The First Six Months: Working

March 3, 2011

I am not employed.

I quit my job before we got married in the fall of 2009. I began doing some freelance writing work, and found out that I was pregnant shortly thereafter.

We knew that me being a stay at home mom was the best choice for our family. We were right; I’m not perfect but I cannot imagine not being home with my son every day.

Our plan was for me to stay home and then write part-time in order to pay my own personal bills. Ha!

Being a mother is hard work. It is even more difficult if you have very (very) little help. My husband works a lot and has to travel a lot for work, and is just a busy guy in general. I don’t get nights and weekends “off.” (What mother does?) But, much of the time, I don’t even get a whole lot of help during that time. If my husband is gone, that means I also have to take care of two needy dogs, too. And run the household.

I’m not trying to complain. What I am saying is that this journey has been a lot harder and more exhausting than I ever envisioned. Write articles? When? I need my downtime, too, you know. I also need to do laundry and clean the house and run errands.

Needless to say… not much “real work” was done during the first six months of my son’s life. I think I have written maybe two articles that whole time, if that. I had to resort to selling some thing to help pay my bills.

Sure, some of it is laziness. I have time to go on discussion forums and facebook and blogs, right?

But, in order to work, I need to be in a certain frame of mind. I haven’t been in one since before my son was born. My brain is tired and preoccupied. Words haven’t been coming to me. I have felt a huge lack of creativity. I haven’t even feel like reading books. It’s like there has been something in my brain that blocks the motivation and ideas from flowing… and no wonder when I am constantly in the midst of BABYHOOD.

There have been a lot of tears over money and feeling inadequate and like a failure as a woman. It is very difficult to adjust to being “taken care of” by a man, especially when the two of you used to be equals when it came to working and education. I’ve learned that money and careers can really affect a relationship because it throws off the whole balance of power. And not that a couple should be trying to overpower or control each other… but with money and success comes power. When you lack those things, you lose a bit of power. You feel like you have to fight for respect. It really does change how you feel about yourself, how others look at you. We’re a career and money driven society, and it is reflected in how we treat others and view ourselves.

I’ve noticed this in my own relationship, now that I don’t have a “real” job (again, based on societal views… trust me, I work HARD). But it has changed the power structure in our marriage. The fact that he’s the breadwinner and I’m the stay at home mom has really changed the balance in our household. It stresses him in a lot of ways (he has a lot on his plate and a lot that he has to take care of and be responsible for) while I deal with setting career goals and other dreams aside for awhile so I can focus on raising a family. This is a major shift, because at one point we were BOTH working and BOTH going to school and BOTH paying our bills and we did it all together. It gives him a weird bit of power. He doesn’t abuse it and is usually unaware of it, but I still notice it from time to time. He doesn’t mean to be that way, and when I call him out on certain things he is surprised and doesn’t even realize he’s being a certain way.

I know that I carry a certain power myself, and I try to keep that in mind… I’m the mother of his child and the leader of our household. I’m the glue that keeps it all together. I keep things running. We chose this, we both want me to stay home with our son. But it comes with its ups and downs. I have had to redefine what the meaning of successful is. Especially because *I* was supposed to be the successful one. It was me who was supposed to have the good job, to make a lot of money. I was told my whole life how smart I was, how successful I would be. I wonder how many people look at me and shake their heads, think I’ve given up, think I’m lazy, think I’m “just” a stay at home mom. There’s more to me than that. But I am LUCKY to be one. I’m sure my son agrees!

I am happy, but I struggle. I see my friends being wildly successful, and I am soooo happy for them. But sometimes I do feel jealous. My husband just got a promotion at work, and I am insanely proud of him. (And hey, I’ll benefit from the raise.) However, it can be hard for me sometimes. I love (LOVE) staying home with my son and I am learning so many things and trying hard to make it all work. But when I spend a whole day trying to get my son to nap, and he is teething, and my elderly dog has an accident in the house, and the laundry pile is overflowing… sometimes it would be nice to get a promotion, too. Or at least someone to come help clean the house once a week.

All that said… I wouldn’t change this situation for anything. I don’t want to go get a “real” job. I love this time with my son. It goes fast. Those first six months… they go fast. I haven’t missed a single milestone. I saw his first smiles, heard his first giggle, saw him roll over for the first (and second, and third) time. I see all the silly, funny, magical things he does. I am there for him when he’s upset and wants to cuddle. I wouldn’t trade those moments for all the money and success in the world. To me, it’s all been worth it. I know, ten years from now, I won’t look back on these early years and think, ‘Gosh I wish I had gone back to work.’ I will, most likely, give anything to go back to this hard time and relive it. It comes with a cost, and yet… it’s priceless.

I am happy to report that my writing “frame of mind” is finally changing. I am getting new ideas. I have FOUR writing projects in mind (BIG ones, not articles). I have poetry that I want to submit to some journals (not new poetry, but still, it feels good to desire something more again). I am feeling creative again, and damn it that feels good! And, these past few days, writing articles and making money again doesn’t feel like some far away unattainable goal that feels impossible. It feels tangible again. I hope, when I write about the second six months, that it will be much more positive than this post has been. My son is now 7 1/2 months old, so it’s been a journey to get to this point.

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4 Responses to “The First Six Months: Working”

  1. mamalooma said

    Oh my goodness. I have so much to say about this. I hear you so loud and clear. For me the adjustment was really weird, even though it was good. This is a hard gig. But it really does get easier, and communication is key.

    Even though Dan and I were on the same page with what we wanted to do with me becoming a SAHM, it was still odd to feel like I was somehow spending “his” money. I felt a certain thrill when I got a check for babysitting Amelia for that year (wrote about it on lj), even if it was measly. (Well paid for my time, but only a few hours a week.)

    It’s an odd thing to negotiate. I don’t know if you’ve been forced to check “unemployed” instead of a box for “homemaker” yet, but that’s always a bit of a pill to swallow. I guess you are officially freelancing though so that wouldn’t apply. : )

    I would type more but Greta is walking holding my knees under the table and Dan and Finn are “playing scrabble” like 4 inches away from me. It. Never. Ends.

    • Thank you so much for commenting. I love hearing from a like-minded person who has been there before. 🙂

      Money is the hot-button issue in our house, and it can be hard for us to communicate about. We’re working at it, though. I think he’s finally starting to understand my side a bit more. We had a long talk about some things this morning, and I’m feeling better about our situation and how things are going to be handled in the future.

      Still, “odd” is the right word to describe a lot of it. It’s hard to think of it as “our” money when only one person is (really) bringing it in. We all need a reminder sometimes that our work is hard, too. And it’s worth something, too, even if we don’t receive a paycheck as a result.

  2. I hear ya. It took awhile for my husband to come to terms with ‘our’ money and what that means. And it doesn’t help that I already feel like a massive loser who has been a college grad for 3 plus years with not a full time job with benefits to be had. But we did talk about that when we bought our house and we did agree that I didn’t have to work any old job just to have one, since I worked my ass off for my degree too. He just got a full time job first and one that will always pay more than what I can make. But I feel ya, I really do. I have my loser party of 1 gatherings in my head at least 3-4 times a month.

    • Sorry, I’m super late replying to this!

      But yes, it’s difficult to deal with money, and feelings of inadequacy. I had that before I got pregnant, too… job searching and not finding anything, feeling like my college degree was a total waste, ending up doing secretarial work. It’s rough. It sounds like we had similar situations, with them scoring good-paying jobs and discussing those finances when buying a house. We had always intended to have me stay home with our children, but it all happened really quickly so it was a big adjustment.

      I’ll join your loser party if you’ll join my pity party! lol

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