Szyperski: The first day of the rest of my lifeWritten by Shannon Szyperski | | email@example.com
Well, they up and did it. All three of my children have actually started spreading their metaphorical wings. Although I knew this day would come, for some reason the knowing didn’t manage to ruin the surprise. I didn’t fully believe it until it actually happened to me.
I now have three kids in school. Granted, Lucy, my youngest, is only there five hours a week, but all three are out of the house at the same time at some point during the week nonetheless. I no doubt feel a little saddened by the realization that we are on the path of no return. Yet, I surprisingly have some other emotions unexpectedly bubbling up to the surface too. I think these emotions can best be expressed with the term “Woohoo!”
That’s right, jubilation. I’m honestly not as excited about the prospect of time to myself as I am about the idea that after almost ten years of mothering I can actually feel some sense of accomplishment. First steps and potting training and one more candle on the birthday cake just didn’t seem to do it for me. Although those things were signs that we were headed for our ultimate goal of autonomy, it is hard to feel accomplished when you’re still up to your elbows in the stress, chaos and dealing with bodily fluids and functions that come along with raising small children.
Guiding three children from womb to outside world is definitely something to celebrate. In fact, it’s been one of my very few goals for quite some time. Get up in the morning, get three children through the day, go to bed, repeat. Over and over and over again until they learn to fly on their own.
Some days have been unbelievably hard. I couldn’t wait until they ended so I could get some sleep and try again the next day. Some days were so sweet and so magical and so full of love and laughter that I never wanted them to end. Ever. Granted there were many, many more of the former than the latter, but that’s just how this occupation goes.
Raising children has, indeed, been a full-time occupation for me, my dream job in fact. Despite the pleas of feminists everywhere, I never truly longed to be anything other than a wife and a mother. I tried several other occupations throughout the years but just couldn’t find one that was challenging enough to build me up, tear me down and demand everything in me to get through a day like motherhood has. It’s eclectic nature and high degree of difficulty have kept me interested and engaged for the long haul (most days anyway).
The biggest downside to motherhood as a primary occupation is that it doesn’t last forever. Yes, once you’re a mother you’re always a mother, of course. However, there comes a point at which you go from being a high-demand, work-around-the-clock full-time staff member to a freelance consultant brought in mainly for special assignments. In an age of “Everyone Should Have and Be Everything Across a Lifetime,” a woman baking and sewing her way through domestic retirement once her nest is empty no longer seems like much of an option. Of course, I’m not even doing those things while my children are living at home, so I suppose it wouldn’t make sense for me to start once they’re off somewhere else.
So, what is one who has made a career of motherhood to do once a few hours open up in her week? Judging by the sea of workout clothing in line at preschool pickup, I am apparently supposed to be exercising. I will definitely take that into consideration, but realizing how quickly I went from having three little ones at home to having three children gone five hours a week leads me to believe that all of my children will be in school full time before I know it (less than two years to be exact).
In light of this, my plan is to start planning. How many of us have the opportunity to take on our dream job at 27 and then have our horizons once again open up at 38? As much as I sometimes dread the thought of a position I already have and love being reorganized, I intend to take on my uncertain future with great aplomb. Truth be told, this is just the first day of the rest of my life.
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