Monday, June 12, 2006

sometimes...

there are days i wish that i could walk blake to school every morning, stay in his class and help out for a few hours, and then wait outside his classroom everyday when he gets out, and walk home with him. on the rare occasion that i do get to pick blake up from school, i swear it seems like every mom but me, is waiting to pick up their kid. and in the morning when i'm bringing blake to school, lots of moms stay to help in the class. how do so many mom's get to do that? seriously, it baffles me how many people get to stay home and not "work." and i've always wondered how? especially in this state. how the hell does anyone afford to NOT have both parents working?!???

while i swear up and down that i'm not built to be a stay at home mom, sometimes i wonder how true that really is. sometimes i think i'm just trying to convince myself. because if i believe that i could never be the type to stay at home with my kids all day, then i won't feel bad that i can't. i won't be upset that it's not an option for me. even if i wanted to stay home, i couldn't. so it's easier to just say that i don't want too. you know? i've always said that given the choice to stay home or work, i'd pick work everytime. i enjoy working. i like getting out of the house, interacting with people, and working for amazing companies. how could i ever get resentful or be bitter about working if i feel like that's what i would do even if i didn't have too? but sometimes i wonder if that's entirely true. i never questioned this before. but i wonder if as i'm getting older, my thoughts on this are changing? or maybe it's mostly because we moved and i feel less involved in what's going on in blake's life. i don't know the kids, and nothing about this community is familiar to me. where we lived before, it was all familiar. comfortable. safe. and since there was no one else in my life, i was involved in every aspect of blake's. i knew everyone and now i feel like i'm lucky if his own teacher recognizes me. it's obviously an adjustment, and i guess i'm having a harder time than i realized with it. because i find myself wanting to spend time in his classroom. and wanting to go on his field trips. and just wanting to be involved. and blake wants me there too- and it breaks my heart when he begs me to do something with his class and i tell him "i can't." well why can't i? in the grand scheme of things, what the fuck is truly important? the time you spend with your child, or the amount of hours you put in at work? of course it's the catch 22 of needing your job to pay your bills, etc etc.. but there has to be some sort of balance in there. so i've decided (of course now that the school year is OVER) that i will take days off next school year to be more involved. i will go on a couple field trips. i will work in his classroom. because that stuff matters.

i think the honest to god truth for me about working and not working is somewhere in the middle. because truly, i'm not built to be a stay at home mom all the time. someone would die. or go insane and need to be medicated. and most likely that someone would be me, and who wants to go through all that shit? i really don't think that i could handle staying at home all day, everyday, and still be a happy person. i think that i would lose my fucking mind, not to mention the countless times i'd lose my patience. i do believe that being out of the house is better for my sanity. at least when they're younger it is. now that blake is older and at school most of the day, it's different. but when they're so little and needy and can't do anything for themselves.. i need a break. so yeah, somewhere in the middle would be perfect. in theory. but in all honesty, who knows with me.

39 comments:

Kristin said...

What a thoughtful post... I think you have touched on a lot of truths for a lot of women... staying at home is hard, working outside the home is hard, and really, where the hell is the middle ground?

I stay at home, but let's be honest, I have a lot of help. I am sure some people will condemn me for having a nanny when I don't work, but that is what works for our family.

I volunteer extensively... both in our community and at my kids' school and having a nanny frees me up for work that helps me define myself outside the role of SAHM. However, having a nanny also enables me to do a lot with Eva (my child not in school) without having the stress of housework... there is never the, "Oh, we can do it later because I have to do the dishes, or mop, or whatever" ... I have a lot of freedom in my week.

I know my situation is unique and that I am hugely fortunate, but it is also what keeps me sane and therefore a better mother and wife.

Beth said...

Truly a dilemma! That is awesome that you'll be taking days off next year to attend that stuff with Blake. I think I would try to do the same if I had to work. I get to where I think I should go back to work, but the cost of daycare alone would make me getting a job pointless. So, it goes both ways ;)
Next year will be better!

Elizabeth said...

I agree that it is a hard decision either way. I know everyone has a tight budget these days, but with one income supporting 5 people, we have an extra-tight budget. The trade-off is that I can do the things at their school, except for now I have a baby that isn't allowed to go on field trips because of "safety" issues. So I can't even spend time doing that.

