This is How We Roll
I am going back to work. Full-time. In 2 weeks.
There. I said it.
And not that I need to explain it to any of you, my dear friends, but I just want to talk about it
The whole working mom-stay at home mom debate is tired. It’s a lot like the political divide in our country right now – people seem to set up camp on one side or the other with no meeting in the middle except to occasional get close enough to the dividing line to lob a grenade. It is such a personal decision that has suddenly become a public stance – as if women need MORE reasons to fight with each other.
When I became pregnant with my son, I was working full-time and had every intention of doing so after he was born – at least that is how I felt early in my pregnancy. After a few months of misery (have I mentioned that I am one of those lucky women who suffered pregnancy-induced depression?) compounded by working at a job that was staffed by the biggest collection of assholes on the planet, I began to rethink my commitment to working outside of the home. As my due date neared – and believe me, I took a very early maternity leave to avoid the assholes – I sought employment elsewhere. I wonder what the place that eventually hired me thought when I rolled into their office 9 months pregnant?
As fate would have it, the new job hired me minutes before giving birth, and they allowed me 8 weeks of maternity leave before I began my 30 hours per week position. It was pretty flexible, but a huge pay cut. Fate intervened again when the program lost its funding and I discovered that – lucky me! – I qualified for unemployment benefits. Additionally, I was invited to move to a different office that was obscenely close to my home, where I was encouraged to work part-time and allowed to set my own hours. I did this for the next 2 years.
Eventually, though, the second kid was on her way and I was tired of juggling my 2 lives: the mom and the worker. I never felt like I was really good at either one, because whenever I was doing one job I was inevitably thinking about the other one. After a long financial review and even longer “discussion,” we decided that it would be ok if I stopped working. Voila, stay at home mom.
Three years have passed since then, and I can say that for me I really preferred being home with my kids when they were infants. I felt like I was good at it. I lactated like a mo-fo, handled the diapers and the crying with relative ease, and LOVED holding babies. But by the time the kids were 2, I felt done mentally. I was not happy. I did not feel like I was doing well at it. I began to resent my husband, my kids. I thought terribly mean things about myself because I was so miserable being in a position that many moms dreamed about but were unable to afford.
Over the last few months, as our finances dove headfirst into the septic tank along with my good mood, finding a job was a fantasy for me. I spent way too much time looking at on-line classified ads and neglecting my children. I imagined myself as a new woman, a working woman, who, by the way, has 2 kids. I thought it was the answer. If only someone would hire me…
ACK! Someone did hire me!! Now I am in a bit of a panic. Fantasy over, hello reality – could you perhaps slap me again with your cold, heavy hand? Because now I need to find DAYCARE!! And a second car! And professional work-type clothes! And I need to have the money for all of that BEFORE I actually start the job and begin making the extra money!! ACK! ACK! ACK!
I am no longer the person I was pre-children, I know this. And all angst aside about “discovering myself” as a mom, I am REALLY unsure of the employee I am now. I do not know how I will handle the curve balls that often come flying at working parents – late hours when daycare closes at 6, dealing with rush hour traffic after being up repeatedly in the night with a vomiting child, discovering at an important meeting that all of your pens have been removed from your bag by your 5-year-old artist in-residence.
I am scared. I don’t want to make the mistakes that I know I will make. I want the kids to be happy in daycare, but I don’t want them to replace me in their hearts. I want to feel like I am contributing financially to our family, but I fear what life will be like when the amount of time I will be spending with them every day will be reduced to a few hours. Mostly, I want to be present with the kids when I am with them – instead of fantasizing about lives I could be living while they grow up next to me, unnoticed.
I am scared, but I am ready.