Reality (Semi-)Check

I have what I only half-jokingly call “baby fever.” Though not yet a mother, I read  mommy blogs,  melt over babies in strollers at the park, and I scrutinize young mothers, fascinated, trying to see something of myself in them. When I taught preschool I became aware of how easy it is to fall in love with other peoples’ children; I can’t even imagine the love a person feels when they are holding their own baby.

Long ago, way before I’d met Zack or was anywhere remotely close to old enough for marriage, I decided I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom before my kids go to school. My mother worked three jobs when I was little.  When she slept my brother, sister and I would pile onto her bed and sleep, too, just to touch some part of this woman we barely saw and desperately missed. I know she did the best she could. Honestly, I don’t really remember that time except the flashes of baby-sitters here and there. But I know my mom regrets not being able to be home with us and I know that you don’t get a do-over when it comes to raising your kids. I want to have as few regrets as possible, so being a SAHM is important to me.

Now, that is not to say that I don’t have some reservations about being a SAHM.

First, I know EXACTLY how hard it is to go without much adult interaction in your daily life. After working with 20 preschoolers I craved a job that allowed me to wear dress clothes without fear of ruining them with finger paint and snot. I wanted to have a conversation about something other than who needed to go potty and not hitting your friends. I wanted to read the news in the morning, not Dr. Seuss. But I think part of that is ME. I get bored easily. I now have a job that requires dressing up and adult conversation and I’m not responsible for the state of anyone’s bladder but my own. And I miss singing silly songs and teaching my kids new words and the look on their faces when they GET what I’ve spent a month trying to teach them. There are benefits to working with kids. There are benefits to working in the adult-only world. If I could I would take a job that would allow me six months working with kids followed by six months of working with adults, but even if I could think up such a job I would bet money that I’m not qualified for it (the story of my life).

Second, like, what the fuck am I going to do when my however many kids go to school and I’m all unqualified to work at 35 or whatever? I don’t particularly relish the idea of making $10 an hour again, you know? Or doing something I hate just because no one else will hire me and I’ve got to start somewhere. Again. I’d be starting from scratch for the second time in the working world. I am so over that.

Last, and most important (to me, anyway), is something I really hadn’t thought about until Amalah’s Smackdown post the other day. What if I quit my job and decide six months down the road that OMG soooooooo not cut out to hang out with a baby in my pajamas all day. Because, y’all, I can see myself spiraling into depression without even being aware that it’s happening. And the pregnancy/post-partum hormone fiesta that goes on TERR-I-FIES ME. I’d never seriously considered the possibility of not liking SAH-motherhood. Because babies! And cuteness! And pajamas all day! And naps! And….I am totally, 100% kidding myself, right?

Sigh.

These worries don’t really change anything except my own personal awareness. I am still determined to give being a SAHM a try. I am totally lucky Zack and I agree that my staying home must be something that I choose, and continue to choose for however long I do it, and that it’s okay if I decide to go back to work (if only to preserve my sanity and personal hygiene). I will not feel guilty if I need to work part-time, or even full-time, because I truly believe that being a good parent isn’t about whether you work or stay home. It’s about giving your child the  happiest, healthiest parent that you can be. I used to think that I could only be an awesome mom if I was home with my kids, but now I realize that so much more goes into it. Balance, a strong sense of self-worth, and knowing yourself enough to realize when you need time away. Having a partner who supports you when you say I NEED A BREAK is vital, whether that means finding two hours for me to go shopping alone or hopping on Craigslist to help me look for a j-o-b.

I never want to take my options for granted. By the time we have kids we’ll be in a financial position for me to choose whether to stay home or not, a luxury too many families can’t afford. I also have a partner who fully supports whatever decision I make about staying home or not. I just want to make sure that I am making the best decision I can for myself and my family. I am beginning to realize that that means I can’t plan in absolutes. I am going to give SAH motherhood a go, and if it doesn’t work out then I’ll find awesome care for the fruit of my loins and get my ass back to doing something that makes me happy. I am lucky to have so many doors open before me and for that I am grateful.

And speaking of people who share my DNA, you should all take a stroll on over to Not a Classy Peanut and welcome my sister to the blogging world!

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2 thoughts on “Reality (Semi-)Check

  1. jiveturkey says:

    Ay, ay, ay. I need to come over here more. Clearly, you need me to PRESSURE YOU INTO HAVING A BABY RIGHT NAO KTHXBYE. Have you SEEN my adorable child?! All this can be yours!

    But anyway. Your instincts are right on target – you’ll know what’s right for you re: SAHM-ness when the time comes. There’s no way to know how you’ll take to it (or not) until you’re there. No pressure.

    • Austin says:

      Thanks, JT. I’ll admit that Sadie’s adorableness had me wondering how I’ll ever think another kid is cute again because OMG THE CHEEEEEEKS! She’s so freaking cute. And yes, her cuteness may have contributed to The Fever.

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