Thursday, May 1, 2008

Inch by inch, straddling the fence

The funny thing about considering going back to work full-time -- by back, I mean return since I was in the workforce once before as a mother -- is that recently I've begun getting really annoyed by the so-called media-hyped Mommy Wars. But, it's not just the media, unfortunately. Web sites are being created for working moms, too, answering things like how to fix dinner or stay social when working because, you know, stay-at-home moms have nothing to do but cook and talk on the phone all day.

Since I've been on both sides of the battle line I know the challenges, the advantages, the joys and sorrows of each. I know them very well, in fact.

We all struggle with finding time doing the ordinary, the stuff we don't like so we can have more time doing the things we do like. Each season brings a new obstacle to figure out and make our own. And, since my mom always worked I know it is still possible to mother well while working. I also know that she missed out on a lot of memory-making, too, because she was busy preparing for working.

Both "sides" have it equally hard for so many reasons.

But I know three things I'm certain about:

The first is that I do have more quality time with my girls now than I would if I worked. Nothing beats our no-rush mornings lying in my bed giggling under the covers before our breakfast that includes entertainment of silly noises and clapping for each other's big bites. And, I cannot imagine a better way to spend a childhood than taking long walks in the park as often as possible or lounging in the backyard in the afternoon, filling ourselves with fresh air and nature's best toys.

The second thing is that by working I would certainly avoid the often dead-beat feeling of being a mother, such as doing the mundane chores while dealing with simultaneous tantrums, or putting their clothes back on several times in one hour or making yet another grilled cheese lunch because, frankly, I just don't know what else to make besides peanut butter and jelly anymore. In other words, I'd get out of a lot of the crap work and get to spend more time just being the cool Mommy.

The third is that no caregiver could do what I do as their Mama. In a way that is comforting to me. But in other ways it is not. You see, I am that Mama who would make and fly a kite. I am that Mama who creates backyard painting projects. I am that Mama who goes on field trips. That's the Mama I love being; that's the one that I wish could be every minute of the week.

These three points are not perfect or black or white. There are certainly times/days/weeks that are better for quality time than others. And, there will still be crap work as a work-out-of-the-home Mama. I know how easy it is to complain about being at home all day, but I also know that I'm lucky to be here, that I still look forward to Mondays when it's just me and the girls.

But, I will say this: All the comments were wonderful yesterday. I appreciated all of them and took them all into account. I do have a great village. Certainly, I am approaching this from the top of the fence knowing the pros and the cons, knowing the challenges for each. Like a good journalist, I'm gathering facts and weighing their importance.

And I do not know which way I am leaning right now. I do know that by writing this post I learned a little more about the gray areas of the situation, the part that wasn't easily written on a pros and cons list. In the meantime, deadlines are looming.

Thank you for visiting today.

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Candace & Anna said...

I didn't weigh in yesterday but I know for me I don't think I could give up being a full-time job unless I had too. Of course if a true dream job came along I might toy with the idea. You just never know which way you will go until you are in it. You have great options and the good news is either way you go you will probably be happy. You just have to decide which things you are willing to let go and which ones you want to hold on to with all your might!

Shannon said...

or you could just flip a coin. :-)

(I'm being anxious with you, sometimes comedy helps. If only I were funny)

village mama said...

Shawn, good luck with the looming deadline -- and the looming life decision.

Shannon, I appreciate your humour and am laughing because I decided to stay home based on one book I read; kind of like flipping a coin, instead I flipped pages.

I loved the essays in Mommy Wars, my review of it here:

bella said...

it sounds like you're giving this thoughtfulness and permission to let all sides, every choice, possible.
I'm here, curious to hear what comes of it all.
no matter what, you ROCK!

Leah said...

Hey Shawn, I'm inching back into the blogosphere after a long hiatus and so glad to be catching up on your blog. I am in the same boat -- got a full-time slot for ds in pre-school this fall but agonizing about taking the leap. I know that we'll figure it all out somehow...