Between some e-mails I’ve been exchanging with a friend who’s also a mom and a blogger and the conversation about Work Outside the Home Moms (WOHM) going on at Mom’s Daily Dose, the topic has gotten me thinking. I’m thinking, mainly, that while I don’t say it point blank, a lot of the stress and angst I throw up all over this blog are pretty much due to being a WOHM, and the constant struggle to keep up, to be both a good mom and a good employee (and oh yeah, a good wife, a good daughter, a good sister and a good friend).
But here’s my deal: I WANT to be a WOHM. I enjoy working. I like putting on non-mommy clothes and some make-up, I like leaving my house, I like being around other adults, I like working in a creative environment, and I like the respect my brains and skills earn me. Even if I didn’t need my paycheck, I would still find a way to have some kind of work outside my home, but then it would probably be on a part-time basis. I know many women struggle with working vs. staying home. I know there are people out there who believe the best kind of mom is the one who’s home all day long with her kids and that to be a mom with a job is to basically be a shitty mom. And while I totally respect that, this is not my struggle. I feel absolutely no guilt about this. And while the fact that I don’t have a choice in this matter helps, I also know that having a job makes me a better mother. Let’s face it, people: I’m impatient and temperamental. As much as I adore my son, as much as he has made me a better person, if I had to spend every single moment of every single day with him, I’d be an irritable, frustrated, sour old bitch. If this makes me a shitty mom to some people, so be it, but it’s the truth. Some women can do it day in and day out and do it beautifully – bless them and all, but I’m not that woman.
I’m not stupid, though. I know full well that as long as my main priority is my child, I’m not going anywhere big in the working world. The real bitch that we moms who work outside the home have to deal with is the fact that if we’re highly ambitious and focus on our careers, our kids will suffer; and if we focus on our kids and are physically present in their lives as much as possible, our careers suffer. I’m not saying anything new here, and while I blame the American corporate culture for this bullshit, I’m not taking it up as my cause. I am, however, rebelling against it in my own life and am trying to create whatever situation I can so that I can, in fact, have my cake and eat it too.
My dream is to just work for myself – as a writer, of course, but I’m flexible and open to any other creative-type thing. But assuming I can’t make that happen for a long while, then my highest ideal as a WOHM is to be in a situation where I am the master of my time. That’s what it boils down to for me. I believe I can work and find some fulfillment (even if I’m not “rewarded” with big money or a cool title), and I can be a kick-ass mom at the same time – if I can use my time however I see fit. It’s the structure of a regular job that I find completely inconvenient and that contributes so much to my frustration. At the same time, though, I know that I’m the kind of employee who can’t handle disappointing her boss or worse, who’s considered unreliable; so what I really fear and what really frustrates me is finding myself in a situation where my boss considers me unreliable or a “bad” employee simply because I have responsibilities as a mom. I fear that so badly, and I hate how that makes me feel.
I’m in a job now that promises to allow me to find the balance I’m looking for. Even though almost everyone comes in late and leaves late, I get to come in early so I can leave early. But on the days when Ben doesn’t work and is Max’s primary caretaker, I can come in late and stay late like everyone else, which is not required but helps me feel better and helps me show that I want to be part of the team.
And, if it ever gets too complicated (which I SO hope not), I will just have to move on to something that’s closer to my goals. Because however much I enjoy working, Max remains my priority – and there’s no way I’m sacrificing him for anything else.
Cute Baby Makes it all Better
While I'm busy dealing with my first week at a new job, throwing crap out to prepare for our move, and making final preparations for the holidays, Max will entertain you with his total cuteness.
First up is Hanukkah. See how much he's into the lighting of the menorah? See how much he cares about the fact that he's squirming against me and pulling my hair?
There's a toy in that box, but he preferred to push the box around the house.
His poppy and nannie (Ben's dad and step-mom) gave him this little alphabet toy, which he won't stop playing with. He's figured out that when you put the letter magnet in the slot, a voice sings about the letter. I now have 300 magnets thrown all over my living room. He doesn't really look like he cares, does he?
We kept the decorations simple this year, due to a decorations-related temper tantrum I had a few weeks ago, combined with my not wanting to spend my every moment at home telling Max not to touch the tree, combined with this awful cold that won't go away that's leaving me more exhausted than usual. So I didn't go all out, but I think Baby Jesus would approve anyway.
The tree no longer looks that poorly decorated. I looked at these pictures and realized that I'd done an awful job, so I tried to fix it. I'm not very good at symmetry.
Coming next: Max rocks the playground slide.
For my blogger friends who have made the switch, I want you to know that I have been repeatedly trying to leave you comments, and that they just don't go through.
I've tried to do it signed into my account, and it acts like I'm not signed in. So I try type my username and password right in the comments section, but it just keeps popping back up with "check your pasword" over and over again (and yes, I'm typing my password correctly). So then I've tried to do it as "other" and it just doesn't go through - it keeps refreshing the comments page and does't add my post - just leaves it as text that's still being written.
I'm annoyed. This blows. I can't comment! ARGH!
I've Got My Standards
So this morning PCD and I were talking about a co-worker who had just been in our office. We were basically agreeing that he's very skinny. PCD said she thought he was a little too skinny, and I agreed with "one of my deal-breakers is skinniness - I can't date a guy who's skinnier than me."
The fact that I'm not single or on the market is besides the point. I find myself many times thinking with my “single girl” cap on - a harmless habit where I make statements like "I would never date a guy who..." or "If a man ever tried that shit with me, I'd dump his ass" despite the fact that I won't ever date a(nother) guy, period, nor will any random guy do anything to earn my dumping him.
Still, that got me thinking about the silly little rules I have in my head when it comes to this. I mean, I couldn't date a guy skinnier than me because I would feel fat all the time, and who wants that? Similarly, I could never date a guy who's "prettier" than me because - call me old-fashioned or self-centered - I think the woman should be the object of beauty. A man's looks can be handsome, distinguished and full of character, but I want to be the one who is considered "pretty" (that may have more to do with my center-of-attention disorder, but whatever). I also can't date a guy who's hair is longer than mine. This is a big one for me. I have no problem with a guy who has long hair - in fact, both TFBIETL and (Kinda)Good Ex have long hair - but it just can't be longer than mine. That's just wrong. I would feel like a man, then. Or un-feminine. Or ugly.
I have others, but those are my top three superficial deal-breakers. Now you tell me, people, what are yours?
I'm going to take credit for this because, well, I feel like it. Also, because as the wife of this newly minted blogger, I'd like to think the fun I have here has inspired him to share some of his work with the world.
That's right: Ben, of Ben & Tere: A Comedy of Errors in Three Parts, has launched his own blog. I proudly share with you you gotta start somewhere.
You know, Ben was off this weekend on a mountain biking trip with his friends, and it was a good chance for me to (cue the violins) appreciate how much he does to make life easier for me. It's not just that he is a wonderful dad who does more than his fair share of child care, it's that he gives me, our relationship and our son the highest priority in his life. And I'm so grateful for that.
There's so much more I could say - about Ben, our relationship, what we've been through and what lies ahead - but I'm sure you'll understand if I share that just with him.
tags: photography, photography blog, husband