Growing (up) pains

Despite the fact, that I celebrated my forty-first birthday this year, I have avoided some of the more grown-up expectations.

  • I don’t own a house and never plan to.
  • I don’t have a retirement account.
  • I have never hired a lawyer (or a mover, for that matter).
  • I don’t own my own car.
  • And except for a nine-month window after I divorced way back in 1999,
    I have never worked a 40-hour-a-week job.

Yeah, yeah, I know. It sounds totally ridiculous to be this old and never worked that much, though I was working full-time at the school, it was 35 hours per week and I had the benefit of driving with my kids both to and from work (since it was their school I was working at). I was a stay-at-home mom until the divorce. After, I got a full-time job and put my daughter in day care, a horrible experience for both of us. Since 2000, I have avoided having either kid in anyone else’s daily care. All the years I went to school, I dropped them off and picked them up from school. Then we left the country and they were with me except for the few hours a day when I taught and they stayed in our dorm room. We returned to the States and I got a job at their school. I saw both of them periodically throughout the day. And then this summer, I’ve been here (unemployed and penniless) with them.

But all of that is changing.

My son is coming back from California after the job fell through and will be attending community college at the campus just down the block.

My daughter will be on her own to get home, eat and work on homework every afternoon. I’ve always been here for that, always with her to help out when she’d let me, make her dinner. Now, I’ll have to trust that she learned the bus system well enough to get herself back home. I have to hope that she will get food for herself, a rarity for her since she frequently forgets to eat. I won’t be here to be the Mom I want to be and I have to trust that she’ll be okay with it all, but the guilt of leaving her like that is killing me.

Perhaps it will work with her brother back in the house, able to keep her company in the afternoons, someone to talk to and ask for homework help. But I am going to miss being with them both. It’s hard to let go of the 24/7 parenting that I’ve devoted myself to and it’s hard to admit that I don’t have control over everything.

My first day, an orientation of sorts, is tomorrow, then the real deal starts on Monday and I can already feel the time constraints. I just have to remind myself that millions of parents do this every day and that so many of them haven’t been as lucky as I to have spent so many mornings and afternoons with my kids. And, I have to remind myself, that it’s about time I grew up and got a ‘real’ job.

All you working mothers out there… is there something I can do to get past the guilt, the worry? Or is this just one of the joys of being a mom?

(Of course, when I factor in the fact that I have a GuyFriend that I adore being with and will now rarely see along with all my other friends and hobbies and unfinished projects, I just want to run away crying. I can’t, though, so we’re just gonna have to give it a try and see what happens. At least it’s a job I wanted.)

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