It's obvious how much you want to be there for Blake, and I know he'll appreciate having you along on a field trip or two. Don't stress anymore, okay?!

Lisa Goldstein/Kelly Kelly said...

Jenn, That's great you are going to take a few days off next school year. Any way to find balance is the way to go. In my case, I made so little money at my job that to pay a nanny (or for day care) to watch my kid so i could earn my pathetic wages was almost a wash, or at best not enough to be worth it. So for now, SAHM I am. And it does make me insane. I now try to do "work from home," which seems to combine the worst of all worlds.

Best to you, Lisa

Stephanie said...

Great post. You know the saying, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Alison said...

It's different for everybody. I stayed home for a year and found myself losing my patience way too quickly. It all sounded great at first but then reality sets in---home with both kids, no spending money, and the same thing day after day. I'm sure it's different for everyone, but that's how it was with me. I'm glad I was able to stay home but I am truly a much happier person working part-time. When Nicholas starts kindergarten, I will be able to walk him to school and pick him up and I am thankful for that. Just like you're planning, take a few days off to go on field trips and volunteer in his classroom. Also, make sure to go to school events like Back To School Night, Open House, and any plays/performances/talent shows the kids put on. Teachers understand that parents work and can't be in the classroom every day (besides, listen up, girl, we teachers don't want parents hovering over the kids anyway). Most teachers have school email addresses---keep in contact with him/her that way. And, if you really want to help out in the classroom, ask the teacher if there is anything you can do from home, like print out a class list with addresses and phone numbers for each parent. Teachers need help for these things and I'm sure Blake's teacher would love the offer. As always, you're doing good, kid!

penguininthesun said...

it's all about balance I guess. Let me know when you figure that one out :P

I think it's a great idea to take a few days off to go on field trips though. The both of you will have fun and even more bonding moments and memories.

Nikki said...

I have got to work. I say that with confidence. When I had my daughter, I got 6 weeks of vacation with her and by week 2, I packed her up and took her to work with me because I couldn't stand being at home for that long.

Then when my son was sick, I had to quit work and stay home with him for 2 months because he was so ill. I was so miserable and grouchy and pissy because I hated it so much - and I hated it even more that he was sick. I was a bitch for 2 months.

I don't hate being with them. My kids are alot of fun. I really enjoy being with them, but I just can't stand being at home all the time. I will lose my mind. I NEED contact with the outside world.

Maybe it would have been better if we had had the money for me to go out every once in a while and buy a book or drive by Mickey D's, but we couldn't even afford for me to drive unnecessarily. GAS!

I do sometimes feel like I'm missing out on somethings, but it's something I accept. I spend as much time as I can with them and really try to make it quality time.

Isabel said...

What a great post...I think it's good to be in the middle. At least it is for me...since I change my mind daily.

Melissa said...

See now, I am unsure of this in myself too. I used to be real convinced that I would not be a good stay at home mom. It sounded too freaking hard and I thought I'd be so bored. I was ready to go back to work after my leave was up with each baby. Then I started blogging. And now I just feel guilty all the time. Like I'm missing out on the things that everyone else gets to do. I used to be so sure, but I'm not now.

I do love your idea of taking off days to stay at the school. Maya is going to kindergarten in the fall and I want to be involved as more that the lady who pays tuition. I may use all my sick days for it actually.

I think it's normal. I think all moms wonder if they're doing the right thing for their children. You are for sure not alone on this one.

MelissaMM said...

Jenn, what are you doing in my head?! I've always had this dilema with Madison. Trust me, it doesn't go away when they get older.

Taking days off when you can is key though, so you're off to a good start. That's what I did. She went to a charter middle school and parents were "required" to volunteer at least 2x a month. There was no way I could do that so her grandmother would. I felt so shitty and like a half-ass mom. The look on her face when I couldn't take off work for trips or classroom stuff was heartbreaking and I've vowed now to not let my job get in the way of having these experiences with her.

Now that she's in high school & I'm at a less demanding job, I have the flexiblity to pick her up from school or softball practice every now and then and it's all worth it when I see her face light up when she sees me.

