Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Time and place

The work/motherhood dilemma has been a tough one.

Before I got pregnant I'm not sure what exactly my expectations were. I know I thought about it, and knowing myself, I'm pretty sure I had some fairly strong opinions on the subject. But for the life of me I can't recall.

I know that I had a job that I loved, and in my mind, would have been the perfect job to have while I had a baby. It was flexible and fun and a breath of fresh air.

But, those infernal changes...and I had to re-evaluate mid-stride. Hindsight really is everything. Maybe not everything, but definitely handy. Mid-stride, I was caught in a panic. What to do? Have I chosen the wrong path (duh, obviously)? What now? Tricky questions and it felt like the clock was ticking. I went out on a limb and tried something new. It was challenging and difficult and sometimes easy, and illuminating. It cast a light on things I was good at, that I had forgotten for years, and also shined a big spotlight on things I am not good at. Like taking direction and sitting still and being meticulous.

(*although I can be meticulous when I want to, I have a very hard time being meticulous when someone else wants me to. I'm like a Gen Y, only ten years older. I need to know why, and then I need to believe in why, which doesn't necessarily go over well in an office setting. Lucky for me I had a patient boss who, although I was a thorn in her side, was above and beyond in her compassion for this obvious fish out of water.)

Although Stella was only in daycare for first two days a week and then three, I was miserable. When I was at work I couldn't stop thinking about the fact that deep inside I felt like I should be taking care of her. I made myself sick with worry, and my guilt ate me up inside.

When I got pregnant with Soph I rested my frenzied mind, at ease in the knowledge that I would not go back to early morning daycare drop offs and the difficulties that arise when your child is sick. It was simple; I would stay home, the children would flourish, and the world would be right as I know it.

Not so simple. It really never is.

The stress has simply changed. Days are long when your only outing is to a grocery store, your companions moody and needy. The most scintillating conversation is a blow-by-blow analysis of The Little Einsteins or an elucidation on Why a Person Can't Watch TV All Day.

When the big project is laundry and even that can't get done, days can be long. When a baby is cutting molars for months on end and wants to climb everything in sight (including the console table, with its thick legs, it was actually pretty funny how mad she was), days can be excruciating.

I escape to my computer, to quickly type up a list or send an email; it's escapism, it really is. The major contract I'm working on right now should be charging me instead of paying me; it's my saving grace to do something, anything, where my label isn't momma and my most prized function is not to provide "cookcooks."

The biggest conundrum, the hardest thing to manage, perhaps, is that I love it. It's the most massive dichotomy I've ever experienced, except when I was expected to pick a side for my honours thesis, I kept convincing myself with my own arguments and changing my tack.

Every once in a while I remind myself how fast it's gone by with Stella; in the blink of an eye she's nearly in kindergarten and it will just as fast for Sophie.

Time and place, right, that's what I have to remember.


Jen said...

I loved this post. It's so hard to find balance, regardless if you've chosen to be a stay at home mom or a working mom. I love being a stay at home mom but there are days I definitely need to get out more, days I don't feel like listening to whining, days where coffee breaks and sitting at a desk sound awfully appealing.

Bloggy Mama said...

Fabulous post. I found you through your comment on Jen's post today. I'm in the middle of this same debate, however have determined to work part-time out of the home. After a great morning at work, I'm feeling pretty stoked about spending the rest of my time with my kids. Thanks for sharing!

spinregina said...

Mmm...coffee breaks. I make a nearly full pot of coffee every morning, of which I maybe drink two full cups. I pour many, but they get left randomly throughout the house as I deal with perceived and real emergencies. Like today when Sophie's let was stuck in her crib....perceived...or real?

MJ said...

Ah yes, the motherhood, career, work-life balance debate.

Like you, I decided it best to stay at home FT for about 2 years. Having PT work has been personally fulfilling, intellectually stimulating while maintaing life-home balance for everyone else in my little family.

PS: I noticed your blog reference attached to your email. I'm Stella's 2 friends' mom! LOL! I'll be having a give-away within the next couple days so make sure to pop by!

spinregina said...

MJ - tell me when & where!

lotusloq said...

Do you take the pictures as well? This one struck a chord with me.