My dad came home with nothing left at the end of the day.
I watched him cringe and then go to another room when we made noise. I watched him yell at the dog. I watched him get so easily irritated by my mom’s every movement. I saw him unenthused with my joy and my high spirits and annoyed by my stories. I saw, over the years, his empathy and compassion for his family drain to nothing through his exhaustion.
I saw his drive to succeed and to provide and to rule unquestioned at home as he probably was at work. I saw him receive awards and promotions and listened to his employees and co-workers smile about his sense of humor and amazing leadership skills. I experienced him much differently at home. How could he be two people, I thought. Are they wrong or am I wrong? He doesn’t like us, maybe. He wanted boys instead of girls, maybe. Maybe the person I am is just not who he was hoping for.
My heart sinks as I recall these thoughts of my dad.
I am in my car. I just resigned my teaching job yesterday and I am driving my son to the orthodontist while he happily chats away in the backseat. What a sweet creature he is. So much like I was at that age. But I have been cringing when he makes noise, and asking him to play in the basement so I can cook or read or work in peace. I am patronizing his stories and conversations, barely listening.
My co-workers highly respect the work I do. I have been called a master-teacher by my principal. At work, I am told my laugh is contagious and I am complimented on my organization and my amazing communication skills. But I know I am failing, because my family sees none of this.
So I will change. Long before they are too old too notice. I will change.
I will leave the work I do, before exhaustion drains me of compassion and empathy for my own family. For myself.
I will summon the courage to leave the familiar in search of a place where my family will see the best parts of who I am. And it will be easier, because I won’t be giving myself away so fully somewhere else. I tell my boys all the time, that my whole life I wanted a baby boy, and now I have two. That I am the luckiest mom ever. That’s what I want them to walk around the world knowing in their hearts. Their mom wanted them. I was hoping for THEM.
That I was my happiest when I was with my family.