The Best Mommy Ever

I can’t believe it’s already September. I mean really, where did this year go? I really thought that by adopting a new lifestyle that time would move slower, life would be less harried… But nope. Seems that there isn’t much you can do to slow down time.

It’s been eight months since I made the decision to leave my full-time job. A decision I made because I was unhappy and had grown ashamed of the person I had become.  An absentee everything – mother, wife, sister, friend… Work got 90% of my attention. Which I resented. Which in turn meant that I wasn’t the best employee and boss that I had the potential to be – how could I be if I was angry all the time?

Like many, I’m addicted to Pinterest. I’ll spend hours pinning all these cute little crafts, DIY projects and recipes – confident in my ability to execute them with ease even though my cooking skills are mediocre at best, I’m not nearly as crafty as I like to think I am and even though I have a sewing machine I’ve never actually sewn anything. I admit that at first my approach towards full-time motherhood was the same as I take towards those projects – totally oblivious of what I am actually getting myself into. I had all these visions of having a completely clean house, clean kids and healthy, homemade dinners every night. Of taking my kids on daily trips to the park for play dates, me gossiping with the other moms while we push our kiddos on the swings. Of hitting the gym every day… and never did it cross my mind that I would actually miss the career I thought I loathed.

It didn’t take me long to realize how hard my new “job” was. How much I had loved my old job. Even though I had been 110% sure I was doing the right thing for myself and my family, doubt crept in.

I started taking a good hard look at myself, trying to figure out why I am the way I am. How I had become a person I didn’t really like or care for. How I had let myself fall so out of touch with my loved ones, my children, especially. It depressed me that my husband knew them better than me. That it was him that they went to when they were upset or hurt, that it was him they went to with their problems or silly secrets, that it was him they would snuggle up to on the couch. It depressed me that I was jealous of him for it. It depressed me that my friends didn’t call me for dinner or lunch dates anymore, and that my once daily interactions with my BFF had become limited to a text or email every few weeks or so. It depressed me that my siblings had grown closer without me, and that I was now the last to know what was going on in each of their worlds when I used to be the first.

Mostly, it depressed me that I had done this to myself – that my situation was no one’s fault but my own. And it depressed me that it was something that was so hard to undo. And, to be completely honest, it depressed me that I wasn’t instantly good at all the things I wanted so desperately to be good at. On top of that I found myself getting angry again – angry at myself. I fell into a mean case of the summertime blues.

Luckily, my birthday is in July. I say luckily, because it gave me an excuse to do something I had always wanted to do. I wrote about turning 35 with a skydive, and how it’s funny that it took something as extreme as skydiving to help kick me out of my funk… But it worked. I’m not saying that I don’t still struggle with depression or doubt, but that day was also the beginning of me looking at things a little differently. Or trying to, anyway.

This year has been an exercise in learning to forgive myself for the past four years of disconnect from my family and friends. Of realizing that I can’t be instantly good at motherhood, wifehood, sisterhood, friendship-hood… That like all things worth having they require work and effort.  Of learning to lower the bar just a little and setting realistic expectations. Sometimes celebrating the small stuff.  Learning to let go of the anger I wore as armor. Accepting that life is not ever going to be perfect, but that you can have perfect moments.

I’m continuing to work on becoming the me I know I can be, Shan 2.0.  I know my journey has probably been a doozy for those closest to me, dealing with Happy Shan one minute and Sad/Angry Shan the next, so I’d like to say thank you to those people. Thanks for sticking by me, listening to my rants and sometimes calling me on my bullshit when I relapse or start to feel sorry for myself. Thanks for supporting me as I seek to find balance in both my work and personal life. Of those whom I’m speaking,  you know who you are and I hope you know how much I love you and how important each of you are to me.

The other week I made quinoa for my family, which my husband politely ate even though it really wasn’t that good (I’ve since learned from a foodie friend at one of those long overdue dinner dates that the secret to quinoa is to add citrus). Stella, my youngest, looked up from her plate and said, “Mommy, you aren’t a very good cooker. Can I have a pop tart?” Ordinarily, my first reaction would have been to tell her to be nice and eat it all anyway, and then sulk and stew over how my family didn’t appreciate the dinner I had made for them and hell even though it wasn’t that good they should eat it and keep their mouths shut. But this time, I gave in. She happily skipped to the pantry to get her pop tart, and then came and hugged me tight and said, “I love you mommy. You’re the best mommy ever.”

