Bored Housewife for Hire
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.