Wednesday, February 15, 2012
The Post Where John is Exonerated
The career that has chosen me, motherhood, and the career I am simultaneously striving toward and pulling away from, writing, are both lonely professions.
Motherhood might be the loneliest of professions. Especially stay-at-home motherhood, lauded by my working friends as the most sacrificial of endeavors. Some wish they could stay home with their kids, too. Others admit they don’t think they are cut out for the job. When "real" professionals ask me what I do, they always respond with: you have the most important job in the world! It’s as if they know they have to assuage my atrophied mind.
I’d rather they didn’t say that. I would never gush at my kids’ pediatrician, say, and insist that he has “the most important job in the world.” I don’t know what “the most important job in the world” is. I’m sure motherhood is up there, but scientists developing vaccines, those who keep our sewers running, and the people who make diet Dr. Pepper are pretty darn important, too. The false-sounding sentiments about the importance of motherhood by lawyers and accountants and brokers and teachers, ironically, make me feel small.
After all, an important job is not always done well. And motherhood is certainly no exception.
I’m not doing it that well, lately, as evidenced by the mess in my house, late homework notes from teachers, the tangles in my little girl’s hair, and the fact that my little boy is running around saying, “Well, crap!” every time he doesn’t get his way. (I laughed the first couple of times. Now, I feel sadly resigned to his potty mouth.)
I feel overwhelmed, busy, and oftentimes, alone. Moms are busy. We are too busy to talk to other moms, and when we do, we talk about our kids. It’s a lonely life.
Monday, my husband left for Albany until Wednesday with a promise to call on Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day, with its over-commercialized hype and friends on Facebook proclaiming their husbands as the greatest ever while singles feel left out and stay-at-home moms remember Valentine’s Days of yore, when they were younger and prettier and had a night out to look forward to. Yesterday, Ella, who had a hoard of candy stashed somewhere, ate that hoard and moaned about a stomachache all day. She finally threw up on my dad and stepmom’s chair last night while I was trying to watch a Cary Grant film. It was not the best of days.
“Can you believe,” said John via telephone, “that I proposed to you fifteen years ago?”
“What? No. Thirteen years ago. You proposed thirteen years ago.”
“Really? Huh. I thought it was fifteen.”
At that point, I was feeling pretty grouchy.
“Where are my flowers?” I demanded. This is especially romantic, to demand flowers over the phone on Valentine’s Day when you know very well your husband has not ordered you flowers. It’s great for morale.
“Flowers? What flowers? I’m taking you to Philadelphia this weekend,” he said. (This is true. We are taking a much needed getaway to the city of brotherly love.)
After the kids were tucked away, I folded laundry while watching old episodes of House, selected a new book to begin, and wandered up to bed at around 10:30.
It was depressing.
The phone rang.
“Did you like your flowers?” John asked.
“What flowers. I didn’t get any flowers,” I said.
“Check the porch. You probably didn’t see them. There should be a box of flowers there for you.” I grumbled and plodded down the steps in my slippers and opened the door. There, in the dark of the night, was my husband, hands full of roses and candy. Let me tell you, I haven’t cried happy tears in a long time. Because when you’re lonely, sometimes you just want someone to hold you for a long time and remind you that what you do is worthwhile. That you’re loved. That it doesn’t matter if you are dripping black mascara on their white Van Heusen collared shirt.
If you get a chance, call someone you care about today. Remind them that what they do is important. That it is important enough that they should strive to do it well. Especially if that someone is a mom… or a writer.
Remind them that they are loved.