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.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Crossroads

I don't know how working Moms do it. I really don't.

I've been a stay at home Mom for 13 years. When the boys were small, I loved being home with them. My job then was parenting, which was something I enjoyed, something I felt confident in my ability to do well, and something that gave me a lot of satisfaction.

As you know, my Diminutive One was a very challenging infant and toddler, so when he started kindergarten, I danced a little jig and reveled in the sheer hedonism of finally having some time alone. Some time for meeeeeeeeeeeeee.

For a year or two, it was great. But pretty soon, it began to get old.

And now, I find myself at a crossroads of sorts. I don't want to be home anymore. It's boring. I don't particularly enjoy housework or cooking. I feel like my brain is dying a slow death from intellectual starvation. I am depressed by the lack of anything interesting to look forward to each day.

Basically, I feel like a glorified workhorse and it is making me very resentful and sullen. I am not enjoying my life right now.

I think a sense of purpose is a fundamental element to personal fulfillment. It is something that I currently lack.

So I need a job for those reasons, but there is also the issue of money.

My husband makes a very good living. When the boys were small, it really wasn't hard to make ends meet on one salary.

They didn't know they were wearing clothes from Wal-Mart and they wouldn't have cared if they did. They didn't know their toys came from Big Lots. They didn't know that they were eating off brand snack crackers or wearing generic diapers.

Sure we sacrificed, but we believed in what we were doing. To us, the sacrifices were small and the rewards were great.

Most of the time, we do just fine. We're luckier than a lot of Americans. But it's getting harder and harder as the boys get older. If you thought diapers and formula were expensive...just wait.

We have one in braces and the other needs them soon as well. That's ten thousand dollars worth of orthodontia folks. Both take expensive medications. Diminutive One sees a therapist weekly.

There are dentist and doctor visits. And we can no longer make do with buzzing their hair in the kitchen with a barber's clippers. It costs a lot of money to look like Zac Efron. In that respect, I thank my lucky stars that I don't have any girls. I must have cost my parents a fortune in hairspray alone.

There are sports and enrichment activities, which both husband and I consider essential. Pre-Pubescent One plays All Star baseball every summer and Diminutive One takes theatre classes. Ideally, I would like each of them to learn to play an instrument as well.

I strongly believe in raising well rounded children. I want them to do all the things I longed to do when I was a child. If they want to try it, I want to be able to let them.

I had no brothers growing up, so I had no idea how much boys eat. Fresh produce and wholesome nutritious snacks are ridiculously expensive. Between the two of them, they can decimate a week's supply of fresh fruit in days.

Pre-Pubescent One now wears men's sizes, so the cost of shoes and clothing has doubled. You can't buy a pair of shoes for the kids for less than $50 and that's for the cheapest of the cheap. The shoes he really covets, but which he was refused on the basis that it is ridiculous to spend that kind of money on shoes for a 13 year old boy whose size literally, changes weekly, are $130 Nike Shoxx.

In addition, he will be driving in TWO YEARS. Do you have any idea how much it costs to insure an adolescent male?? It's un. believable. Diminutive One will be joining him in a scant two years, and then we will be insuring two young male drivers.

I don't even want to talk about college. We have small mutual funds for each of the boys, but the cost of higher education is skyrocketing and it just won't be enough.

I used to scoff derisively at women who worked just to have things. My sister in law works only to afford hair, nails and designer clothing. I still don't hold with that. I don't believe in conspicious consumption or rampant consumerism. But the honest truth is...I'm tired of never having money for things.

So I've been thinking a lot about going back to work. After 13 years as my own boss, it's a prospect that is both terrifying and thrilling. But it's the juggling of every day stuff that really has me worried.

Diminutive One gets on the bus at 7:05 each morning, Pre-Pubescent One, 8:45. Diminutive One gets home at 2:30 pm, Pre-Pubescent One, 4:45. There is homework to supervise, chauffering to be done.

And what happens when the kids get sick? What about school holidays? What about early release days? Doctor, dentist, therapy and orthodontist visits?

Diminutive One is not old enough to be left home alone in the afternoons and Pre-Pubescent One is too distractible to get himself out the door on time in the mornings. They can't walk to and from school if they miss the bus. We have NO family who could help us out in that regard. We have nobody to be on standby in case of an emergency.

