Personal and Spiritual Ramblings

The most important work

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“So do you have to go back to work after this?”

Her words pulled me out of the comatose state that only a tired mom getting her haircut for the first time in four months can understand.

I hadn’t planned on getting my hair cut today. Rather, I expected to spend all morning at a doctor’s office while my boys were at a friend’s house.

The past few weeks since my spring semester ended has been full of a lot of self-care. Not the bubble bath and chocolates kind. But the unsexy kind of working to get things knocked off the to-do list that had been pushed, pushed, and pushed again. An eye exam to replace four-year-old glasses. A pap smear. A mammogram. A yearly physical. (Next week I even have to get a root canal.)

Last week – our first week of summer – ended with both a sick child (on Thursday and Friday) and a sick husband (on Saturday and Sunday). When your husband is sick on Father’s Day, you do double duty. Maybe even triple.

After we got back from the pool last night, he asked me, “So did you get a chance to relax at the pool?”

“Yeah, kinda…I mean, as much as you can relax keeping an eye on two little boys at the pool.”

So when he called in sick to work this morning, I canceled the friend/baby sitter and left the kids at home with him. I took a seat in the waiting room. A chance for peace and quiet. Free coffee that was unusually gross (and I’m normally not picky about coffee), but still…a moment alone. Just what this introvert mom needed.

An hour later I was cleared to leave. Pleasantly surprised that the ordeal hadn’t taken nearly as long as expected, I put a call into the place I normally get my hair cut.

“Thank you for calling Ego Hour, where it’s all about you! How can I help you?”

“Can you take a walk in right now?”

I texted home that I was going for a quick hair cut and settled in at the salon. That’s when the question came.

“So do you have to go back to work after this?”

It threw me a bit off balance.

“No, I don’t work. I just stay at home with my babies.”

She makes small talk back and asks for their ages and genders. The comment comes about how I must have my hands full. Of course.

There’s nothing about her comments nor her tone that are rude, offensive, or condescending. These are normal small-talk questions that would be normal for any hairdresser to ask.

I am not upset or offended. Just unsettled.

Maybe it’s because I go to a salon (on purpose) where I feel out of place. It’s not the most expensive place in town or anything, but it’s not a Supercuts or Great Clips either. Originally, I chose that salon for its location – across from the Y which meant easier access to childcare and more ability to actually relax when I was getting my haircut. The cost was a bit more expensive than I expected, but I justified it and kept going.

I only get my hair cut three times a year. I deserve a bit of a splurge.

I closed my eyes – what I hope is the universal sign for “sorry hairdresser – this introvert doesn’t want to chit chat.” She turned on the blow-dryer and I breathed a sigh of relief.

What is it exactly that bothered me? Was it her blonde cropped hair and size 0 frame that stood in stark contrast to the bleach-stained yoga pants and cheap t-shirt adorning my overweight body?

Was it the guilt I was feeling as the time wore on as she underwent the time-consuming process of blow-drying my long thick hair and I thought about my sick husband stuck at home with the kids?

My judgy inner voice was unusually loud today.

As quickly as the guilt was their, the other voice responded with the truth. It’s two hours and a haircut. Hardly a splurge to feel guilty about.

Do all moms feel this way? 

This thought runs through my mind multiple times a day.

Do all moms feel this way? 

I reminded myself that I woke up to a wide-awake child at 4:30 AM. Said child was also awake til 10PM last night because I forgot to give him his melatonin and Zyrtec. I reminded myself of Friday morning when he was awake at 3:45 AM puking. I reminded myself that it’s a bad idea to listen to the voices when you’re sleep deprived.

I tell myself the mantra: “I am not behind. I’m raising children.”

I picked this up from a fellow blogger – the nugget of truth has come back to me on more occasions than I can count.

Her words yet again comfort me in the face of Size-0-Blondie’s questions and give me ammo to fight Mrs. McJudgy Pants in my brain.

As I drove home I felt like kicking myself.

I shouldn’t have said no.

I should have said, “Yes, I do have to go back to work after this. I have to check on my 7-year-old who was told to clean his room while I was gone. The boys will need lunch. Then I’ll have to take the 7-year-old on the date I promised him. He’s due for meds in 30 minutes.”

I felt somewhat out-of-body when I arrived home. The kids had behaved well for dad but were bouncing off the walls. He suggested “quiet time,” but I knew that would be a disaster. I kept thinking – what to do, what to do, what to do…

I emptied the vacuum cleaner (which was full – again)…

“Yes, I most certainly have to go back to work after this. The vacuum needs emptying.”

I vacuumed the bedroom. Afterward, I looked at the boys and asked, “Would you like to go to Barnes and Noble?”

Excitement from both, then disappointment from the 7-year-old who was owed a date.

“Bud, the problem is, LB is wide awake and not ready for quiet time.”

The disappointment was (unexpectedly) easily shrugged off. I make a mental note in my brain, “I owe Ezra a date.”

The natives grew even more restless as I tried to gather the things we would need for our outing. Ezra began to cry when a silly moment with Daddy didn’t go the way he wanted.

“We got to get out of here”…my brain thought.

I took underwear off the potty training toddler and opted for a diaper. I still never go to Barnes and Noble without remembering how a certain someone peed on the floor next to the train table five years ago. I gave Ezra his medicine and reminded him to use the bathroom before we left.

I threw my laptop in my bag. Diapers and wipes. The boys said they weren’t hungry. (Again…unexpectedly.) But it was noon, so I threw animal crackers and apple juice in my bag. An Atkins shake for me. I told them to get string cheese.

“Lunch of champions, Mom!” Mrs. McJudgy pants critiqued. I told her to shut up and informed my husband that we were leaving.

The worlds kept ricocheting around my brain:

“So do you have to go back to work after this?”

Is it work to answer the endless questions like, “Do they have cactuses in Mexico…cuz I saw a sign that said ‘Mexican Restaurant’ and it had cactuses on it…”?

Is it work to break up a backseat argument over whether its called a “transport truck” or a “car carrier truck”?

Is it work to coach your possibly-autistic child through a social interaction with the lady getting into the car next to us? Is it work to hold his hand while he excitedly explains, “I just LOVE meeting new people!”?

Is it work to watch your boys play with trains and books while fielding calls from providers about insurance questions for the upcoming autism clinic appointments?

Is it work to remind them to share and not take toys from the babies?

Motherhood: The most important work | I texted home that I was going for a quick hair cut and settled in at the salon. That's when the question came. "So do you have to go back to work after this?" It threw me a bit off balance. "No, I don't work. I just stay at home with my babies."

Is it work to calm down the child who is upset about the mess his Little Brother made? Is it work to praise him when he cleans it up without being asked?

Is it work to dish out animal crackers and open juice boxes?

Is it work to keep your kids in sight and safe in a store when they are prone to wander?

Is it work to get down a firetruck book from the shelves for your firetruck-obsessed 2-year-old because you know it will make him happy?

Motherhood: The most important work | I texted home that I was going for a quick hair cut and settled in at the salon. That's when the question came. "So do you have to go back to work after this?" It threw me a bit off balance. "No, I don't work. I just stay at home with my babies."

These words come back to me and answer my question:

Buy this printable here!

“So do you have to go back to work after this?”

Yes, Size-0-Blondie, I sure do. The most exhausting yet important work there is.

The Most Important Work | "So do you have to go back to work after this?" Yes, I sure do. The most exhausting yet important work there is.
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The Most Important Work | "So do you have to go back to work after this?" Yes, I sure do. The most exhausting yet important work there is.
The Most Important Work | "So do you have to go back to work after this?" Yes, I sure do. The most exhausting yet important work there is.
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