Sunday, August 14, 2011

Small change, big difference

Big news here: Mama’s got a brand new job. (High five!) I’m really excited because this position allows greater flexibility, which means more time with my family and less time worrying about following archaic company policies that undermine my need for a better work-life balance.

It has only been a week, but I’m already really enjoying the changes. I finally get to wake up later than the sun, which is wonderful for this night owl, and it also means I get to leave the house with my toddler and My Guy, who drops me off at the train station before taking Little Miss to preschool. A cheery hug and kiss from my family to kickstart my day? Why, don’t mind if I do!

Unfortunately, that’s the only good news I have. Little Miss has developed a fear of bedtime (or naptime for that matter) from the thunderstorms that raged at us several weeks ago, which means a daily battle to get her in bed, and then to keep her there. To quell her fears we leave all the lights on in her bedroom per her request (and there are many), with music playing all night. It’s like freakin’ Madison Square Garden in there.

The baby, on the other hand, sleeps well through the night. Since I only get to see Thumper after I’m home from work, I’m rarely away from her when she’s awake. The smiling, cooing and gurgling never gets old, although by the time she’s asleep in the evening, I’m spent.


My nocturnal ambitions, like writing and reading blogs, dissolve with the setting sun as my post-work routine devours what little energy I have left: preschool pickup, engage toddler, make dinner for family, breastfeed baby, make sure toddler eats, bath and bedtime with toddler, engage baby, keep toddler in bed, lull baby to sleep, wonder if I have time to write, convince toddler to stay in bed, think of something to write about, lay down with baby in bed…and fall asleep myself. So much for writing.

Ah the glamorous life of a working mom. However, I’m grateful to be back in the workforce again. Not only do I feel lucky to be employed in this troubling economy, I also feel like, and I hate to say this, I’m a better mom when I get the chance to be away from my kids. As much as I loved being home with the girls on my maternity leave, I felt restless and confined, and I was easily agitated. I also felt torn and guilty because as much as I wanted to be with them, I also longed to be out making adult conversations and decisions that affect just me. Not having to come up with five meals a day (breakfast + morning snack + lunch + afternoon snack + dinner) for Little Miss? Bonus!

Now that I’m here – and away from my kids for a large portion of my day during the work week – I miss them desperately. Yet it’s the kind of missing that makes the homecoming that much sweeter. And the homestaying that much more pleasant when I’m not at my wits’ end trying to entertain a toddler with a case of  the Terrible Twos.

I have great admiration for those who choose to stay home with their kids because I know how tough it can be. It’s not the “easier” gig as some people might assume. Both working and stay-at-home moms have their work cut out for them, though they confront different beasts. I may love my kids to pieces but alas being with them 24/7 is just not for me. 

It’s funny how I once thought staying home with my kids is the only thing that would make me happy when in fact it was finding a job that allows me the flexibility to work from home when I needed to that was enough for me. Knowing that I am away from them not because I have to but because I choose to – that makes all the difference in the world.

I just hope they will understand…