Frustrations from the Cooking Mama…
I love my kid, but…I think I’m ready to go back to work.
I have been a stay-at-home-mom to Goose for 20 months now (longer, really, if you count the time I spent lazing around after I was laid off from my job halfway through my pregnancy). During the newborn days, the idea of going back to work was just inconceivable – Goose nursed around the clock and my body didn’t respond to a pump, even the giant, scary hospital-grade one we rented. I never slept and between the exhaustion, constant feedings, and the fact that my adjusting hormones were making me feel a little homicidal (mostly toward my husband, but others felt my hate vibes too, I’m sure), I just couldn’t imagine trying to function at a job. Truth be told, I was also really burned out on all of the BS, drama, and boredom that comes with a typical office job, and I was sure I’d never miss it. I’ve worked a few jobs since college but nothing I’ve ever loved, so I figured I wasn’t committing career suicide by not working for a while. I knew staying at home wouldn’t be easier, but it would be different. And more than anything, I really just wanted to spend all the time I could with my beautiful little scream machine.
Let me say right off the bat, I know how lucky I have been to stay home with Goose. We live pretty frugally in order to make it work (and don’t own a home yet, and drive one old crappy car), but many families cannot afford to lose one partner’s wages. So yes, I recognize the immense privilege there is in even having the choice whether or not to work outside the home. I also realize how special it has been to witness all of my baby’s firsts, cuddle and kiss her whenever I want, and just enjoy her cuteness every single minute of the day. A lot of moms would kill for that opportunity. But a lot of moms would also be frustrated and/or bored to tears spending all day with their kids, and I get that…boy, do I get that.
Now that Goose is older and is extremely independent, I find myself ready for a change. I want to have a conversation wherein there is no mention of poo, naps, or Yo Gabba Gabba (although I do love musing over a good Muno-centric episode). I want to wear something other than Old Navy yoga pants and Mossimo boyfriend t-shirts from Target, and I want to actually use the vast collection of makeup collecting dust in my bathroom! I want to sit at a desk or in a coffee shop and eat one freaking meal that isn’t cold when it’s supposed to be hot, or warm when it’s supposed to be cold, or splashed in my hair/flung to the floor because my toddler didn’t find it pleasing to her ever-changing palate. I want hobbies beyond reading a book for a few minutes in bed before passing out at night. I want challenges beyond potty training and temper tantrums! Sometimes I want to be valued for something other than my skills as a wife and mother! AM I YELLING? SORRY!
I know motherhood and these wants are not mutually exclusive. Lots of stay-at-home-moms have it together, look presentable, and have fulfilling social lives outside of playdates. I’ve definitely let myself fall into a rut and become the stereotypical frumpy, boring mom and I have no one to be pissed at but myself. I used to be cool! I used to be interesting! I’d just really like to find some sort of happy medium between Stepford Mom and well, me. I know it exists because all of my mom friends seem to live there. Can I get some sort of how-to guide?
I also want to always be available to my daughter. I want to snuggle her and be two steps away when she’s upset or hurt. I don’t want to miss any important moments. But as we are reminded daily, moms can’t have it all. If I go back to work, I sacrifice time that could be spent with Goose. If I stay home, I sacrifice some of the the things I want and need as a woman. Is it even possible for me to find a healthy balance? How do working moms do it without going nuts? Am I up for it? Is Goose up for it? (I strongly suspect yes) Will I regret going back to work, or will I be a better mom for it? I have a lot of questions and no concrete answers, and that’s hard.