Sunday, January 29, 2012


Warning: this post is all over the place. I ought to edit, I know. But it ain't gonna happen. It was this or nothing at all. That's just where I am with life these days.

So I stumbled upon this article today. Go ahead and read it. I'll wait. What? You say you're in a hurry? Maybe you'll peruse it later? Fine, I'll summarize: In the latest round of the media concoction mommy wars, positing that stay-at-home mothers and work-outside-the-home mothers are at each other's throats for ratings purposes, enter Anderson Cooper and Dr. Drew to fan the flames, claiming that a recent study says working moms are happier, and asking if stay-at-home moms are lazy (is it just me, or wouldn't the stay-at-home moms be happier if it were all about being lazy!? You show me lazy, and I'll show you bliss! But maybe that's just me...) .

But this blogger (who I never read until today) did something I really appreciate: she followed the links back to the original study and read it. And what did it ACTUALLY say?

Basically, that I'm right about everything! :)

Okay, okay, it didn't cite me personally or anything (hmph!), but here's the title of the study: Mothers’ Part-Time Employment: Associations With Mother and Family Well-Being. Turns out it's part-time employment that offers the most benefits to mothers, kids and families. I read it, sitting on my couch, looking at the room I just cleaned that already needs to be cleaned again, and I pined for my old job back. My lovely, wonderful, I'd-send-it-to-the-Vatican-for-sainthood-if-I-were-still-a-practicing-Catholic, as close to perfect as can be, old job.

And while it had a number of things going for it, here was the very, very best part: it was PART-TIME! And the hours were FLEXIBLE! It was luscious. Delicious. A thing of great beauty.

I am still struggling with adapting to this (not-so) new (anymore) life, six months later. It's a lot HARDER than my old life. On the days the boys come, I work ten hours: 7:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. On the days they don't come, I have my two kids for the ten hours my husband is at work. On weekends, I have essentially the same job; it's just bring-your-husband-to-work-day, twice in a row. Oh, and the grocery shopping needs to be done too. My house ALWAYS (and I cannot stress enough that it. really. is. ALWAYS.) needs to be cleaned. And I don't feel like I can slack off on that when I have other people bringing their children here every other day. It's one thing to subject your own family to your irredeemably messy tendencies; it's another thing altogether to subject clients to the same. So the haven of my home doesn't feel like a haven very often. Sometimes it feels like a work-induced hangover that never ends.

By the definitions in the article, I worked part-time before, and I work part-time now. But my old job was twenty hours a week; this one is thirty (three more hours per week and I'd be out of the part-time category). My old job was divided evenly between five mornings a week; this one is three long days, with two days off (but my days off don't feel as different as they did when I worked outside the home). And having your home be your workplace is stressful for me. I recently said to my husband: It's like if you went to work one day, and they said: Good news! Grades and curriculum are optional now! Teach whatever and however you like! But -oh yeah!- the cafeteria workers and janitors have all been laid off, and we will need you to do their jobs. Also, people LIVE in your classroom now, and will treat it accordingly. It's up to you to keep it up to whatever standards you need to successfully teach. Good luck!

There are times I catch up on (or ignore) the housekeeping, and focus on the teaching. These are the times I enjoy most. But it's hard to focus on teaching when the students are eating feathers off the floor because they escaped from your throw pillows when you were busy building Pillow Mountain in the middle of the living room. Suddenly it's time to put Pillow Mountain away and vacuum. Again. And then it's time to serve lunch, and sweep, and mop, and throw in another load of laundry, and get it folded, and then...and then...and then. It's way too easy for the lessons to end up in last place, while the never-ending upkeep takes over my time. These are the times I enjoy least.

I'd love to sum this up, all pretty with a nice bow. But I have no idea where the bows are. Organizing the Christmas stuff is still on my to-do list. I just threw it up there on a Sunday night sometime early this month because the boys were going to be here in the morning, and I haven't gotten back to it yet. So, sadly, this is all I got:

Part-time work is the bomb-diggity-dog, and don't ever forget, you heard it here first! But balance? I don't haz it right now. And I don't know how to find it.


  1. i think that doing day care out of your home has got to be the worst of all possible worlds! and for all the reasons you descibe!! it's hard to work from home (even w/o kids) because it blurs that line between work and domestic, and if you're not careful, you can feel like you're at work *all* the time. add in kiddos, (esp other people's kiddos) and suddenly you're in stay at home mommy overdrive ... because you're not just caring for your own kids and home, you're also caring for *other* people's kids ... and so all that pressure of "what will other people think??" can't just be dismissed by saying "hey, i make my own choices for my family!" ... now it's a business decision too!

    i do not envy you one bit! the study was started 10+ yrs ago, and i think it would be interesting to know how many of the part-time employed mothers were working in the home (vs out of home, vs having dedicated workspace in the home, etc). i feel like telecommuting and the handmade industry have made working from home more prevalent, but that comes with its own can of worms.

    thanks for the thoughtful insights to the discussion :) (and sorry my comment is a novel!!)

  2. I don't worry about the "what will other people think" part, probably b/c I've been in the field of early childhood ed for years, so I'm pretty comfortable with the choices I have to make about caring for the kids. In fact, I love the kids! And I enjoy having others in addition to my own, b/c it pushes me to do things like develop curriculum, which I would probably be lazy about if it were only my own (and which I enjoy quite a bit when I take the time to do it).

    It's the housework. KILLING ME!!! That's why it's hard to enjoy my weekends. I look around at all the cleaning I should be doing, and I know it's either do it on the weekends, or scramble to do it while the kids are here (usually during naps, although I fold laundry with them, which isn't too bad). I keep struggling with the same thing, over and over again, and I think once I can budget in a regular house cleaner it will be SO MUCH BETTER! I had somebody come once, but she didn't do a great job, and I'm still working toward getting the $ in the budget on a regular basis. I can't wait!!!