Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Working Mom vs Stay at Home Mom

The following post was written on a Friday (I'm not sure which one). It was a particularly hard day and I was wrestling through my emotions and ended up recording a lot of it here on the ole blog.
I woke up this morning in a bad mood. I didn't want to get out of bed. I looked down at my coffee and I just wanted to freeze time. I almost felt that if I didn't move then maybe I could freeze time.

So why do I feel this way?

It's Friday.

I have to work tonight. I have become a slave to the weekends. I wake up on Friday with a sense of dread. I know that I'm about to head into a weekend of unknown horrors, happiness, fatigue, physical exhaustion that will make me nauseated, a Saturday that I won't get to enjoy with my husband who is off, missed smiles from my boy, and a catatonic state (just imagine Cameron on Ferris Bueller's Day Off) on Sunday when I force myself to switch back to a normal schedule. Sometimes the feeling sticks with me into Monday. I hate when it does that. I actually started thinking about this day yesterday and it made me sad so I quickly forced myself to think about something else.

I cried at the kitchen table this morning.

Owen sat happily eating his usual breakfast of banana, cheerios, eggs, and milk. I wiped my tears before Patrick made it back to the kitchen to kiss me goodbye for the morning. He left for work and I just stood in the kitchen.

Come on, Elizabeth! Get it together! This is not that bad. He's asleep when you're gone anyway. You really only miss out on one day with him. One day! You are lucky. You are blessed. You can drink gallons  of coffee and you'll be fine tonight. You have a good job. You like your job. Heck, you love your job!

Am I the only one that coaches myself inside my own head? The tears kept trying to burst back through so I began to busy myself for distraction. I started the laundry and made the bed while Owen finished.

Now he's napping and I just googled, "I want to be a stay at home mom." Do I? I don't know...

I was met with interesting articles. One woman wrote a lengthy post on her regrets on becoming a stay at home mom. She talked about how she feels she let down feminists who paved the way for her in the working world, her grown kids don't think she had a legitimate job, she lost touch and became outdated with current technology, and her world seemed to narrow as she only spent time with other moms of small children.

Another mom, who was quite bitter from a divorce, also seemed to loathe her decision to leave the workforce to stay home with her children. This particular woman talked about how her relationship with her husband suffered and that they had nothing in common to talk about. She lost touch with who she was. She described it as feeling empty- purposeless. She then went on to discuss how she became less sexy (something about spit up and her husband not touching her for years). In closing, she talked about how her divorce left her with nothing. Basically, her article was depressing and I'd say that her issues didn't really stem from her decision to be a stay at home mom. Just my opinion though. I'm not a therapist.

What's strange to me is that I went for the negative articles not the sappy ones about how great staying at home could be. I wanted to hear the ugliest truth about what it could be like. I wanted to know if the grass really is greener on the other side... or not. Maybe I'm trying to find someone who will talk me out of this.

The crazy thing is that I am very much like a stay at home mom already. I am home with Owen all week long. I am the primary caregiver for him. We don't have to pay for daycare because we don't need it. I'm with him most of the time. 

I also have a career. I'm a labor and delivery nurse on the weekends. Sometimes it feels like it's my little secret since I do it through the night. Sometimes people forget that I have a job other than taking care of Owen. Sometimes I get excited about work. Sometimes I cry the whole way there.

Let me pause for a moment and fill you in on my typical weekend schedule.

On Friday afternoon I try to take a quick two-ish hour nap in preparation for work. I leave the house around 6:45pm. Patrick usually only has time to bathe Owen, read some stories, and then he's in bed. I come home around 8:20am to find the two of them getting breakfast ready. I usually crash after eating a bowl of oatmeal. Thanks to earplugs, I usually stay blissfully out of it all day Saturday. I may get up and use the bathroom or grab a snack but I try my best to get back in bed and stay there until 5pm. Some days I am better at this than others. I get to spend a couple of hours with my men on Saturday before I'm out the door again at 6:45pm. On Sunday, I usually drive straight to church from working my second night shift. After church, I drive home to sleep for a couple of hours. Patrick and Owen return home after Sunday school and wake me up to eat lunch with them. After that, I'm back on. The caregiver torch is passed back over to me. I'm usually dazed. I won't win any mothering awards for my Sunday afternoon performances- I'm in survival mode. My feet, legs, and hips hurt. If I pushed with a mom for more than an hour, my arms may hurt. My lower back sometimes hurts too. I don't go anywhere on Sunday. My pj's don't come off my body until Monday and I always feel relieved that I have 5 days before I have to do it again.

I'm finding that 5 days goes by way too fast. It's not that I don't enjoy what I do. I'm always fine once I actually get to work and start my shift. I'll admit though, night shift just isn't for me. I've never been a night person. I like my sleep. The fact that I've made it through almost an entire year of this is practically a miracle.

As I've taken time to type out this (rather lengthy) post, I've started to understand the root cause of all my emotions. The cause of all my struggles are tied up in the fact that I've changed. November 18,  2012 changed me for the rest of my life. At 7:20pm that night, I became a mom. I wasn't prepared for how that would change me (nobody is, I guess). Before maternity leave, I assumed I would work full-time days when my leave ended. We would find childcare and I just knew that I would love getting to have my time away from Owen to work. I have to laugh at myself now.

During maternity leave, I decided that day time flexi would be better. I was slowly realizing how my heart was divided. After a few months of flexi, I decided that my current schedule might work even better. I mean, how can spending all week at home AND still working be beat? It's taken me some time to realize that being a nurse isn't my most loved job anymore...being a mom is. I'm NOT saying that people who continue to work full time don't love their children more than work so please don't hear that. I'm simply sharing my personal experience.

I'm not okay missing out on three full days of time with my child. He is going to grow up before I know it and I don't want to miss it. Also, I'm not okay quitting my job. First of all, we're not really in a place where we could afford for me to quit. Secondly, I really enjoy what I do and I don't feel like I'm ready to leave it behind just yet.

If I'm honest with myself, I understand that this current work schedule is the best option for our family right now. Being a stay at home mom isn't an option and this current schedule is as close to perfect as things can get. To be cliche, I can't "have my cake and eat it too." I can't work day shift and be a stay at home mom. I have to choose. I'm finding that Owen wins. My job as his mom trumps day shift every time I think about it. I'm willing to sacrifice sleep. I'm willing to fight through my exhaustion every Sunday afternoon and evening. I'll enjoy my weeks with Owen and when Friday morning comes, I'll coach myself through the tears. Maybe it'll get easier with more time. Even if it doesn't, he is worth it.

blurry rocking chair pic


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