Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Will Work for Personal Gratification

I need a job.

I have been a stay at home mom for 11 years. 11. Years. As mentioned in a previous entry, I threw myself headlong into being supermom. My house was always clean. My kids were usually clean and dressed nicely. Fresh haircuts. Portraits every three months on schedule. Trips to the park, storytime and various educational venues were a regularity. I cooked dinner every night. And I felt gratified, because my children were small and they needed me. I was being what's known as a "good mom" and that gave me a sense of accomplishment.

For a lot of years, being at home was what I wanted to do and I did it, happily. I secretly sneered at women who went back to work. I thought them selfish and short-sighted. Now I am realizing, it's okay to need something more. I'm understanding that people need external motivation and validation. They need accolades. They need respect. What has brought about this realization? Well, it's been creeping up on me for a couple years. But....

Today I slept until 1:30 pm because I couldn't think of a good reason to get up. Not one. (Don't call husband is home) My toilets are all dirty, I need to do laundry and the cat boxes desperately need chaging, but that could not provide the impetus I needed to drag my ass out from beneath the down comforter and I was struck with the realization that I don't really care.

Why scrub toilets when they will only be shit in again, probably only a matter of moments after I have finished. Why mop floors when they will only get spilled upon exactly 32 seconds after I put the mop away? Why make beds and tidy the house when two boys will blow through like a Hurricane leaving a path of destruction and chaos behind them? Why prepare hot meals from scratch only to hear "Yuk" and "What is that anyway" and "I think I'm allergic to lima beans."?? Why spend hours doing something that I don't enjoy and that I get absolutely no satisfaction from, when it is utterly pointless anyway? What kind of sentient being continues to do something that perpetually gets UNDONE?? At some point, even the dumbest creature will wise up and stop putting forth the effort. I didn't like busy work in school and I'm no better at it as an adult. This dumb creature has finally reached her threshold for boring, mindless drudgery.

My kids are both in school now. They are largely independant in that they can feed and dress themselves, use the toilet and see to their own personal hygeine. They pour their own cereal and milk, they toast their own bagels. They can work all the household appliances and electronic devices better than I can. They can read. They don't want to be pushed on a swing anymore. More often than not, my presence is an annoyance. I am becoming superfluous, and this will only become more and more true as the years go by. Autonomy is a good thing. I know this. But it's kind of a jolt all the same to realize you are no longer essential.

So...I signed on to be a stay at home MOM. And I realize that chapter of my life is over. I am at a crossroads and I don't know which way to turn. I should have prepared for this. I didn't. And now I'm screwed. My brain is atrophying and I am becoming increasingly depressed over the fact that I have nothing to look forward to every day except more menial labor.

So I need to make a change. That much is clear. But how? What do I do? I was once a confident, respected, up and coming career woman, but I have been out of the workforce for ELEVEN YEARS. That doesn't look so good on a resume. And any job that would be worthwhile is not going to provide the kind of flexibility that I need to straddle the line between Motherhood and Wage Earner. Any job that would isn't going to pay squat.

A couple years ago, I decided to work at a well known retail establishment part-time for a little extra money, and to get out of the house for a while. It was an unmitigated disaster. Because I learned that I do not take well to being given orders from someone who has all the intelligence of a raisin. It is not in my nature to follow directives that were issued with very little cognition or common sense. It was all I could do not to sneer in the face of someone who insisted upon acting as if they were supreme ruler of all things retail, when I knew they didn't even graduate from high school. Yes, I'm a snob. Shoot me. The point is....I'm not a good minimum wage employee.

That leaves me very few options. Sure, there's the writing thing...but let's face it..that's a crap shoot. I could spend years writing a book only to have every publishing house reject it out of hand. The freelance thing...well, that's maybe a smidge more realistic, but again, there is the potential for a buttload of time wasted only to face rejection after rejection. Only a handful of writers actually make it and the chances that I will be that one in a thousand is pretty slim. Pragmatism is a bitch.

Maybe I need to go back to school. Maybe I need another baby. Maybe I need a hobby. I just need.

I'm sure I'm not the first woman to go through this and I won't be the last. That doesn't make it any easier.


ADDENDUM: Christ on rollerskates that was the whiniest most blatanly self-pitying thing I have ever written. I'm somewhat nauseated by it. I won't delete it, cause that would be disingenuous. So now you know...BA is just another desperate housewife (markedly meatier and decidely less glamorous than those on Wisteria Lane) in the midst of a full blown identity crisis. I hope you still respect me in the morning.


  • At 3:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I have been a stay-home mom for over 14 years. I feel your pain and your frustration. I think the thing to do is figure out what you want to do (since you don't have to do it for the money). Easier said than done, I know. That's what I've been doing for the past year. Basically eliminating things that I know I don't want to do, and hopefully I will end up with a short list of maybe's. So many factors play a part - each day is different and a real crapshoot. Hey if you figure out how to figure this out would you do me a favor and let me know? I'll do the same. :-)

  • At 4:31 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Thanks. You have no idea how much better it makes me feel to know someone else feels the same. Maybe we should form a club. Think we'd need a charter for that? ;?)

