I don’t usually write about my kids and their illnesses because let’s be honest, it’s boring. But I gotta tell you about poor Georgia. Well, and I guess, me.
She’s had a fever for five days. We were told that 4 days is the longest time a virus will cause a fever, so we tried taking her in yesterday (day 4) but the urgent care was closed. We took her today and it turns out the baby girl has a urinary tract infection and possibly a kidney infection.
They found this out by inserting a catheter in her.
And I wasn’t there.
I was at school. It’s a long story. The timing was off. I couldn’t get there. My mom was with her.
As I talked to the doctor to approve the procedure, I wanted to die. I thought of my baby in that office, in pain, without her mama. I thought of the agony. I thought of the fear. I thought of her thoughts. I saw her tears and heard her cries and felt them in the depths of my soul.
And even though the “procedure” was only five seconds, and even though I raced home, and even though I held her for hours, kissed her forehead as she rested on my chest…despite all this, beyond it all, I raged.
I raged because I wasn’t there. I raged because I’ve made the choice to be in school. I raged because WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOING?
Why wasn’t I there? What is more important than that?
It’s so hard, this gig. This working-while-parenting. This education-while-parenting. Sometimes it just doesn’t feel worth it. Sometimes I think maybe we should just stay poor. And I should just drop my “goals.”
But then again, I’m not sure I can.
I wonder sometimes if it were easier to be a mother back in the 19th century when things were simpler. When a woman had babies and worked in the home and made a home. When she knew what her life was and it was all there was, and there wasn’t such a pull of “I could be more” and “I need to achieve” and “I must make something of myself.” Being a mother and building a home was making something of oneself. And indeed it is.
Yes, I realize there were women who had all that drive, way back then, just like I do. And I realize women couldn’t vote and that ain’t right…and duh. There were problems – not trying to glorify anything.
But society was different. Society didn’t sell the particular lie that we’ve been sold: THAT WE CAN DO IT ALL.
Because we cannot. We cannot do it all. There is always a cost. There is always a sacrifice. We cannot be working mothers and fulltime mothers …fulltime mothers and high-achieving career women…without a cost.
And the cost is today.
The cost is a toddler on a table in a doctor’s office, enduring horrifying pain without the arms and breast and whispers of her mother.
That is my cost.
And it hurts.
Fuck all that feminist stuff. Screw the politics. You know I’m so left I’ve almost come around to the right. That ain’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about what it’s like to attempt to do it all. The on-the-ground experience of trying to have a career and raise a family at the same damn time.
And realizing that it just isn’t working.
Why do I keep going? Why don’t I quit? Why don’t I drop grad school and be with my kids?
Because there’s a part of me that wants more. There’s a part of me that has always wanted a career in teaching. Because it’s the “me” separate and apart from my kids. It’s a “me” I love. It’s a “me” I can’t just abandon, either.
But it’s a “me” I resent. It’s a “me” I want to destroy sometimes. Shut her up. Silence her. Become that woman complete in her home, content in the currents of her daily life, fulfilled by the place of her family, rooted in love, in children, in this.
And yet I am not. I am not that woman.
And so I face the costs. I endure this pain. The pain of my arms and breast and whispers falling useless, in that moment of separation, as they frantically reach for my child who needs me. Needs me when I am not there.
I would say I’m sorry, Georgie, but the words fall useless, too.