Being a working mom is kicking my butt - not the working part but the mom part. For two days in a row the first week I worked, I only saw my boys for an hour each day. On a third day, my school was having an open house in the evening, so I left for work at 6:00 that morning and got home at 8:15 that night. I didn't see Rylan at all that day. If I didn't know that I will get a couple months in the summer every year to be home with them again, I probably would have called the school and quit that day. Even so, I have a constant mental debate going on in the back corners of my mind about whether or not the pros of working outweigh the con of not being home with my boys all afternoon.
To this train of thought, let me add the "on the other hand" that I kept meaning to write about last semester when I was a "stay at home mom" for four months to three kids who were in school for seven hours out of every day...
On the day I dropped Rylan off for kindergarten the first time, I drove home, sat purposelessly in a silent kitchen for an hour, and said to myself, "Now I get The Feminine Mystique." After a week of waking up every morning knowing that the only thing I had on my to-do list for the day was laundry, I said, "If I thought this was all my life was going to be, I too would start drinking at 10 in the morning."**
You know that saying that having a child is like your heart walking around outside your body? During my nine years as a stay at home mom, I had one or more kids with me nearly every moment that I was awake. Three pieces of my heart walking around outside my body, but with me all day long. Then one day, the last piece of my heart joined the other two at school, spending seven hours of every day away from me, and I was left alone. And it really did feel like I was missing pieces of myself for part of every day. My heart was off at school while I sat at home.
So yes, being a working mom is hard, but when I struggle with the question of whether it's worth it to work, I remind myself of that low place I was in last fall. For now, it's worth working through.
If you've been wondering how my job is going, my answer would have to be, It's too soon to tell. The nice thing about working at a high school on block scheduling is that they start new classes in January. I only had my first semester classes for one week before the second semester started, so I was able to start fresh with the students and not have to clean up some other teacher's mess. But then we had class for three days followed by four snow days, so at this point I don't really know how things are going. Ask me again in a week.
And now, about those snow days...
*The Mommy Wars I'm talking about here are the ones where we argue about whose lives are harder, not the ones where we argue about who is a better mother or who loves their kids more. In those Mommy Wars, everyone is a loser because that's a stupid thing to argue about.
**This is a reference to a chapter in The Feminine Mystique where Friedan relates how some women used alcohol to overcome the boredom of being home all day. I wouldn't really start drinking. But I do have a bottle of vodka in my kitchen. (For making vanilla.)