How in the world do I find a job that will accomodate such a crazy way of life?

Any job that would fit our lifestyle would not be something I would be happy doing. I've done retail, I've done food service, I've done production and manual labor. I'm past the point in my life when I'm willing to do mindless drudgework for substandard pay.

I would like a real job. A nine to five pantyhose wearing doing business lunch thinking for myself grown up type of job. But the logistics just don't work. Even that kind of job would present daunting challenges. And I wonder if it would really be as satisfying as I need it to be.

Realistically, I'm not the kind of person to be satisfied with an ordinary job. I need to feel passion and love for what I do.

So I'm stuck. And I suspect I'm not the only Mom to find herself in this position.

I don't for a moment regret giving up my job to stay at home with my children. I just wish that I had had a little more foresight about what to do when the mothering gig became a part time thing. Someday, they will be gone and my motherhood status will be token only. I need to start thinking about that eventuality.

It's not easy to carve out an identity seperate from that of "mother". It's hard to think about being and doing everything. It's hard to give up, but it's harder to get back.

Sometimes, I wish I had been indoctrinated with the belief that my role, my duty, my destiny...was to take care of my house and my children. Sometimes I wish I had been taught that it's all I need to be fulfilled and happy.

I wrote not long ago about loving the fifties and longing for it's simplicity, but the truth of the matter is, I would have been really, really terrible at being a woman back then.

So what is the point of this admittedly whiny and self-indulgent post? I've said it before, but it bears repeating. Stay home with your children if it's what you feel is right. Don't apologize, dont justify.

But keep a piece of yourself for the future. Feed it. Nurture it. Protect the sanctity and satisfaction of your mind, as you would the children who have issued from your body.

It's a difficult lesson to learn when it's already almost to late.

29 Comments:

  • At 2:27 PM, Blogger Carol said…

    I stayed home when my children were young and I can honestly say it's the most important "job" I've ever had, so you're right to have stayed home. But it might be that now IS a good time to return to work and to have not only extra money but something that's exclusively YOURS. In any case, no matter what you choose to do, know that you've done a great job so far!

    Carol

     
  • At 2:45 PM, Blogger Sharon said…

    I worked at the Gwinnett Co. Public Library for about 6 years... We had several people who worked there simply because they could work a few hours and still be home for the kids.

    I read this post and said, "This is just what BA needs!" It won't be glamorous work, that's for sure. But you'll be surrounded by books, other adults (!), and can earn a little money to feed your beauty product addiction. :)

    Check it out:

    http://www.cobbcat.org/jobs.htm#Part_Time

     
  • At 2:51 PM, Blogger Blog Antagonist said…

    Sharon. I could kiss you. I thought of Barnes and Noble, but I never thought of the public library. You? Rock. I will be presenting myself in person with application in hand Monday morning.

     
  • At 3:07 PM, Blogger thailandchani said…

    Oh, yes.. the library would be an awesome possibility. Library people are usually bright and curious. They don't involve themselves in the petty politics and spiritually toxic behavior you'd find in a for-profit business setting.

    I worked for years as a system administrator. I figured it would be safe because typically IT people are nerds, free thinkers and enjoy being just a bit off the grid.

    That was true until the late 80s when IT went "corporate".

    If you can avoid that, please do. It's really soul-sucking.

     
  • At 3:22 PM, Blogger D said…

    Good Luck! it's really all I have for you. I am about to stop working, for all the reasons you mentioned. You would think a hospital would understand sick kids, sick you. No, they do not. And neither does any other place of employment. All those days the kids are out of school that you are not off of work. Daycare is crazy expensive. I don't mean to be a drag, but I've been on both sides. I still haven't seen an easy or cheap answer

     
  • At 3:51 PM, Blogger Mitzi Green said…

    the jobs of which you speak do exist, you just have to demand them--and be willing to make sacrifices in other areas. how do we do it? bob has to be at school no earlier than 8:50. i have to be at work at 8:30. husband has no set hours, so he takes bob to school every morning. school is out at 4:00, i get off at 5 and husband's often working late afternoons. luckily, the district has after-school care--which also takes care of some of the no-school days. the other no-school days we divide up based on who has more fires to put out, who has time off left, etc. same with sick kid days. it helps to have an understanding boss, and to tell that boss before you're hired that because your kids come first, you just can't do overtime. my job isn't what i consider "fulfilling," but i don't hate it every day, and i have some flexibility, and i'm close to home and school, and it pays the bills (most of the time).

