The Dawkter's Wife - It's all champagne and caviar now … dahling

The Loony Bin

January 2, 2012

Do not leave before you leave….

Do not lean back … lean in.

So here I was feeling sorry for myself tonight …and then I ran across a video of Sheryl Sandberg’s Barnard College commencement address.

How can I set the scene for you?

Aidan and Zoe head back to school tomorrow after their winter break and I laid in bed worrying about oversleeping until I reached the tipping point.  For me … that time is 4:30am. I came downstairs, turned on the fireplace, grabbed my 17 year old’s sweatshirt off of the back of my living room chair to wrap it around me until things warmed up, fired up my Keurig, and turned to Google for some online time.  My internet usage has been drastically reduced over the last month or so.  My mil’s visit sort of kicked off my virtual hiatus.  After she left I flew to TX to visit my mom for a few days.  When I got back, I was in a race to finish getting ready for Christmas…something I barely managed to do, if I’m honest.  This year I scaled down our celebration quite a bit.  My mom flew out to ring in the new year with us and is here through Wednesday.

It was a craptastic December.  Frankly, it was a craptastic Fall, but I think we might have covered that a few times here already!

I was having some breathing issues before flying out to Texas to visit with my mom in mid-December.  Same song, different verse: trouble with the stairs, pain on the right side of my chest, mucus plugging …I’m so bored of this problem already that I just decided to ignore it.  There are times where this works, too, so why not?  A couple of days after I got home from TX, the breathing issues escalated.  I woke up early in the morning having to gasp to pull in a clear breath.  I was not obstructed and my lungs could fill … my O2 sats were 100% … the effort though? It started to wear on me.  On the Wed. before Xmas I was having trouble talking because of this.  I was seen by my favorite NP in the clinic because she could fit me in right away.  She started the conversation thinking we could try an inhaler of sorts, but ended with insisting on a prednisone prescription because I just … couldn’t … talk and breathe.

Honestly, the whole mess depressed me more than anything else.  F***ing cancer.  F***ing radiation.  After working hard to lose more than 20 pounds, the steroid Rx was the last thing I wanted to see (and FYI … I have regained 10…. I let the psychological effect of the Rx impact my eating as much as the actual physical effect of the drug).

I wasn’t better by Friday…Her nurse called to check up on me and then the NP called me herself.  “We were too conservative with the dose (because I didn’t want to take the drug in the first place)”… so she upped the dose to 60mg/day for 4 days; 40mg/day for 4 days; 20mg/day for 4 days …. blah.

On Christmas day my breathing was better, but I was left with an uncomfortable foreign body feeling on the lower right side of my neck.  This feeling hasn’t gone away, but it has improved a lot.

So there is the background scenery.

Then …. there is the plot.

One word: Amanda.

A couple more words: Save me.

Our homeschooling came to a crashing halt after mil arrived and we never regained our footing.  I just realized that I couldn’t do it anymore after I caught her cheating on her assignments to just “get done and go back to school”.  She went to great lengths to hack into my teacher account, copy the answers to assignments into a notebook, and then enter them as her own.

It was a turning point for me. My plans for homeschooling were so much different than the reality.  I was never able to rouse my daughter before 11am.  By the time that she was ready to work, I was on my way out the door to pick up Zoe, run to an appointment, or buy groceries for dinner.  We didn’t seem to work well together this year.  It was partly my fault.  My fantasy was that we would sit together at the kitchen table to work through math problems, etc.  The reality is that I knew we needed a verifiable program to get credit from area schools and that program was similar to what we had left: read,regurgitate, read, regurgitate.  I was frustrated. She was frustrated.  She wanted to work alone and I felt guilty but …. I wanted her to work alone.  I just wanted her to finally grab some motivation and get moving.

It didn’t happen and as December sort of crashed in around me, the stench of failure filled our home.  We had trouble being nice to each other. She blamed me for all of her problems and I …. blamed her secretly for mine. The homeschooling has been a 1.5 year experiment.  I feel like it took 5 years off of my life and I’m not sure right now of what I have to show for it.  Things were so much better with Amanda last school year in so many ways.  This year? She resorted to hanging out more with unappealing friends and her attitude took a nosedive again.

Long story longer?  She is returning to school in the Spring.  Where?  Don’t know!  We are still in the process of making that decision.  The only thing that I am certain of is that homeschooling has come to a screeching halt in our home and it might be some time before my relationship to my daughter recovers.  I have so many regrets right now.

So … back to Sheryl Sandberg.

What did I do when I dragged myself out of bed at 4:45?  I hit up Google for my various career searches.

I know what you are about to throw at me in all caps.


Right.  Step away from the shift key! Hear me out.

I love being a mom.  I love the opportunity to parent my children and the big family that we have.


I miss me.

I miss feeling passionate, solving problems, and being involved in the world outside of the tiny and narrow life that I am living.

There are some things that Sheryl said that really struck a cord deep within me:

1.  She asked the graduates to lean into their careers … to believe in themselves and ride their careers to the top.

In motherhood, there is no top.  There are joys that we experiences.  There are successes when our children are happy, accomplish goals or do well, but those successes don’t seem to belong to mothers.   Sheryl mentioned that the more successful a woman is in her career, the less liked she becomes.  I find this true in motherhood as well, but unlike a traditional career, there are few successes along the road that moms get to claim.  The things that go wrong though?  Pass the rum.  I feel like I take the heat.

2.  Women leave before they leave….

This has haunted me since I heard it.  I left my career before I even tried it on.  That’s the truth.  My low self-esteem and lack of faith in my abilities havestood in my way.  I … have stood in my way.  I made choices early in my marriage that slowly chipped away at me.  I chose to turn down a medical school acceptance and focus on getting married/starting a life with my husband.  I chose to stay at home as a mom (something I don’t regret).  I perseverated non-stop over career choices (and still do!) trying to figure out what will work out best for my family.  Somewhere, I lost me.

Her final advice was to go out into the world and do what you would do if you weren’t afraid.

What would I do if I weren’t afraid right now?  Where do my passions lie…my abilities…who am I now that I have been at home raising children for so many years.

What I do realize is that I haven’t just done nothing.  I wrote a book, started a company and I’ve kept moving forward.  Now though, I want to do exactly what she said: try again until you find something that stirs your passion.

Time to do it.



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