  • At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I understand, but from the opposite perspective: I quit my job because I wasn't getting any personal gratification from it. I'm fortunate to have the freedom to do so.

    That said, I'm not sure that I'm excelling at the SAHM gig, but I feel good about it. But I hope you'll share your conclusions, because I expect to need some guidance in another few years myself.

  • At 4:44 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Here's the thing...keep something for yourself. I didn't. I immersed myself in the whole SAHM thing. I didn't retain or nurture one shred of my former life. I did not give myself anything to identify with outside of "mom". That was a HUGE mistake.

    Being a SAHM is good. It's worthwhile. I didn't mean to imply that it's not. But it's over so quickly. And then you're left, dangling, like me. Don't do that.

    Keep a piece of yourself. Save it for the future. Gaurd it with your life.

  • At 8:37 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Thanks for the advice. As a relatively new SAHM, who happily quit her job, but secretly wonders if she did the right thing, I thank you.

    I'm working on finding a pice of me to keep.

  • At 2:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    BA, not only well I respect you in the morning I will give you a hug of SAHM sisterly love. You and I are going through the same stuff.I will watch you on your journey.

  • At 5:48 AM, Blogger Ruth Dynamite said…

    You are so not alone. I'm right there with you, as are countless other women. I think it's a process. Little by little, you'll start rediscovering your former self (albeit new & improved), and you'll find your way back. Baby steps...

  • At 5:59 AM, Blogger Mom101 said…

    Boy I'm in the wrong boat to give advice on this one, but I understand it completely. If it's not a financial issue, have you considered volunteer work of some sort? It might just be exactly what you're looking for, could parlay into a paid staff job, and it wouldn't matter a lick that you've been out of the workforce for a spell.

    Good luck with your journey. I know we'll get to read about it eloquently here.

  • At 9:24 AM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    Working society isn't exactly opening their collective arms for former SAHMs re-entering the work force. They make it so damn difficult that women, including myself, keep putting it off waiting for the perfect time when daycare is less expensive and the stars and planets align in the exact right order. I'm glad I held on to my part-time gig, but there are days when its just not enough. At this point I'm ready to throw myself out a window if I have to do one more load of laundry.

    Hang in there, you will find something. Until then feel free to moan away. There are a lot of us in the (almost) same boat.

  • At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I hear ya on the why clean toilets and floor. I thought it was just my kids that did that!

  • At 12:13 PM, Blogger MrsFortune said…

    Well, I think you're totally wrong on the being "not essential" part. Being a teenager is like the hardest thing EVER, and I personally think kids need their moms more and more at that age. I know I did and mine wasn't there, and I got into a shitload of trouble.

    But I can relate on the not taking orders thing. After 11 years of YOU being the boss you're expected to listen to crap from some 22 year old floozy? Okay, maybe they're not a floozy but still, you're used to calling the shots.

    I feel for ya. And may I recommend teaching as a profession. :-) Very flexible and incredibly rewarding.

  • At 12:22 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    That is *such* a good point Mrs. Fortune, and another reason it's going to be so hard to find something suitable.

    My mom worked because she had had to. When we were old enough, we became latchkey children. That was fine for a while, but when I got older, and discovered boys, and booze...well...let's just say I took advantage of the opportunities. Luckily, I didn't get in any serious trouble, but I did have plenty of clandestine sex. The thought of my own children doing the same makes me ((((cringe))))).

    I want to be home when my children get home from school. I want to be able to still attend all their sporting events and extracurricular activities. I don't want to have to ask somebody's permission to go to a parent/teacher conference. I don't ask for much, do I???

    On the teaching thing...I do not have the patience required to be a teacher. My husband however, would be FANTASTIC as a teacher. He is currently considering a career change and I'm backing that as my favorite option for him.

    Thanks to everyone else for your kind comments and commiseration. I can't tell you how good it is to know other women are searching too.

  • At 9:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Others mentioned volunteering. One of the most rewarding volunteer jobs you can find is at your local Children's Hospital. It's a perfect fit for a mom. Sometimes it's just rocking a baby whose mom can't stay with him and sometimes it's grunt work. But it might be worth checking out..

    Good luck with whatever you do.

  • At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I can so, so relate! I just went back to work full-time after being a SAHM for seven years, and I was so worried about ending up working for some 19-year-old! I ended up with a great job, though, and my time off made no difference at all.

    There are flexible options out there, you just have to hunt for them. Consulting or tutoring might work for you, or go back to school to brush up your skills.

    Best of luck! And don't think you were being whiny--you were putting into words what so many of us feel. Thanks for doing it so well!

