Wednesday, August 13, 2008

A pot of gold during a storm

I've had a lot of time to think and prepare for this life change of returning to the working world. In fact, if I were going to continue staying at home, as is, I would be defending that choice.

But, I'm not. The only real disadvantage of working is lack of time with our kids. And, it's a pretty big one.

That said, right now, there's very little quality time going on between the three of us. It's squabbling time. It's bickering time. It's negotiating time. It's give-and-take time. It's cleaning time. It's making mess time. It's trying to please time.

And, frankly, very little of it is actually fun anymore. What came first the job or the difficult toddlers? I guess they both sort of evolved at the same time. And since I know my days left to tolerate this challenging period are nearly over, I have less patience than you might think.

Still, it will be hard. But, after a really great visit to their "school" last Friday I can attest to the fact that they will be MUCH better off there than at home with me. First of all, they are at an age when playing trumps everything and I am not sure I can step back onto another playground after this week for a long, long time. It's not just that, they want to do everything fun all day and so the things we used to be able to do, like crafts, are really boring to them now. I'm lucky that I had a really great almost two years since I know moms with boys have not had those great crafty moments.

My point to this post, which has gotten lost as I watch HGTV on the couch instead of at my office computer, is that working will be easier than mothering full-time. I guess that is what many moms have meant when they said they are better mothers when they work. I can see how that is the case now that my girls are in a challenging stage. This week in particular has been rough and I'm not feeling like a very great mom right now. I suspect that I'll miss them terribly next week when they spend the week with Daddy Dan and even more the weeks after that when they start school. But right now I can see the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow and here's what is inside:

  • Relieve the pressure: Today's mothers have so much more pressure to deal with than our predecessors. Not only are we expected to mother without any village to rely on but we have to worry about serving our kids too much junk food and not enough organic; we have to worry about stimulating them and nurturing their creativity instead of just sending them off to play by themselves; we have to worry about pedophiles, car crashes, hot slides, plastic bottles and sippy cups and whether or not we're being a helicopter parent. Quite frankly, I'm looking forward to working all day and worrying about other stuff and letting day care deal with some of this stuff so that at the end of the day I can be what I wanted to be in the first place: A mommy who adores her kids.
  • No more lunch rut: One of the hardest parts of my days -- other than being on my own with two toddlers for about 12 hours -- is the hour prior to lunch. They are usually starving and tired, especially now that they are getting up too early. I will not have to make lunches for day care and, boy, am I grateful. I've already been able to plan out a monthly meal plan thanks to this change. Same goes for snacks. Meals have become such drama that I'm thankful to have to be in charge of one less.
  • Active entertainment: Related to the first bullet, but worthy of its own section is the fact that I feel so much pressure to keep these girls happy and smiling and learning all day. The fact that they are usually begging and crying for a car ride by the time we eat breakfast does not help. They are not satisfied with just staying home anymore. We must go, go, go ... home is boring. And yet playgrounds can make or break my day. They are much more adventurous now, which scares me when I'm only one person to spot two toddlers, and I have a REALLY BIG PROBLEM with moms who do not supervise their own kids on the playground. In fact, I stormed out with one toddler under each arm yesterday because of unsupervised kids blocking their path on the slide, the climbing wall and in the tunnel. There was nothing else to do so we left, in a storm. If you are one of those parents who stands in a moms circle ignoring your kids, your child is the one who is desperate for attention and doing anything necessary to get it. I assure you.
  • No more boring days: School is so wonderful that when we visited last week there was a bouncy house in the parking lot! That's how cool it is. I can't compete with that. And, if I did, it would cost more money than we already spend to go to places like Gymboree and the Zoo. I'm spending an easy $50 per month or more on new toys, activities, special events just to keep these girls entertained each day. If I wasn't doing this I might have lost my mind months ago. Day care will do all the right things that kids who are 2.5 years old need.
I know we will have rough patches as we deal with sick days and doctor's appointments. I know none of it will be easy or perfect and I might get into and realize that being home WAS easier. (doubtful). Who knows? All I know is that I have the ability to see the good and the bad in every situation and this is no different. I do know that I will always be one of those moms who sends in the cool snacks for the cool holidays like Summer Solstice and I will always be the mommy who is home after school.

But for now, I"m just going to be mommy.

Thank you for visiting today.

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LauraC said...

I love reading your thoughts on the positives. My problem with staying home has always been that I also feel that pressure to keep the kids happy all the time and what makes them happy changes from day to day and minute to minute.

I feel confident knowing day care is doing a better job keeping my kids happy. I feel they are getting the care they deserve. But kudos to moms who can do it themselves. I know I can't.

PS. I hear you on playgrounds. That drives me crazy!

justagirl said...

well... I really enjoyed reading this post, you hit the nail on the head.

sounds like your girls will just love school, a bouncy castle... wow that is way cool. The people in charge of day cares have degrees in keeping kids occupied, feeding them the right foods and teaching them social skills etc...

You wait till they want to learn to drive and would rather go on the open road so they can go fast!!! that is where I am at at the moment...

I will be thinking of you in the next coming weeks.


Chrissy said...

Mine start daycare next week and I've been grappling with many of the issues you mentioned. I'm also one of those moms who thinks I'd make a better mommy if I wasn't around the kids ALL. DAY. LONG. Although we live relatively close to family, there really isn't anyone around who can help us on a regular basis, so I rarely get a break.

On the one hand, I'm excited about having some time doing "adult" things, but I can't stop questioning my decision to go back to school while they're still so young.
It's hard to think of someone watching my children who doesn't love them or have any emotional attachment to them. It's the best daycare we can find and I'm sure they can offer alot, but they can never show them the love that they get from me at home. That's the hardest part for me. It breaks my heart.

Jena Strong said...

You'll always be the mommy.

RocketMom Cheryl said...

You know how people are always saying, "hey, it's not rocket science?". They should be saying "it's not parenting"! Parenting is one of the hardest things I've ever done. Working (even as "rocket scientist") was much easier.

workout mommy said...

such a great post! so many people make comments to me about how much free time I must have during the day and "it must be nice to not have to work" and I want to STRANGLE them!

their school sounds very fun--do you think they would let me enroll? :)

Anonymous said...

I'm with you. Playgrounds make me crazy. I can't make lunch. I'm no fun.

No choice is easy as it closes doors even as it opens others, but we've got to make them--and run through the door that opens.

Good luck.

Mary P Jones (MPJ) said...

I do think the way we've structured society so that SAH moming means one person is responsible for the kids for 12 hours a day. It's exhausting. I would go completely insane without the Internet.