“…Be Sure Not to Miss a Single Second of Joy in Being a Mom.”

I feel like so much of motherhood is about managing.  And so much of single-motherhood is really about managing.  It’s sort of like if you are the President of your company, and the VP quit – but due to budget cutbacks, you aren’t able to fill that VP spot.  So you start doing the work of two.

Almost every single day of my life, I am doing just that.  There’s no – “Hey babe, can you call the landlord and tell them if we don’t get those shelves in the fridge repaired soon, we are going to withhold rent.”  No, “Can you just sit here for a second with her, while I run out to the store to go buy Excedrin?”  No, “Hey, do you think we should sell the apartment now and try to buy up here, or we continue to rent it out, while we rent this place?  How long do you think mortgage rates will stay this low?  Maybe you can make a few calls and see what is available in our price range in the neighborhood we like.”  No, “Can you ask around your office and see what people with our income are doing about preschool?  I really have no idea what our options are…” No, “Hey, I have a terrible migraine, and I feel like I am going to throw-up, can you give her breakfast while I keep my eyes closed a little longer?”

None of that.

Every single thing related to running this house is managed by mom – and that mom is me.

I know, I know, there are many women that feel like they are single moms even though they are married.  And even though it is 2012, many women tell me  that 90% of the parenting falls on them.  I am not trying to compare motherhood war stories.  In my opinion, it’s all relative.  And the one that sustains the most wounds doesn’t win some award…so no, I am not trying to compare.

What I am trying to do is tell a cautionary tale…and it is prompted by a very generous and thoughtful gift that a close friend gave to Ellie and I for her first birthday.

This friend has her plate full, working mom of 2 young ones, with a third on the way, yet I always marvel at how she tracks Ellie’s clothing size so that she can offer up hand-me-downs at just the right time.  I used to sit in front of this mom friend in homeroom in high school.  I look back and laugh.  Never in a million years would my hyper-hemmed uniform wearing, hemp necklace adorned 15 year old self think that this is where our friendship would take us.

She was there, along with a number of other friends, when the contractions came 3 months too early.  She gave me a dose of reality then, telling me that I could email on my blackberry from the hospital bed all I wanted, and talk on the phone to my boss about when I was starting my new position – but none of that would matter to me if I was siting in the NICU with a baby born at 28-weeks.  None of it.  I can’t remember the words she used, but she told basically told me to chill the F out.

I was put on bed-rest for a few weeks, and I listened to my friend, and my ObGyn and my parents, and pretty much everyone else that I spoke to.  I put the blackberry down, and I tried to just relax and enjoy being pregnant.  And thankfully the contractions stopped.

Soon after Ellie was born, I remember thinking, “Ok, great.  She was full-term, I did my job.  Now I can get back to the work I need to do to make sure everything is in order in our house.  I can try to figure out where we should live, I can try to figure out what happens when the nanny gets sick, what happens when Ellie gets sick, what happens when I have to work late or on a weekend…etc, etc.”

And that is where my mind has been for the past year.  As soon as that c-section scar healed, I hit the ground running.  Which is awesome, because we all know how much I love running.

The only slight issue is, when you are running, you sometimes miss the finer details of life.

And this is where my friend comes in again.  We were discussing mom things like music classes for our kids, and preschool and such, and I said, in passing, “Yea, I hope to use some of Ellie’s birthday money to sign her up for a music class.”  That’s it.  That’s all I said.

Well at Ellie’s family and CT friend birthday party, she gave me a check to use for music classes, and in the card were wonderful quotes about music, that I am going to frame in Ellie’s room.

But the bigger gift came when I sent her a text to thank her.  And her reply is something that I can’t get out of my head, she said…

“I just want you to be able to take a deep breath once in a while and be sure not to miss a single second of joy in being a mom.  I am so blessed that I am able to help you sit back and see Ellie smile.  It makes me happy.”

Now it’s not about feeling the pressure not to miss a moment, it’s about giving ourselves permission to enjoy motherhood, and everything that comes with it. It’s about really trying hard not to forget that life is short.  And life – the one short life we get – is all about what we make of it… It’s about that and all of that other clichéd mush we hear all of the time.  And it’s not just about motherhood, its about every other relationship that we aren’t fully present in because we are trying so hard to be all things to all people, when 90 percent of those people probably won’t matter in a year.

Her sentence could have just read…”Be sure not to miss a single second of joy.”

I am going to guess that even that President of the company, ya know the one who’s VP quit back at the top of the page, takes the time to go out to lunch at his favorite sandwich shop every once in a while…so I am going to do the same.  I suggest you do as well.

Thanks Friend…thank you so much.