"Mommy! Mommy!" begs my four-year-old for my attention as I try to hear which train my husband is on. "Mommy is on the phone, honey. Please wait a minute." "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!" cries my two-year-old who needs me to fix his lego creation that he just dropped. "Mommy needs to go downstairs to put the laundry in. My hands are full right now, sweetie."
These are normal bits of conversation in a typical day in our house. But it wasn't until I heard myself saying, "Mommy needs to go pee-pee in the potty. I'll be right back," to my HUSBAND that I realized something was amiss. When did I start talking in the third person? When did I have to account for every second I'm out of someone's sight? When did I start saying things in my toddler voice to my husband? Who is this mindless robot, constantly acting in preschool mode? Where did the educated, independent woman go? Who have I become and how did I get here? Well, the first answer is easy. I became a Mommy.
I became a Mommy and everything changed and will never be the same again. And that's alright. I love being a Mommy. I adore my kids. So much so that we're having another one. But it feels like I was that working woman putting my college education to good use, using my brain everyday just a blink of an eye ago. So how is it that here I am, navigating through a maze of toys on the floor, up to my elbows in laundry from potty-training accidents, and figuring out how to hide spinach so my youngest son will eat some veggies? Seriously? This is my life? Is this really it?
I look around and catch glimpses of my old self framed in pictures from days gone by. The skinny, tanned, blond, vibrant college girl living it up at Penn State, juggling only the demands of which parties to attend and managing to fit some studying in between. The young twenty-something on vacation with my husband when we were just dating, able to pick up and go camping or skiing or catch a cruise to the Caribbean whenever we felt like it. The new bride, glowing and surrounded by friends and family, embarking on a new life in a new state. And yes, that working woman who loved being married and coming home to be with her husband at the end of the day. I see them all. All these different versions of me then before I became the me I am now.
Before we got pregnant that first time. Before we had kids. Before I stopped working to stay home. Before I was Mommy. Some days, I miss her. Some days I allow myself to be a bit selfish and remember what it was like to simply go to the mall or wander around a bookstore, slowly scanning the titles for hours without worrying about anyone else but myself. But inevitably, I'm pulled back to reality that I am no longer a single person. I come with two (soon to be three) little people attached to me at almost every waking moment.
Yes, my husband thinks I have it made as a stay-at-home mom. That I can run to four or five stores in a day, make uninterrupted phone calls, pay all the bills on time, schedule a tree service and new roof estimate, clean the house, get all the laundry done, stock the fridge and cook dinner because I'm home during the day. I don't work. I don't have a job where I answer to a boss, so I can handle all that other stuff, right? Not quite. If it was just me, home alone, then yes. I could do all of those things. But everywhere I go, everything I do, there is an energetic four-year-old and an increasingly independent two-year-old following along every step of the way. As well as the growing baby-to-be who is literally attached to me in a very large way. They all have demands of me at every waking moment. So I have to figure out a way to juggle all of that. I have to be errand-runner, gift-shopper, bill-payer, house-cleaner, laundry-folder, grocery-shopper, short-order cook, chauffer, teacher, healer, snuggler, referee, playmate, and cheerleader. I am Mommy. That proud title that encompasses all of the above. And don't forget wife in there, too.
And free-thinking, independent, educated woman. That's the part that somehow gets pushed aside in the day-to-day grind, isn't it? Well, I think the answer to my second question of "How did I get here?" has more to do with that woman than all other roles. I miss using my brain. I miss adult interaction. I miss feeling challenged and gratified over a job well done. I miss expressing myself in the first person, using complex sentences and vocabulary that can't be found on Sesame Street. That is how I got here. I decided to do something about it. So here I am, telling myself to take some time every once in a while to reach out to other parents who are in this same boat and reflect on what we're all going through.
I'll stop being Mommy in the third person to be Stacey with all her sass and sarcasm again for just a little bit. I'd love for you all to join me on the ride. Why? Because it feels good to laugh at ourselves once in a while. Because we miss some part of who we used to be. Because motherhood is a journey best taken with friends. Because it's time. Because I said so.