Sunday, January 6, 2008

Just another working mom daydreaming of staying home

I can hardly believe it, but it is so. Maybe because of all the love and bubba time we had in Hawaii and the holidays. Maybe because I have just scheduled my dissertation defense for the end of April. This April. Holy smokes, Batman! I have a lot of work to do. Thus I procrastinate. Thus I bake. Thus I dream of baking all the time. Which conflicts somewhat with having to go to work in a research office.

I hate bubba's daycare days. Hate labeling all his food and wondering which lucky underpaid staff person who is NOT ME gets to rock him to sleep. Hate getting home tired and cranky just in time to put him to bed. Hate all the colds and ear infections. I used to love his daycare days, going to my office, talking with adults, getting a break. On his mommy days, I would at the beginning of each one sometime, just for a moment, have a flash of dread--how am I going to fill up these hours? I don't have those any more. Now the mommy days are the ones I live for. Bubba is just so darn fun.

The work I do, it's interesting. I'd be happy to do this work for the rest of my career. But it is work. And all of my training is training me to know, for sure and real life, that my brain is MINE and I will be smart wherever I go and whatever I do. Thus I realize now that I would be just as smart as a housewife or as a fancy dancy researcher. (Aren't I smart? Took me 34 years to get that one.)

Where do you go, after experiencing the certainty that you would jump in front of a train for another person? Do you make a million small sacrifices for them instead because there is no train to jump in front of and you want to do something, some small gesture in the general spirit of train-jumping? Or do you go about your business, just knowing in your mind about the train?

And Seattle? The real estate market sucks here. I know it's worse other places, yes, yes. And to live how and where we would like--not that fancy, trust me, just a touch more space than we have now--I will have to work. And I get the uh-oh feeling about that. (Hope all yall with daughters teach them about the uh-oh feeling.)

Ah, and then there's when I'm 50. The empty nest. The needy mother who hounds her adult child because she has nothing to do herself, nothing to call her own. That's been one of my arguments for working now, to have something to do When He Leaves Home. There may actually be something to this. Sigh.




SF Mom of One said...

Well, you could always have another kid...on the dark side of 40, like I did, and you will not have to worry about Empty Nest Syndrome, let me tell you!

At the same time, I feel like I am doing the most important work so far in my career.

So that leaves me juggling, juggling, juggling...but not wondering if I should keep the day job.

And I have also been exactly where you are, wondering why I am keeping the day job--OK, knowing why, that cost of living thing.

Just sympathizing,and offering that nothing stays the same or is as predicted! But you knew that right? given your last post.


bubandpie said...

I'm very much in that house = work equation right now. How much house can we afford if I keep working as much as I am now? Do I want that much house, or would I be happy with something smaller and one less set of essays to mark?

Who She She said...

I've struggled with this for 7 years. It's hard. I haven't found an acceptable solution because I have to work, but I've learned to live with my choices (most days I can live with it -- some days I'm sullen and moody and throw myself a big old pity party).

Mrs. G. said...

We sacrificed ENORMOUSLY for me to stay at home, but I don't regret it. Now that mine are older I enjoy working part-time. And I figure by the time they are both in college, I will be raring to go and ready to work full-time again.

ellen said...

I started a comment a bit ago and it was turning into a novel. Too much.
As an old person who has raised two sons, no money for many years, a husband in grad school, me back to work and grad school at the same time, and the two of them spreading their wings and now, parents on their WILL work out. You do what is best for you and sometimes that is so hard to figure out, but you know will be good. And I promise, that you will have a life after and with your son (sons, daughters, however many) when they leave. And you will look back and treasure all the days and say thanks that they have you in them!
(not a novel, but maybe a first chapter..forgive me for being so verbose)

TwoSquareMeals said...

Sometimes I think life was so much easier before the sexual revolution. Don't get me wrong, I am thankful we have the opportunities we have now, but I sometimes wish I didn't have a choice. The grass is always greener...yadayadayada.

Whatever you do down the road, you have a brain that isn't going to give up on you and a boy who knows you love him. You can be a SAHM who finds plenty to stimulate your brain and keep you busy now and when your kids are gone. You can be a working mom who makes her time at home count because you are committed to being a good mom.

Mac and Cheese said...

I quit a job that I didn't like to stay home with my daughter, so I don't feel any regret about that, but every so often I feel a surge of urgency to find a career that will give me purpose once she and her future sibling leave home. Then I just think of butterflies and flowers, and hope that the panic passes. I'll worry another day.

Childlife said...

SAHM mom or no... that "when they leave home thought" universally causes heart palpitations. Until they become teenagers I hear...

Melanie said...

I have no good advice.

Just like any job, full-time parenting is really great many days, and then some days you would give your eyeteeth to jut run away and hide or get coffee or talk to big people or pee alone.

This is the secret, I think: no matter what you do in life, you need a bit of the opposite thing to make both things sweeter. So, I stay at home, but I'm happiest when I'm doing a little freelance or working on a business plan or writing my blog. (I think this theory also applies to cooking.)

Good luck. And here's to having choices! No matter what you decide, H will be a better person for having had you as his mother.

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is about as tough as it gets. Maybe you could take a little comfort in the fact that for every working mom daydreaming of staying home, there is a SAHM daydreaming of getting a paying job. One thing I know - the better your child care, the easier it will be to see the long-term benefits (and there are lots of them!) of working.