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.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Bored Housewife for Hire

When I was 9 weeks pregnant with my oldest child, I lost my job.

Like that of many couples in this day and age, our decision to start a family was based on the security of two incomes.

So understandably, we freaked out a little.

My termination was political. Because I had received a glowing performance review and a merit raise a matter of weeks prior to termination, and because I had just announced my pregancy, my employers were in a precarious position. And they knew it. So they offered to pay my Cobra premiums until the baby was a year old, in exchange for my promise not to sue the pants off of them. They also promised not to dispute my application for unemployment.

In retrospect, I should have played hardball and demanded a more lucrative severence package. But...with the shock and the pregnancy hormones, I wasn't thinking as clearly as I would have been otherwise (which I'm sure they counted on). I felt like they had me over a barrell, and I readily agreed.

I hated that job anyway, and it was with no real sorrow that I left it behind.

My unemployment lasted almost until the baby was born. In Georgia, under the State Unemployment terms, I had to be actively seeking work to continue receiving benefits. I had to appear weekly with proof of those endeavors. I went on countless interviews hugely pregnant, knowing full well I wasn't going to be hired. It was a monumental waste of time for everyone concerned.

Husband was terribly concerned about money. The burden of providing for our new baby now rested squarely on his shoulders, and it was a heavy one. Understandably, I suppose, he eagerly awaited the day that I could go back to work.

When our baby was six weeks old, he began gently dropping hints. I ignored them.

When our baby was three months old, he started placing the want ads in places where I would naturally encounter them during the course of my day.

When our baby was six months old, he changed his tack and asked me point blank when I was planning to return to work.

I had come to the conclusion that I wasn't.

Our son was born premature and although he was strong and healthy, he was tiny. He seemed so vulnerable, so fragile. And though I hadn't planned to be a stay at home Mom, neither had I anticipated the fierce protectiveness and possesivess that gripped me every time I thought about leaving him with someone else.

In addition, I was completely overwhelmed with the amount of sheer planning it would have taken to engineer a working siuation. The daycare, the picking up and dropping off, the pumping and storage of breastmilk, taking time off for well baby checks as well as the inevitable illnesses. And I wept at the thought of getting up for work every day after sleeping in two hour shifts.

So I broke the news to husband, who...bless his heart, did not take it well. Oh, he didn't yell or accuse or insist that I go back to work. But he worried. And his worry made him unable to see the bigger picture for a while. He did come around, and eventually became as committed to the idea of me being at home as I was.

And that's the way it has been for twelve years.

When my children were small, I enjoyed being home with them. I really and truly did. Sure there were days when I thought I might go mad if I didn't speak to someone who was at least double digits old, but those days were the exception, not the rule.

When Diminutive One came along, things got a little more challenging. Okay, a lot more challenging. But I still enjoyed it and I still believed wholeheartedly that being a stay at home Mom was the best thing for all of us. And it was. I was happy because I felt that what I was doing had real value.

But I made a mistake that I think is a fairly common one. Unfortunately, it's one that many of us don't recognize until it's too late.

I lost myself, you see.

Because Motherhood was the first thing that really fulfilled me, and because it was the first thing I really felt GOOD at, I gave myself over to it fully. I allowed myself to be swallowed up, and I did not take care to protect my sense of self irrespective of it.

For a while, it wasn't a big deal. I didn't really notice because I was so busy. My days were filled to the second, and each night I would drop into bed exhausted and fall asleep before any such thoughts could invade my cluttered mind.

But then my kids went off to school.

And suddenly, I wasn't so much a Mom as....a maid. And I realized that all I had to look forward to each day was mindless drudgework. It was very disheartening. Because although I keep a pretty clean house, I've never done so because it afforded me any real satisfaction.

I've realized, with some surprise, that I need more.

I've tried a lot of things, but none of them fit into my life quite the way I needed them to. Because I am still a mother first and foremost and it's still a 24 hour job, even though my kids are older. We have doctor, dentist and orthodontist appointments. We have school functions, sports, playdates and homework.

So I'm still searching.

