The Exchange

Somewhere between cutting me open to remove my son and sewing me back up I lost something. Yes, of course, my baby was extracted from my body, and yes there was most certainly blood and placenta on the floor, but I left a part of me in there, too.

In my former life I was a workaholic. I studied intensely when at school and worked with an equal amount of vigor at each of my jobs. At one point after college I held four jobs, though none of them was full-time. When I finally had my own classroom I may as well have had a sleeping bag there. My students had running jokes as to whom had seen my car in the parking lot at the most obscure time. (7 am, 7 pm, Saturday, holiday, snow day, 7 am on the snow day…) I loved teaching. It was my 24hours a day job. I dreamt about my students. I roamed around looking for a better way to teach long division or to find a meaningful way to explain comma rules. At any given time I had 5 lesson plans in the works in my head.

I was also taking a graduate course at a time and I taught piano lessons on Saturday morning. I loved being busy, I loved feeling so fulfilled. I felt like I was making a difference in the lives of so many people. Even after we moved out to California I still dreamt of my former students and fellow teachers. I looked at anything as an incentive to get my boys to do homework or a teaching aid.

Being a stay at home mum is the best job I’ve ever had. The hours are even longer than those of a new teacher. Many days are less immediately rewarding. But the benefits are amazing. I love knowing that I am making a direct difference in the life of my son. I love knowing that I am the primary caregiver, and the person to whom he looks for praise and love. I know that my efforts will raise a more emotionally secure contributing member of society. I know that I am doing best by him. My bad days are not as bad as my bad days were as a teacher and the only parent with whom I have to contend is my supportive, loving husband.

But wonder of all wonders is that the new me is more calm and relaxed. Yes, that’s right, being a parent has made me a calmer person. I know so many people who obssess over every little thing with their children. I feel calm and secure. I know that he is okay and that sad days, sick days, spit up, and heat rashes are all a normal part of growing up and that he is well-within the normal range. I thought I would be an alarmist but I’m not. I’m becoming the kind of mother I had always wanted to be.

I’m not sure I would recognize the old me left on the operating room floor. That woman was a stressed-out, unrested workaholic. I work just as hard as I did before, but my quality of life has increased exponentially.

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