Friday, January 2, 2009

Compromise

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".

10 comments:

Monica Fayth said...

good luck with all your mixed feelings. I guess you can just think about how much you'll cherish all your time with Jillian since you won't be with her all day.

Barb said...

Very well said sweetie. I would most likely face the very same things.

Oh.. and I also do not function well AT ALL on sleep deprivation.

CJ said...

Your plate is overflowing right now to put it lightly, you have every right to be snappish and struggle to adjust your professional self with your new mommy self.

FREE ASSVICE: If it makes you feel any better, I really think it will get easier. You will go back to work and get into a nice groove. Although your time with Jillian will decrease in quantity, it will increase in quality. You may still feel conflicted about the pull of work and family, but there will no longer be "possibilities" to mull over, it will just be "normal." Jeramy will stop working so much, and you'll settle into your amazing new home. You have a lot to look forward to -- so just hang in there, practice letting Jeramy and others help you more, and get ready for motherhood to become a million times more fun as she gets older!

Intrepidgirl said...

what you wrote definitely resonates w/ me. I'm happy to be back at work, but it's bittersweet. Like you though I could NOT stay home!

JamieD said...

I think I have said this before, but you should write a book on what life is ~really~ like after babies.

I can imagine how your feeling. Good luck!

Nicky said...

My ideal world is, I think, the same as your ideal world, and requires 30 hour days. And, like you, I could NOT be a stay-at-home-mom. I've been getting out enough that I don't feel stir crazy, but at the same time, as much as I LOVE spending time with LL, I also just don't feel fulfilled. For me, this is my last full week of maternity leave.......

Kelly said...

Are you going back to work tomorrow-Thursday? If so, GL! I'm sure it will be an adjustment but you can do it! I know your plate is rapidly overflowing but just take it one item at a time!!

KandiB said...

This has been a subject of much contemplation for me. For ME - not hubby. I know I can't stay home, both personally (I would go freaking insane) and financially. But, it still tears me up trying to figure out how its all gonna work out. I'm still holding out for Lotto.

Jennifer said...

You are so lucky that your MIL will be caring for her...that is such a wonderful arrangement...having family care for your baby girl. My mom will watch Jules 2 days/wk, but we're hiring a nanny for the other days...I hate that we have to hire a stranger - but most people do it who return to work, it will be fine I'm sure.

Good luck with all the things going on in your life right now...do the most important things first and make lists! Staying organized during times like these is very important, but I'm sure you know that!

Enjoy your first wk back at work!

KatieM said...

I can definitely relate to this post, and I hope going back to work is proving to meet all of your expectations of it. As you know I am struggling with this right now mainly because even though I too go stir crazy during the day sometimes, I know he is going to be more "fun" in the coming months and I don't want to miss that....plus, I hate my job so it makes it really hard to go back too. =/