Yesterday was the closest I've come in a long time to the experience of being a working mother. Not so much the WORK part, but definitely the being away from my kids part and here's a sad, but true admission:
I liked it.
I quit my job when Alex was 18 months old, which means I've been a stay-at-home mom for about four years now and in that time I've somehow managed to go from cherishing Every Precious Moment to rooting around in the junk drawer for a pair of ear plugs so I can find a few seconds to hear myself think. I had forgotten how nice it is to A) Do something else - something that's ONLY MINE and B) Find the space to actually MISS my kids instead of doing the happy dance just because it's time to take a crap and maybe, just MAYBE I'll get to shut the door and be alone for five minutes.
It's a strange feeling to finally want something for myself again, like I'm waking up from the years-long nap of early motherhood, wiping the crust from my eyes and remembering that Amanda still exists as someone other than just a MOM. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with JUST being a mom, in fact I think I assumed that motherhood alone would fulfill me completely and sustain me forever. (This was Dave's worst fear when I quit my job - that I'd never want to do anything else again!) But the fact that I crave time AWAY from my children, time to pursue my own interests, probably means that's exactly what I need. It's probably also exactly what's best for my kids.
Yesterday I dropped them off across the street with Carol and drove into Portland to have a blind date with a fellow would-be writer. I'm looking to make some more writer friends because my real life friends and blog-readers alike are SO DONE hearing about the book. I see their (your) eyes glaze over and even though it's ALL I WANT TO TALK ABOUT, I keep a muzzle in my pocket in an effort not to become too obnoxiously self-absorbed (but I AM a blogger, so there's only so much hope...). Anyway, I not only need a good critique group, but I need to be around people who won't find it crazy that all I think about these days are IMAGINARY people who live and breathe and have relationships IN MY HEAD. People I MADE UP all by myself. Basically I need a support group for my mental disorder.
So I had a lovely coffee date in a way-too-hip-for-me coffeehouse in which I felt like I was wearing a giant sign that read: I DRIVE A MINI-VAN (even though I only WISH I drove a mini-van). But it was great and then I came home in time to take Alex to school, put Genoa down for a nap and work on my book (on which I'm having a mini bout of writer's block! Gah!) and then I spent the entire evening at my writing class.
It was like a break from my real life and I won't lie to you - it was fabulous. During the hour I had to make dinner after preschool, I actually ENJOYED being with my children. I wasn't stealing away to my laptop to ignore them - I WANTED to be there in the kitchen with them, making mac 'n cheese and smiling - genuinely smiling - through the constant chatter. I think I had forgotten what it can be like to enjoy the moment I'm in and it was nice to remember it.
If I keep my nose to the grindstone, this is going to be a big year for me. I'm going to finish this book (I couldn't stop writing it at this point even if I wanted to) and then while I sit back and wait for my query rejections to come in, I'm going to start my own business, something I've been planning for a long time. I might be responsible for two small children, but I'm also responsible for ME and now that I'm awake again, I'm HUNGRY and I can't wait to sink my teeth into some breakfast.