I had to go back to work
Not for the reasons you think. I love my baby boos. My little doopers. My stinkers, wrestle heads, snuggle buds, and tater tots. Love them. Love them. I spend every day with them. All day. Lila has a lot of questions. She is curious and determined to figure out how and why things work and master them herself. I am Daniel’s home base. He goes off to explore. He stacks blocks. He finds things with holes and put things in them. Toilet….sippy cup…..sippy cup in the toilet!! Yay!!! Garbage can….remote….Remote in the garbage can!! Yay!!! Then he climbs into a box and out of the box, back in again and so on. As soon as he is done with his little adventure, and used his courage and inquisitiveness up, he needs his Mama. He needs me to hug him, kiss his head, tell him he’s a good boy and my favorite baby Daniel ever. I fill his confidence cup and he sets back out on another adventure and repeats the cycle all day.
I make breakfast and then clean up. I make snack, and then clean up. I make lunch, and then clean up. I facilitate nap time, like a BOSS LADY. Then snack, clean up, dinner, clean up… You get the idea. Meanwhile I’m trying my best to exist as myself in the little windows of time in between.
I read a few pages of a book. I start a craft. I get some bread rising. I write a blog post, take some pictures, call a friend, pull out the sewing machine. Anything to fill my cup a little bit and enjoy some of my favorite little pleasures. I could just be a machine and do nothing but serve, but I worked in the “helping” profession as a counselor just long enough to know that self care is not just important, it’s crucial. I can’t pour into their little lives if my pitcher is dry.
This past year, I have been so isolated. I’ve been far from my support system and did a terrible job establishing a new one. I felt alone and I felt myself disappearing. I caught myself becoming uninspired, irritable, and on the brink of despair. I dumped my deficit on Jordan. I half expected him to fill in the gaps for me. To make me a whole person. Not fair. Not possible.
He made me this beautiful french door picture project for Christmas this year. He filled it with pictures of our children and us. I love it. I kept asking him to hang it and it just wasn’t happening.
Finally he told me why. “I don’t think we need to hang that up here, if we’ll just take it down in a few months”
I almost cried with relief. “Are we going back?”
He told me yes. He told me why. I thought I was hiding my sadness well, but he saw right through me.
You see, we went out there for us as a family, but we really went there for Jordan. We wanted to be by his side and see him as much as possible while he worked on his masters and worked and coached. Any window of time he could be home, he was. We loved our mornings with Daddy and seeing him between work and class, but the rest of the time, we were just stuck inside a lot to meet the baby’s napping needs and because you can only play so much in the parking lot. We were gone on the weekends to see our families. Every weekend. Seriously, in one year, we stayed there one weekend because we had friends in, and even then, we went and visited the lake house.
So, he said it was our turn. He saw me and knew my needs. He knew I needed to be Darla. I needed to be a person and not just a vending machine to the kids all day everyday (joking, kind of). He knew the kids needed it too. They needed to be where there was life and space and people. They needed a mommy who was also Darla, even for a few hours a week. So, I needed to go back to work.
We’re all packed up now. Moving into our house in a couple weeks. I started my job at the coffee shop and my name tag says, “Darla”. I make coffee and lattes, and do dishes from start to finish. I make small talk with customers, and gush over their babies. I work at the YMCA alongside other Mamas while our kids play and fight like siblings. I am even back on the worship team at our church. My heart is just giddy.
You see, on my first day back at the coffee shop, a customer laughed at something I must have done and said, “Are you always this funny?!” First, I looked around to see who she was talking to. When I realized it was me, I was so surprised and flattered that I almost had to go in back and let myself cry for a moment. (I know, what’s new? I’m a sap.) I hadn’t had someone compliment my personality in so long. I’ve been complimented on my kids and family, but to have someone see me as just me, and like that, really took me by surprise. See, I had to go back to work. To be seen as just me.
I get my latte, punch out, and head back home as Darla. They deserve her. She’s wearing actual clothes, she’s made some lovely lattes and a little small talk and she’s even funny sometimes. I come home ready to kiss his little head and listen to her stories. I’m ready to give more of myself because I have just a little more to give.