I started watching Jane the Virgin on Netflix at a point in my life–I don’t remember exactly–when I needed a story about motherhood. I was one myself, and probably newly so, either with my first or my second, and everything else was baaad. I was isolated, exhausted, hormonal, and depressed and then… Jane. An hour of magic and love and characters who talked to each other, expressed their fears and feelings, and got through some wacky shit together.
I just watched the last episode this afternoon–crying hysterically the whole time–one day before my last at the crappy per diem job I took five years ago knowing that I wanted to have a baby and couldn’t afford to stop working.
Five years for Jane’s story, five years for this part of mine, and both of us going from childless and job-focused to motherhood and authorhood, (although she’s obviously doing better than me on that front).
Five years ago, before I’d even gotten pregnant, I left a full-time position at a company that was in its third round of lay-offs and took a friend up on an offer to get me into his organization. It seemed great at the time: super part-time, flexible, easy, close to home, and both not benefited and working for a lazy permissive supervisor which meant that the only consequence of not showing up was a smaller paycheck. It let me be there for my babies, take (obviously unpaid) maternity leave but go back when I was ready, work from home if necessary and really, just come and go as I please. But it also ended up being really exploitative. My boss knew that I didn’t have a lot of options, especially after my second child. He knew my work style–proactive, problem-solving, self-motivated and reliable to a fault–and used it against me constantly, letting me talk myself into doing things that were clearly and negligently NOT my responsibility rather than taking any responsibility on himself to do or delegate. He was the kind of racist who would say things like, “I wish they’d just tell me their real names. I’ll call them by their real names. I’m that kind of guy. They don’t have to make up fake American names just to make me comfortable.” And the kind of sexist who would laugh harder when I’d say, “Wow, that’s sexist. Please stop,” because he thought we were both in on the joke.
So when an amazing permanent part-time position came up with a job description that read like a list of my skills, I jumped and I landed and I start on Monday.
I’ve spent the past two and a half weeks since I gave my notice trying to enjoy all the parts of my schedule that make me happy: abundant time with my children, flexibility to deal with routine appointments as well as unhappy surprises, illnesses, and babysitter flakeouts, the freedom to Not Care what happens at work because honestly, with a boss like that, why should I?
All that comes to an end tomorrow. And I become a real working mother who only sees her kids at the beginning and end(ish) of the day, who doesn’t have nearly enough time to stream videos on my phone while I nurse a child.
And Jane ends at the same time, stripping all the magic out of my life and forcing me to grow up, get out of the house, and be my own person again.
I hate when a show I love ends. But my babies are growing up and don’t need me as much which means I can leave a shitty job and do something with my time other than watching TV until that baby belly is full.
And there’s always my somewhat fictionalized memoir to help me appreciate my choice. Oh but that’s more about Riverdale than Jane. I’ve done a lot of breast-feeding over the past few years so I streamed a lot of drama.
I’ve seen every episode of Baywatch, by the way.
Available for pre-order on Amazon.com
It was a slow and painful realization that there was something wrong and the ease with which everyone else ignored it made it all the more squiggly to pin down. After all, a functional mother is one who can change a diaper and remember bedtimes. If she’s not falling to pieces, she’s fine.
Go down the rabbit-hole of hormone-induced mental illness and back again with a woman who survived postpartum depression through fanfiction addiction and found the clarity to confront the everyday demons of a troubled marriage, inadequate healthcare, and unattainable ideals of motherhood. This is the partially true story from an utterly unreliable narrator of how our culture fails mothers in their most desperate and vulnerable state.