So don't beat yourself up too much about it now. Blake is lucky in so many ways to have you as his mom and it's wonderful to know that this even bothers you. I have friends that are teachers and work in the school office. They have some heartbreaking stories of parents who seem to use school as a place to dump their kids off just to get them out of their hair.

kat said...

you live in northern california now, right? if you live anywhere near where i lived and live, then the women all have nothing else to do. there is actually a lot to be said for having your own life and not resenting how every second of your life revolves around your kid, i imagine. otherwise you turn into a psycho marin mom. please, don't do that.

Kel said...

AAh Jen. I can understand your plight. There isn't a day I wish I didn't have a bitch for a boss, and a more flexable day.

I can't be a SAHM because we couldn't afford it, and if I loose my job I wouldn't be able to handle things if I didn't at least have a part time job.

I'd go crazy, nutzo, wonky.

PS I'll take some of those brownies thanks. ((hugs))

jane said...

It seems that as moms, we're not ever 100% completely satisfied with ourselves. I think that just goes to show how much we want to provide & nurture for our kids. You're being the best mom you can for your son & you know what? That's all that he needs.

jen said...

I ponder this thought almost daily. Thankfully since school is out I get a few months of keeping my head free of guilt.
I recently took a shift in the ER that is fri, sat, sunday 7a-7p. This WILL give me 4 days a week to be involved with Hunter's school. I can't wait to get to do things with Hunter's class, and bake cupcakes this fall. Then again, I work every single weekend......so i never have a weekend off.
I used to be a total feminist.....then when I became a mom I realized that the feminists are the ones that keep me away from my house and my child. I love my son, I love my job. I think I only love my job because I need to feed my son.

mollymcmommy said...

funny you should write about this now as i just went back to work after having my third child. in canada we're lucky to be able to get a year of leave paid. if we wish you can split the leave with the daddy.

so i just took 9 months and at times have been going fucking crazy as a loon at home with the kids. while i love them to pieces all i could think of was getting back to my job and interacting with adults again.

now that i'm back, i want to be at home with them.

need some sort of middle ground, i fully agree.

tim is now home with them for the last of the government paid leave (10 weeks), my very FIRST day back, i came home and he looked a little frazzled, first words out of his mouth were "you did this for nine months??!!"

m

kim said...

at the beginning of the school year take the calendar of events and go over it and decide which events you really want to do and arrange for time off for them. then it will be a special treat for blake and for you and you will both enjoy it.
i know i sucked at staying home...i tried to be the cookie baking, craft making,easy going stay at home mom for 7 years and i did have SOME fun days but I enjoyed it more when it was a special event and i wasnt a raging stressed out bitch and so did the kids :) *hugs*

Jennifer said...

I can totally understand what you're saying. I've been home since Jordan was nine months old and, though I've worked a few part-time gigs here and there, I still wonder what the 'right' thing for me is. We all need the interaction that working outside of the home brings, but at the same time we feel like we're missing out on a lot of things when we're unable to be in the moment of what goes on in our kids' lives. I know that once Jas is old enough for daycare I'll definitely be back at work because, to be honest, the bills just aren't gettin' paid like they used to! But I also know that once that happens I'll be on the other end of the see-saw of motherly guilt for time away from the homefront.

Somewhere in the middle is ideal, I think that's where I'd like to be right now. In the end, though, you've got to do what's right for you (not the other moms around you. Plus, Blake sounds like a great kid, and kids really do understand once you explain the hows and whys of the work thing.

Mel said...

I would say something meaningful here, but you said it all for me. Thank goodness, the husband actually LIKES to pick them up.
And... OMFG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I just installed Haloscan comments on my blog, and guess what? It DELETED all my comments I ever had on my motherfucking blog!
To quote the Go Fug Yourself ladies, Sweet Fancy Moses On Buttered Toast!
I literally shed a tear.

Jodi said...

I think finding balance is the hardest THING ever in being a Mom. you are doing the right thing, in my opinion, by planning to take a few days off next school year so that you can feel more involved. If that makes you and Blake happy that's all that counts, truly!!! Maybe if you volunteer you'll find out you love it & want to do it more, or will find you really do HATE it and then your guilt will be gone. I think making a few days committment to yourself and Jake is the best way to put your toe in the water and find out!

