If you have read this column before, you probably know the “Momyers.” I call myself a “mom-yer” because in addition to my fulltime job as a mom, I also work as a lawyer. As I wrote last time, there are moms who are teachers (“Mom-her”); mothers who are managers (“Mom-ger”) and the list goes on.
This is the story of my life. I am sure you have more to share from yours.
A bad dream woke me up last week at 5:00 am – on a Sunday.
Not at all. Because that was a great opportunity to comfort my crying toddler as she had dreamt of a bug or of falling. We weren’t sure which one; but we went through the “bad dream” routine: get baby out of bed, beat the bad dream and the bug out of the bed (which generated mild laughter and applause on request), assure big girl it was all OK, and get her back in bed. I looked at the sleepy angel with her half smile. I thought it was a great moment to catch up on some cuddling with my little baby. You can never have enough cuddling with a kid.
And that little devil pushed me aside – saying she wanted to sleep. Now she was asleep again and I was wide awake at 5:15 am on a Sunday.
And I dreamt of me in my warm and cosy bed – sound asleep; snoring like a man!
I went to the kitchen. It’s funny how we automatically walk to the kitchen when we moms have nothing to do. I took some water from the tap and the started up a pot of coffee. The laptop screen on the kitchen table stared at me. Work has kept me very busy lately. I stared back at the screen. I was forgetting something. What was it? Oh my God! I had forgotten “Mom-yer.”
How could I forget myself?
And then I almost found myself thanking the bad dream of my toddler for waking me at this hour. How could I?
Well, I could because it was not until now, in the past few months, that I finally sat down – in peace. Everyone was asleep, except for my dear cat Jinx. This is perhaps the only time that I can have a warm cup of coffee –from first sip to the last – without having to chase a toddler in a million different directions inside the house. It is only at this “unearthly” hour that I finally had some time to write The Momyer Adventures.
And my heart went out to my mother and all our mothers who just wanted some time to be by themselves and be with no one else. I finally understood them… at this hour. This is a real luxury item – this thing called Time. And just as I was vanishing into a haze of fond memories, the smell of coffee filled the kitchen. Wake up and smell me, it seemed to say. And I didn’t want to… because the smell of coffee took me back to another time… another dream.
About 5 or 6 years ago, fresh out of graduate school, I got a job in a big firm with what felt like big bucks back then and a nice (not so big) office with a window! It was exciting and also a little scary to start at a new place; challenging as I put my knowledge into practice and miserable because I would eat lunch all by myself. I guess the worse part of being the “new person” in the office is that you can hear the gossip but not be a part of it. I would often hear the chatter of others in the hallways as they shared stories of their daily lives. Not that I had anything new to add, but at least in my case, I did not have the guts to approach them in the middle of all their camaraderie and then try to fit in.
I am not sure of the exact date and time when it happened; but, one day one of my co-workers peeked into my office at lunch hour and asked if I would like to join the other girls for lunch. Yes!
And that day at lunch I met a whole bunch of my colleagues – the other lawyers at the firm. And one thing I remember was that none of us had children.
As time went by, the lunches with the girls became more frequent. Then, there were the informal, accidental sharing of a few minutes here and there as we crossed paths in the office on our way to retrieve a file or on the way out of a partner’s office, and the occasional shopping trip at lunch hour. And then started the regular cup of coffee around 7 pm – the fuel that kept us going through the long hours of late evening work before someone called it a day and we all exited the office together. Casual chats about clients we were handling slowly evolved into therapeutic catharsis about horrible bosses, and chauvinistic male colleagues, and then moved on to the troubles of dieting, working out or excuses for not working out, boyfriends, husbands and eventually about our dreams for our lives.
I do not know if it was the shared hatred of bad bosses or the bonding over shared dreams, but our friendship grew stronger even before anyone had time to notice or give it a name. By the time I left that firm I had one of the best groups of friends I could ever wish for. It is still my support group and till date remains my source of sanity; and is also the inspiration for this column. You could almost say these were the women – the midwives- who helped me give birth to this column.
As our lives evolved, so did our friendship and our dreams…
We were already at a point where we would get together and chat for hours about everything and anything. We were no longer co-workers; we were comrades, rather com-madres. I remember when most of my friends left from graduate school, and I stayed behind with a job, what I missed the most about college was spending time with my friends. No wonder Facebook became an instant hit.
While on the topic on friends, I have also always wondered why women are so prone to having a group of female friends? To me, it seems like men are better at being alone (with a glass of whiskey or a bottle of beer) and women, well women, would rather have another woman to talk to? I also learned that regardless of the sociological or psychological reason behind women’s need to bond and group with other women, there are perhaps biological ones.
By this time Gaby from our group had given birth to her first daughter. And something changed (or a lot in her case and ours because it was our first birth) when Gaby became a Mom. Gaby, who was always game for some silliness and shoes, was now a lot busier, and her concerns had changed radically. Before we had time to talk to her about how much we missed her silliness and shoe-talk; we found that Marcia, Ale, Brenda and I, all of us, were pregnant too. And our delivery dates were fairly close to each other.
And then I realized there was one more reason why women need to bond with each other. Pregnancy was joyful, but what was most comforting was to be able to tell each other about our fears and hopes as future mothers. Things we could not talk about even with our husbands. And while we worried about our babies we also had to get the billable hours in.
We were still working, and we could not concern ourselves too much with the drama of becoming a new mother while closing deals. And that is exactly what brought us closer together. We could not complain to clients about swollen feet, but we could come back from a meeting and moan and groan all we wanted about swollen feet, not fitting into our clothes and having to go to meetings with crazy clients. Yes, the client is the crazy one, not the pregnant working mother. We became the support that the other desperately needed. And we relished the nights we could all go out by ourselves – no one else. These girls, who had first invited me for a simple lunch, had now become the most important people in my life.
And then we all gave birth and became instant jugglers – juggling new mom status with good partner for our significant others, friend status with daughter, sister status with co-worker and all of us were lawyers wishing that we had someone advocating for us.
And we found that we had all become like Gaby – lot busier and our concerns seemed to have changed radically. Our schedules would allow us to meet only once every quarter; and as Marcia put it, we truly sucked as a support group. But every time we got together we came out of it feeling refreshed and rejuvenated. I learnt another reason why women should bond with other women – because if that bond between them is strong, they can truly make each other feel so young.
I caught myself staring at the laptop screen and the words on the screen stared back at me. How long did I type? Had I typed a very long column? I tried to take a sip out of my cup. It was out of coffee. It was getting too close to the waking hour and the beginning of the daily grind in the house. The clock struck seven times. And the computer said I had mail. It was from one of the Momyers; she was awake too and had shared one of the latest compliments from her kid: “Mom, can you style my hair the way you do on your bad hair days?”
Aaah! The joy of being a working mom!