Yesterday I found myself listing all the things I’ve made and done over the last 7 years. I started this list not because I was particularly proud, or couldn’t keep track (although it IS getting harder to do.) I listed them because I was terrified they wouldn’t be enough. It’s a real fear, now that my children are all finally in school. I am terrified that I am going back to the same space I was in 7 years ago.
7 years ago I was waitressing, 7 years ago I was pouring your coffee. 7 years ago Chicago was the purgatory between my previous life as a cubical slave and my future life of big adventure. I’m equally terrified and feel incredibly guilty when it seems that taking the time to stay at home with my children was not the adventure, but just what I did while I waited for it. What if my children have begun their autonomous lives, and I’m still just… waiting.
I tell myself that this is irrational, that this feeling of panic over my own autonomy is normal if slightly unjustified. After all, I’ve done so much in these past 7 years. I tell myself all stay at home parents go through this when their kids go to school, my children are not leaving for good, they’re just leaving for 7hrs a day, 5 days a week… But this month, these last few weeks, have felt like a slow motion free fall. No longer anchored to playgrounds and playdates, I am left struggling to make sense of the silence.
I have kept myself busy. I marketed and produced a conference and community, I’m days away from launching Where are the Women with Marian, I’m in a hotel room in Portland preparing to speak at an entrepreneur conference, I’m planning another RVSX excursion, and planning new classes and events for the CWDevs community. Despite all this, I feel like I’m standing still. Without the normal constraints on my time, without the tug on my sleeve or demand for a sandwich while I take phone calls, all this action feels like atrophy.
What if, after all this time, I can’t function without the freneticness? What if my hustle was just a way of keeping sane through the routines of parenting small children? What if breaking my day into those tiny pieces of attention was exactly what my creative brain needed? When I mention this confusion of time and pace, my friends tell me to slow down, take a breather… but these are my childless friends, my friends that haven’t been waiting 7 years for their lives to be even remotely their own. These are friends that don’t understand that the constraints of full time motherhood that made my accomplishments seem extraordinary last year, are no longer there, and I may just be ordinary, after all. What if I slow down and find I’m just “waitress”, what if this last 7 years of waiting didn’t count, what if I’m just here to pour your coffee?