I recently started back to work, and have had moments of anxiety trying to juggle home and work life. It’s not that I’m even working that many hours at all, but I’m not sure how to fit all the pieces of the puzzle together. This post is more for me to “put my thoughts to paper” than anything. So here goes.
Several months ago I was having a conversation with someone regarding working outside the home vs. being a stay at home mom, and long story short this person (not having any children yet) felt people in general gave more credence to the difficulties of motherhood, than to a full-time job in the workforce. I thought about the two for a minute and answered that they are both hard, just in different ways.
When Tim and I were first married I was considered part-time at my nursing job, working three 10hr. days/ week starting at 6am, but they were almost always 11-12 hr. days. Sometimes I would work 15+ hr. days if I was assigned all 3 shifts. Talk about exhaustion. It was usually go,go,go all day and my legs would be killing me by the time I collapsed in my car to go home. Some days I wouldn’t get to eat lunch until 3pm. And then to make dinner when I got home? Yeah right. I was fried and didn’t even want to stand up. It was hard. Mentally and physically, and at times emotionally exhausting. Some days I felt like the phone was ringing off the hook and every call was for me, or that I was constantly being needed in several places at once. It was tempting to just hide in the bathroom & lock the door.
In the past I’ve worked desk jobs a time or two, and I know those can be challenging and exhausting as well. There may be days when you have to deal with a disgruntled client, or the workload seems insurmountable. And somehow staring at a computer screen all day can make one feel absolutely drained.
After Evie was born I went back to work and my boss kindly let me do a 3 days one week, 2 days the next schedule. Because of his schedule flexibility, Tim was able to watch Evie on the days I worked. But that meant he would have late evening meetings on those days- so I would come home tired from work and have to jump right in to “home duty”. I was breastfeeding so my breaks at work were mostly used to pump in a spare office used mostly for storage. (The one plus side was that I couldn’t be interrupted for phone calls during that time. :)) I used to bemoan the fact that I was working long hours and just wanted to be able to have more time at home. Needless to say I was very, very happy when we decided last Spring I could cut back my work hours to just one day a week.
I’ve come to learn life at home with a kid keeps you busy on your toes but can also be… strangely monotonous. Routines are good but they get old. Naps, playtime, meals, repeat (somewhere in there haphazardly clean). The house becomes a mess quicker than the time it takes to unload the dishwasher. I find myself calculating with each toy or activity, “Okay, this will last us about 3.5 minutes. How many more until bedtime?”. Early, early morning wake-up times make me rue the days I complained about not being able to sleep in until 10am. And at times I want to lock myself in the bathroom for 2 seconds of peace. My official parenting philosophy? Don’t bother to own anything ever (not even furniture) and pad all the walls. Maybe you can own things if you place them on shelves near the ceiling.
I know having a job is a blessing, and that motherhood is, too, a blessing. I guess all this to say for me the grass is always greener on the other side. Any job or situation in life has its difficulties, I just need to keep my focus on the blessings.
“Happiness is not having what you want. It is wanting what you have.” -Rabbi Hyman Schachtel