January 9, 2013 by Melissa
I’m having an existential crisis, of sorts. I’ve had similar periods of self doubt throughout my adult life. “Am I living up to my potential?” sort of stuff. I’ve put tremendous pressure on myself since I was a kid to do “great things” and that hasn’t really abated. Now I’m home raising my kids, something I never thought I’d do.
This all started a few months ago when I ran into a former work aquaintance. I was with my kids and she was not. She worked with me when I was in the midst of applying to law schools (I got wait listed, never got in) so knew me in a different light, as someone more ambitious in my career. Once she knew that I was home with my girls (she works full time and has one son), she kept saying things like “Well, you don’t work, so…” or “Yeah, but you don’t work anymore, so…” implying that I didn’t or couldn’t understand the issues she has balancing work and home or trying to find time to do anything for herself. I got really pissed by the end of the conversation and ended up just putting my hand up to stop the conversation and walking away, with hot angry tears in my eyes. I hate when people have the power to make me feel that way. I went home seething and unable to fully understand why. Wasn’t I comfortable in my decision? Maybe I wasn’t…
Hence the crisis.
That wasn’t the first time I’ve come across veiled judgements from other women and i know it won’t be the last. I even have a few very honest friends who have admitted that they are disappointed in my decision to stay home. I had always said that I wouldn’t do it and they felt I was letting myself and those around me down by “copping out” and being home with my kids. I get that. I used to feel the same way about some stay at home moms. I say some because there were a few who were wonderful at it and seemed to be born for the roll. They did it well and with grace. I’ve come to realize, however, that no matter the job, rare is the person who loves it every day and feels they were meant to do it. Do you love your job? I have a few friends who love their careers and I’m always in awe of them as most of the people I know question their job time and again, wondering if this is what they were meant for. I’m no different.
I no longer feel that I’m copping out, though. I was forced into this position by a job that wasn’t flexible with my husband’s travel schedule and my day care hours. Once I realized that I couldn’t find a job in an area I wanted for enough money for daycare, I then decided to do the stay at home thing. And I threw myself into the role-I read books, researched on the internet, talked to other moms and teachers. These are my kids, after all.
I have to tell myself that a lot, though, when my energy is low or I see the kids needing something new to interest them. But I did that when I worked, too. Telling myself that there were redeeming qualities about my job, that certain things were important, especially to the employees beneath me, even if I didn’t like doing them.
So I guess I’ve made my peace, again, with my role. Then, several days ago, I was at the rec center with the girls and there were a lot of stay at home dads there and I found myself thinking how cool it was that their kids had that role model at home with them. I then wondered why it couldn’t be cool for my kids, too? Why was there a difference? There isn’t. I’m doing a good job and sometimes I need a little crisis to spur me to reevaluate and find new inspiration. It’s good for me.
By the way, if that former co-worker is reading this and recognizes herself, please don’t assume that I have a clean house (I don’t-it’s picked up but not clean) or that we have grand meals every night (have you ever cooked with two little ones begging for attention?) or that I don’t have empathy or sympathy to listen to how hard it is to work and raise kids. I worked the first year of Lucy’s life and it was hard. This is hard, too.