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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A loaded question


A few weeks ago my best friend, who is pregnant with her first child, wrote me an email regarding the transition from working full-time to being a full-time stay-at-home-mom and asked me if I ever planned to return to work.  This is a topic that is never far from my mind...adjusting from being a full-time member of the work force to being the slave of a tiny tyrant (I may be exaggerating slightly) is one that I still struggle with.  A lot.  I actually had a dream a few weeks ago about being back at work in the antiques gallery and helping to identify an unknown DC cabinetmaker...exciting stuff, I know.  

Would I like to go back to work?  Most definitely.  However, the sad fact remains that most military spouses face an uphill battle in the quest for employment regardless if children are in the picture or not.  There's not much call for someone with a masters degree in American Decorative Arts where most military posts are located, unless we happen to find ourselves back in northern Virginia, which is possible, but unlikely.  And now with number two on the way...well, that pushes the timeline for my possible re-entry into the workforce back a couple more years.

Ever since I made the difficult decision to not return to work there have been many times where I've felt as though I've lost just about everything by which I used to define myself.  This feeling has only intensified in the months since our move to El Paso; I think it's a direct result of the fact that no one down here knows the version of me that existed in my life before kids and that makes me feel very isolated and lonely sometimes.  Don't get me wrong--I love Sammy and our family and I've been privileged to make some very awesome friends since moving here--I know that I'm incredibly lucky that we can afford for me to stay home and raise our son.  I often get down on myself because I don't feel completely fulfilled by motherhood alone; I know many people who would give their right arm for the chance to be home full-time with their children and that makes me feel even more guilty.

I hope that I'm not the only out there that feels this way, so now the question is how should I go about dealing with these feelings; I'd love to hear your thoughts.

17 comments:

Charli said...

I am not sure how to handle it either, and I even work part-time in my field. I still never feel like I bring home enough, and I never feel like I spend enough time with Lilli or enough time doing things for myself. It is such hard balance, and I agree completely that I feel guilty that other people would love the chance to work or be at home or even work from home like I can, but it still isn't enough for me and I don't know how to balance it either. I miss being in school and talking to people about literature and criticism, but I talk instead to an engineer and a baby. Sorry I don't have an answer, but you are definitely not alone!

Charli said...

I am not sure how to handle it either, and I even work part-time in my field. I still never feel like I bring home enough, and I never feel like I spend enough time with Lilli or enough time doing things for myself. It is such hard balance, and I agree completely that I feel guilty that other people would love the chance to work or be at home or even work from home like I can, but it still isn't enough for me and I don't know how to balance it either. I miss being in school and talking to people about literature and criticism, but I talk instead to an engineer and a baby. Sorry I don't have an answer, but you are definitely not alone!

Charli said...

I am not sure how to handle it either, and I even work part-time in my field. I still never feel like I bring home enough, and I never feel like I spend enough time with Lilli or enough time doing things for myself. It is such hard balance, and I agree completely that I feel guilty that other people would love the chance to work or be at home or even work from home like I can, but it still isn't enough for me and I don't know how to balance it either. I miss being in school and talking to people about literature and criticism, but I talk instead to an engineer and a baby. Sorry I don't have an answer, but you are definitely not alone!

Maeve's Momma said...

I have the opposite problem, as the plan is for me to go back to work once Maeve is in school (or preschool, if we can afford it). And I have no idea what I want to do. I have a degree in secondary ed for English, which I don't want to do and couldn't even if I wanted to. So I have 3 years to figure out what I want to be when I grow up, when really, my identity is Mommy, and I'm happy here.

Shannon said...

I have been a SAHM for 14 years. I worked a bit in Dental Hygiene years ago, but never went back. I have always been defined *by* my kids, and husband. So, for me I think it has been awesome to be here for them...but I find myself wanting more, wanting to have something that is just "mine" per say. Doesn't mean I don't adore my family, or my role, but I want to wear a different hat.

I suppose that is why I am back in school to get my BSN. :) Once you have a teen, they need you just as much...but not physically as much. Of course, now I have a toddler as well...but I think it is perfectly fine to want more, or want other things. ((HUGS)) You are doing great! We hoped to get DC, but it is so hard for Rob to get there.

Chic Homeschool Mama said...

I think we all go through this in some way or another. I know that when I worked after my first was born- I struggled with the fact that I couldn't be home with him & that my hubs was doing all the things I should have been. So I have now been on both sides. We all have to do what is right for us at the moment. Don't think of it as missing something you used to identify yourself - your path will change whether you are working or not & it's all for a reason. It just might not be obvious at the moment.

Casey Martinez said...

