Working to Get A Rest -- by Laura Houston
And so it happened. The phone rang. A job offer. A great job offer. Contract. Full time. A progressive, creative company with a brand I respect. I threw out a figure. They called back and asked if I could interview with the team.
Yeah. Ummmm. The thought of getting out of this apartment and away from my boys is tempting. Especially after this long winter and what looks to be a wet spring. And – a job interview – a chance to dress up, exchange ideas with actual grownups, and to talk about myself for 45 minutes – it’s better than therapy! I rubbed my hands together. I might even get a great cup of designer coffee. I scheduled the time and called a sitter.
The interview went great. The offices were clean and orderly. The creative team consisted of four talented designers, another writer, and a creative director with a montage of awards on her wall. And, yes, the coffee was excellent as were the little designer chocolate mints they passed around. In the 55 minutes I sat at that clean, long, shiny conference table with a view of Park Avenue, ideas and words flew around in ways that I forgot possible. It all clicked. We all liked each other.
I came home and Lyle threw up on my shoes.
I want that job.
But then I think about it. I think about that first day when I sit down at my finger-print-free Apple computer, and I scoot toward the wireless keyboard in my ergonomic, breathable, adjustable chair. I know what will happen. I will start to cry. I will miss my boys. The clock will say 9:03am, and that means I have roughly eight hours and 57 minutes to go before I see them again. I will think to myself: “I wonder how they are. I wonder if they miss me.”
Then on to my control-freak thoughts such as: “The nanny better have the strollered up and ready for class by now. Shoes on. Sippy cups full of half juice half water. Snacks. And she better do Wyatt’s sandals tight because he kicks them off and then cries for when he loses them.”
It was my goal to be a stay-at-home mom. That’s why I worked so hard in my 30s. So I could be debt-free in my 40s. So I could stay at home without a car payment or a credit card payment. I’ve done my time so I could enjoy this time.
I hate this.
I hate how hard it is to be a mother of twins in the city. Without my friends. I hate the isolation and the constant schlepping. I hate how the days roll into one another. I hate the thanklessness.
This is when I open my book on Buddhism and motherhood. I can’t remember the title because I lose it every other day. I try to stay in the moment. Yes. I try to get Zen about scrubbing stains off the floor. Wax on. Wax off. I tell myself to breathe and ignore the smell of the diaper genie. Relax. I am not going to lose my skills. I can go back to work at another time. Another day. Another year. Just not now.
But then I think to myself, well, wouldn’t I be happier if I went back to work so I could get a break? So I could get a rest from this endlessness? And doesn’t a happier mom make happier children?
I tell myself I am lucky I have choices. I tell myself not to be impulsive. I try to picture myself running barefoot on the clover in Central Park, chasing my boys who are wearing overalls that are still clean and not bulging in the crotch from full diapers. Then I imagine myself walking to the subway in my clean slacks, soft, silk blouse, and serious shoes that click on the sidewalk, announcing my upcoming presence. And what’s that on my lips…is it…is it lipstick? Yes! It is. And some of it is rubbing off on the lid of my 16-ounce, piping hot latte I am enjoying without interruption. There’s even a copy of The New York Times tucked under my arm.
There’s also that moment when the HR manager discreetly hands me that white envelope with the blue check inside on Friday. I can smell the freshness of the ink. I open the envelope with my manicured fingernail, and inside I see appreciation and reward for my work. Fabulous! I am taking myself out to lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant, and I am ordering wine with my meal. WINE! A crisp, citrus-y white. Maybe two glasses followed by another latte. And perhaps a quick dash into a boutique to find some hand-made earrings that make me look slimmer.
Then I think about my boys. The ones I worked so hard to have. The ones I begged for. Cried for. Injected myself with so many hormones I ruined my endocrine system for. The ones who make my heart do acrobatics at strange hours of the day. The boys who rely on me for kisses when they slam their fingers in the radiator cover. The boys with my father’s eyes.
Nothing in that daydream compares to the melodious sound of laughter when I kiss their stomachs or threaten to bite their toes. Nothing swoons me like the inquisitive, toddler accent on the word, “Mamma?”
So I can sit in the moment, Buddha. Yes. I can. In fact, I am stuck right here. Torn. Trapped. Immovable. The irony is not lost on me. Oh no. Going to work to get a rest? Seriously? But fortunately creative solutions are my forte, so I should best find one for my own little company in my own little household and execute that strategy first. So I am going to sit here, insistently, until I do.