And I'm bored silly. Every day is the same. I do the same old things. And the same old family comes along and undoes them as soon as I am finished. Laundry get soiled again. Floors get muddied again. Bathrooms get soap scummed mildewed and toothpaste splattered again.

Can I be frank here? I find it wholly unfulfilling and demoralizing.

Writing...that is satisfying. And I've realized that what I am aside from a mother, is a writer. But it's not easy to make that into something other than a hobby. There are no establishments hanging out signs proclaiming "Writer wanted, good benefits, flexible hours, competetive salary." I can't walk in and request an application. There is no steady or dependable income.

Where am I going with all this?? Criminy, I don't know. I've written about this before and nothing has really changed since then, except that I've gotten a lot more whiney and desperate. Oh, I submit here and there, I enter this contest or that contest. I query now and then. But the chances of making it big are so small...it's very daunting.

I know it takes concerted effort and lots of perserverence to become a published author. I know it doesn't happen overnight. Most careers don't. But you know...the thought of writing and querying and submitting for years and years and years and never getting anywhere...it's almost too much for me to contemplate without becoming completely discouraged.

Hell....maybe I ought to slap some ads on this sucker and call it employment.

You young Moms, love your babies. Be with them and never doubt the value of what you are doing. But don't lose yourself. Keep something to remind you who you are. It's not selfish. It's not arrogant. It doesn't make you less of a mother. And take it from me, once lost, a sense of self is hard to find.

It only took me twelve years to figure that out.

A quick study, I am not.

34 Comments:

  • At 8:04 AM, Anonymous danigirl said…

    This is my first visit to your blog - and after reading this post, I'm instantly hooked.

    I'm on the other side of the fence, working a day job and balancing two kids under five with another on the way, commuting almost an hour each way to a job that is challenging and fulfilling and ultimately exhausting while the kids are in daycare... and yet I can relate to every single word you write. Sometimes, it's tempting to think that working outside the home is simply a more difficult path than staying at home, but you've shown rather eloquently that there are sacrifices to be made either way.

     
  • At 8:24 AM, Blogger Avalon said…

    BA~~ Even as a single Mother, raising my daughter completely alone, I felt so many of the same things you are describing.....so when she was 9.....I went to college. I got my degree, worked my way up in my company. Guess what, still bored. Totally and thoroughly bored with my life. Boring job, boring life.

    So, it's not just reserved for stay-at-homes.

     
  • At 8:58 AM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    "Losing myself" is something I worry about all the time, esp. since I will become 'teacher' in addition to mom very soon. It is very hard to keep a path to 'me' cleared when there is so much ready to clutter it up.

     
  • At 9:38 AM, Blogger slouching mom said…

    Ahh, this is incredibly timely for me, as one week from today I will have both my boys in school all day for the first time.

    So, I keep thinking, now what?

    Because, like you, I view chores that on their completion must be undertaken all over again as, quite frankly, maddening and deadly dull, both.

    But I agree that someone needs to be there for all the kids' appointments and activities and the supervising of homework and the signing of permission slips and buying clothes and shoes and, and, and...

    What a conundrum.

     
  • At 10:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I would think you could sell your funeral story to someone. It was a great story....Have you thought about making a bigger story out of it and making it into a "BEST SELLER book?

     
  • At 10:48 AM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    Just today I was thinking about how, for the past nearly 3 years, my life in the theatre has been on the backburner, but now that MQ is in school, it's time to move it up to a front burner (and the good news is I have some projects coming up). For so long I went from one project to the next, shows and teaching gigs overlapping, in a frenzy to do more. And I'm glad to relax that a bit, but I miss it a lot, too. I want to find that balance, where theatre isn't everything, but neither is being a mom. Good reminder. And good luck finding your self again. I have a cousin trying to publish a book, and I don't envy him at all, but he really loves what he is doing, so it's worth it for him.

     
  • At 11:46 AM, Blogger jen said…

    oh sister. amen. i am on the other side of the world peering in and longing for what you have had, and yet i understand too what you are saying.

    i see a manuscript on your horizon. and i can say i knew you when.