     
  • At 4:51 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    I consider myself very lucky to have a part time job. 8:30a~3:30p Mon through Thurs leaves afternoons free so I can pick up my kids and be there when they are doing homework.

    You might also try a job working in the school system so you'll have days off when they are off ~ hopefully summer too. Perhaps you could do something during the same hours they are in class as well?

    Good luck... it's so so tough trying to juggle working and small children. That's not to say it can't be done though!

     
  • At 5:29 PM, Blogger PunditMom said…

    We're channeling some similar feelings at the moment. Even though I do freelance writing from home, I'm still feeling stuck in a rut and as if I am just the family workhorse. When I started wanting to buy pantyhose and go to meetings, I realized I need to make a change. I"m just not sure how.

     
  • At 5:35 PM, Anonymous Antique Mommy said…

    Just remember that whatever you choose to do, whatever you decide is best for you and your boys, there will be someone just waiting to criticize you for it. But not me.

    :)

     
  • At 5:54 PM, Blogger Mary Alice said…

    I worked for some time as a para-pro for Special Ed. at an elementary school It was a rewarding, interesting job that matched my own children's hours and holidays. I worked one on one (or in small groups) with students that had IEPs. I learned a lot and it led to me going back to college to pursue becoming a school psychologist.

    So now I am back in college myself, we have three teens, two in braces, college looming for them as well and I understand well the feeling of pinching pennies from one salary until they positively squeal!

     
  • At 5:55 PM, Blogger jen said…

    good for you. coming from a working mom, you will find a job that's flexible, and you'll find other ways to make it work on those times you need help too.

    it's not easy, but it feeds the brain. good for you, woman - for going after what you want.

     
  • At 6:26 PM, Blogger cndymkr said…

    You have put into words exactly what I am going thru right now. Thank you. It's so difficult to find the right job. And filling out job applications with no job history for 11 years is causing me nightmares. How do I transfer "mom" into real job skills? Keep me posted.
    jean

     
  • At 6:53 PM, Anonymous cerebralmum said…

    It's never too late.

     
  • At 7:12 PM, Blogger SUEB0B said…

    You might try career counseling at your local community college, if one is near. Usually for less than $100, you can get some excellent advice.

     
  • At 7:12 PM, Anonymous Andrea said…

    Those scheduling issues are challenges in my near future because I do have an 8-5 job and need two hours for commuting, an hour each way. When my kid(s) start school, I'll have to find a solution to my dilemma so your concerns hit home with me, not even taking into account the extra curricular activities.

    I used to work at a book wholesaler in college so I required strange hours that would change with my class schedule every semester. They were really flexible and the pay was better than minimum wage even if it wasn't a huge amount. Maybe there's something like that where you live. There are companies out there that have unique needs just like you do, and chances are actually pretty good that you could find something where both you and the company are benefitted with your mid day hour requirements.

     
  • At 7:34 PM, Blogger slouching mom said…

    Thank you for this reminder. Much needed.

     
  • At 9:40 PM, Blogger Tela said…

    As a working, single mom who most definitely has to work, thank you for providing me with a reason that can help alleviate the pain and agony I feel every day as I drop my son off at daycare. I hope one day my son will be proud of his working momma. A woman who has kept a piece of herself--her education and work experience--and nutured it. Not only because she has to, but because a part of her wants to. My only regret is that by giving me this realization, you feel pain.

    Good luck with the library. I hope it works out. It almost seems perfect.

     
  • At 9:49 PM, Blogger Jozet at Halushki said…

    I can recommend working at a bookstore. Yes, it's retail, but yes, it's also being around books all day. I love introducing people to my faves, and the customer conversations are by their very nature, literate.

    Also, the 50% off on Starbucks isn't bad.

