Hide & Seek
How can I feel so smothered, yet so lonely at the exact same time? I take a ‘break’, two minutes to bend my knees and lower my bum to the couch and exhale. Thirty seconds in my toddler climbs on top of me. He gives so much love…the sweet child must say “I love you Mommy” one hundred times a day. I feel guilty for simply not wanting to be touched. To be left alone. For two minutes. Please. But then the words of society, my peers, my friends ring in my head.
“You’re SO lucky.”
“MUST be nice.”
“I WISH I had the time you do!”
I snap out of it and embrace the hugs, the small moments that will soon pass…because I am reminded all the time by well-meaning older parents.
“Cherish every moment.”
“One day they won’t want to be with you.”
“You’re going to miss this.”
About a year and a half ago I hit a wall. (Not literally…I’m ok). A naturally extroverted person, I thrive around people…I mean, my major WAS Communications for Pete’s sake…I love to communicate, preferably with positive people, adults. Perhaps I like to communicate a little too much (my more mild-tempered hubs would say).
Find your tribe ‘they’ say. They will be your saving grace. It’s a cliché, but truer words were never spoken. I had an amazing tribe when my oldest was a baby. There were five of us. We laughed together, cried together, swapped stories of breastfeeding, sleepless nights and concerns over every little milestone our children did or didn’t reach. We had text threads a mile long, at all hours of the day and night. They were my rocks. But one child turned into two, then three for some. Friends moved, our oldest started school programs, some went back to work…and life moved into auto-pilot. There’s this in-between time. Between baby groups and elementary school. This in-between time almost broke me. But two opportunities entered my life…and they helped me to regain some of what I needed back-communication with adults, a sense of purpose beyond the home.
Let me be clear, many stay-at-home parents don’t seek out a different purpose. After all, what greater purpose is there than to raise little humans? I get that. Of course I get that. I know moms and dads who are their best selves taking care of their children 100% of the time. It seemed so black and white to me. Quit complaining and go back to work, or quit complaining and savor the moments. Could there be an in-between? Was it selfish to want an in-between?
I believe that opportunity presents itself when you least expect it, but are secretly searching for it. I was seeking something. I didn’t know what, how, when or where, but gosh was I seeking. I now work part-time hours from my home, or anywhere I want for that matter. I have a team of supportive, smart, brave, amazing (mostly) women surrounding me and they are all from different walks of life and different parts of the country. We laugh, we lean on each other, we brainstorm, we create and we fill our buckets so that we can pour into those closest to us.
Around the exact same time I joined this girl gang (totally legal by the way!), Dr. Cathy Subber approached me about being part of The Naperville Moms Network cast on NCTV17. We had no relationship other than doctor/chiropractic patient, but it was her office manager Allison who thought I might be a good fit. Remember how I mentioned that I love to talk? Poor Allison didn’t realize she often was the only 15 minutes of the day I communicated with someone over 4 feet. She probably thought, “This girl comes in and talks my ear off. She probably has a lot to say.” Spot on, Allison! This former musical theater gal was thrilled to be part of the panel. And this opportunity has lead to friendships and a beautiful network of local moms trying to balance and succeed.
I was going to title this post lost and found…but felt that was a bit dramatic. I was never lost. I didn’t need to find myself. I do think part of me was hidden a bit though. I sought the in-between, and here I am.
Erica Lopez lives in Naperville with her husband Rick and two children, Natalie and Brandon (7 and 4). She is a former high school English teacher, Independent Consultant with Rodan+Fields and part of the The Naperville Mom’s Network on NCTV17. She enjoys time with her family traveling, laughing and making memories both big and small.