It works for me …..

There really is so much rah-rah-rah for Stay at Home moms, but there does seem to be little support for moms who choose to work.

I think the vast majority of us, have chosen to go back to work for one of two reasons.

The main motivator is financial.  The lifestyles we lead and the high costs of food from Woolworths does force us, in most cases, to be a two-income family.  Few families have the luxury of one of the parents staying at home to care for the kids.  Both parents need to be out there earning a living, else someone is going to be wearing PEP hand-me-downs and be home schooled <shudder>.

I have realized that I might belong to the second set of moms-who-work.  Those who have chosen this as an option.  I admit that I make a better mom working, than the mom I would be staying at home all day.  There is something in my DNA that makes it really difficult to remain at home with my kids (or any kids  -so do not think you can drop yours off with me).

Usually this comment illicit a response (in a slightly haughty tone) of “well, why did you choose to have them then?” My reponse:  “I chose to have kids because I like my kids, I did not choose to be with them 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

When I was pregnant the second time around, I really felt quite heart-sore that we could not afford for me to stay home with my new baby.  Kennith said, sure you can stay home, but then you need to realise there are going to be some financial sacrifices.

I figured he was alluding to the sacrifice of the full-time maid.  If I was choosing to sacrifice a virgin or my full-time maid, the virgin will lose hands down every time.  Though I lamented and beat my chest in frustration, I still was not willing to give up my maid, and decided to traipse back to work.

I did not see much point in not working at an office, so I could stay at home to do house-work, which last time I checked pays very little and basically is a shite job with little chance of promotion!

Granted I was in a fortunate position to move to a flexi-time/part-day job which gave me more time to fetch kids and be with the new baby.  At the time I did not realise that my boss was also going to start paying me late/never/sort of when he felt like it, which did not really go a long way to making me a calm and serene soul, so I left that after a year and returned to full time employment (actually to the job I have now – which I am eternally grateful for – thanks job!!).

When pregnant with Isabelle, I was so sure that I would not be returning to work.  I told the folks at the office I was coming back.  But I thought in my soul that I would want to stay at home with my little wrinkled little person more than anything else in the world.  Because I was a mature mom, and I had this entire thing sorted … yes I did.

Kennith, being wise and more philosophical about things, took one look at the situation and knew it was doubtful I would even stay home long enough to get through my maternity leave.   He knew the safest route at the time was to keep his opinions to himself.  He had learnt long ago that trying to reason with a heavily pregnant women, was just not worth the blood shed, so he held his own counsel on the subject.

Second pregnancy, I lasted 28 days at home before heading back to work.  So he was pretty sure that 4 months at home, or an indefinite stay would probably be unlikely.

But I set out to prove him wrong!!

I had tons of books to read, friends had lent me four-score-and-twenty DVD box series sets, I had my freelance work to do, I was set, I couldn ‘t fail.  I was going to juggle this baby, and my need to be a fulfilled individual.  I was even a bit smug about the entire thing.

The disappointment – the devastation – when I realized I really was not happy being home was a tad crushing to say the least.  I could not believe that I could not be happy staying in my jammies all day, feeding and burping my little cherub.  (I had also not read one book or watched one DVD, so clearly time management was a bit of an issue in my little plan for domestic domination.)

The reality was that I was not happy. I was climbing the walls, I was deeply unhappy and I had inclining that I was going to harm this baby – I was so frustrated.  I did go a little off the deep end, and found a therapist, started some meds and really was feeling it was all a bit bleak.

But then I had an “ah-hah” moment and that was “get your arse back to work! Now, do not wait another day.” I tend to listen to the voices in my head. I phoned – actually I emailed – and asked if I could come back early.  Of course they said yes, and there I was three days later at my faux-wood desk, drinking tea out of the blue Disney mug, with the sound of the factory around me and my annoying telephone ringing – it was such bliss, it made my soul so happy.

As soon as I got back to work, I no longer needed the meds and the therapy.  I was not miraculously better, but I definitely felt more hopeful and much happier than I had in weeks, and able to cope with the little things life hands us.

I was really disappointed with myself that my baby was not enough for me to stay home.  Just to be with her was not enough to keep me satisfied and sane.

I love my daughter so much that I get a little knot in my stomach when I look at her. I whisper sweet nothings into her ear when ever I see her. I love getting up in the morning to pick up her warm snuggly body out of the cot.  I love the way she nuzzles in my neck for a love.  I love the smell of her, I love putting my face against her cheek and just breathing her in. I really am obsessed with her.  But I just cannot be with her all day.

