Homemaker Moneymaker

If I don't get out the door to the office early in the morning, it becomes difficult for me to get out the door at all. Not because I get swept into the time-continuum defying chaos of my home (though I do) and not because of the two pairs of small hands clinging at my clothes (though they do). It's because the longer I spend in the morning routine with my kids, the harder it gets to leave them. Let's face it; I could stare at Daphne and her ever expanding repertoire of facial expressions and vocal experiments all day. And the moment Wyatt grabs my finger and asks me to 'play cars, mom!', I'm his.

I've devised a plan: I just have to jump out of the shower running, throwing clothes onto my body and toast into my mouth and shouting I love you's with an arm thrown over my eyes the entire time so that I don't see any cute faces or any of the hundred other tasks at home that I'd rather be doing.

Once I get to work, I'm safe. I get into the zone and get all productive and efficient and 9 to 5 ish.

But getting there. It's the getting there that nearly kills me every day.

"Working Mom." I admire and respect you. Truly. I just don't want to be you.

I'm good at my job and I like what I do. I love that in my small way, I'm helping these girls in their recovery. I'm helping them to achieve something that they didn't think they could do. One of my girls was accepted to the competitive university of her choice, recently. She didn't think she'd be going to college. I helped her get there. It's in moments like these - the close myself behind my office door and punch the air and scream-whisper "YEAH!" moments - that I feel like I'm doing something good. I'm a part of something big.

But every moment that I'm succeeding at work is a moment that I'm not succeeding at home. Not failing. Just not succeeding. My home is my Kingdom. What happens to a kingdom when it is without its Queen? What happens to her King?

This trade-off breaks my heart. And it has been breaking my heart more and more, lately.

The grass is not greener. I remember very well my stint as a stay-at-home-mom with Wyatt. How my brain would turn to mush; how the days lost any sort of individuality; how the monotony of the hours and the routine of house and baby would cause me to weep with boredom; how I would wait at the window - tongue lolling, panting - for Bill to get home, and how mad I would get when I asked him how his day was and he would just say "fine". No craved conversation. No inkling of what was happening beyond the confines of my own four walls.

Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. Being a working mom is hard. I've done both. So I also know that there are perks to each.

This feeling I've been having, lately, isn't about being discontented. It's not about how hard our schedules are, lately. It's not even about how I can't keep the house clean (I can't!) or make it to the grocery store (I haven't!) or how I sometimes go days at a time without having a real conversation with my husband because we are just so busy.

In fact, work is going really well. I'm good at what I do. I adore my boss. I'd totally hang out with her on the weekend if either of us were hang-out-on-the-weekend types of people. I like my co-workers, have a good relationship with the girls, and I still get that sense of satisfaction after each day's work is through. This feeling I have isn't about wanting to quit.

No. This feeling is telling me that...that this isn't my life.

A month ago it was. And now it's not.

It reminds me of the feeling I had when I knew I had to move to Seattle. This isn't your life, it said. There is something else you should be doing.

And this morning - as I was slipping on my shoes to leave for work, Wyatt followed me, protesting. "No, no!" he said. "No, mommy!"

"Wyatt, buddy," I said. "I have to go to work." Secretly I was pleased. He usually doesn't object to my leaving in the morning. He's usually already busy with his collection of cars or building his train track or drawing on his magnadoodle. But this morning, he didn't want me to go. This made it hard enough for me to go, but then he hit me with it.

"NO!" he said, raising his arms to be received into mine. "I want go with you!"

This caught in my throat and hammered at my chest. I pulled him into my arms and said, "Oh, Wy. I wish I could take you with me. I can't right now. But I will come back for you."

And in the moment I said it, I recognized the truth of that statement. How much I meant it. Right now, I had to go to work. But I would find a way.

I would come back for him. I would come home.


Jolynn said...

I have been both types also! They are both very tough jobs! I understand and feel your pain. You will make the right choice with lots of prayer and soul searching. My babies are at school all day now so I work in the AM. But many days I miss a bunch of littles ones at home..... *sigh*. Hang in there, Stepper.

Jeff and Ari said...

How come everything you write sounds so magnificently poetic?! Amazing ... You know, I haven't been a working mom yet ... give me a few more months. But reading this made me realize how torn I will feel and how hard it will be. But how rewarding to do both also ... I will definitely let you know how I am feeling then so we can share war stories :)

That Girl said...

Wow. Just ... wow.

I haven't been a working mom before - I've only gone the stay-at-home route so far. I'm well versed in the tongue-lolling-for-the-hubby-to-get-home. The monotony, the boredom, the craving for adult conversation.

But I also know that nothing in the work world is BETTER. (And nothing is worse, too ...)

I'm glad you know it, too.

Azúcar said...

I've only been working mom. Phew. This was a hard post to get through.

It's true: you have to almost wall yourself off so you can leave, and then you can't drive home fast enough to get to your babies. There are days you are THRILLED to leave. There are days when you SOB when you leave.

~j. said...