    I work right now just to get out and be around adults; also, the discount helps with the other kiddie expense: birthday gifts for wee partygoers. I'm hoping that after 3rd grade, the birthday social calendar slows down a bit.

    The library would be another great choice.

    Or any volunteer work? I know quite a few women for whom volunteering turned into a job or some paid work; or at least offered good networking opportunities that turned into other jobs. I think that there are jobs out there with non-traditional hours/schedules. Once people see how committed and energized you are, I think you will quickly get pulled into, perhaps, "piecemeal" work?

    I don't know. I was where you are a few years ago. My "solution" was to have another baby. ;-)

     
  • At 1:09 PM, Blogger Mrs. Chicky said…

    Is there anything your passionate about (besides writing) that you could turn into your own business? You won't be making any money for awhile but if it's successful you could set yourself up for life.

    Other than that I think the library is the way to go. Sounds perfect for you!

     
  • At 6:02 PM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    i have a feeling you will find what you are looking for - you're smart and creative, you'll carve your own way

     
  • At 7:19 PM, Blogger Danielle said…

    Hi "Kettle", I'm "Pot."
    Yup. I'm at the exact same place in life right now except that my kids are still pretty young. The demands of owning a home and all that goes with it, along with my own atrophied mind dictate that my career needs attending to. But like you, I'm not sure where to go next.
    Keep us all posted.

     
  • At 9:32 PM, Blogger Laura said…

    What a great, heart-felt post. I really can relate to your situation.

    It was very important to me to be home with my kids. They are 9 months, 2 years old and 3 years old. But, I started getting the itch for something outside the home. I count my blessings as I found an amazing ob with hours that work for me. They are out there. I wish you luck, they are hard to find - but worth it when you can juggle.

    I work 4am to 8am so I have a very long day...but I never complain about being tired to anyone but my husband, becasue I am so blessed to have found a great job with hours that allow me to be the mom I want to be.

    Good luck. Be creative. Ask around. I have a friend sho works at a real estate office after hours answering the phones. Another option is the local hospital at the switch bd or at admin. I also have 2 friends who work at the local skating rinks...their kids have hockey and figure skating - so it works out nicely.

    Never second think your decision to stay home - it is the best gift to give you and your family.

    Hugs and best wishes.

    Love your blog and I hope to visit often - thanks!

     
  • At 5:04 AM, Blogger Jenn said…

    ...And there inline lies the problem.

    Wish I had an answer for you.

     
  • At 6:42 AM, Blogger Verry Sherry said…

    You keep us thinking. Thanks BA.
    I am on the other end.
    Have always worked fulltime, 9-5 pantyhose, the whole nine yards. Now, have two small girls starting pre & elm school and I'm seeing the world through their eyes and want to be beside them the whole way, or at least a good chunk of it.
    My husband has graciously agreed that I can quit full time work and we will manage to get by. Unlike you, our early years are such a monetary struggle--so this is a real risk.
    Where our paths parallel are in the approach of some work, to suit school hours. My current hunting includes:

    school work: substitute teaching, special needs assistant

    office work: minimal mornings

    at-home money makers: love my quilting hobby & am averaging one sale a week (at 100ish)


    Looks like you have some great comments coming in. Best wishes!!

     
  • At 8:24 AM, Anonymous Emily R said…

    No, you are definitely not the only mother to ever feel this way. The fact is, even with the kids cared for all day, it is very, very hard to be there for them and be at work, too. There is no easy answer, but we must keep talking about it so we keep working on solutions.

     
  • At 9:35 AM, Anonymous Doug said…

    Working in the school system is an idea since it puts you on the same schedule as them.

    We used Care after school when they were younger and the wife worked part time before they started school.

    Right, wrong or indifferent we used a day care center, on the days she was working. We did make sure it was accredited and the ratios were really low. We were lucky to find one.

     
  • At 9:08 PM, Blogger Trenches of Mommyhood said…

    Thanks for this post at a time when I most needed it.

     
  • At 12:50 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    Oh, to work in a library. Surrounded by all those books! And quiet! Sounds like heaven.

     
  • At 11:57 PM, Blogger the mad momma said…

    arrghh... this is just where i am, albeit a little earlier than you. you've said it so beautifully. and i am just so grateful that someone knows how i feel. thank you.

     

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