I have been working full time now for over two years, an average of 40-45 hours a week. Hours: Weekdays 10-7 and Saturdays 10-6. At first it was voluntary to help things get off the ground...then it became necessary...and now it has hit a very nice cross roads in which it is necessary, but also a means to an end. Tom's job at Real Salt Lake has been a VERY good step in the right direction, but it doesn't pay hardly anything. So I am working to help support our little family so Tom's job can lead to something bigger and better. It is hard to get a foot in the door in the sporting industry and we are thrilled that he is "In"! So now its just a waiting game between him gaining experience and waiting for the next step up.
I enjoy my job. I sell musical instruments, more specifically intermediate and professional string instruments: violin, viola, cello, and bass. I love using my music knowledge every day. I love helping students find the perfect match of an instrument/bow/case. I love the excitement of helping a child pick their first instrument. I love bonding with other customers and teachers over music and parenting. I love the company I work for. It is a family owned business and for the most part, I feel like part of the family. My boss loves me and pretty much lets me do what I want when it comes to my department. My manager loves loves and likes to push me to my full potential, even if I give him crap for it along the way. Right now I love my coworkers, they are all nice and friendly and we share a mutual respect for each other and play on each others strengths. I wish I earned more, but to be completely honest...for the job I have, I am kind of cleaning up on commissions - I'm really good at my job. So that's good I guess :) I have to say I feel lucky for having a job that I can honestly say I look forward to going to most of the time.
Now, having said all the positive things about my job, there were some unknown side effects that I did not see coming. I've been trying to pin point what it is exactly that makes being a working mom so hard and I have come up with a few bullet points:
Guilt. Endless, endless guilt. I feel guilty as I walk out the door and leave my children to be raised by someone else. I feel guilty as my children smile and say, "Have a nice day at work mom! See you tonight!" I feel guilty as I drop off my daughter at kindergarten, watch her blow me a kiss, and know I won't see her until bedtime. I feel guilty that I don't know any of her little friends from school because I'm not there to pick her up. I feel guilty that I don't know any of the other moms to schedule play dates with. I don't even know which friends of hers to invite to her birthday party in three weeks because I've never met any of them. I feel guilty that I've never met my sons preschool teacher because it is in the middle of the day. I feel guilty that I won't know if they had a good day or not because by the time bed time rolls around, they most likely will have forgotten what it was that needed comforting. I feel guilty while I'm at work, knowing I'm missing the bonding and general caring that I signed up for when I decided to be a mom. I feel guilty for not being there to answer their questions, soothe their worries, and calm their concerns. I feel guilty when I come home at 7:15 or later and only have time to quickly eat dinner with the family, get the babies in their pajamas, do bed time, kiss them good night, then attempt to stay awake and actually have some quality time with Tom. I feel guilty that I am only around them a total of four hours a work day: two in the morning and two at night. I feel guilty that I cannot be the mom or wife we all signed up for me to be.
Stress. Placed on myself by myself and others. I am constantly under stress to be a better wife and mother and employee. Some of this I do to myself and I am working on just doing the best I can and accepting that, but other stress is placed on me by others with constant reminding that there is more I could be doing. I think I handle the stress pretty well. Usually, I take a deep breath, remind myself to take it one moment at a time, and regroup so I can keep going without feeling overwhelmed. I know there is more I could be doing: more attention given, more love shown, more time allotted. All this pressure can feel crippling to the point that I just quit. It's terrible and I hate that part of me. The side that says, "this is so hard and I just don't know what to do, that I'm just going to stop." It doesn't last forever, but then in creeps in that guilt again...
Selfishness. My independent nature is already geared up and trained for selfishness. I know that I am a pretty self-centered person. It is difficult for me to think of others first and it is especially difficult for me to put my own wishes and desires aside for something else, especially if I don't really want to do it. (My husband can attest to that). I don't mean to do it, it just kind of happens. I am stubborn and a know-it-all. My way is the best way. I am always right...and even when I'm wrong....I'm right. My job has allowed me the freedom to prove my worth and I am pretty much in charge of my entire department. I love the freedom. I love the independence. I love the constant reassurance that I am awesome. This doesn't translate well when I go home. When I go home, I am back to being wife and mother. These rolls are less visibly rewarding and I certainly don't have the independence to do what I want when rooms need to be picked up, babies need to be bathed, and the family needs to be given more attention. When I wasn't working, it was much easier to adapt to the "We are a unit" mentality, instead of at work where "I am in charge". This is a constant struggle and I am frequently reminded to put my selfish needs on the back burner.
