Monday, January 9, 2012

(2 Karats and a Kid) The working mom/stay-at-home mom conundrum..(Part 1)

Mommy-ism #21: Don't freak out if you question everything that you thought you knew about yourself after having a baby.

So I started this post around in February 2011 right before I returned to work from my maternity leave. And by "started", I simply mean that I named it and saved it as a draft. Ten months later, as I find myself returning back to my poorly maintained blog, it's funny how my perspective and my reality of being a working and now, non-working mother has evolved.

In February, I was wrapped up in the allure of being a new mother. My baby boy was (and still is) pretty freaking cute, seemed to be a very laid back kid, and had a congenital heart issue which meant that he was sewn to my arms for the first few months of his life because I never wanted to put him down. Just as a eigthteen year old girl can't imagine leaving her first love for college - the thought of leaving the pint-sized version of the love of my life to return to a job that I loathed seemed unimaginable. In fact, it seemed damn near like cruel and unusual treatment. I was pissed at my husband for reasons that I couldn't articulate. I had anxiety of leaving my sweet little baby in the care of someone else - even if it was my parents and only for two and a half days a week since I was returning to work part time.

Yet, when I returned to the real world of actual adult conversations, lunch meetings, and coffee breaks, I quickly realized that having time away from my baby was not only welcomed but much needed. Yes, I still hated my job and my boss at the time - yet, I found myself looking forward to dropping my baby off in the morning so I can hurry up and get my latte and be "me" - even if it was only for 4-8 hours, two days a week.

In many ways, it was the perfect setup except for the fact that I was often too exhausted on the days that I worked to cook for my husband. So when my project ended and me and MOFO (my boss) came to a mutual agreement to part professional ways, I wondered whether I had what it takes to become a full-time stay-at-home mom (until I transitioned into a new job).

I imagined that I would finally find time to write, and would have endless joy gazing into my infant's eyes throughout the day just as I had ten months ago when I was on maternity leave. Very quickly, I realized that was the far from the reality.

Being a stay-at-home mother is without a doubt the hardest job that I have ever worked in my entire life. 

I have worked since I was 16 years old and have had more jobs then most people have had in their lives. I've worked with Chicago politicians for peet's sake! But I soon realized that caring for a crawling, growing, curious, and hungry little boy is not for the weary or meek of heart.

I quickly had to grow accustomed to vacuuming, cooking, and washing clothes while holding a baby or while holding his hand simple because he wanted to work on his standing and walking skills. And writing? Fat chance.  There was no possibility of opening my laptop or picking up my iPad without my curious little boy seeing it as an opportunity to bam on the keyboard or try using them as chew toys.

Being a stay-at-home mother also changes the dynamic of a marriage. With my husband as the primary financial contributor to our household (and by primary, I mean the "sole" provider to our household) there was a self-imposed pressure to increase my domestic skills from nill to awesomeness.

Cleaning - not cooking - has always been my domestic skill of choice.  Yet, as my husband bravely stepped into the role of sole provider I knew that I had no choice but to do the same in the role of Awesome Domestic Goddess/Mother/Wife.

Starting between 5:30 and 6:00 am everyday I play lead in feeding my child/cooking for my husband/cleaning the house/walking the dog/going grocery shopping/and trying to teach my child how to say "hi", clap his hands, walk, and recognize the letter "a".

Most times, our television remains off (which the exception of the Discovery or History channel) because I don't want my child to develop ADD from watching too much television. On the days that my husband is not working, which are few and far between, I continue to play the lead in feeding my child/cooking for my husband/cleaning the house/walking the dog/going grocery shopping/and trying to teach my child how to say "hi", clap his hands, walk, and recognize the letter "a" because I want my husband to rest since he "works" so much.

There are no days off.

Yet, the silver lining is this...I have began to re-learn the lesson of being present. Even when I'm about to put a chicken in the oven, and the water is about to run over in the sink, and the dog is barking like crazy because he needs to be walked, and I want so badly to be able to complete SOMETHING, when my child begins to cry everything must come to a stop. Rather he is hungry or fell off of the couch, or accidentally ate something that is typically used as currency - things come to standstill when he needs me. And though this is sometimes annoying and inconvenient in it's own way it has been a reminder to not fight against the current of my life and to trust that at any given moment I am exactly in the place and space where I am supposed to be.

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