If anyone had told me eight years ago that moving from New York to Georgia would result in a complete forfeit of my career goals, I would have laughed in their faces, the kind of laugh that Danny Zuko laughs at the Frosty Palace when Sandy asks him if he is jealous of her super-jock boyfriend. Danny replies in utter confidence, “Oh, come on Sandy! Don’t make me laugh. Ha…ha…ha…ha…”
That was me, ha…ha…ha…ha-ing… until I woke up one day a few years later, and realized that I had traded in my career as a successful graphic designer/family mediator (complete with certificates and advanced degrees) for a string of part-time graphic design jobs, a beautiful baby girl, and then at last, a failed marriage. I won’t bore you with the gory details, because that is not what this venue is about, and I apologize for stating the obvious here, but as Frenchy discerns after she unintentionally dies her hair pink, “Beauty school sure wasn’t what I thought it would be.”
In less than three year’s time, I had traded in my professional skills for housecleaning, diaper changing and grocery shopping. I went from working in advertising agencies and the New York family court system, to mopping my kitchen floor and scrubbing toilets. I no longer had a dry-clean-only wardrobe. Instead, I wore comfortable clothes that were at any given moment, ready to be the lucky recipient of my bouncing baby girl’s snot, spit-up, drool and occasionally, poop. I admit it — I wore the dreaded Mom Clothes.
Fast-forward five years. My sweet little cherub is in school and thriving. In fact, I just taught her how to tie her shoes, and she is already reading her own books! Friends and teachers have marveled at her advanced vocabulary and understanding of abstract concepts. She also thinks most of the rules other kids have to follow don’t apply to her. Has being the mom of an always precocious and intelligent child been rewarding? In more ways than I could ever imagine. Does it continue to be the biggest challenge of my life? In more ways than I could ever imagine.
So, that’s where I am now and the reason for this blog and its title. My high-maintenance life hardly consists of working out with my personal trainer two hours a day, shopping at Phipps Plaza (read “expensive designer stores” for all you non-Atlantans), followed by sushi and Cosmopolitans on the terrace with my favorite gal pals. (I don’t even use the words “gals pals” to describe my friends. EVER.) And, although I do get the occasional pedicure or massage, and sporadically spend way too much money getting my hair highlighted, lowlighted and balanced with just the right shade of midtones, (I am a graphic designer, what can I say?), MY high-maintenance life is all about the struggles I endure on a daily basis as a result of my own psyche and unfulfilled dreams.
Wow. That sounds so doom and gloom, doesn’t it? Well, truth be told, some days are full of that kind of darkness. (Some days are wonderful and I feel like my life is turning around, and I think that maybe by some small chance, it’s not too late for me to have a successful career. But, those days are few and far between.) What happens on the days when I feel strapped financially, chained to a mentally non-stimulating job of being the maid, servant and teacher of my sometimes cranky, always strong-willed child, is what most stay-at-home moms don’t talk about. In fact, I don’t talk about this with just anyone, either. But, I’m going to write about all of it.
I know that I am not the ONLY mother in the world who gave up a career to be a mom. And I know from speaking to some of my friends that I’m not alone in my disenchantment. A few of them have even thanked me for being so honest for voicing my “being a mom is NOT the single, most wonderful thing that’s ever happened to me” opinion. I love my daughter with all my heart and wouldn’t trade her for the world, AND I am sad with all my heart that I have no career to speak of. (Did I mention I have a 90 lb. dog that burps and farts out loud, and chews stuffed animals if he isn’t walked regularly?)
Welcome to my high-maintenance life.