Thursday, March 21, 2013

Workin' 9 to 5

Well most days anyway.

I know everyone has their own feelings about working versus staying at home with the kids and let me tell you as a mom who has now tried both... Don't let anybody's opinion or what works for someone else's family let you feel guilty, second guess your decisions, or feel less of a super mom. I'm not here to knock anyone's choice, only to share how we made our choices.

If you work 40+ hours a week and come home and love on your kids- you are super mom.

If you stay at home and feed your kid every meal and change every diaper - you are super mom.

If you work part time and take your kiddo to MDO so you can have some sanity and everyone's better for it - you are super mom.

To work or not to work was the hot topic all during my pregnancy. At the time, the hubs was working in a position that demanded the regular 40 hour workweek plus at least 3 nights a week of events that would put him home at or after 9 pm. My job in the alumni office was somewhat similar in that I was in the office during the regular week and my after hours events were more like once a week unless it was homecoming, commencement or auction weekend, then the only off hours were when I was sleeping. We didn't have family close and we lived and worked in a small town with few daycare options. We both loved our jobs but felt that if we both worked we'd have our daughter in daycare/nanny care 40 hours a week + several nights and weekends which we were not comfortable with, so we decided that I would quit my job after the baby came and stay home.

It was the most fun, challenging, emotionally draining year I've ever spent. I loved the fact that I got to be with my daughter all day, I got to feed her change her be sure she was getting plenty of attention, cuddles and playtime. I also hated it. Staying home, not my kid people. I went from working full time, having an income, work identity, friends- to sitting at home. all. day. long. with someone who couldn't communicate with me the way I needed to be communicated with. It was very lonely for me. (It didn't help that the first 4 months of B's life were during the coldest, rainiest part of the year) Most of my friends/co-workers either didn't have kids or their children were already grown. I joined a few mommy groups and while those were wonderful, they were all in bigger cities that I had to make a 30 minute drive each way, which with an infant's schedule makes for a big undertaking.

Once I figured out I had post-partum anxiety I realized more than ever that I needed to have something to keep me from over-thinking and freaking out about every single thing. But how could anyone take care and love my baby the way I do? Truth is they can't. Nothing beats mom. But I also know that when mommy is healthy and happy then kids are healthy and happy. I knew that I wanted to go back part time. It would give me a chance to have something of my own and contribute financially to the family piggy bank and it'd be great for Brooklyn to start learning social skills and interacting with other tots a few days a week.

I had been looking for something part-time since we moved back to Texas back in September. I interviewed for a few jobs, got rejected twice and turned down one opportunity. I only applied for 2 full time positions. If you are going to ask me to be away from my kid 40 hours a week I better be gung ho about the job. No mediocre here. Finding something part time proved to be harder than I thought. Sure I could always wait tables a few days a week. But it's not just about income- I needed something that is mentally stimulating and after waiting tables throughout college I am well aware that I can do that with my eyes closed. So a day after submitting my resume for a full time gig with a local non-profit. I was sitting in an interview with the Executive Director. Three days later I had the job.

I've been at my job a month and I still have mixed feelings to be honest. I went into this saying that I am going to give it a solid 8-12 weeks to take it all in and let us all adjust.  There are lots of positives. Brooklyn no longer cries when I drop her off at her school. I can tell she's learning new things both physically, mentally and socially from the other 4 kids in her class. She has 2 wonderful teachers who teach her songs, rock her for an hour when she's having trouble napping, and who will be silly with her during playtime. I have less general anxiety, more adults to talk to, and a sense that I am needed and appreciated for the skills and knowledge that my education and career have taught me. Daniel is just glad I'm not on the verge of a massive panic attack every other week :)
Her first day of "school"
On the other hand, I still feel a sense of guilt - like I'm choosing work over my daughter which I know I shouldn't feel- but it's there. I still feel like full time is a lot - I feel like I'm constantly planning ahead - the weeks dinners, work schedules and who's picking Brooklyn up on which day. When can I squeeze in a haircut? Will Daniel be out of town this day? When can we try out a Lifegroup? I feel like I play with her in the morning for a bit (I don't go in til 9), take her to school, pick her up, come home to get dinner started while she plays, we eat and then 30 minutes later she's going to bed and then I spend the next hour doing dishes, packing lunches, sorting laundry, you get the picture. I often feel jipped. Like I didn't get the quality time I wanted with my daughter or husband. I worry about if/when we have a 2nd how will I be able to return to work after 6 or 8 weeks? I mean I got a whole year with B. Ladies always tell me "They're only little once." or "You only have that short 5 years before they go to school then you can work all you want." I wrestle with those phrases every week.
She was at Nana & Papaw's one day so we got to send pics!
Anywho, my intention certainly wasn't to write a novel as it appears has happened, but rather to document this change, this decision, and the flood of feelings that comes along with it. As a whole I feel like I'm handling it waaaaay better that I imagined I would, but still have lots of feelings I'm wrestling with.

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