To Work or Not to Work AKA Good Mom/ Bad Mom

Prelude: For those who don’t know me, I am a woman who established a career and then decided to have kids late in life at 36.  I now have two children under the age of 4 and have been a stay-at-home mom since my first child was born.  I am now returning to the workforce and this is my quandary.

Last night was not a good night.  I cried for half the night.  It was the eve of my last day raising the kids as a stay-at-home mom.  The nanny comes tomorrow to be trained for the rest of the week and I start working again full-time next week.  Am I doing the right thing?  Are my kids going to handle it well?  A million thoughts and questions plagued me.

This morning was an entirely different story.  It was not a special morning comprised of me and the kids savoring our last weekday alone together.   It was like every other morning I’ve had for the last few months.  It starts as soon as my husband leaves for work.  The kids both start whining, crying and fighting.  I can not sit my daughter down for a single minute without her throwing a fit.  If I leave her sight (to throw away a dirty diaper, go to the restroom, etc) she totally freaks and won’t stop screaming until I pick her up again.  I’ve been working on techniques to make her a little more independent, to no avail.  My son, who is totally independent, has an entirely different set of triggers to drive me nuts.  Every time he goes to the restroom or leaves my sight, he takes off all his clothes.  He goes into the restroom to “tinkle” and 2 minutes later comes out completely naked.  This happens several times a day and he gets punished every time but he simply doesn’t care.  He also has to touch everything.  He walks from the office to the kitchen and along the way he pulls down the pillows off the couches, kicks toys into the middle of the floor, grabs everything within his reach and moves it somewhere else.  He constantly fights with his baby sister and won’t leave her alone.  He steals EVERY toy she picks up, intentionally blocks her path when she is crawling or walking somewhere, grabs her and tries to pull her around, etc.  I literally put him in time out 3-4 times a day.  I used to spank him but that was even less effective than time out.

The truth is, I just no longer have the patience nor energy left to deal with two small children alone.  I feel horribly guilty about going back to work, but I am not doing any of us any good this way.  I feel like I am constantly yelling and that’s not healthy.  My past goal was to always keep the kids active to help them expend energy and keep engaged, but now I am so worn out from carting the kids back and forth to two activities, classes, or playdates per day I just can’t do it anymore.  I’m also a little bitter because I can’t help but feel if I had just had a little more help then I wouldn’t have gotten so burnt out.  Raising kids under the age of 5 is so demanding and expensive.  A normal night out to the movies suddenly becomes encrusted in gold by the time you pay for a sitter.  When you don’t have a family support unit to help, hiring a sitter every time you need to go to the doctor, dentist or get your hair done starts to outweigh the need of hiring one for date night.  Sure, the older the kids get, the easier it gets, but those first few years are exhausting and frustrating.

Even as I write this post while my daughter is napping and my son was watching TV for my 30 minutes per day sanity check…I turn around and see him coming down the stairs, and he is naked again (for the second time today and it’s not even noon).  Sigh.

So yeah, I feel rotten, and I feel torn, but try not to judge me too harshly without walking a day in my shoes.  I know there is an unspoken code in the SAHM world that says, “Don’t break rank and file no matter how hard it gets!”  But I’m afraid I have reached my breaking point.

 

I’m Overworked!

I’ve been working for three months on my daughter’s first birthday party.  Overkill…yes I know.  But none the less, it has been a lot of work and very stressful.  Everything I make for the party takes time and time is the one thing I don’t have!  Yes, I’m a SAHM, but I watch my kids all day so the only time I have to work on other things is in the evenings and at night.  My kids aren’t old enough to do things for themselves, so I cook 4 meals a day for them, wash laundry almost every day, clean, change diapers for my daughter every hour it seems like, and take my son to the potty at least 3-4 times a day (and usually at the most inopportune times).  So…I made this eCard today.

I actually don’t involve myself in the war between working moms and SAHMoms.  I’ve done both, and personally, I think they both suck.  No matter how you slice it, moms of both kinds have to work at certain things all day (either with the kids or with their jobs) and they have to do chores at night (housecleaning, projects for the kids, etc).  Neither type of mom just works a 40 hour work week, far from it.

 

Oh, That Kind of Mom

I really hate how, as moms, we try to label each other by stereotypes.  You know, the crafty mom, the over protective mom, the party mom, etc.

I really wish there was a way to be accepted for who I am and who I am as a mom.  I don’t feel like I fit into any particular mold, and my guess is, most moms don’t.  But moms try to choose a group to which they closest fit and then try to squeeze themselves into the pre-labled package.

I’ve tried to fit into a mold myself, but it just doesn’t work.  I like to be crafty and cook, I really really do…but it’s not all I live for.  I also like to drink, but I’m not really a party mom, I’m more of a wallflower.  I like to be funny and talk about silly subjects but I’m not much of a comedienne.  I’m really only funny to myself.  I also like sex and I think it’s funny to talk about, but of course a lot of moms frown on it.  They will talk about it in private at ladies night but not in mixed company or around people they don’t know, which I think is really dumb.  It’s not like those people don’t do it too.  So as you can tell, I’m a bit of Martha Stewart mixed with May West and a splash of Felicia Day (who you don’t even know.)

Anyway, I’m curious if other moms have the same problem.

 

Martyr Mommies

I love my children dearly.  I love them and want them to have everything.  I give up many things in order for them to have things I didn’t have when I was their age.  My biggest wish is for them to have more, experience more and do better in their endeavors than I have.

However, one thing I do not agree with is Martyrdom Mommyhood.  There are moms who give to their children to the extent they themselves are unhappy.  They stay in unhappy marriages to give their children two parent homes.  They isolate themselves from adult friendships because their kids cry when they leave or because they are afraid to leave them with anyone else.  They give up their favorite activities, hobbies, or work (in essence sacrificing their individual identity) because they can not find a balance between family time and personal time.  They always go where their kids want to go, eat what the kids want to eat, listen to what the kids want to listen to and talk about what the kids want to talk about.  They sacrifice their individual identity to become MOM.

A mother’s biggest job for her kids is to be a role model.  How can a mom teach a child to be a well-rounded person if they themselves are only one-sided?  How can she encourage her child to explore their capabilities and interests in their lives if she stifles her own?  How can children learn about healthy relationships (marriage and friendship) if their mother doesn’t teach them relationships take hard work and time?

It is good and right to sacrifice for your children.  Just consider how much of a sacrifice you are making and whether it might actually be taking away from your child’s experience.

  • Are you happy in your marriage?  If not, are you working to make it better or just allowing things to happen without speaking up for yourself?
  • Do you occasionally meet friends to talk and have fun?  Do you HAVE any friends?
  • Do you occasionally spend time away from the kids to do things you enjoy such as hobbies, activities or work?  Do you spend ANY time away from the kids?
  • Do you have goals or accomplishments you work towards (other than being a mom) which you are proud of?

If you can’t answer Yes to any of these questions…you should rethink who you are as an individual in respect to your family.  If you don’t know who you are without them…how can you teach them who they can be without you?