From my office swivel chair, I can see a daycare. It is really close. It’s like watching it on TV. The playground is eye level. It is both comforting and torturous.
Yesterday after having a fairly ok day at work, I looked over – it was playtime again and the 4-year-olds were out. I watched as a teacher bent down to hug a little girl and comfort her. My little girl is 4. Ms. Susan was probably comforting her just like that at that very moment. In that moment, I WANTED TO BE THE ONE comforting my daughter.
I was able to hold back tears until I got in the car 5 minutes later for the drive home.
It does not help that my 2-year-old son pretty routinely accidentally calls me his teacher’s name. I understand that it’s normal, that he doesn’t do it on purpose. Well sometimes he does because he thinks it’s funny when I say “that’s not my name! What’s my name?” “Mama!” he giggles. But the sting is still there.
As in most facets of life, the way I feel about being a mom who works is fluid. Sometimes I DO feel 100% badass, like I completely love our set up and I love working and it’s a choice I’m totally comfortable with. Sometimes I feel 100% defeated and trapped, like I don’t have a choice and am being forced against my will to do this horrible thing which is keeping me away from my children 11 hours a day and making me miss those important moments I dreamed of my whole life.
Yin and yang. The actual truth lies somewhere in the middle.
But what I really want to communicate to you, dear reader, is I’m tired of always wondering if I’m doing the right thing. I’m tired of feeling conflicted.
I ‘check in’ with myself and our ‘situation’ on a daily basis, sometimes several times a day. It is crazy making. Are my work and the money worth being called my son’s teacher’s name every day and the emotional toll of that? Do I really have a choice to work? Could we make it financially without my income? Would I be happier at home with the kids all day every day?
Where I usually land is well-done crust of unending but mitigated frustration, surrounding a soft meringue of gratitude and contentment, with meringue tips of joy. I’m a lucky girl with two great kids, a husband who’s loving and supportive, and a job that allows me to drive my own bus (so to speak). I scold myself for feeling conflicted and pursuing these endless paths of self-doubt.
But because I’m me and cannot stop problem solving, I continue: Wouldn’t it be nice if I could have a part-time career that would utilize my talents and skills, and allow me to pay for part-time daycare, so I could spend more time with my kids and have personal satisfaction from a job well done on both the home and career fronts of this weather pattern? How would I find such a career? Does one exist? Is part-time work ever respected and appropriately reimbursed? Could I do my current job on a part-time basis? Do I even have the guts to pursue this thinking anymore?
Prediction: Uncertain in America. Let’s add some more meringue tips of dismay to this conflict pie.
Mary Beth is married and works full-time in the public health arena. Her previous work experience includes volunteering with the Peace Corps and working with state and local health departments. She has a daughter, Ivy who’s almost 4, and a son, Baby Roy, who’s almost 2. With her son gaining footing in the toddler years, she’s only recently “come up for air” and is feeling settled as a sane(ish!) family with a nice(ish!) routine. She blogs at Clip Clop Mama and tweets as @clipclopmama.