Sunday, April 18, 2010
You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach on the first day of a new job? It happens when some (hopefully) competent boss or colleague shows you around the office, gives a few tips here and there, overwhelms you with details about the job duties, and then leaves you feeling bewildered and drowning in a pile of HR paperwork. At least for me, that feeling is the sickening realization that despite all the training and preparation in the world, this is a new environment with new people...and I don't know crap.
There's a flip side to this feeling, of course. It's that moment, maybe months later, when another new person comes through the door. Only this time you're the one who's doing the training/orientation. You show them where to get good coffee, you know just how to punch the copier to get it unjammed, you warn them about the flatulent man in accounting. And then suddenly it dawns on you...you know what the hell you're doing! You've been through the fire and you've come out the other side a pro! Ok, maybe no one is ever truly a pro at any job, but competent still feels great.
Right after the births of both boys, I felt that sickening pit in my stomach. A nausea that reminded me that no matter how many classes I had taken and how many books I had read, this was the real deal and I didn't know crap. I thought the second time would be easier, but I had deluded myself into thinking a second baby instinctively knew it needed to be easier. Maybe I was right, but Fionn certainly didn't get the memo. And simultaneously moving into our first house that needed extensive renovating in the middle of Christmas time...well that was just downright insanity on our part.
Lately, though, I've started to recognize a new feeling. Maybe it's just the stages they are in, or maybe it's due in large part to the fact that Emerson is out of my hair for 4 hours a day 4 days a week, but I feel like I've finally gotten my sea legs. For sweet, albeit brief periods, I think "Maybe I AM competent!" I went through the hell fires that were the first year of babyhood - twice - and somehow we all survived.
Emerson is now fully potty-trained, which I consider to be our most monumental parenting accomplishment yet. Fionn is Mr. Independent, which means a lot of battling and screaming, but on the up-side he's learning new skills at high speed. Now that we've got a list of places to let them run around like crazy and have given up on trying to grocery shop with them, things are calmer.
This is not to say things are easy. An outing to the playground means literally running non-stop between doing "underdogs" on the swing for Emerson and keeping Fionn from hurtling himself head-first down the biggest slide. The noise level in our house is astronomical (as anyone who calls us can attest), the sibling squabbling is constant, and we still have nothing that resembles a schedule. The only thing that's certain is that sometime in the afternoon, I will have to get us all out of the house or risk mutiny.
It's nice to be the kind of mom friend that can finally swap battle stories and once in a while even offer sound advice. Although I have to say, after two such totally different kids, I'm surprised at how many parenting dilemmas I still can't answer. I'm now the one giving extremely frustrating sound bites to new parents - things like "sometimes you have to wait it out," or "all kids are different, so there's no right answer." Sorry.
I've worked many office jobs - all in non-profits - but the lay of the land was different in each one. Every first day left me feeling off-balance and I wasn't sure I'd ever feel like a pro. But it passed.
This job certainly hasn't come with any real training and the lay of the land is completely different with each child. I wasn't sure I would ever feel capable of getting through the day much less another 18 years. But slowly, it's passing.
Now if I could just figure out how to get more paid time off and sickleave....
In a poignant parenting moment, Fionn crawled into the dog bed one night and fell asleep. We left him there so we could watch a movie.