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I’m Not (Brain) Dead Yet

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Now on permanent maternity leave, Lisa has more time for the men in her life

This is what I did today—on a Thursday. I went to the pool. I went to the park, I played cars. My 3-year-old little boy and I pretended that we were firefighters (the baby got to drive the truck). I watched so much Bob the Builder that the theme song has become my internal soundtrack (I am humming it as I write). I changed so many diapers I’m beginning to think that everyone should wear them (great for people on the go!). I met my mother for lunch.

Last June, nearly three months after my younger son was born, I took a nose dive off the career map. I left my job, and I am now on permanent maternity leave.

I have had two careers during my life as a working person--one as a newspaper and wire service reporter, the most recent as a writer in JUF’s Marketing Communications Department. I have been working and supporting myself since I graduated from college and, for the most part, have been able to say that I loved the work I was doing. It was very scary to make a choice that might conceivably end my working life. Like just about everyone who leaves a job to stay at home with children, I say that I will go back to work when they are in school, that this is just a short hiatus, that I’ve worked long enough that I deserve a break, that I am on sabbatical.

The reality is the longer I stay home, the bigger the gap on my resume, the harder it will be to find a job, the less tolerance I will have for commuting and office issues like who left the coffee pot empty. When (if) I do revamp my resume, it will for a position several rungs lower on the career ladder.

And I don’t care.

I have two very hard won children (exactly how hard is the subject for another blog), and I want to enjoy them. I look at my 3-year-old’s lanky little boy body, and I want to stay home with my two sons until they’re too big to fit in my lap (or too old to want to). They’re small for such a short amount of time.

I never thought I would do this, leave work and be supported by my husband (also a subject for another day). I always figured that when/if I had kids I would continue working. My life would be in perfect equilibrium, balancing the social usefulness, intellectual stimulation and economic renumeration of a job with the “joys” of motherhood, Ha!

There is no such thing as balance, although women like to talk too much about achieving it. After working all day, I was too exhausted and there was not much left for my husband or the kids, much less the house (I’m a terrible housekeeper; when my son asked me the other day what “dust” is, I was able to show him plenty of real-life examples). After dealing with my kids, there wasn’t much left over for work. And there never seemed to be any time for me. 

And I can talk about logistics like time and dirt but the other truth is that I like the idea of making a home for my family. I like having time to tend a garden. I like to hang around with my 3-year-old, who is pretty good company, and kiss the baby’s fat little neck and tickle his toes. I feel fortunate to have the choice to stay home and do these things.

But I admit, I was a little worried that I might start to lose my mind—not in that 1950s housewife way but in the I haven’t talked to an adult all day way. Here I am, five months into my permanent maternity leave, and I’m not brain dead, at least I don’t think so. I am not bored, although I’m sure to a lot of people my life seems pretty monotonous and to some, A Fate Worse Than Death!

I am not a mommy zombie, a career girl or the superwoman we’re all told it’s possible to be, but I am happy with my full-time position as mom.

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