  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger Sandra said…

    I'll respect you in the morning. In fact I respect you even more for sharing that.

    Being at a crossroads is daunting but I have thise feeling that you'll find what you are looking for now that you are looking for it.

    What about starting your own business - tnen you only take orders from yourself? Or volunteering? Or going back to school for an exciting career change?

    The last 11 years has helped you know what is important and what you don't want out of a job.

    Working for personal-gratificaiton - that's not whiney - it's smart.

    I am cheering for you over here!!!

  • At 3:20 PM, Blogger Antique Mommy said…

    I think we all feel like that from time to time, even people who "work".

    I think you are unaware of what a gifted writer you are - certainly one of the best I've come across on the web. If you are not desperate for income, why not push it a bit and see what you can do with it?

  • At 4:57 PM, Blogger Miss Peg said…

    Are you inside my head or what?
    I seem to be in the same boat at the moment. What to do, what to do... I am so glad there is someone else out there that understands where I am coming from. Sometimes I think my husband just doesn't get it. Thanks for sharing, and I don't think it was "whiny" at all! If you come up with any interesting ideas please share them.

  • At 7:30 PM, Blogger K8 said…

    I have recently found your blog and am an instant addict. Your writing is excellent and you have a reader for life after this blog. I have been a SAHM for 5 years, my first is off to school in a couple of weeks and I feel like my usefulness at home is definitely waning. Sooo nice to hear that others are struggling with the same issues and that I am not the only one that would rather stare at the ceiling fan (or read blogs) than clean another toilet. Good luck on your journey!

  • At 11:07 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Wow, everyone...I am truly touched and amazed by the outpouring of support, sympathy and encouragement. I felt like such a tool after I went back and read what I had written. But I'm really very glad that I did now.

    For those of you who share my frustration, I hope you find what you are looking for. For those who have offered ideas and inspiration, a most sincere thank you.

    You all have no idea how much you have brightened my outlook. I guess misery really does love company, eh? ;?)

  • At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    So what have you decided you're going to do??

  • At 11:24 AM, Blogger Ms. Smoochy said…

    Holy Cow. After reading that post I suppose I should not be surprised that you have 20 responses to it. I am writing my comment before reading anyone else’s as to be uninfluenced! ;-) This subject is near and dear to the heart of many a good housewife. I have watched my mother, my aunt, and many others go through this very thing. And now that I am a new SAHM there is a little voice in the back of my head that chides me to deal with this exact eventuality. And yet it is SO much easier not to.

    I am sure when I DO read all your comments many of them urge you to rethink your position as a professional writer. Let my voice join with the crowd’s: YOU ARE AN AMAZING WRITER. Also let me draw your attention to the title of your post “Will Work for Personal Gratification.” If that is truly what you are looking for, where would you get more than by writing? So what if it did not yield the big bucks? Is that really a concern? You would not have to finance day care in that scenario, and so it seems to an outsider that your family budget wouldn’t change. Any $$$ you made would be gravy.

    Let’s go back to the fact that YOU ARE AN AMAZING WRITER. Every time I tune into your blog I am blown away by your mastery of the English language. To be honest it sometimes intimidates me and there are days I don’t read because I am vain and it makes me feel inferior to come over to good ol’ Blogs are Stupid. I start feeling very Becca is Stupid! But once I get back over here I can spend the entire morning sipping coffee and reading EVERYTHING I’ve missed since I’ve been away. Not only are you a great writer but you are a brilliant storyteller.

    It sounded to me like your biggest hesitation about perusing writing professionally was rejection. And you would probably have to face a good bit of that…from what I imagine I understand about the industry. But I bet you can handle it. You come across as a confident and self assured woman. You have vaguely mentioned the nasty mess that got you blogging in the first place; if you can handle that (whatever it was) I bet you could handle the rejection of having a book or an essay declined.

    Maybe what does not appeal to you about writing is that before a piece of yours was picked up it might not feel like a “real job”. You wouldn’t have an office, time clock, or pay check and all that. However, there are lots of ways you could make it feel real. Give yourself an office and work hours…hours that couldn’t be easily shrugged off for other concerns. It would be up to you to make it serious.

    I could be WAY OUT OF LINE by writing all of this. In the even that I am, please forgive me. I just think that out of ALL the blogs I read that you HONESTLY have the best shot at actually making it as a professional writer. Good luck in your job search. I’ll be cheering for you!

  • At 12:57 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    You are not out of line at all. I appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts with me, and your kind words gave me a much needed boost.

    I think several things you said made a lot of sense. I think there is some fear of rejection, as well as some fear that I do not have the discipline to do as you said and set hours for myself.

    I've been thinking about it a lot, and I too wonder if there's anything that will really make me as happy as writing.

    So, thank you again. Your input has really helped. :?)


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