There’s nothing quite like the honesty of a 4-year-old to help you see how silly you’ve been acting. I still can’t cook worth a damn, and yes, my child ate sugar for dinner instead of a healthy meal, but for a brief shining moment, she thought I was the best mommy ever. Score.

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A New Chapter

Yesterday was… rough.  It was my last day of work. And while I wish I could say that I handled it with grace and dignity… well… I didn’t.  In true Shan style, I:

– Cussed at everyone (to be fair, I told them all that they were “Fucking Awesome”)

– Cried in a bathroom in a bar

– Then fell asleep (a.k.a. passed out) on a couch in said bar

OK, so it’s not as tragic as it sounds.  It was a good last day at work.  It was a fun happy hour after.  And hell… it wasn’t the first time I’ve cussed at everyone, cried in a bar bathroom, or passed out in a bar.  It is the first time I have done the last two in my 30s, (and hopefully the final time, but never say never) and aside from that dignity blow, it was a good day.  The reason why I was crying was because it was such a good day.  For the very last time, I was experiencing everything that I am going to miss.

Speaking of things I’m going to miss… I’m really going to miss these guys.

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It isn’t often that you become friends with people who understand you, who laugh with you and at you, who come serenade you at your desk, who have your back, and who will bring you a Dr. Pepper or piece of gum whenever you need it.  And for whom you would do all of the above (coke, no ice… big red gum…). It’s rare to find one friend like that, let alone two, at work.  I have my, ahem, former employer to thank for introducing me to so many great people that I sincerely hope I will be friends with for life, but the two pictured above take the cake.  To say that I love these guys is an understatement – they are more than friends, they have become extensions of my family.

Speaking of family…

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Today I began a new chapter. It was a good day to start one.  My oldest turned 5 today.  I have been a parent for 5 years – blows my mind. She got her ears pierced today, it’s what she wanted for her birthday.  She was so good, no tears, big smiles after – reminded me of just how much she’s growing up… I’m so proud of her.  She’s a sassy little thing, but she’s got a huge heart and is tough as nails.  And her little sister – sweet as can be, fun-loving but mischievous as hell.  They are absolutely perfect, amazing creatures, those two little girls of mine.  Now I have the good fortune and the opportunity to spend more time with them and their daddy. My family has always been my purpose, my reason for doing everything that I do. There are things about this move that terrify me.  But I am confident that I am on the right track…

I’m excited to see what the future has in store for me.

-Shan

Pardon me, but have you seen my dharma?

Since my last post, I just kind of lost my inspiration to write for a little bit.  There were a lot of things I was thinking about writing about, but none of them felt just right.  Have you ever gone shopping, and you keep trying on item after item and nothing seems to fit just right?  I am a firm believer that if something doesn’t fit you right (or can’t be tailored to fit you), then you shouldn’t buy it.  So it was like that – I would begin to write and nothing just felt… right.

Today my husband sent me this to read.  I encourage everyone to click-through and take a look yourself, but just make sure you come back.  To paraphrase, what Pete was talking about was “dharma”, your life’s work, or mission if you will.  For the first time in days, something just felt right to write about.

“It is better to perform your dharma poorly than someone else’s dharma well.”***

I’ve written a lot about my recent decision to stay at home with my children after 12 years of being a career gal, and the wide range of emotions it’s sparked in me.  The truth is, that while I am elated, I’m also sad.  I’ve become very emotionally invested in my work.  In my coworkers and the friendships I have made.  So it’s tough to leave it behind.  But the reason why I left is simply because, I wasn’t on my dharma, I was on someone else’s. I was chasing a mission that wasn’t mine.  And, I know it sounds dramatic, but it was destroying me.

After reading the post, I started thinking… “What is my dharma? What is my life’s mission?”  Truth is, I’m not really sure, which is OK. But I do feel the strong need to find it. So I figured I’d start here, “If money were no object, what would I do with my life?”

What would you do with yours?

-Shan

***While I did know what dharma was (from the show Dharma & Greg – remember that show?  I thought she had a cool name so I looked it up… I’m big into names and their meanings… anywhoo) before today, I didn’t really know it’s origins.  It’s quite interesting – I suggest googling or binging or whatever your search engine of choice-ing it. There’s probably even a TED talk about it…