Sunday, January 27, 2013
As an LDS Mother Who Works
I've been trying to get myself to write at least one post on my honest experience thus far working full-time. I've had a million thoughts and things that I thought I should say. Many thoughts were followed by what will they think when they read that? Is that being too honest? Well, that's not true all the time. Maybe I shouldn't say that after all...
I'm going to just try and let it flow out of me. So, you might be offended by my unedited thoughts. So here goes.
Being an LDS working mom sucks. And it is good. I feel so conflicted. I feel like no matter what I will do, I will feel like I'm missing out somewhere. If I were a full-time SAHM, I would feel guilty not using the education I've earned. Plus, I'll be honest here and say I don't think I could ever stay home full-time. My patience is not high enough. I enjoy the fulfillment that comes from working. Working full-time, I feel the guilt of I should be the main nurterer (read: I should be at home). I feel guilty for enjoying a good day at work. I feel like crap for coming home emotionally worn out some days and not being completely present for Aidan and Aaron. Aaron has pointed out this emotional exhaustion on multiple occasions and I have owned up to it. The other day he clearly pointed out "You'd rather spend time cleaning than with your son." And he was right in that moment. It was one of those days. In my mind, I needed to tidy our house before I could even enjoy playing with Aidan. I hate it, but it's true. More guilt. Also, I hate that my house isn't as clean as most moms around here. Dumb, I know. But I honestly worry about it and don't often invite people over because I'm so embarrassed.
So, why did I put "LDS" in there. Within the LDS Culture (different from the doctrine), I feel like I am the "working mom". That's it. I have no depth. I am known because I work full-time. Many of the cultural fun things don't really naturally allow room for women that work. Callings are typically scheduled with meetings during the day (Luckily, the presidency I'm in is awesome. But I do feel some guilt that I'm not available during the day to meet when I know they would prefer to be meeting.) Ward play group and mom's group are during working hours. I go to the Girls Night Outs and feel like the odd duck. All of these moms get to know each other and I have a shot once a month to get to know people. Especially since I'm in Primary on Sundays. Over the summer there were a bunch of women involved in a workout competition. I heard about it from a friend a few weeks in and asked why I didn't hear about it and she just responded, "Because you work. You can't come workout with us." I feel so socially awkward at gatherings. I used to be the one to host play group and mother's group in our old ward. I don't know how accurate my perception of this is and realize that I'm pretty sensitive to it. I don't want to be "the working mom". I am a lot more than that... I think.
I love that I'm using my education. I love the experience I'm getting. I love the patients I work with and seeing them progress. I love that I work at a place where it is 95% female and my boss is a working mom with 2 kids herself so she's very understanding of life. At the same time, there are maybe 3 of us therapists (including my boss) out of the 20ish married with kid(s). It makes it a bit difficult to reach out and connect at work when I don't feel like I can add much to the conversation of who's dating who etc. Plus, if I'm really being honest, I try to get work done as fast as possible to rush home. What's up with that anyway? I go to work, I enjoy it. But in the back of my mind I'm always thinking and trying to get it done as fast as possible to get back home to Aidan and Aaron. It's like I'm never fully present there. Is any mother? Just curious. Then again, is any working father?
I never thought my husband would be a full-time stay at home dad before me. But here we are. I remember as a little girl saying "I want to be a mommy" and admiring my mom for everything that she did. Aaron started full-time SAHDness around November when Police Academy wrapped up. Before that, he was doing school or academy in the evenings. He hasn't quite figured out what the plan is going forward. He still needs to pass a 1.5mile run in the required time and then he can start the second Police block (either this March or next January). He also has about 30 credits of his undergrad left. I wonder if I would feel more or less guilt if he were in a place he was graduated and could be in a career? Would/Will I still work when he's at that point when it's not vital that I provide this income? Is him not being able to work giving me an excuse or an opportunity to work? I can't tell sometimes. Also, I do realize he could provide for us if we really wanted. He'd let me quit in in an instant and go find jobs. I know he's worn out on being home full-time. We both made this decision together... Another story. But very complexly tied into this rant I guess...