I need to work.   Working is what I do.  I find me in my work.  My work restores my sense of self, my balance in my universe.  Part of who I am is because I work.

I really am jealous of stay-at-home moms.  Not because they get to stay at home with their kids, but because they can, without going certifiably insane.

I really really wish I could.

My next hurdle is that soon I am going to have my son in Grade 4, and my daughter in Grade 1, and my other daughter in pre-school.  I think at a point not to far in the distant future, there  is going to come a time when I need to be available in the afternoons to cope with homework, extra-murals and school stuff.  Already I am finding it a bit of a challenge and that is with one in the school system.  So I am hoping that by 2012, I make another plan, but for now I get to skip off to work and be a big person.

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12 Comments

  1. Julie

     /  May 13, 2010

    I’ve been a SAHM for 7 years now, and I’ve been medicated for 6 3/4 of them. I had PPD with both children and then my Mom died after my 2nd child was born.

    In my former life I worked as a wildlife biologist. I was determined to be a SAHM like my mother was before me, and it’s the toughest thing I’ve ever done.

    I used to be in a moms group when we lived in SC, and it wasn’t so bad. I was with a community of woman going through the same thing (not depression) being SAHM’s. Where I live now, is very rural and agricultural and I’m alone. I can totally understand the felling of going insane. I am still going through an identity crisis. I think eventually I need to get a part time job, just to get out of the house but we just moved to this little town and there is not much going on. Oh well…..

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  May 13, 2010

      Thanks Julie – yes I definitely would struggle to stay at home all the time …. it is so very tough, and I also struggle with it. I look forward to your comments on other posts, thanks for stopping in.

      Reply
  2. The friend that made you do it

     /  May 4, 2010

    I have decided to embrace guilt as a reminder that I am a living, feeling person. I realise that if I didn’t have so many conflicting emotions I wouldn’t be a thinking person. Guilt only becomes a bad thing if you let it – otherwise it’s a reminder to keep trying to balance all aspects of your life. I, too, had working parents who couldn’t spend very much time with me because of work demands. Am eternally grateful for it though because it’s given me an awesome work ethic and the ability to work unsupervised. You see, there really is a silver lining to every cloud!

    Reply
  3. when people ask me what occupational therapy is about I will direct them to this post. The meds is medical model, you realising what your valued occupations are that gives you meaning and purpose… well thats OT… achieving wellness through occupation. Sorry… my profession defines me too I guess thats why i too cannot be a full time stay-at-home mom!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  May 4, 2010

      For me the conflict comes that I feel I should stay at home – that is the right thing to do – for my kids. I want to be there for them, so that I am not my parents who were never there for me. The problems comes that I just prefer to be at work ……

      Reply
  4. I am like you – very much so!

    I am also finding that the kids actually need me more now that they are in primary school and am also realising I need a job that allows a little more regular flexibility!

    Wathing sport in the afternoons is alot different to watching Ceebeebees all day long 🙂

    Reply
  5. Oh you said it so well! I also need to be a working mom – staying at home will have me certifiable in days.

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  May 4, 2010

      And sadly for me, it nearly did – I still start to develop a nervous tick over the weekend … which clears up nicely by Monday 9am ….. my second cup of tea, and first production meeting of the day.

      Reply
  6. I am also working, but always complaining that I would love to stay at home… But secretly I think I would also go insane. Because I couldn’t show a damn thing for the hours I spend with my LO during maternity leave.
    I hate dropping her off in the mornings… But it’s not something she knows anything different!
    I understand completely what you are saying!

    Reply
    • reluctantmom

       /  May 4, 2010

      Motherhood brings with it eternal guilt, I feel guilty being at home, and feel guilty being at work – it is like no matter where you are, it is not enough. Even when I am with my kids I feel guilty, as somehow I am not enjoying it enough …..

      Reply
      • Hilary

         /  May 11, 2010

        Wow you’re really hitting it on the nail with this one. I remember the guilt I felt when I was on maternity leave because I didnt feel the way I should. I felt as if I shouldve been enjoying myself more than I was.This was no tv-ad happy moment experience. It was damn hard work. No one to talk to, just days and days of no sleep. Dont get me wrong, I love my boy like nothing on earth and didnt regret having him for a second. I just thought I’d be happier at home,playing with my baby,sleeping,reading books and going hunting for bargains at factory shops. Instead I was watching the clock from 3pm onwards and shrieking at DH if he was 10min late.Of course when I went to work after 5 months I cried at work for the first 2 weeks because I couldnt STAND being away from my son.Go figure.

        Reply
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