Monday, September 10, 2012

Advice from a reluctant SAHM

"Sometimes I feel like someone is missing." Jason told me.

He was talking about our family; we had just both finished agreeing that though the first year after Ethan was born was incredibly difficult - we were so glad he was here. We agreed he "rounded us out". Three was a nice number - or so I thought. Jason seems to think we have one more child in our future.

I just looked at him. Then I said, "Hey, if you can find a way to carry the baby and be primary caregiver for a while - I'm on board".

And I meant it.

You know, I can't help but be a bit resentful sometimes. Not at him, but in general; how this society is set up for women - especially mothers.

Jason was pretty miserable the first year after Ethan was born - hell, pretty much after all of them. I was too. But, as soon as he went back to work, all was well and life was pretty much back to normal for him. How much has his life changed since we had kids? I actually asked him this one time, and he couldn't give me an answer.

Other than having 3 young children added to our family - not much.

His career is going pretty fucking well. He works in the city now - just like he always dreamed of doing as a child. He has a highly coveted and marketable skillset. He still has a social life completely outside of children. He never had a years long pause in his career - never had to put it on hold for anybody.

And what about me?

I have no career. I've been out of the workforce for 6 years now. Six. I am just starting school again, and even with that the kids dictate how fast I can bust through it because I am primary caregiver. Meanwhile he can go hobnob with the CEO and COO after work for coporate networking because of course I am home. I am always home. He can take as long at work and work as hard as he needs to without worry because again - Wifey is home! Yes, he is bettering our family by bettering his career - but that's what I am trying to do with school. And I cannot work on it head-on like I want to. I have no one home for me to pick up the slack; I have no housewife.

I have no social life at all outside of kids. No one wants or needs my expertise.  I am with the kids all day every day and I am at my wits end. I am done. Spent. Over it. I'm done putting my life on hold. Dammit, I want something for me and being a stay-at-home-mom and housewife is not it.

And the kicker? I "don't have a job" so I am not even contributing to my social security. No 401K. I can only get medical benefits through my employed husband. Fuck the USA and it's devaluing of caregiving. Fuck them right in the eye. I guess raising the next generation isn't worth much.

Now I know what "The invisible work of women" means.

So, yeah. Just felt like venting this morning. It was just a terrible morning. I am feeling like I'm coming down with something, Hannah started the day off with whining and crying like always, demands, demands, demands right from the start, teething toddler who literally cries while following me around the house. Constant fights. More whining. Screaming, crying, wiping snot and ass, cleaning, serving.

 And then I picture what Jason is doing at that moment; he's on the train, sitting with grown-ups who can handle themselves, enjoying a hot cup of coffee (one that doesn't end up being ice cold by the time he gets to finish it) while working on his computer or reading the newspaper for a hour. In peace. Hell - he can even sleep if he wants to.

It's just one of those days I guess.

Do I have regrets? Sure as hell do. I will give this advice to anyone that asks or even hints at it (especially my own daughter): Unless you know for sure that you want to be a SAHM until death, DO NOT - and I repeat - DO NOT have kids before you have a career, or at least your degree. As a woman you will get stuck staying home with the kids if you are not the breadwinner already. And even if you are the breadwinner or close to it - odds are if you and the father both want someone to stay home, IT WILL BE YOU, woman, because you are just that - a woman. You are the mother and you will have this maternal guilt tugging at your heartstrings. You will have society telling you that's what you should do, and if things are going perfectly at home (father has great paying job and you are financially set) - then dammit that's what you must do.  Do not leave yourself without options.

Just some advice from someone who has been there, done that, doing it.


Shannen said...

I feel your pain. I really, really do. I only have 2 and my youngest is almost 2.5, but life is still chaotic. Days are long and as the mama, you don't get to clock out at the end of the day. Or get holidays or sick days.

My mother-in-law kept telling me that my kids are only little once and that staying home would be the most rewarding thing I'd ever do. I agree with her, but in the moment, it's sometimes hard to imagine. I just hope they look back on this time and are thankful I stayed home with them.

Apparently I needed to vent, too. I hope tomorrow is a little brighter for you.

Michele said...

Thanks for you comment Shannen. It really does help to know I'm not alone in feeling this way.

What your MIL said though - I hear it often. I don't know if I agree with it though. How is it the most rewarding thing ever? I want somebody to explain that.

I really don't think kids appreciate or benefit from a SAH parent as much as is suggested. I think we tell ourselves that it is "the most rewarding" to make ourselves feel better, and to make ourselves believe that all this sacrifice HAS to be for something.

Jen said...

thank you! I am also married to a Jason :)

I was 35 when our son was born. I am an RN and had had a job since I was 15.

We moved to Germany around this time (my husband is military), so I truly could not work. I was excited, so many of my friends back home were jealous.

While I do still feel lucky I have had this time with my son, allowing me to breastfeed for 16 months, something I know would have not happened had I gone back to work at 12 weeks, it's been very tough.

It's also been very difficult on our marriage. lots of resentment, for sure.

I just wanted you to know that you aren't alone in your feelings!