Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Existential Crisis Averted

(or at least postponed)

I've been home now for one year and five months, give or take a few days. Since before we even had kids, Andy and I talked about getting to this point as "the ideal." As in, "ideally, you'll be working and I'll be home with the kids."

The reality is far from ideal. I remember a friend who works as an Autism advocate saying she loved her job so much she'd do it for free. I've never felt like that about any job. I was good at my job, liked doing it well enough, liked the people there, problem-solving, and all that stuff. I had jobs but never a vocation.

At home, I've been looking to find that missing piece. I hate housework, although I like a clean house. I like playing and doing projects with the kids but I like sitting and reading a book as well. I like to eat but I don't like to cook. I bristle at the idea of others defining me by these actions. Maybe this stay-at-home-mom thing isn't for me. And then I actually had an epiphany; it doesn't matter.

I'll never find myself washing my floors. I'll never be fulfilled because all the toys are neatly stacked and organized. The satisfaction must come from the big picture - without and within.

There are some SAHMs (God bless 'em) who do find fulfillment in these tasks. If I'm truthful, I find their worlds to be somewhat small. There are some working mothers who can only be fulfilled by working outside the home. I understand these women a little more; to raise happy, contented children, it is best that you, yourself are somewhat happy and content. I'm not even going to touch upon the money aspect because for a great many mothers there simply is no option.

So I sit here with just enough rope to hang myself. And I look at the big picture.

I am facilitating the ideal for my boys. I raise them. Sure, some days, it's going to Target and folding clothes. But I just got home from playgroup with RC. And 99% of the time, it's me picking HRH up from school. Almost every day it's not pouring or below zero, we're out in the playground at school. I know his friends' parents and they know me. When the boys are sick, there's none of that old "are-you-going-to-take-a-day-or-am-I?" panic. I'm here. I'm able to schedule doctor's and dentist's appointments, playdates, gymnastics, tee-ball, and birthday parties. There is strong continuity in the boys' life.

Maybe I'll never find my vocation. But I like my job well enough to do it for free. I'm facilitating the ideal for my family. And that fulfills me.


SuburbanCorrespondent said...

A year and five months, huh? Check back with us in another 5 years or so...you can have a lot more fun when the kids are older, you know.

That is a funny way to put it though - I love my job so much, I do it for free. I've got to try that out. And, really, I think most of us do it for the "bigger picture" of a smoothly running family life and less stress on the adults. There are very few of us who dance blithely through our houses, dusting and mopping and trilling little songs of happiness. (Well, I do - but only when all the kids are gone - wheee!)

~ Denise said...

Wow, when you said we were separated at birth, I think you were right.

I left a professional job to stay home when my oldest was in 1st grade. That was in 1995. I thought I would love to clean the house, cook the meals, and be the best little Suzie homemaker ever. NOT.

I hate to cook.
I don't enjoy play groups.
I DO NOT like volunteering at the school (even if my child gets extra points for it)
I do not enjoy cleaning - I finally broke down and hired a housekeeper.

However, I am there for my kids when they get home from school and I am the first one they get to see and talk to. I help with the homework (which I don't really like but I'm getting better).

I wouldn't trade being here for ANYTHING! I have more decorating schemes for my house than I can afford - but I'm having so much fun! And I get to go to lunch with my friends on a whim. :O))))) There ARE perks!!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Outside the home or inside the home I take pride in a job well done. I've never been conflicted about being home because I absolutely knew it was what I wanted for my family.

I do feel lucky that because I had my kids young I will have time for a satisfying career when they're grown. I'm going into Education, where *advanced* age is not really a disadvantage.

It's true that the day to day tasks do not provide much satisfaction for some people, but as Suburban Correspondent says, "it's part of the bigger picture."

merlotmom said...

Could not agree more with you and ALL the comments. I had a career in tv and left once, when my daughter was 1 year old, and went back for a while, left again about 3 years ago. I've been a full-time and part-time employee and a SAHM. It took a few years to fully appreciate being at home, to get into the swing and not keep making comparisons. But now, especially as my kids get older, I am soooo happy that I am here. I may not love all the day to day drudgery that's involved but I get to spend my afternoons at home with my kids instead of in meetings or tolerating a-holes. On my worst days at home,I take solace in knowing that at least the a-holes are my own kids!

Kristi said...

If it helps, I'm to the point I'm practically throwing up about going back to work at the end of this month. I'm so jealous of all the SAHM right now.

katy said...

thank you thank you, stumbled onto your blog during some nap time (not mine - ha!) surfing. I've been at home for 4 years and I've yet to find peace with it. I think ~denise's list could be my own. It is a hard topic to talk openly about because staying home is not an option for many parents. The minute a complaint or any expression of discontent comes out of my mouth, I feel guilty. I have not found a way to avert my 'existential crisis' I have it every day in some form or another. I know I love my girls more than anything else in the world and some (most) days that is about all I know for sure.

Life As I Know It said...

I love this post. I relate to this post.
I stopped working 3 (!) years ago. I said I was going to take one year off and here I am still at home.
I hate housework. I have begun to hate cooking. I get the winter blues every year from being stuck inside with the kids.
But I wouldn't trade these years at home with my boys for anything.
It IS going by fast!

Anonymous said...

"If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams,
and endeavor to live the life which you have imagined, you
will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

-- Henry David Thoreau

aiden and brenden's mom said...

Oops! I didn't want to be anonymous...

"If you advance confidently in the direction of your dreams,
and endeavor to live the life which you have imagined, you
will meet with a success unexpected in common hours."

-- Henry David Thoreau

KC said...

We all need to be fulfilled and it sounds like you are doing what's best for you and your family.

I love my job when I'm there (usually). But coming back from a vacation (or maternity leave) is always hard.

Helena said...

So, I have been thinking about this post since I read it, and there are both pros and cons to being a SAHM, and I share many (actually all) of your sentiments about it, but the thing that seals the deal on being a SAHM for me is that, if you work outside the home, you cannot put your boss in a time out when he or she pisses you off. To me, that is enough.


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