Personally little kids scare me. I don't like to work in the classroom. I like to send in stuff or cut out number 3's at home and send those suckers in. Truly. And i went CRAZY, and I do mean C-R-A-Z-Y when I was home full time. I very much admire women who can be SAHM and feel totally fullfilled doing it. I REALLY really do. I went out of my ever loving mind and turned into the wicked witch out of children's horror stories. Truly. Not pretty, not pretty at all!
Anyhoo, this isn't about me, it's about U. I think picking a few days to help out in blake's class is the perfect solution for now!

gray_brandi said...

Seems to me that you are doing a great job with Blake! Although there will be times you will miss out on.. you'll cherish the moments you do get to help out.. & with a refreshed attitude! (instead of being insane, crazy..etc)..
I was sahm with my first one.. I enjoyed it as I lived by all my girlfriends who had kids.. so everyday was fun..I am glad that I was able to do that.. but since I've had 3 more.. I have to work.. but I'm glad as the stress of being a sahm would have me @@ CRAZY

JEN said...

WHERE IS THE MIDDLE???

Christina_the_wench said...

I'm pmsing it and just had a huge fight with my 11 year old right before I left for work. PRO-WORK!

Where's my coffee?

Koenig rugrats said...

I feel the same way right now. My son is 8 and seems to need me more right now. I work full time and have a really hard time juggling everything. I always feel like he's not getting enough attention. And I dont get the moms that are available every day either?! GREAT post! I love your honesty. :)
Danielle

Kevin Charnas said...

Oh Jen, self-reflection is always vital to finding balance in one's life. And with balance comes stablility, peace and happiness. I just hope that you're not too hard on yourself...
And the thought of possibly seeing in you in slightly over a week almost just made me piss myself.

Mom101 said...

Welcome to my world. There's no good answer. Some of us just weren't built to be sahms. as much as I bitch about working I can't imagine not working. Even if I wasn't working, I'd still be working, writing, blogging, starting a business from home. It's who I am. I can only hope my child finds it inspirational in the long run.

Nancy said...

Hi, first time visitor -- just happened upon this post and I can so relate.

I do have to work for insurance purposes, and I generally love my job. But ther are some days when I would just love to have the flexibility to just stay home and be with my kids -- or let them have a short day at day care. I don't have enough flexibility with my job right now to do that. (Because the leave situation for working parents is horrendous in most cases, you use it all up for illnesses and thus you don't have the luxury of spending a day with the kids just to hang out.)

But you're right, what's really important? Yes, it's nice to be home with my kids when they are sick, but is the extra time spent afterward at work (making up for the assignments I missed) detracting from the benefits of having stayed home? And how sad is it when my girls have a special event during the day at day care and I can't make it?

I don't know why part time work is so difficult to do in this country, why family-friendly workplaces are few and far between -- but that's reality. There is no middle ground, even though so many of us think it's important. Sigh.

Great, thought-provoking post -- thanks!

Jess said...

I am an insane SAHM. Is this a bad thing? lol

melissa said...

There is a lot of truth in what you're saying. I think, at this poing, that I've tried it all. I've stayed home and went insane. I've worked and went insane with missing the kids. I've worked from home, loved it and found it hard to get things done. I've worked in the middle of the night and still wondered how I handled it. I've gone to school part-time and full-time.

And when we have this (hopefully) next baby, I want to mostly stay at home. I'll still teach two courses, but I want to be at home. It's the one thing I want, but now that I've got my MA I know I can do my work anywhere. Art history is research-based and I can read and study whenever I want.

Having my degree, for me, is the bridge between the home and work issue. Not that it would be for everyone, or anyone (I don't know), but for me it helps. Which makes me wish you the all the best at school!

jen said...

You know that i I totally get you, right? :) I mean...I have been struggling with this in my life and on my blog...and it's HARD! I often think I tell myself the same things...cuz I don't have the choice to stay at home full time either...so I say I'd rather work...cuz fuck...I have to.
Just hang in there hon...take those days off to do those things and don't be too hard on yourself. Blake loves you and if you just do a couple of field trips...it will make all the difference for you and him...

Izzy said...

I think most moms (not all but a lot) are somewhere in the middle and that if there were a way to have the best parts of both worlds, a huge percentage of moms would sacrifice a digit to do it and have that happy medium.

That said, you have a plan, which is to be more involved next school year and that is awesome. Blake will be thrilled and you will satisfy that part of yourself that wants to be there for him. It's a great plan and I commend you for trying to find a way to make it work :)

J's Mommy said...

