot, I got to listen to NPR again! This time, it was "Fresh Air" with Terry Gross, another favorite. She had on the three comedians that make up "The Axis of Evil", very funny. This is serious, I have been carrying around in my trunk for FOUR months, some clothes to return and I have never, until today, gotten to return them. I knew that I would be given an in-store due bill, so I wasn't in a big rush, but come on...four months? I never had time during the week to get out there, but today I did! Found some nice things that fit Noah this time around and even got a baby gift for a friend.
After that I was left with just over an hour before I needed to get home. It was about 1:00, so I decided to grab some lunch. I can't say enough about how great it is to eat a sandwich in your car, on a warm, sunny day, while listening to NPR. Wait, I must be obsessed with NPR. The deli I got my sandwich from was packed, there really weren't tables, so I got it to go and munched while listening to a book review about "The Mistress's Daughter". It actually sounded interesting, I might check it out.
With less than an hour left and no other quick errands that needed to be completed, I went for a coffee a.......................


Judy said...

GIRL! You did all that in 3 hours? I need to take some time management tips from you!

Congrats on what sounds like a blissful midday treat...I need one of those.

Just so you know, I think it all depends on WHERE you work for the part-time working thing with little kids. I work part time, but it is WITH little kids. No breaks here, except for Mondays, but those days are spent in Travis' first grade classroom as a volunteer.

And, while I wouldn't change being Travis and Tyler's mom for the world, I know what you mean about "missing out". I felt that way quite often. I've also felt the opposite end of the spectrum...I didn't have Travis until after I was 30, and I feel SO OLD now, that it is hard to keep up with them at their active, young ages...I feel like THEY are missing out on having an energetic young mom to play with!

Kendra Lynn said...

I'm so glad you got some YOU time.
Definitly well-deserved.
I am excited because Scott and I are going away in a couple of weekends...just the two of us...something we haven't done in over a year.
And it will be romantic...just what I need. Some ME and HE time!
Lots of love,
And just for the record, I still think of you as "Lauren, the slightly eccentric, wonderfully fun friend, from Concordia".
Maybe if you bleached your roots you would feel more like your "old" self. :) j/k


Laura said...

How wonderful that you got an afternoon out on your own. I know that it was a long time in coming. It sounds like you really did make the best of it.
Lauren, just let me say that I totally know where you're coming from with the "identity crisis". Though my transition from "me" to "Mommy" wasn't as fast as yours, I still find myself wondering "what if" and envying single gals who seem to have it all figured out. I just keep reminding myself that my dreams and goals don't have a time or age limit, that I can still do all that I wanted to do when I was younger. Sure, it's going to be more difficult now, but that probably just means that I'll cherish it all the more.
That said, I just wanted you to know that you wil always be, "Lauren, the bubbly, super-friendly, ulta-chic girl who loved pink who worked at Baldwin"! Love ya, even the "shabby" mom that you've become. I've become the same thing, so you're in good company.

Judy said...

Oooh, and let me just say that I LIKE the Mommy-Lauren, because without Noah, I would have never come across your blog and commented, and then I wouldn't even be posting this right now, and look at all the cool stuff I get to read on here that I would have missed!

You can still be uber-cool, ultra hip (mommy) chick! I try, but seeing as how I wasn't uber-cool, ultra hip BEFORE kids, it is even harder to try and pull off now! Tee hee!

Magdalena said...

Trust me, I am now the biggest advocate; even if you had to spend every last dime you made at a part time job to pay for child care, do it. Find something, ANYTHING one or two days a week. Noah will survive, and you will feel so much better Lauren. I spent 3 whole years like this, lost on myself, and seriously, if I had known what a part time job would do for me, I would have done it the day after I popped these kids out. Well, maybe not the day after. I started to blend into my walls. 3 long years wishing I could just take a breath by myself; talk to some real live adults about something other than Big Bird.
Please don't wait like I did. You can have the best of both worlds and you don't have to be guilty. The truth is, yes, you will miss him for the short time you are away. Missing Mommy is a good thing. And missing your kids is a REALLY good thing because as I have noticed, I am appreciating and utilizing the time I do have with them much more happily and I am more engaged as a mom.
I'm not trying to pressure you really. Or maybe I am. It's just because I love you and I've found out that this really does work.

Laura said...

Wow, well said Magdalena! I have to agree 100% with her post. I did the stay-at-home mom routine with Caitlin for a year and while I loved it, I was SO ready to go back to work when I started my training for DOC. I threw myself into my new career and the wonderful adult relationships that came out of it. Like Magdalena said, you cherish the time that you do have with your kids even more. My days off were precious and we almost always found something fun to do together. Caitlin went to a very loving sitter who taught her manners and that someone else was capable of caring for her but that Mommy would always come back...good lessons. I think too, that it is so important that we all have a little bit of a life other than being a mommy. Heck, you could even just volunteer 1-2 days a week if you're not getting out 'cause you need the money.

Anonymous said...

Hey, it's me Anonymous again...

This is totally a "mom" blog but I hope you forgive the hypocracy of a dude weighing in.

I'm with Magdalena 100% too!

Actually, Magdalena had one of the best metaphors I've heard in a while. "Blending into my walls" kicked butt! It's a powerful statement that kind of summed up my sympathies and gave it a definite umpf.

Makes me appreciate what my mom has done in being a self-proclaimed Domestic Goddess, and how it erodes on your self-identity. Thanks Mom!

But knowing Lauren pre-Mommy and Mommy Lauren, I love them both and can't differentiate. People evolve and change over time.

I am not the same person I was 10 years ago, nor even the one I was 6 months ago. It is up to you to make the best of each change.

Think of your Mom. In 20-something years you will be purposely introducing yourself as Noah as "your son" because people might mistake you for his slightly older sister and because you are proud to be associated with such a great guy!

By the way, send me your address to my gmail account. I've got a postcard and I think I've found the post office. I want to send Noah a card.

Anonymous, aka Hong Kong Paul