I want a new job, but I worry what it will do to my bosses. No, not the ones who sign my paycheck and tell me when I can take vacation. I'm talking about my two sons, 4 and 2, who really run my life. The two precious beings who decide when I should get up at 1 a.m. or 4 a.m. or 5 a.m., sometimes for good. The two mini-men who I carried in my belly for nine months, as I watched what I ate, what I drank and how I slept. The two little boys who I nursed for nearly a year each -- that included the nightmare of pumping once I was back at work and carrying around bags of my milk on the subway. The two bruisers, who constantly have me worried about chipped teeth, rashes, ear infections, the croup, constipation, diarrhea. Those bosses.
I'm proud to be a working mama. Yes, it's a reality that like many families, we need two incomes. It bothers me a little that I can't always be at home for my boys like my mom was for me and my brothers. I won't be able to do every drop-off and pick-up from school, or attend every soccer game or class trip when they're older. I won't be there every time they're sick or sad or hungry. And that's okay. My husband and I are blessed to have fabulous help in the form of our mothers and babysitters, and I never worry for a second that they're safe or well-loved.
But at least for the last four years (since I became a mom and a working mom), I've been there a lot. I've had a job where I could do work -- good, challenging work that made use of my two degrees. But I could still be at home when the baby spiked a fever, be at preschool for class parties, be at doctor's appointments for those nasty ear infections and be at music, art and soccer classes when I wanted to. I could even fit in the occasional play date or pizza lunch.
And now after eight years in the same job, it's time for a change. Change is good. It's exciting and refreshing and probably past time for me. But my biggest anxiety of all as I prepare for this change -- more than searching for a job in this lousy economy or interviewing or picking the right clothes to wear on these interviews -- is what it will mean for my time with my kids.
It's a never-ending challenge that most working mothers know too well. We are (usually) happy to go to work and think about something other than Elmo or trains or puzzles, and talk about things other than potty training and preschool applications. We enjoy getting out of the house without a child attached to our arm or leg or any other body part. We like wearing clothes that -- at least momentarily -- aren't covered with milk or yogurt or strawberries. I'd be lying if I didn't say it's a relief leaving for work during some of those "moments": when my preschooler pees all over the bathroom floor and both of them are dancing in it. Or when the older one is having a meltdown because he can't watch another episode of Dora, while the little guy is having his own meltdown because he doesn't have the words yet to say what it is he so desperately needs.
But even when we're on the job, we can't stop thinking about this stuff. We worry about what vegetables, if any, they're eating at dinner. We think about how long they napped, how many times they pooped and what was the consistency of said poop. We wonder if they brushed their teeth and what games they played with the nanny. We hope they didn't watch too much TV.
That's why when it comes time to searching for my next job, I want to make it so I'm there for as many of these moments as possible. I know how fleeting these moments, these days, these years are. In another three years, they'll both be in school all day long and then I'll have a whole new set of worries. So for now, it's back to the job hunt. I'm in search of that perfect opportunity -- where I can use my brain, feel challenged and accomplished and still have the chance to see my son's face light up when he scores a goal in soccer class or hear my baby's delightful giggle when I push him on the playground swings. Too bad that stuff usually isn't included in job descriptions.
I better go... I hear my bosses calling.