I’m frustrated. Today’s post is about why I want to go back to work, like right now. Or not. I don’t know. Pee. Poop. Vomit. Seasonal Affective Disorder. Not necessarily in that order.
Here’s the thing. Being at home with my kids looks good on paper. It’s what I’m supposed to want, supposed to be good at. But today, and other days like it, I’m not so sure it’s what I actually do want. My philosophy on working vs. staying home has changed a few times over the years. When I didn’t have kids, I thought the idea of leaving a promising career behind was ludicrous. ‘I am woman, hear me roar‘ and shit like that. Then after my first baby was born and I’d been unemployed for a few months due to a restructuring, the idea of going back to work and leaving that innocent, helpless little cherub [ha!] in the care of strangers was too much to bear, and my new philosophy, conveniently, was that many of society’s problems could be attributed to maternal abandonment for the workplace. Okay, maybe not, but I sure as hell knew I wanted to raise my own children. Fast forward 14 months and financial pressures sent me back to work, half kicking and screaming and half relieved for a break, both from fulltime motherhood and the restrictive one-income budget. The break was tough but I landed a cool job with cool people, and a miscarriage followed by the pregnancy and birth of baby number 2 distracted me for my first year of working motherhood. When my husband’s business took off, I toyed with the idea of making the break again, even though we weren’t quite ready. I was overwhelmed with two kids and a growing career. After several months of lugging a breastpump around, I decided I was fooling myself; at home with my children was where I belonged, as God had intended, baking cookies and sewing costumes and shit. And now here I am. And my most recent attempt at baking looked more like a 5th grade science project. Did anyone else know that cake flour and self-rising flour are not the same? Me neither.
Thanks to Google, I know I’m not the first mom who has struggled with this decision, though I may be the first who’s gone back and forth as many times. I admit, I’m just incredibly conflicted over it, maybe a bit late. I knew there would be days I’d have doubts, insecurities, and even momentary regrets. But to wonder if it’s what I even wanted in the first place is something else entirely. There is something undeniably appealing about raising children without the competing agenda of a career, the bosses, the office politics. Being able to focus my time and energy on one worthwhile endeavor for which, theoretically, I was designed by nature. But philosophically speaking, have we evolved as women to be capable of, and desire, more than just motherhood? If so, why does it feel wrong? It would seem, on the contrary, that the guilt is nature’s way of telling us where we belong. But how then do we satisfy those neglected other areas of need like community, cammeraderie, fresh air, new shoes, bathing? I like new shoes, maybe not quite as much as hugging my children, but a lot.
My husband says I’m not a bad mom [I think he actually said I’m a good mom] and I believe that. He says the very fact that I worry about these things proves it. But how do I know if I’m a good stay-at-home one? Okay, I may have overromanticized what my days were going to look like when I left work. I tried not to, but in spite of it, I’m disappointed that my preschooler doesn’t want to do any of the Pinterest projects I carefully selected for him and that I’m not yet blogging for Martha Stewart. I guess that’s it. I guess I set my expectations too high. But they’re set now. Oh boy are they set. So now what? I still don’t know. When I think about my boys and what’s best for them, I want to believe I’m it. It seems right. But is it right for me? Right for them? What if it’s not right for all of us but some of us? Or none of us? I may have been reading too much Seuss.
I’m looking for jobs, just to see what’s out there. Admittedly, it would have to be a pretty perfect gig to get me to leave the kids again. And that makes me think, maybe being home is the right thing, even if the sacrifice is my sanity.