Envy. I envy other moms who don't need to work, who have work schedules that allow them to be home with their kids the majority of the day, or of moms who actually make enough money to REALLY support their families instead of living paycheck to paycheck. I envy women without children; not that I would ever want to get rid of my children, but I do remember easier less stressful days B.C. (Before Children). Seeing others around me with so much success in the business world and wanting it so badly, and knowing I am capable of it, but not wanting to sacrifice my family even more. Sometimes I'm even envious that I'm not a man - where I could leave my children in the trusting love of a wife and mother that would nurture and raise them, while I went off to my successful career. I'm envious that I'm not that wife and mother. Envious and slightly bitter that my years of practicing the piano and the talent and ability I spent years perfecting has literally taken a back seat to everything else in my life. It is impossible to practice the piano while the kids are awake, and then I feel guilty for not giving my husband the attention he deserves when they are asleep. I used to go practice in the morning before work, but again - guilt slides in and I don't want to miss any time with my kids. I envy women with the freedom to take the time they want to perfect a skill they desire.
Helplessness. A sense of never-ending. A sense of loss-of-control. Not knowing the next best step and the constant fear of making the wrong move. Constantly questioning if I am doing the right thing and being afraid to ask for reassurance. The inability to ask for help because a) I chose to put myself in this situation and now am reaping what I sowed or b) because I'm too prideful to admit I need help. The feeling of never quite getting your head above water. If I'm doing great in my job, my family life suffers because now I am neglecting them. If I'm doing great as a wife and mother, my work suffers and I am either late in the morning, or so anxious to get home that I am unfocused. The constant feeling of needing a second ME to fill in all the holes where I need to be in two places at once: soccer games, dropping off my toddler at preschool, important work appointments, etc.
Disappointment. Not being able to shake the crushing disappointment that this isn't what life is supposed to be like. I read that article on why Generation Y individuals pretty much suck. I agreed with a lot of it and found that I am definitely falling into that category of constantly being disappointed because of the expectations that were laid in front of me. I think part of the difference, though, is that I felt I made all the right decisions. I got good grades. I went to a prestigious university. I graduated. We waited to have children until I thought we were financially stable. I also felt like I chose all the right spiritual choices. I attend church every week. I pay my tithing. I try to listen to the promptings that I receive, including the decision of when to have children. I got married in the temple. I continue keeping the commandments and maintain a temple worthiness, even though the temptation to drink looks better and better all the time...I see others around me making the same decisions and it seems as though they are being awarded for their efforts. I know I shouldn't compare, and I keep telling myself that "our time will come" or "put the work in now, and the benefits will come later" or "there's a light at the end of the tunnel". Well, I am angry and I am sick of waiting. I am 28 years old, I have two children and one on the way. We have been married for almost 10 years and have constantly tried making the RIGHT, SMART, and BEST decisions for the paths that lay in front of us. And where are we now? Living in an 840 square foot apartment, hovering on the poverty line, both of us with bachelors degrees, and Tom with a masters. We own nothing of real financial value, aside from our cars. I feel like our life is a big joke that we keep walking into the punch line of.
Where is all this coming from, you ask? Well, my husband is constantly telling me that I need to be more emotional and talk about my feelings, otherwise it is going to just build up and have serious physical side effects. For those of you who know me, I believe myself to be a strong, tough woman - one who doesn't cry, one who can keep her head up when the going gets tough, and one who doesn't need anyone for emotional support. I feel like I have to always stay positive and be the one smiling politely saying, "Oh, things are going great!" I feel like an actor in my own life - one who plays the strong protagonist who drags along the silent side kick of how I really feel and repeatedly beats it into submission to keep it from creeping onto center stage. I know this sounds dramatic and pathetic, but right now I don't care. As my husband says, "I'm letting it all out". This is my release that has been building up and at least I can type it out, instead of lashing out in temper tantrums.
I'm not looking for sympathy. I'm not looking for a reaction or reassurance. I'm not whining and I'm not complaining. I am simply STATING. This entire post is simply an ode to me being a working mom and saying how I feel. I'm angry about how I feel and that I can't control it so I'm putting into words instead of my rage just floating around inside of me. Don't leave me comments about how "things will get better" or any advice on how to feel. And I already know that "the grass is always greener on the other side". I was a Stay at Home Mom for a while, too, and wanted out of the house. My ideal situation would be working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday from 12-4.
In fact, don't even let me know you've read this. It's incredibly difficult for me to be this open with my feelings, so if you do see me and say, "How are things going?" I'm going to respond with, "Oh! So good! What about you?"
So in case you were really wondering about how I really feel - now you know.