Women's lib got it wrong. You can't have it all. You can work and have a family but as there are only so many hours in a day you have to compromise somewhere. In an ideal world I would get to spend just as much time with Jillian as I do now and work full-time at my job, which I very much enjoy. But there is this little thing called sleep that does not allow me to fit 8 hours of work, 2 hours of commuting and 14 waking hours with Jillian into one day. And if anything, having a baby has only reinforced my understanding that I do not function well when sleep deprived.
The reality is that I am not cut out to be a stay at home mom. I applaud the women out there that can manage it as you must be saints. I on the other hand have been going stir crazy the past few months. I have rarely had a moment away from Jillian in three months, and when I have managed to get out of the house alone it has usually been for something as fun and exciting as a trip to the grocery store. So I find that I am really looking forward to returning to work on Thursday. I crave adult interaction, intellectual stimulation and appreciation. Yes, appreciation. I'm sure Jillian appreciates me being her mom as evidenced by her many smiles, but being a mom is a grueling job. Let's face it, cleaning up vomit, changing poopy diapers and comforting a screaming infant wears a person out and such events rarely end with your baby proclaiming "Thank you so very much. You are the most wonderful mom on the planet". Plus being a mom feels downright unproductive. I look back at my day and it is all about trying to get something done. But just when I was about to accomplish that thing Jillian wakes up or demands to be fed (which itself seems to be an hour-long event). As evidence of this I offer up that this post alone has taken me 3 hours to write, and I'm really quite a speedy author. And of course it isn't that I'm not accomplishing something...quite the opposite. However the project of raising a child has a long time horizon, making it difficult to feel the gratification of immediate results.
I'm always hearing "why not work part-time" from people. Well let's be honest. I work with a lot of moms who work part-time and that arrangement comes with compromises too. Like not being taken as seriously in the work place. And trying to fit in even more responsibilities at home while still trying to do your best in your job. Increased impact of needing to take time off for sick kids or doctors appointments because you are already working fewer hours to begin with.
The truth is that life is full of compromises whether you are raising a family or not. It is true whether you are a woman or a man. The stakes are just suddenly higher when you are making choices about how to care for your children. And men somehow seem to be able to deal with this compromise better than women. I don't really think that women's lib was wrong, per se. You can do it all. It's just that I now realize you can't do it all AND do it all as well as you would like. I have to accept that and find where I'm most willing to compromise. Unfortunately I'm a people pleaser and thrive by making other people happy, which seems to make these choices especially difficult as it will be even more impossible to make everybody happy all the time.
So I head back to work with mixed feelings. I'm excited to return to work and my projects. I'm not so thrilled to cut back my time with Jillian to the early mornings, evenings and weekends. I'm incredibly jealous of my wonderful mother-in-law who will caring for our little girl while we work (the most perfect arrangement possible short of winning millions in the lottery to make working and finances a moot issue). Honestly, the whole thing has made me very irritable the past couple of weeks to the point where it is hard to enjoy the time left at home and where I've been inexcusably mean to Jeramy several times. You see, I'm not one to wait and see what happens. No. I must worry and mull over every negative possibility until I can no longer contain such feelings within myself. To top it off I'm very bad about asking for help, expect Jeramy to read my mind, and then let my resentment over his lack of mind-reading skills stew inside me until I can no longer contain it. Buying a house, prepare our current home for sale and Jeramy's 60 hour a week work schedule are certainly not helping things any. I'm being challenged to learn how to manage my stress and communicate my needs...a life lesson that is long overdue I'm afraid.
Hmmm...parenting seems to be full of these little "life lessons".