Wednesday, July 05, 2006

A Reflection on Someone Else's Post

Today I read a post about the battle between staying at home and working and the conflict that arises. I'm putting a link here because I honestly could never say all that Her Bad Mother says in such an eloquent and educated way.
Read it. It's amazing.
It made me want to say a lot.
It made me re-visit my decision to go back to work, the motivation behind it, and really how I am feeling now.
I have been at my current job for a year. This week I had my "anniversary". To me it's a big deal. Not so much the one-year thing, but just that I survived. I didn't think I had it in me. I didn't think I had one week in me.
Last July I sat on the GO train crying, waving goodbye to my baby and my husband, praying that I would make it through the first scary day at work without bursting into tears.
My friend Stef rode her bike down and got me through lunch (her words "you can cry or laugh - I'll do either with you. Which would you prefer" were the best).
And here I am a year later.
I've survived. And I'm happy. And so is Mike and so is Matty.
Matthew is no longer a baby. He is a toddler. He runs and plays and sings and talks and goes full time to daycare and he loves it.
But, this working thing is also really stressful. It it sucks to get up at 5:22 each morning to be out the door by 7. It sucks to sometimes have to deal with the crap that work can throw at you, to decide whether or not to partake in office gossip (and trust me, there is some good office gossip!!!). But, for me the decision was a good one.
Because I didn't feel fulfilled when I stayed at home. I was me, but a different version of me. I was the me who didn't feel like she fit in with the other moms, who was constantlly comparing herself with the others and who was floundering. The days were so long and I wasn't treasuring motherhood. I was counting the minutes till nap time and then counting the minutes till Mike was done working. My eye was always on the clock and I just wasn't dealing with it. And, believe me, Matt didn't have a happy mom. He had an aggravated, annoyed and tired mom, who was annoyed a lot.
On a visit to my doctor (I love her) she asked me about my work plans. I basically told her all of the stuff I was dealing with and she told me exactly what I needed to hear. It's okay to do what I want, that I will still be a good mom if I work and that everyone is happier when the mom is happier.
And I listened because she really is smart. And she is cool. And, if she weren't my doctor I would probably want to have a couple of drinks with her - that cool.
Oh - and there was also the financial issue that we were going broke!!
So I went back to work.
It was hard, but it was also good. I had my name restored. I was Laural Adams, not Mom or Mommy all day every day. When I said something it meant something (well, kind of ) and people actually let me fit in.
In the past year I've made friends and gotten to know some great people. I've done some bizarre activities (like riding a 20 person bike around Toronto, building stuff out of food, focus groups ...). I have laughed till I cried and I've learned to stand up for myself on issues. I've been acknowledged for hard work, and I've been rewarded for doing a good job.
I know - it's not always peachy. Work is still work. But, at the end of the day I think it's been the right thing for me to do.
My favourite part of the day is when I pick Matt up at daycare and he comes running over and gives me a huge hug. In his own way he gets it. Kids know when you are happy and when you aren't. And, I think he knows I'm pretty happy.
So, yep, Bad Mother is right. It's not about whether it's better to be a stay at home mom or a working mom. It's not really an issue of being a feminist. It's about doing what is right for you and accepting that what your choice is is what it is. And, if someone doesn't get it, or if someone thinks you are wrong well then they can deal with it.
My guess - they are still trying to figure out what they really want in life.


Her Bad Mother said...

Laural - this was great. I'm so glad that you wrote it.

For the record, you're always welcome to 'hijack' my comments, but I'm glad at you took the time here to say it in your own space. 'Cause it's good stuff.

bubandpie said...

So with you on the watching-the-clock thing. It's the answer to the question, "In what way is being a mom most like having a crappy retail job?"