     
  • At 11:48 AM, Blogger Carol said…

    I've done the gamut -- home full-time, work full-time, freelance... None of them are perfect and all have their issues. If I had to chose, I'd work at home (well, I guess I am... but I'm also seeking FT employment), but even the bliss of jammies at noon loses its appeal!

    Carol

     
  • At 12:08 PM, Anonymous pinks & blues girls said…

    Thank you for such an honest post. I have to admit, this is one of the reasons I am still not sure if I want children or not. My husband and I both really like how our life is right now... but sometimes I feel it's selfish of me, or "wrong" to not want children. I'm not sure... but this post made me think. Maybe it's just that I'm not ready!

    Jane, Pinks & Blues Girls

     
  • At 2:00 PM, Anonymous Kvetch said…

    I am not bored with my homelife, I'm bored with my non-existent social life. And I get overwhelmed thinking about when both my kids are grown and gone to college - when I'll be an empty-nester in just 6 years. That is what renders me paralyzed to move on with my day. Because there is no way to be promoted from fulltime mother.

     
  • At 2:14 PM, Blogger Andrea said…

    I've actually been trying not to feel guilty for NOT being a SAHM, but I'm bored with my paying job. I think I've just lost a bit of myself because I let the flow of life take over instead of trying to steer it in any particular direction (the kiddo was planned, but I sort of fell into my career years ago).

    Here's to finding ourselves IN our lives!

     
  • At 2:51 PM, Blogger Oh, The Joys said…

    Now that you've opened the doors of the universe... I know you'll find the right thing.

     
  • At 2:53 PM, Blogger Lee Laughlin said…

    Oh WOW! I can identify. I so easily could be you but, felt the tide eating Me away not too long after number 2 was born 3 years ago. Hubby learn that I need ME time and space and he's a pretty good sport about it.
    Yeah, getting paid for something would be great, but start slow. Find something you'd like to learn to do and take 1 class. I always wanted to learn how to throw pottery. I took classes for 2 years 1 night a week. I will NEVER make dime one, but it is MINE. All mine!

    Good luck

     
  • At 3:14 PM, Blogger Blogversary said…

    First, you totally should throw up some ads. I would not be offended.

    I was just worrying about this very thing. I checked out a book last week titled "Back on the Career Track". It is for SAHM moms wanting re-enter the workforce.

    My situation is not dire though. I have a MA in Education and some teaching experience under my belt and hope to get a position when the kiddos are in kindergarten or sooner.

    Most recently, I have been thinking of real estate. Crazy I know.

    In the meantime, I do a lot of volunteering to help pad the resume.

     
  • At 3:28 PM, Blogger MaryJo said…

    What an incredible and timely post. I became a sahm 4 months ago to my 24 month and 15 month old boys and am struggling with it. My career was very successful and I was good at it, but now here I am doing something I'm not sure I'm good at, wondering if my husband and I made the right decision. Your post and the comments are good food for thought.

     
  • At 4:42 PM, Blogger laundrylessons said…

    I am right where you are. My children are 13, 11, 8 and 6. I've written a book, attracted and agent and am waiting for a publisher. It is not as tough as you think...well it is...but not tougher than being a mom. Go for it if you love it! Really. I'm not sure when I'll make money writing, but I will because that is my dream. My new favorite quote: It costs nothing to dream and everything not to.

     
  • At 4:50 PM, Blogger luckyzmom said…

    Establish something for yourself. Hurry! Please! For me because I didn't and I don't want what happened to me to happen to you when you see your youngest leave your nest.

    A friends friend who had been a SAHM and dedicated military wife recently had her second book published (Jo James), through nothing but determination and blind confidence.

     
  • At 5:21 PM, Blogger Lucy's Mom said…

    My two cents worth:

    1. Keep writing and work on getting published. You're very good. Not many are.

    2. Start back to school, one class at a time. One of these days you'll have a degree and more options if the book thing doesn't work out, or even if it does.

    3. Teaching, particularly at a college level, is very fulfilling and has incredible perks. Off all summer, 6 weeks off over the holidays, Spring Break, only have to actually show up at work 10-12 hours a week, depending on how many classes you teach, etc. etc. Something to think about.

