Monday, April 26, 2010

Lists and Longings

I talked once before about daydreaming of becoming a stay at home mom.  At that time, it was an idle daydream, and mostly because I was overstressed at work.  It passed, and I returned to my default setting: part-time work is perfect for me.  I've long felt that I get the best of both worlds.  I'm keeping my foot in the door, professionally speaking, but I have afternoons at home with my son.  Suddenly, just in the last day or so, I'm again overtaken by the desire to quit my job and stay at home full time.  Except rather than an idle daydream, this feels...I don't know what, exactly.  It feels so overwhelming, and emotional, and imperative to explore, that I'm taken aback by it.  I suppose this will be my attempt to muddle through the feelings.
  • I planned to be a stay-at-home mother for most of my childhood.  I'm fairly sure this had little to nothing to do with my own longings for motherhood, and mostly everything to do with the fact that my mom stayed home.  Had my mother bagged groceries at the corner store, that probably would have been my goal as well.
  • I grew up working class, and the notion that people defined themselves through career choices seemed distant from my family's experience and, frankly, a little silly.  After reading a bunch of feminist theory in college, I said to a friend of mine, who also grew up working class:  I don't get why these women felt like their jobs would give them a place to develop their true identities.  She replied:  I know!  It's my damn job that prevents me from having any time to develop my true identity!  We snickered at that, but it really represents where I come from.  My father has spent his entire life working at jobs he hates, so he could feed and house us.  He finds meaning in his life, and develops his identity outside of his work.  That may sound sad to people who do find meaning through work, but it's a basic reality for most people who work because they have to.
  • Then, surprise, surprise!  I found a line of work that gave great meaning to my life.  I love what I do.  It does allow me to develop parts of my personality that would otherwise lie dormant.  It was a huge surprise to me to find it, and I think part of why it came about was that I was willing to be very poor rather than do work I hated, but it did eventually come, and I really, truly enjoy what I do.
  • I spent the first year of my son's life saying that I didn't think I'd be a very good stay-at-home mother.  I can see myself in the same pajamas three days running.  That's not even a stretch to imagine.  I'm not much of a housekeeper, to tell you the truth.  I don't cook.  And I'm often a homebody, plus we'd be pretty broke, and winter is loooooooong round these parts.  For some reason all of these very practical concerns are not serving as deterrents in my mind anymore.
  • Time just seems so short all of a sudden.  I want every minute with my baby boy.  Last week I took him everywhere I went.  We went to parks and libraries, stores and ice cream parlors, out on long walks, and climbing at playgrounds.  We had so much fun!  And now these weird.....feelings.
  • Except they're more than just feelings.  I've been adding and subtracting numbers from our budget, interest rates on car loans, and months left until final payments, and minus gas for the work commute, and plus a bread maker so I could make homemade bread and stop paying $8 a loaf for the delicious bakery bread we currently eat, and the numbers?  They keep getting closer and closer to balancing.
And what will I do if, or when, they do?  The question just stops me cold in my tracks.  It leaves me a little breathless.  It's nothing I ever expected to be asking.  I haven't the foggiest idea of how to answer it.

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