by Erika Tellier-Angley
When asked to write about motherhood, a million and one thoughts came to mind. Do I write about the circus act of being a working mom? Do I write about being a working mother of a child on the autism spectrum? Or do I write about the anxieties and exhaustion that seem to accompany motherhood?
In exploring and settling on a topic, I came across a quote on motherhood by Lisa Alther that succinctly describes my experience:
“Any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease.”
Fast forward to June 2009. I had just gotten off the phone with my brother who announced that they were happily expecting their second child. “They’re out of their mind! Brody just turned one in March… don’t they want to sleep?!?!” I thought.
The next day though, which was Father’s Day, I found myself in the bathroom, staring at two pink lines on a home pregnancy test in utter and complete disbelief. I called to my husband, who was blissfully feeding Connor cheerios.
“Edward, lines don’t lie, right?” He rushed in, and peered at the stick on the counter:
“Shut up. Shut. Up.”
“Happy First Father’s Day, babe.”
And so my training began….
My pregnancy with Liam was the complete opposite with that of Connor. I was never uncomfortable when Connor was in utero, and it seemed that Liam was bent on letting me know that I was the “alien host.” Liam would roll and dive in the womb non-stop.
I was back at work while pregnant with Liam and during a lecture on Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales, a student raised his hand cautiously, “Mrs. A? Did you make your stomach do that just now?” Liam had chosen that exact moment to do a somersault and stretch out as far as he could. I shook my head ‘no’ and the student’s girlfriend looked him dead in the eye, “You are NOT going to do THAT to me. EVER.”
Liam spent eight days in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit following his birth, hooked up to more machines than I could count, due to his underdeveloped lungs. The back and forth between home and the hospital, all while managing a 15-month old and trying to recuperate, brought me to the realization that I had to juggle all the parts of this life now.
I knew that I could always count on my husband and parents to help, however, they weren’t always going to be right by my side on a day in, day out, basis.
My nickname is now “the glue” and as one can infer, I keep everything together. I manage the chaos to an organized state.
I’ve become the master of the calendar, enforcer of day in and day out routines and structure down to the minute, all while being flexible and sacrificing my own needs for my boys. I handle blips on my radar, big and small, in the same manner, as to not upset the flow of my house.
Although there have been some desperate moments, there haven’t been any crash landings on my shift.
Liam will be five years old on January 13th, and I am in awe of how I manage to keep my house running smoothly. Connor and Liam are the best of friends, and although part of my job responsibilities now includes being a toy hostage negotiator, I wouldn’t give up my sons’ snuggles or kisses for anything. Their personalities are starting to emerge, and the “one-liners” that they utter are hilarious.
Time spent at the breakfast and dinner table has become a time to practice their “comedy routine.” The most recent iteration had to do with a TV commercial they saw while watching a program on Disney Junior:
“Hey Mommy! You know what you should get yourself for Christmas? The Magical Flying Tinker Bell! She even has fairy dust!”
How did they know that’s exactly what I want?
Erika is a National Board Certified teacher and a very dear friend. Yes, I nicknamed her “the glue” because I am in awe with how she manages with ease all the “traffic” of being a working mother in New York City. She takes care of her lovely family so well, teaches like a champion to students in Harlem, and still finds time to support her struggling colleagues in any way possible. She has the softest heart ever and manages to always look beautiful, whether at home or at work.