Last night I had the honor of standing onstage alongside 13 other writers telling the audience about what life is really like for mothers who work. Polly called it "anthemic" and I think that is an apt description. Someone else said, "It's the piece we wish every husband could hear." So be it.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I don't blog much anymore (because, work), but last night, it was nice to be reminded that at one point in my life, I wrote every single day for almost a decade, and I did it here. Being a part of Listen To Your Mother has been inspirational in so many ways, but the biggest surprise for me has been how much it has reawakened my desire (burning hot!) to write, to create, to tell stories again. It's strange, but I really thought that that part of my life was over. At least for now. After having been a part of this process for the last two months, and spending time with these exceptionally talented women, it's now hard for me to fathom ever thinking that.
I am a writer. I write. Maybe not now, but the stories are inside of me, and I will get them out.
This is the piece I read last night. I hear that video is in the works and when I have it, I will share here.
The Heroes In Our Midst
To the mothers who work, especially the single mothers who work:
The ones who know that staying home with kids is work, too, but who choose to work outside the home because they need to (and, maybe, wish they didn't)
or they like to (and, maybe, wish they didn't).
The ones who would like to slow down. Just a little.
The ones who've taught their kids to do their own ponytails in the morning so they can have five extra minutes to shower (because they know it takes exactly five minutes to shower, dry off, lotion up, put on deodorant, and get dressed—if they don't have to wash their hair and can do their make-up in the car).
The ones who must schedule work meetings and phone calls right after school drop-off and hope they can make it in and out of school without having to chat anyone up.
The ones who would like to chat someone up at school drop-off sometimes.
The ones whose third babysitter quit yesterday.
The ones who take their kids to a daycare center and wonder if their baby is getting enough hugs.
The ones whose entire paycheck pays for the nanny.
The ones who forget to pump and send a wish out into the universe that their baby will take the formula, just this once, today.
The ones who do reviews or expense reports at 4:00 AM because that's when the house is quiet. Or because they can't sleep anyway.
The ones who struggle to keep the cell phone off the dinner table because they are expecting an important email—the one with that signed contract or the final approvals or the boss's feedback—and want to respond right away.
The ones who travel. Especially the ones who travel, who spend hours arranging childcare and creating after-school schedules and calling in playdate favors and prepacking lunches and washing clothes and making and freezing meals (even though you know they'll eat pizza every night anyway) and finding library books (a full time job in and of itself) who tell themselves they'll prepare for that conference or meeting on the plane. Who set alarms—no matter what time zone they are in—to remind themselves to text their spouses or babysitters to pick up the kids here or drop them off there.
The ones who, maybe once, didn't tell their child about a weekend birthday party so you could spend that time together.
The ones who would like to workout more, but can never find the time.
The ones who grocery shop at 10 o' clock at night so there will be yogurts and cold cuts for school lunches the next morning.
The ones whose children know exactly what they do for a living and can tell all their friends. (Which secretly makes them proud.)
The ones who could tell Sheryl Sandberg a thing or two about leaning in.
The ones who've taught the older child to pour the orange juice without spilling and help the younger child reach the cereal bowls.
The ones whose babies wake up to nurse at 2:00 AM, just as they are finally about to fall asleep.
The ones who, even though they are exhausted and up nursing at 2:00 AM, can still feel their hearts burst with love as the baby grips the front of their nightgowns and tries to pull them closer.
The ones who quietly kiss, cuddle, and play with that nursing baby, even though it's 2:00AM, and they know they shouldn't be keeping that baby awake, but they just can't help themselves because those moments are precious.
The ones who lie awake at night wondering if they are spending enough time with their kids. Their really, really great kids.
The ones who barely make it to the school performance (cursing the full school parking lot as they create a temporary parking space next to the Dumpster) and delight in their child’s smile when their searching eyes finally spot their mama standing in the back.
The ones who take baths with their kids sometimes so they can spend more time together (and so they won't have to shower in the morning).
The ones who bake together, even if it's a box of Trader Joe's truffle brownies, which are still pretty damn good.
The ones who worry that because they have children they have to work harder, longer, faster, and that they will still be held to a different standard than those who don't have children, even though having children—more than just about anything—teaches you to work more efficiently and cut through the bullshit.
To the ones who do all this, feel all of this, live through this, and still find the time to show up, to prioritize, to talk, to carpool, to cook, to cuddle, to succeed at work or fail—
I see you try.
I feel your exhaustion.
I know your sleeplessness, your worry, your guilt.
But I also know your caring, your tenderness, your understanding, your integrity, your heart that is open to possibility, your love that knows no bounds.
Yes, we work, but first, we are mothers.
And you are my heroes.