Every momma on the planet can relate to you at some point or another so you are most definitely not alone:). I have some mom friends who worked full time and had kids in daycare and they used to go off on any stay at home mom that complained. They wanted to be home full time so bad and they couldn't believe that stay at home mom would ever complain when they had such a perfect life. Then magically each of these people got a little taste of stay at home life and sure, initially they were in Heaven but, within a good 6 months or so they were going crazy like the rest of us. lol. Now they both are working again in some way to get a break from the intense demands of mommy life...to keep themselves sane so they can give their best at home. I know exactly what you mean. There simply are not enough breaks for a mommy to refresh and recharge. I'm actually starting a parenting bible study with another momma from church and as we delve into the first chapter it talks all about how parenting is a is to serve and the only way we can serve joyfully and continually is if we recharge consistently in God's word and let him fill us up with the life, encouragement, joy and love to give back again. I need to work on this, uh lot but, if I start out with a morning devotional (I am horrible at this) my focus is a lot different during the day. That and now I am determined to start exercising. I know the endorphins will help send some happy thoughts upstairs to keep me energized and content. Gotta do what we can I guess:). Anyways, I feel yah friend!

jax from the harmon squad said...

I think every mom struggles with feeling fulfilled, and I think it's a good thing in the sense that we need more interests than just our kids. After all, these little ones aren't going to stay little and will leave us sooner than we think. And if our entire lives are wrapped up in them, what does that leave you? I just tell myself that right now is for them and later on, especially once Rob retires, is when it will be my time. That's when I'll go back to school and get my master of architecture and finally become the architect I've always dreamed of being:) Or whatever other dream I may have instead at that point. And I can totally relate to feeling like the "complete you" is lost in the past, but I am determined to keep some of the designer I used to be alive! Even if it means stubbornly carting my thesis model and board all over the world and keeping a room for my studio so I can "escape" when I need to. And I can tell you I love and appreciate your antique collection and library of books and east coast vibe:) I think that's why we get along so well!

Tonya said...

So many great comments! It's comfortable to hear I am not the only woman who struggles with this! As you know, I'm transitioning back to work (although I'd have to say that I'm stalled now...) and my biggest fear is letting go. I find that everything seems to go to pot when I'm not here at home...however, I'm a wicked control freak, and what I need to work on is not trying to do it all...

Karin said...

Oh man, you just said it! Only this morning I made another one of these pseudo calls to a potential part time job offer. I have also moved here after we had Amy so I know what you mean about nobody knowing the other you! I also can sympathise with Maeve's mum. I have a masters degree in psychology but never worked in it and have no idea what field to go back into as my last 7 years were in Telecoms. At the moment there is no real pressure to go back but at the same time I believe it might be good for me and maybe even Amy to have a few hours apart. Although deep in my heart, I am not really happy about it either.
At least you are having another baby so time will tell what you will do. I am not even planning on that...
Just enjoy your time with Sammy...soon enough you will not have time to even think about these things again and soon after you will not remembere what it was like to have just one baby to look after;-)

Tess @ Pro-tography 101 said...

I work at home and miss the pleasures of adult contact. There are plus and minuses when it comes to whether to be home or at work!

Tess @ Pro-tography 101 said...

I work at home and miss the pleasures of adult contact. There are plus and minuses when it comes to whether to be home or at work!

Nancy Claeys said...

Is there a passion you have that you could develop at home, via the internet? Start a design blog, maybe? I'd likely go nuts if I didn't have some kind of outlet, especially living in a very rural area.

Lori said...

I've been on both sides myself.I waited until my children were in kindergarten.
Tess is right there are plus and minuses. But right now, I'm happy at home, although my job is in my home.

Aubree' said...

I knew you pre-baby, pre-hubby, hell, pre-college, and I'm definitely impressed by the fact that you haven't pulled your hair out in large tufts with this transition! I've read that part-time moms feel the most balance, but every woman is different in terms of what gives her the most fulfillment. I think it's awesome we have options as women and I hate it sometimes too. If you work, then you're shirking your duties as a mother, and if you don't, you're wasting your talents/degree/productivity in society. And of course there's the grass-is-greener argument. You will work again and you will feel and eventually find the balance that leaves you most fulfilled. I think it's a learning curve for all of us, and that curve may last longer than we'd like!

Sarah said...

I know you are not the only one because I feel it too. That is why I started doing photography. I wanted to do something just for me. What about if you opened like your own little shop. You are good at sewing and stuff. Or do like an antique etsy shop?

Gretchen said...

I've been thinking about this a lot lately, as I have been watching my friends have babies and slowly find their ways either a) into part-time and then stay-home careers or b) struggle with keeping a full-time job going amidst everything. It is hard with our generation. We've been taught we can do/be anything, so when we have to actually choose, it makes it seem like a compromise. I'm already freaked out and not even at that point yet (although not far off, I hope).

I send you a big hug. And just know - Antiques Forum wasn't very exciting and you didn't miss much this year in the world of dec arts ;)

xoxo

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