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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Me, the stay at home mom?

I should note that this was started when I gave my notice at the end of May. I almost deleted it, but instead I've added some and tried to make it more readable. I guess I'll hit post now.

I probably should have numbered this since it doesn't flow all that well. Kind of like my working mom mind. Here goes:

So I've taken the first step to becoming a stay at home mom. I've given my notice. The day I did, it was all I could do to keep the chunks down. I didn't know how everyone would react- and didn't want to know really. It's not like announcing a pregnancy where you know you have a limited time to tell people before they just find out and are insulted that you didn't say anything. And by the way, I apologize if you are finding this news out only my reading this and are in any way offended. :) I guess I think most of the time, people don't care and I don't want to find out that they don't care by telling them and seeing how underwhelmed they are. I generally like flying under the radar. No one expects a whole lot, you come, you go. Very low fuss and low stress as far as fuss-related stress goes.

I often wonder how life at home will be. Up until now, we've left things undone and we've said, "that's ok, both of us work" and so there's no blame. Now, if things don't get done, it's going to be my fault. Also, up to now, we've shared household tasks pretty well. We complain about the way each other does or doesn't do things, but there is that understanding there that since both of us are away from the house the same amount of time, we've both got to be doing everything for this to work. I do understand and agree that I'll pick up more responsibilities; I just hope things don't get out of hand... Also,  I'm nowhere near as confident in the kitchen is my husband. Will I ever get comfortable? At least maybe now I'll be able to find stuff- anything-  if I'm the one putting it there. Will I end up doing nothing? Will I pick up do at home jobs (yeah, right, I've been searching for this for years and now they will fall from the sky!)? I know people say stay at home motherhood is a full time job, but,- it's not that I don't believe them, I do- how full exactly when I'm used to doing a million and one things, remembering a million and one things, being here and there and everywhere at work and home? It probably won't be less crazy, but different crazy, realistically. I'm kind of hoping for less crazy, though. I could do with that for a bit.

How much of my worth is tied up in work? I didn't think much before, since I don't have a high-powered job or anything close. But when I stop earning a paycheck I wonder if I'll feel like I have to ask permission all the time or if I'll think less of myself. Worse, what if my husband thinks less of me. I don't think he will, but I've never been there. There is what other people think, too, but that matters less. I hope. I feel good about my reasons for quitting work. I want to be involved in their education in a way I wouldn't have been able to before. Who am I kidding- I just want to see them! I keep thinking of things I want to learn and go back to school for and possible career changes. Will that stop, I wonder? There is the fringe benefit of my husband and I getting to see a bit more of each other. It's not like I don't want to work anymore, though I may be a tad burned out at the moment...

I'm reading I Don't Know How She Does It. Good timing. It would have depressed me (or infuriated me), though, if I'd read it before I knew my quitting was possible (the main character ends up quitting, surprisingly). Or maybe it would have made me feel better that others feel some of the working mom guilt (even if the character is fictional). The things she mentions about being embarrassed about not knowing what your kids' favorite things are at all times, guilt over missing so much of their babyhood, the chaos during the times you do see them- as though they cram weeks' worth of emotion (the whole spectrum) and need for attention into such a small amount of time- and then the guilt over wishing for "me time" because of the intensity and acting out. Another bit that was so familiar- the main character makes mental lists all the time. I do this every night! Random things that need doing with the house, things to pick up at the store, birthday plans, cleaning, long-term, short-term, recurring items... I've never done what she did with the buying baked goods and bashing them up to make them look homemade, though. I just opt for feeling guilty bringing store bought stuff or feel guilty for bringing nothing and hope no one wants to discuss what everyone brought...

On a larger scale, I wonder how many years I'm setting back women's equality? Especially if a man takes my place? Maybe that's overly dramatic, but I've seen a lot of women do what I just did and what if that continues? I can't say this was a huge concern, but it ran through my mind more than once. I tend to think me taking up space here in the "world of work" (thanks 8th grade careers class for that bit of vocabulary) is progress in a (cheesy) way. Anyway, education leads to both better conditions for women in general and women working outside the home. If fewer of us work outside the home, maybe fewer will be educated and we'll be undervalued ...again. Hopefully we've reached a baseline of education where we realize that men's and women's lives are equally valuable, whatever our choice after the education, unlike in some parts of the world where only boys are vaccinated, educated, and valued in general.

 I will miss the people I've worked with past and present, the multicultural education (for me) and ever changing face of the lab, the pride of knowing you do something well and the challenge of trying. Goodbye to Gyro Thursdays, random beeping of freezers, parking in Mongolia, giant brownies,  dodging the hackey sack on the way to the bathroom, mouse surgery with good conversation, the smell of bacteria in the morning... There are obviously things I'll miss more than others :) but overall, I'm ready!

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