     
  • At 5:29 PM, Blogger Christine said…

    BA, I never thought I'd be a SAHM, either. I graduated from medical school the month before my son was born. I took six months off, then six more. My husband was freaked about the money stuff also; I just couldn't bear to go back to a career I hated and leave behind this being I worshiped. It's been hard financially, but I don't regret it.

    I think you should approach writing a book as a job. Take it seriously, assign work hours, set writing goals, etc. You'll be published...don't you know that already in your heart of hearts?

    (and you know where I ended up on the ad thing...YOU deserve to be paid for your talents).

     
  • At 6:09 PM, Blogger Mimi aka pz5wjj said…

    Wow, such an honest and great post. I am a SAHM of 2 boys, one is in 1st grade the other is 2.5 and goes to "pre-school" part time.

    I feel like you do. I love being a SAHM, but I worry constantly about what I'm going to do when they are both at school.

    Do I teach pre-school or parapro at their elementary (gasp!), do I go back to school, do I just try and get a part time job at a book store?

    I don't know and while I still have 3 years, it scares me that I am 40 and don't know what I want to do....

     
  • At 6:14 PM, Blogger Rock the Cradle said…

    Oh, big hug for you.

    I recently watched "The Hours" and just absolutely ached for Julianne Moore's character (Laura Brown, the 1950's housewife).

    Because truly, at times, I feel so bored that my brain seems to have slowed to a crawl. And it's all about the chores.

    So occasionally I have to say fuck it, and let the bathroom be dirty, and the dishes go unwashed, and the laundry stack up in the hamper.

    I'm so afraid that by being bored myself, I'm setting a bad example.
    So I let things get dirty, and we go outside to play.

    Now if I only had a laptop to bring along...

    As for your vocation...
    You have great material. You are a great writer, with wonderful, engaging ideas.

    My father in law is in his seventies, and still sending out poems and short stories. I think the more you send out, the easier it gets. Even with rejections.

    Go for it. Send it out.

     
  • At 7:59 PM, Blogger Mary Alice said…

    I had never read your blog until I linked to your funeral series from Oh the Joys. It was amazing. Beautiful written. That wasn't per chance anywhere near Warner Robins, Georgia was it? I am a native Californian, but the military made Warner Robins my home for three years. Your descriptions of the people, the manners, and the heat took me right back there.

    Anyway back to the subject at hand. People keep saying this is a timely post and I think that is funny, because it is really something that every woman struggles with at points in her life regardless of whether she is home with kids or she out in the workforce. It isn’t timely at all; it just shows that it is something that we all can identify with, no matter who we are or what we have chosen to do with our lives. Life gets boring sometimes. We become dissatisfied with the status quo and we long to stretch our wings and challenge ourselves with new directions.

    I know you aren’t much into the religious side of things, so please don’t take the spiritual reference personally, I just thought this was an interesting quote that we all might take something from:

    "Our deepest fear is not that we’re inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world." -Marianne Williamson

     
  • At 8:22 PM, Blogger margalit said…

    Like so many of your commenters, I can relate. As a single mom, especially of older kids, I'm more of a housekeeper than anything else. I arrange schedules, cook and clean, shop and pay bills, drive hither and yon, but I'm dying of boredom.

    My issue is that I was a professional writer for 22 years, but my career dried up in the .com bust. I can't work full time, but I could do part time work. Very hard to find. Professional blogging pays nothing and isn't really worth it in the long run. It ends up being like $.50/hour and that's just ridiculous.

    So I look for things to keep me busy. But knitting and blogging aren't enough. I have way to many degrees to go back to school, but I do have something in mind that I would consider trying (not sharing publically, sorry) that is a possibility. In the meantime I'm learning more about web site design (not blog design) and teaching at the local community college. It's a start, but I so hear you.... too smart to be home day after day washing dishes.

    This is one of the biggest foibles of being a young SAHM, because there does come that day when you do want to do something, and you're at the mercy of the hiring market.

