There I was...feeling dissatisfied with myself and everything around me. It came as a shock, two years after I had left the workforce to become a Stay At Home Mom (s-a-h-m.)
I didn't originally leave willingly--I was fired pretty much for having a pissing contest with my boss. I'm still not sure who actually won that one, because I couldn't bring myself to leave but hated to stay. The first two weeks I cried. I had worked since I was 14, and I had never been fired from any job, much less one I had worked at for9 years and to which I had given my all. But then I found the novelty of taking a break could help me clear my head to find a job that didn't require me to leave my soul at the door.
Months became a year, and after spending my working years having several miscarriages and a cancerous molar pregnancy, I found myself pregnant again. I didn't think it would last...I bled at the beginning, and at five weeks they could see nothing. I was prepared for another miscarriage, but instead I was given the gift of "Rose."
Now, I should say here, I love Rose, and Punkgirl (12) and Happyboy (10) more than anything in the universe. But I'm not perfect, and neither are they. They drive me crazy, frustrate me, wear me down...and make me happy, proud, and content at times, too. They are not the cause of my discontent, but they are part of the reason. You see, Punkgirl was having anxiety attacks and suicidal thoughts, Happyboy was having a hard time in school, and Rose, well, Rose is breastfeeding, which is a whole other post in itself. All together, they needed Mommy--not half of Mommy, but that all I had been giving to work for so long. I decided that since finding a job that would allow me to be home by 2:25 and would pay me enough to pay for a babysitter for Rose was nearly impossible, it made more sense to become a s-a-h-m, breastfeeding and making my own baby food to save money, taking Punkgirl to dance and therapy, spending some extra time with Happyboy in the evenings.
But I didn't count on failing at it. Oh, nobody else thinks I'm failing...my husband tells me that he would have given up breastfeeding "after the first few weeks" (due to an awful oversupply issue that was almost the end of our bf relationship.) My mother says, "You're the best mother I know." Even my best girlfriends think I am doing a bang-up job. But when you've been in the workforce for so long, you have come to rely on the performance review or your boss's comments, or a thank you from a co-worker for your sense of self-worth. When that is gone, and you see the dishes piling up, or the bedroom has become a disaster zone, or your child is still having issues in school despite the fact that you are home, you can only assume that your performance review would say "unsatisfactory."
I know there are the Moms out there who will tell you that being there for your children is the greatest job you can have, and that it is tough but so worth it../well, ok, in the scheme of things, having this time with them will be worth it, but it doesn't help my self-esteem. I find myself wearing the same four (bf accessible) tank tops and two pairs of jeans, sometimes I don't bother brushing my hair (or I don't have time, thank you, Rose), and sometimes I find myself thinking that my husband has put more effort into looking good than I have. It's fairly demoralizing.
Ok, so now you are thinking, so why not change it? Get a job, do your hair, etc. There's a problem here that is difficult to explain if you've never been a suck-at-home-mom. To clarify, I don't mean those Moms who stay at home and are great at it---not that they are always content or happy or don't have problems, but that they can juggle a baby on a hip, keep the house clean, volunteer at school and still manage to look like a normal human being. I am not that Mom. I also feel I can't work to pay for daycare, because then not only did I fail, but I gave up and letting someone else raise my baby. And it isn't that I don't want to raise her, I love her; or that I don't want to brush my hair...but if I have five minutes it's a choice between my living room getting cleaned or brushing my hair. Since no one will see me but I can see the living room, it wins every damned time.
I don't know the answer here. I am slowly falling into a discontent that I may not be able to change for years...but I know I can't be the only suck-at-home-mom out there, and maybe if we can all connect, somehow we can turn this into a win. I have a friend who is a Mary Kay consultant, and even though I don't wear makeup and suck at remembering skin care, I am considering asking to join her team, just to once again feel like I am contributing, not just to the household, but to a business, to society, to my own self-worth. I know that I contribute to the household by getting up in the middle of the night to take care of Rose, and by cooking dinner and finding the least expensive groceries...but there aren't any incentives for that other than Rose's smiles (which, ok, are killer) and making it to my man's next paycheck without resorting to mustard sandwiches for dinner (again, ok, maybe that's a fairly good incentive, but it's not sexy, is it?)
So....Suck-At-Home-Moms...can you tell me, what have you done to turn things around....or have you?