I felt so guilty about staying home when my daughter was first born. Not about the fact that I didn't have a job, but because I HATED being home. I thought I would love it and I didn't. That shocked me! I felt so disappointed in myself. Like there was something wrong with me ~ what kind of mom doesn't want to stay home with their child all day if given the chance? After 2 years home with my daughter, I finally for a part-time job and have been working for about a year now. My feelings are still torn. Sometimes I wish I was back home with her all the time, but I like getting out of the house. I am finally starting to feel more like myself. I'll probably always feel torn about how much time I spend or don't spend with my little girl.

Jen said...

I've been there. I used to have a high-stress, long hours, but good paying job. I loved my work, enjoyed the adult company, and we certainly could use the money! Then one day, as I dropped my 2yr old off at daycare with her screaming and clutching to me as she did every morning, I asked myself - WHY AM I DOING THIS? Decent daycare cost me almost $900/month and then when you added the cost of lunch out every day, business suits, dry cleaning bills, and gas money, I found that I was working for peanuts. My hubby was getting a raise, and we sat down and built a spreadsheet of EVERY dollar in and every dollar out.

We set-up a pretend budget that would reflect what we would have if I wasn't working. We lived by that budget for an entire month to see if we could do it - and we did. So I left my job, and that was 2yrs ago.

At first, it was VERY HARD to adjust to the different pace of life. Before I left work, I spent my day pouring over spreadsheets, setting deadlines, meeting deadlines, long meetings with heated debates, and managing 15 other people. All of a sudden, I was managing how much juice my child drank in a day, what episode of Elmo we would watch, practicing drawing circles, and attempting potty training.

I thought I was going to go insane. And I did for awhile, but then, I met another stay-at-home mom that I really got along with that had children the same age as mine. We made each other get out of our houses and go to parks, museums, playgrounds, the library, etc....

After the first year at home, I knew I had found what I was supposed to be doing. I would be the one to teach my child how to count, write her name, and tie her shoes. I would be the one to watch her grow and see her little imagination blossom. I would teach her my morals and values all day, not just try to cram them in after work but before bedtime. I loved it so much, we decided to have a second child.

Every woman is different. Try it out for awhile if you can. Accumulate all of your vacation time and give yourself 2 weeks at home. And don't just sit around the house - you will go crazy. Good Luck.

Mega Mom said...

I think we should take a course in college to evaluate what we want from life and how to get it. There are so many opportunities now for women to work part time and earn good money. Obviously there are TONS of sides to the coin, but it is about finding that inner peace. Best of luck :))))

Lotta said...

Was I this much of a waffler pre-kids?

I do the same thing you do and I'm a stay at home mom. I just started blogging so I could "find myself again". Was I lost? Isn't it "me" that hangs out with the kids all day. Was I more "me" when I worked for a corporation.

Sigh. Tequila shots anyone?

Angry Dad said...

As a bloke, and at the moment the primary income earner, there are days where like you I think I would love to be a SAHD. There's so much that you can do with the kids, and I see it as a lot of potential fun. However, harsh reality says you've still gotta do a truckload of domestic duties as well. I appreciate it cuts both ways. I'm sure my wife as a SAHM would love to be out working sometimes too. Although she doesn't miss office politics!

Catherine said...

Damn blogger!! I'm going to try this one LAST time...
I've recently spent six consecutive days at home, and it's made me realize that home has it's problems, too. I agree that there needs to be some balance. Or plenty of strawberry daquiris to compensate. I applaud you for making the decision to do more field trips. :)

Lisa said...

You have a good idea -- taking a few days off so that you can be in the classroom or go on fieldtrips...

Stephanie A. said...

Why is it that we have to deal with this internal struggle plus feel guilty after we've made a decision about what we really want to do?

You know how worried I was when I went back to work FT. I thought that Hugo would end up resenting me and that I would always feel guilty. In a small way I've come to terms with my choice and realize that since I am working, any time spent away from Hugo needs to be positively spent. Now I throw myself into my work so much more and it is so satisfying. When I'm at work I am fully present there and when I'm at home, again, fully present. When I was spending days at home I will admit that I was not always present because I never had that "me" time that I get at work and during the commute. Plus, I have the flexibility of having an odd schedule, so I get to work from home two days a week and on the other days I get to spend from about 3pm to 7pm with Hugo which is a nice medium for us.