Working 9 to 5
Without going into too much detail, there has been some talk lately in the Casa de Wampler about me returning to the work force. Notice I didn’t say “go back to work,” because then all the moms in the world would swoop down on me and be like “WE DO WORK SO QUIT UNDERMINING US MOMMY WAR FOREVER WE ARE BETTER THAN YOU DIE.” And we wouldn’t want that, now would we? No, we wouldn’t.
What I mean is, the idea of me leaving my living room and changing out of yoga pants and talking to adults in return for money has been tossed around. As I’ve mentioned constantly so as to make up for the fact that I’m not very good at this, being a stay-at-home mom was never my goal in life. I had an awesome job when Declan was born. It was part-time at a community college for decent pay and was a lot of fun. Then the Great Economic Depression Crisis of 2008 or whatever happened, and the state was like “Yea, that girl that fannies around with the press releases… she’s gotta go…” and here we are. Once Paul and I decided we would have a second kid, we made the decision that unless a really great opportunity came along, it didn’t make financial sense for me to find a job that would more than likely only just cover or not even cover the cost of daycare for 2. Because I think that the cost of daycare for 2 is equivalent to the GDP of any given third-world nation.
When the thought of going back to work came up, my immediate reaction was excitement. The thought of gaining that part of me back — that part that contributes financially, that has something going on in my life outside of the playground to discuss with my husband, that gets to decide on things bigger than what to make for lunch — got my motor running. I don’t want to knock the life of the SAHM. It’s for real hardcore. This shit is not for the faint of heart, oh no. It’s just never fully felt like the best fit for me. As time has gone on, I’ve definitely gotten more comfortable with it, dare I say, even sorta good at it, but it’s always felt temporary. I’ve always known there was a finish line ahead of me, I just never knew when I would see it. Now that I’ve caught a possible glimpse at it, I can get excited about what lies ahead, but can’t help but look at what I’d be walking away from.
Obviously, not being with my boys 24/7 is the biggest, most jarring thought. I have been home with Declan since he was 9 months old, and home with Simon since always. Declan does go to pre-school now two days a week, and will go 3 half-days in the fall, so he’s kinda aging out of the program, if you will. My time with him is already shrinking as kindergarten approaches, so I’m somewhat mentally prepared for that aspect. But Simon is another story. He’s still a baby to me, MY baby. I know Declan would probably WORSHIP being at a school/daycare 5 days a week. He is so social, so outgoing and wants to be doing and learning and talking at all times. Simon, on the other hand, would prefer to spend most of his days wrapped around my legs. He has no desire to ever be away from me and just today cried when I left the living room. For the bathroom. So the thought of turning him over to a daycare is slightly more daunting.
I also feel like he’s getting the Second Kid Shaft. I have been there for every one of Declan’s milestones since 9 months. But with Simon, if I go back to work, there’s a huge chance that I will miss a lot of things. I know this is a dilemma that working parents face every day, so I am certainly not looking for pity. Hell, I could leave the room to make supper and miss his first sentence or whatever other milestones there are (seriously, being the second kid blows. Other than walking and first words, I can’t even remember what else happens. Jumping? Singing? I have no idea.). But I don’t believe for a minute that kids in daycare get parented any worse or better than kids with one stay at home parent. I just don’t. I don’t worry about them missing out on my guidance or influence or anything like that. I mean, come on, they would probably be better off with people that actually KNOW what they are doing, right?
And then there’s just my life right now. Yes, SAHMs do a lot of grunt work that never ends. No, we don’t get sick days or time alone or have a reason to wear make up most days. But you know what I DO get to do? Get together with friends for coffee and watch our kids play. Sit out in the sun and work on my tan while my boys swing. Blow off my chores for the park. Suddenly, rather than having a picnic on a gorgeous 75-degree spring day, I’d be sitting in an office, staring at a computer and looking out the window with longing.
But the bottom line is, all those things ARE temporary. The boys will one day be in school full time. They will have little lives starting up, with friends and sleepovers and sports and camp. And my life will go back to “normal,” with alarm clocks and traffic and deadlines and maybe, JUST MAYBE, enough money to pay for those sports and camps and beach trips and Disney and college. The future, as they say, is now. When I do start back to work, sooner or later, I’m still doing the best I can for my family. I’ll just be doing it in nicer clothes.