     
  • At 9:04 PM, Anonymous Lisa said…

    I was a sahm (while operating a daycare at home) for 15 years and I don't regret it. I loved being with my kids, I loved having lots of time to spend with them, I loved the life we had. But what I didn't love were the mundane chores. I decided that there were six people living in the house making the mess so there were six people who could do the chores. I still did a good bit of the work, but the kids helped out a lot and learned the skills they'll use for the rest of their lives. I think sahm's often feel guilty for asking her spouse and kids to pitch in, but mom is not a synonym for maid. Besides, I'm one of those old-fashioned types who thinks kids benefit from being a contributing member of the family.

     
  • At 9:24 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    This post hits close to home, friend. I feel that nows the time to, if you don't me saying, shit or get off the pot. If I don't decide where I want my life to go I'll either lose myself or get stuck in a dead end job.

    So thank you for this. I think this might be the kick in the pants I needed.

    And I love that you say "Criminy".

     
  • At 10:13 PM, Blogger Terri said…

    I so feel the same way about the endless housework. It seems pointless sometimes to clean everything up only to have it a total mess ten minutes later.

    I totally think you should pursue writing. Your funeral series was wonderfully poignant and real. I felt I was at the funeral with you that's how vivid your descriptions were.

    You are a way better writer than some of the crappy authors that somehow manage to get published. Don't give up the possibility of being published.

     
  • At 11:03 PM, Anonymous S said…

    I just skimmed the comments but my hint is GO TO SCHOOL. Even if you have a PhD. I started college @ 30 yrs old, from scratch. (18yearoldeverywheredrivingonenuts)One of my fav old peeps told me that his only regret is NOT getting a Phd. Hey why not get two. Great post

     
  • At 6:18 AM, Blogger thailandchani said…

    Glad I came by and saw this one. I agree with you completely about keeping a sense of self, along with the mothering.

    At the same time, I am overwhelmed with a type of gratitude for women who choose to stay home with their children. (Note I said "choose" because I know lots of women don't get that choice.) It's just so important! And it's such a gift to your kids.

    And, you know, you are such a good writer! I'll bet you could write a book before you know it.

    Truly though.. I see your points and I'm not trying to diminish that at all.


    Peace,

    ~Chani

     
  • At 2:38 PM, Blogger the mad momma said…

    oh.my.god. I am in agreement, and how. i have only been home 3 years buti already fear every word you just said. thanks for giving me this view....

     
  • At 2:59 PM, Blogger Ruth Dynamite said…

    Right there with you BA. Awhile back I wrote about the book The Feminine Mistake. "Losing yourself" is a huge part of the discussion, as is financial dependence. Ultimately, there's no easy answer for women.

    Many of us are ready to launch into something new, and it's scary. I hope you find courage to do what you need to do from this blog community, as I do.

     
  • At 1:06 PM, Blogger Amy York said…

    Great advice... it's so easy to lose yourself to the mom in you. I have found a great balance in being a part time working mom. Just 30 hours a week affords me tons of quality time with my boys while still feeling adequate for something other than vacuuming and baking cookies. ;)
    And I just have to say, should you ever become a published author, I'd buy your book. I think you are very talented and it's a shame it's not easier to find employment for such great talent!

     
  • At 9:55 AM, Blogger jchevais said…

    Finding yourself is hard outside the home too... when you are a WOHM you have to do all those nasty chores and try and find themselves :-)

    The only advice that I've heard that makes sense is just to keep plugging at whatever makes you happy. Whatever is meant to happen will happen. Love the inspirational quote there on the bottom today though... "You have to pursue inspiration with a club." Nice.

     
  • At 10:45 AM, Blogger Squiggles Mom said…

    I just finished posting about something similar so was a little taken aback that your thoughts so clearly echoed mine. Feel a bit better already.
    I'm sure now that you're looking again, you will find yourself and it will be better this time round.

     
  • At 6:59 PM, Blogger Jaelithe said…

    Woah--

    Where were you when I was posting on August 17th?

    Will you be my mommy mentor?

    Also, as a person who occasionally gets paid to write (not books, mind you, but small things, like ads and such), allow me to assure you, in my professional opinion, that your writing is certainly worth getting paid for. You just have to find someone who will pay you, which is unfortunately the hard part . . .

     

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