Wow, that was fast. Am I going back to work? I need to figure it out. I could stay home, but it would be tight. One thing I am not about is tight. I guess there are good lessons to be learned in this economy and in our particular situation of unplanned one incomeness. I do want to fund a retirement and at least partially fund college for the boys, so there's that.
The thing is, I don't really want to go back to the working life. Some of my notions about what it means to be a sahm have disappeared in this round of homeness. I have been "home" two other times, and I'll tell you, it wasn't like this.
The first time, I should have been medicated. Tank's first year was extremely difficult and I was tremendously depressed. I look back in retrospect and can't believe what a whack job I was that year and that Tank is still alive and relatively unscathed. When he was born, I was unwilling/unable to compromise with my employer about a part time situation (I was so naiive) and decided I'd better take the plunge and try staying home. I hated it. I mean, I HATED it.
My whole day was did the mail come? What time will hubby be home? What's for dinner? How many times have I cried? Has he watched the Baby Einstein yet? At the end of that year, I went back to work.
The second time was when Big Red was born. I took off almost five months and could not wait to return. This time is entirely different. I am not clamoring to get back. For me, I think it's partially about having older kids that you can actually have a conversation with and do activities and it's partially about me.
I used to think what do the women who stay home DO all day? I felt so smug in my work business and self-importance. The answer is, they pretty much do whatever the hell they want. And the day goes by fast. I can go to the gym, play with my kids, plan more nutritious meals, keep my house better. For me, it's not that I want to be with my kids, playing on the floor all day. I ain't that kind of mom. It's more that it's easier to be home. I don't think I realized how much stress I was under when I was working. Granted the last nine months were over-the-top stressful, but still. We no longer have to spend all of our evenings and weekends on chores and errands. sweet. I drink less. I eat less. I shop less. I sleep better. I'm happier.
The thing with my career is I don't have anything to prove to myself or anybody else anymore. I was worried what would come of my identity when I stopped working and have discovered that I am not my job. I was terrified of long days of having to occupy the boys stretching before me. It turns out that the days go by pretty fast (for me, not like when you have an infant). Talk about facing your fears. I made up an elaborate plan for the summer and now see that there was no need.
I have discovered that the world will not come to an end if I stay home or if I go back. There's no bad decision here. The boys do fine in care and they do okay with me at home. It doesn't appear that I've imparted any permanent psychological damage on them yet. I've always believed that staying home is about moms, not about kids. I participated in the mommy wars by believing somewhere deep down that sahms couldn't do what I did. They couldn't handle working and keeping a house and raising the kids. I've learned this summer that like natural childbirth, there's no medal for working. I don't owe anybody anything and all I have to do is what's right for my family and for me. They are the only ones who matter; the only ones who should get a vote. It wouldn't make me weak or lame to stay home.
I am blessed(?) to have one of those feminist husbands who won't give an opinion about whether I should stay home. He just wants me to be happy. One of my hurdles to get over is not feeling like a slacker to have him take care of us financially. My mom was always the one who kept the ship afloat financially for our family and it has been hard for me to let go of that. That I can and should trust my husband to take care of us and that my inability to do so is not about him, it's about me.
Anyway, this is just a small snippet of the ongoing conversation in our home. Even if I do go back to work, I am enriched by this time. I am changed somehow. I am a different person and it's all good. And if I stay home...that's good too.