I spoke with grandmother on the phone yesterday. Inevitably, we came to the point in the conversation, the point I used to dread, where she began her questions of if I was working (you know, a “real” job) and why I didn’t consider x, y, or z. This conversation always used to bother me. I think mostly, because of all people I expected her to understand. I’m not sure why, but I think that I had thought that someone from her generation would have understood my need to be home with my children. Perhaps, I took for granted that this was something she had wanted to do. To be frank, I can’t say I’ve ever asked her if she had ever wanted more and she’s never volunteered it.
She’s not alone, though. I can’t think of anyone around me who really understood it, maybe not even my husband to it’s full degree. I mean, isn’t this something that women struggle with after their kids were born? Why now, 4 years later? And I’m not naive, I know that there were so many other things that factored into a general worry for us and our “crazy” ideas. But what was really hard to get people to understand, that I wanted them to see so desperately at the time, was that I was finally starting to see my children begin to grow and slip away. I was finally realizing how precious this time with them was, how it felt like I was watching it slip through my fingers, and how I had finally grown in my role as a mother to truly appreciate it and stop dreading it or mourning the place I had lost.
You see, I was blessed with these beautiful twins and from early on I felt like I was losing myself. After all, 9 weeks of bedrest is more than enough time to dehumanize a person and start to feel simply like a housing station. An incubator. They say that men have a hard time adjusting to a new baby and losing their freedom and I agree. For me, I had a hard time feeling I was losing my identity. In my mind, I wasn’t going to be an artist anymore (who had time for that), or clever or witty or cool or even Kelly, but “just a mom”. I was going to drive a minivan. I was going to have more stretch marks than Minnesota has lakes. I was going to be invisible and as good as dead for all my life was going to amount to. Staying home wasn’t an option for me. Being a nurse, a damn good one at that, was all I had left to hang onto.
Fast forward four years and my job as a care coordinator showed me only too blatantly why nursing was not the field for me (at least not as a full time career at this time) and just exactly what I was giving up by working through my kids’ early years. But still, no one really understood it. Superficially perhaps, but I think that might be because I’ve never really taken time to explain why or how I got there. To begin to understand I think you need to see what nursing was like for me. So over the next few days I want to share that story with you. It’s a hard story to share and get it right. It’s a hard story to share when one of the prime rules of nursing is that I can’t share anything with you that might link you back to a patient. For this reason, some stories my be more vague or have small items changed, but I promise to keep it as honest and true as I can. To convey to you the idea of what I was walking away from. At times it will be hard to hear some stories. I apologize ahead of time for this. My story is only that; mine. How I remember it, how it affected me, etc. I don’t mean for it to be a social commentary. I don’t mean to bring down any other people or professionals in this. Nursing is an amazing career for those that can do it gracefully. I mean only to give you an honest look at what I have experienced over the last 15 years.
By the end of it I hope you will have a better idea of how I got to where I am today and why it no longer bothers me when people don’t understand why I’m choosing to take a different path. My path, though unbelievably tough at times, has brought me and my family so much happiness; I wouldn’t change a thing. And if I simply continue to nod and dodge suggestions to some alternate course, please don’t be offended.