I read a brilliant article posted by one of my friends about being a nurse. The article begins with a professor telling his nursing students to remove the “I’m just a nurse” sentence from their vocabulary. “Just” diminishes their value, simple fact. And yet, I am struggling with the use of “just” right now.
Yesterday was my last full day of work. I am no longer a working mom, just a mom. See, how easy that is? In full disclosure, I did have a bit of breakdown last night. Outside of a brief attempt and failure at being a stay at home mom after the birth of my daughter (PPD takes most of the credit for this) I have always been a working mom. My kids have always be after-schoolers and they have grown from 3 month old babies to kids in the care of their awesome Montessori. I, on the other hand, have gone out and made a career, brought bacon, and maintained an identity outside of mom. In the USA we are so fixated on work that the first question when we meet someone is, “what do you do?” and now my answer is, “I am a mom.” But you know the terrible thing that happens then? Something that we are all guilty of? We silently judge that response as “not enough,” that raising children to be happy, productive and influential members of society is somehow less than clocking 40 hours a week at a job that you rarely enjoy but that is somehow viewed as a more of a valiant pursuit. And yet, my breakdown last night was on just that. How to hang up half of my identity.
Work provides another side of life. You exist in a world in which you are judged on your professional merits and not on the cuteness/quality of snacks you provide on a playdate. My new daily schedule consists of the gym, packing and after school activities with the kids. I am giving them everything I had always dreamed of, and yet, that means hanging up the other half of me for a bit to do so. I agreed to this clearly but in practice I find it more difficult to embrace the sentence, “I am a mom,” rather than, “I am just a mom.” I don’t want to do a disservice to the importance of the role in the least but I find myself, during this transition, thinking more of what I am leaving behind than what I am gaining. I know in time I will love this new role, in having a chance to take a time-out from the rat race. I know it will be a life changing time for the kids as well.
I just hope that when I take the other half of me off the hanger the moths have not done too much damage.
So, those that know me will laugh at this post. Full disclosure, I am neither good at letting go or half-assing things. I just can’t do it. Cleaning takes me a bagillion hours, I take photos of empty carseats, it’s my thing.
So, quitting my job and moving to saudi arabia with an insanely noodley timeline obviously makes me a bit itchy. But that is the rub. In the kingdom of saudi arabia (ksa) they have a saying about things happening on time as “if Allah agrees” roughly speaking, I translate this to louisianian as “if stuff happens it’s lagniappe” Not so easy for a me.
And now, I have to be all in. I give notice tomorrow. And I have to let go of everything I have worked for since I have worked and specifically the last (almost three year). Another truth that should be spoken is that I am broken when it comes to work. I cannot do something less than the best of what I am capable and I expect the same of everyone in my life. It is unfair and yet, it is me. I cannot escape it.
I tell work tomorrow. Letting go is part of the picnic basket. I just didn’t bring the right tools. Also, I happened to pack side dishes of emotions, trepidation, and letting go.
Come tomorrow, I am no longer in charge of financial validity, I have an anciilllary role in the future of honors. It is the ultimate test of letting go.
You know that moment when you decide you finally want to try to have your first child. You spend months or years discussing it, you enjoy planning for it and yet what hits you when you finally see those two lines? Joy followed by abject fear. A primal fear that no one warns you about. You have now made a decision that will alter life as you know it and in ways you have no idea. Yeah, moving to Saudi Arabia is kinda like that.
I give notice at the end of this week. Hans leaves in 9 weeks. Meaning things just got very real, very fast. This is no longer theoretical, but acutely factual. I chickened out telling one of my best friends (and co-worker/carpooler) Friday, not because she will be surprised but because I was terrified of the reality of it all. As of today, I have 15 work days left before I am all in this move. Sobering.
Lets do this thing! (Hand me a beer)
Fear. I has lots of it. But, lets face it I’m a parent so I wander around life a ball of fear and stress, punctuated by moments of awesome.
When H approached me about the opportunity of moving to Saudi I had the rational knee jerk reaction of hell no. Why would I move my family into one of the most volitale areas of the world? And then Newtown happened, and I raced home from work to hold my own children and mourn those children whom parents couldn’t hug anymore. And at that moment I changed. Everything that we all assume and take for granted vanished in an instant. We only have the perception of safety.
And, that was a paradigm shift in my view of Saudi. If an idyllic city and school can be the scene of such needless horror then where are we safe? If my reasoning for not wanting to move to Saudi rests firmly on my concerns of safety and yet we will live in a compound surrounded by walls and guarded by soldiers and the kids school will be the same, then who am I to claim our existence here is any safer?
I still, as we pack and sell things, wonder if we made the right choice. I will always have that nagging cloud hovering above, judging my choices and feeding my fears. But, my confidence in this choice overwhelms that cloud. Life is full of fear, but my hope is that by embracing this move that my children learn that fear is okay but allowing life to be dictated by it is not. That focusing on a media feed about a place does not dictate the reality of that place. That taking a risk it worth it, and having the family together is imperative. And, above all, that taking the first step off a cliff is the best decision of all.