I feel like my ability to mother drastically declined as I entered the work-force. My patience has dwindled, my ability to be creative and come up with activities disappeared. I'm totally serious. On evenings and weekends, I think "ummmmmm.... what could we do.....?" And I usually get complete brain farts. Which further solidifies my thought, I suck as a mom. This thought also leads me to think I should never be home full-time. My poor kids would be so bored.... I shouldn't want to explode at them this fast. This thought is also solidified whenever Aidan clearly chooses to be with Aaron over me. Aaron is waaaay more fun and creative. I realize. When Aidan's with me, we tend to do things like wash the dishes together, mop the floors, learning to cook as well as playing with cars and hiding from monsters. Also, I don't think I ever yelled at Aidan or got the kind of reactions I do from him now before I was working. Yup, low patience. I yelled at him- like full-out yelled- about two weeks ago. I can't even remember what it was over, but I feel like poop about it. All that did was give him more attention. The only reason I yelled was because of me being overwhelmed It didn't help anything in the situation. Dumb. Today, as I carried him out of sacrament meeting to go home and take the nap he clearly needed he pulled my hair and swatted my face and body yelling and crying at me. We got home and he started finding things to throw at me and throw all over the ground. I'm sure some kids do this at some point, but Aidan doing it to me makes me feel like crap. And sometimes during these tantrums, it is only Aaron that can get him to calm down. Isn't it me as the mom that should be able to calm my toddler during his meltdown? I want to be able to calm my son. I miss the days when I could calm him over anything. Yup, those days when I could just take him in my arms and he'd be quiet and still and I secretly thought in my head muah ha ha! Yesss!. And again, I don't know if it's because I work and am not around as much that I can't comfort him like I used to, but I blame that at least in part. It's good that Aaron can experience being the comforter, but I'm jealous and disappointed in myself- probably how Aaron felt the first 18 months of his life.
I'm terrified for the birth of this second child. I want to be thrilled and excited, but it seems like working is just this huge barrier. I don't want to get too attached even though I do. I don't even know if that makes sense. Like I said, the "original" plan was that Aaron would be done with all Police Academy Training in May just in time for me to have our baby. It would have allowed me to take Maternity and then just go back very part-time (my dream). But, I'm now looking at going back full-time after Maternity Leave because we need the benefits and Aaron most likely won't be done and able to get a good full-time job with benefits at that point. 1) I don't like when things don't go as planned. 2) I'm so sick of us being in school 3) I totally realize that Aaron probably feels more anxiety and worry than me in regard to his schooling and career. With Aidan, I was in school full-time, but I think I was only gone about 15-20 hours a week maximum for the first 18 months of his life. With this baby, I will be home full-time for 3 months (which is pretty dang cool. I didn't even have that with Aidan), but then I'll be back to work 32 hours/week. And work is now 15 minutes away instead of 3 like it was with Aidan. I want to breastfeed. I want to be there for her first time lifting her head and her first time rolling and her first time crawling and all of her other firsts. This is going to be my baby girl. My first daughter. And I won't get to be there for all of it. And here goes the waterworks...
In writing all of this, I realize I may sound very entitled and snobbish. I know I have been blessed immensely, but I also have some honest struggles within myself. This is where I guess the true pessimist comes out? I got to go to a great school and I had a supportive husband all the way through. I received a great education. I have had great peers and mentors. I wanted to move out of Provo and student-life and I was blessed with a job that allowed us to move. I have a job I love with good benefits. I have great coworkers. I can do fun things with my kids. I can choose my work hours so I'm usually home by 3 in the afternoon instead of 5 or 5:30 or later like most. I have a husband willing to stay home with 1 (and soon 2) kids. I don't have to pay for daycare. My house may not (ever) be clean, but it's a nice house in a nice neighborhood. I still have people at church and in my neighborhood that I can get to know. I know that someday I will have the option of how much and where to work. I'm just being impatient and struggling at times right now and I just have to admit it is hard. I'm grateful for the friends I have that I can be honest with. It's also been nice to be able to talk to my mom who has been working full-time since my dad was disabled so I don't feel so alone and messed up. It'll be interesting to see what the future holds for our family.