1/3 of a cup.

1/3 of a cup. That’s all it takes.

I was rinsing out a pesto jar. It was greasy and filthy and I was tired of making dinner. I filled it 1/3rd of the way with warm water, gave it a few “I mean it” swishes and, voila, clean. It’s like nothing every happened. It’s like it was always new and clean and waiting to be filled.

All in all, yesterday was a great first day of school. Except that my son had to be peeled from my body. I rushed our goodbye hug so I could hug crying grandmothers as they dropped off their school-aged grandchildren.

I did not cry.

I did, however, make a few mistakes at work. I neglected to order lunch for the same son that so desperately needed me to not forget his lunch. I was too busy ordering the lunches for the crying grandmothers’ grandchildren. Lunchtime came and my son’s teacher let me know, “Don’t even worry about it. There was an extra sandwich.” But, of course I worried. One day in, I’m the mom who forgot lunch.

Still, I did not cry.

I also forgot snacks. For all four of my children. At this point, I looked down at my dress and my appropriately-high-heels and I wondered if I was selfish that morning; I took the extra 10 minutes to look good. If I’d spent 5 less minutes trying to cover the 8-year-old bags under my eyes, would I have remembered snacks?

It’s doubtful.

Now would have been a great time to cry. Even still, no tears.

I pulled as far as I could into the driveway of my youngest’s daycare. I put the air on full blast and ran to the back gate just 10 feet and a world away from my car. I left the other children in their seats. I couldn’t even entertain the idea of having them enter the yard with happy, sunbathed toddlers. I could see the future – my next 40 minutes bribing children to leave a swing set. My heels had already lived their 8 hours and an eternity on my feet. I said, “I’ll be right back.” and with an ever so small eye twitch, I walked away from the car. Fortunately, the “baby” ran right to me. I grabbed her, waved and left. I barely acknowledged the women who had loved my daughter all day long.

Even still, the kids are all fine. No snack? No lunch? No problem.

But, there was something about the way the pesto left the jar.

I cried.

If you just consider what we have to work with and how much we have to do…my insides felt so sticky. The more I tried to succeed, the more I failed. And while failure is so very human, it is also so very disappointing.

But still, failure is key.

Huddled masses of new people watched me fail. I had two choices: I could accept it or, I could deny it. I chose to admit it…hopeful that with acceptance came the 1/3rd cup of water that would rinse me clean.

I don’t feel quite so sticky anymore.

This morning, I ordered my son’s lunch. I remembered snacks. I am still human. I am still flawed.

And this new school year brought so much growth. Instead of trying to be perfect, I said, “Here I am, all sticky and imperfect! I forget my kids’ lunches and I’m sometimes a mess. I like you just the way you are. I hope you’ll like me just the way I am too.”

I promise I’ll forget snacks at least 45 more times until June.

I love my kids. My kids love me just the way I am.

And it only takes just the tiniest bit of water to wash ourselves clean.

Hello, my name is Bethany and I’m going to sometimes get it right. I’ll mostly get it wrong. I like you just the way you are. I hope you’ll like me just the way I am too.

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho…

I have been out of the workforce for five years. It is the fashion equivalent to a passage of time back to when stirrup pants were popular.

Every moment, I become less relevant as policy change and forward motion dictate I have no place at the table. And, if I am sitting at the table, I should probably put on a bra.

Lately, I have been thinking more and more about plunging back in. Next year, 3 of the 4 will be in some form of school. And, I would be remiss if I didn’t admit here, of all places, that I miss daily adult conversation and showering regularly. Besides, I could use a break. A lunch break.

But, on the ping-pong table of life, I am the ball being hit into the fray. I go back and forth between my desire to return to work, my desire to never return to work and the knowledge that I am no longer qualified, on paper, for any job. Truth be told, I was never qualified for any of the jobs I ever held. I had moxie. During my corporate tenure, moxie was enough to slowly climb the slippery ladder to the middle. After maxing out my moxie only to slide down a la Chutes and Ladders with a salute and a crash landing into, “This stay-at-home mothering stuff seemed easier when I was daydreaming about it behind my gorgeous desk!”.

So it goes. Reality is what happens when all of your dreams come true.

While I acknowledge, with mother-fucking gratitude, the time I’ve been given at home with my children, I must also admit that it has not been all love, light, roses and perfect library trips. Nothing ever is. While I worked, I thought of nothing other than being home. At home, I struggled to find myself outside of mom. Grass, green and brown on both sides with all the lovely shades in between.

It’s always complicated.

Daily, I hem. I haw. I haw. I hee. I think, re-think and over think.

I worry that the knowledge, skills and borderline psychic abilities I’ve obtained raising small children at home will not translate to a resume or, my biggest current fear, during an interview.

Will I strain out of my seat to remove a pen cap from the interviewer’s mouth. Will I eat his or her sandwich crusts? When an awkward question is asked, will I jump out of my chair to divert attention away; doing the hokey pokey and turning my self around? Is that really what it’s all about? Clap clap.

As I look at jobs available, I struggle to make the reach between what I think I’m worth in an office and what I know I’m worth at home. Putting a confident dollar amount over my head when I’d be happy with a Clark Bar and unfettered access to a bathroom I don’t have to clean.

The fact that I’m thinking about making the leap means it’s time to stop bouncing on the board. It’s almost time to dive and to translate everything the children have taught me about patience, trusting my gut, showing up whether you feel up to it or not and Damn. Hard. Work. into a new kind of office. The best bosses I’ve ever had preparing me for a new one I won’t love nearly as much.

As I come to grips with the truth that my need of them is starting to outweigh their need of me, I have to count to three, start to let go and maybe buy a collared shirt. And, somehow transform the amazing speed and efficiency I’ve developed over the years changing crap filled diapers into dollah-dollah-billz.