And Then I Stepped in Gum . . .

Thursday, April 08, 2004


Meg on my Freelance mailing list got me to rambling about transitions, and I thought I'd post this to my new blog. As you can tell, I'm feeling a fair amount of angst about these issues.

At the end of June we'll be moving from Long Island to Alabama. We figure the cost of living is about 30% less down there than it is here, and my husband will be making 33% more than he is currently making. So we'll definitely be ahead, and possibly ahead enough that I wouldn't have to work and could be a SAHM instead of a WAHM. The thing is, it's never really been a goal of mine to be a SAHM. I love my kids (ages 5 and 15 months), and think I'm a pretty good mom, but I don't get the same kind of things out of mothering that I do out of working. I love knowing that I'm good at what I do, and getting praise and recognition for it in various forms, both verbal and monetary -- neither of which can be said of parenting. I find it interesting that when I've discussed this development with other SAHMs (I don't interact with many WAHMs or WOHMs), I get the reaction that it's great that I'll be able to quit working. But that kind of ignores or diminishes my desire to continue working part-time.

Other transitions -- currently my daughter (the 5yo) attends preschool/daycare 3 days a week (MWF) from 9 to 4. My son doesn't go anywhere without me yet. This of course means that working for the past year has involved lots of juggling. My husband is a college professor, and works on campus only 3 days a week (MWTh) and sometimes comes home earlier than the typical homecoming time, plus he gets 3 months off in the summer and a month around Christmas. I admit I'm extremely spoiled by this schedule and depend on his co-parenting a lot. With this move and new job (out of academia), he'll be working 5 days a week, closer to 9-5 (although he may do some flextime things and leave earlier and come home earlier), and my daughter will be in full-day kindergarten 5 days a week. We're going to be "normal" -- schedulewise, at least. :) I started my daughter in part-time daycare just after she turned 2, which worked out very well for us. Now I have to think about when my son should start -- it would be convenient to start him at the same time Katie starts school, but that's at "only" 20 months, rather than 2+, and I'm feeling some parental guilt about that (despite the fact that he would be absolutely thrilled if I left him at Katie's daycare when I dropped her off -- he fits right in with the big kids) -- especially if I don't "have to" work (see above).

I think there's no question that I'll continue working. How much is the question. Whether to put Ian in daycare is the question. And how I'm going to work to be a better and more involved mom is always the question. The best part about being a WAHM is knowing that I'm at least physically home with my children. The worst part is feeling like I'm always doing a not-good-enough job at what I'm doing, be it parenting, housekeeping or editing (not that my editing's not good enough, but that my organization and attention to the business end and such tend to fall a little short). I find it interesting -- and the tiniest bit panic-inducing -- that in 6 months my life is going to be completely different from the one that I've managed to work out now.

I do have to say that I feel incredibly fortunate that these are the worst of my problems (well, worst if you don't count the hoodlum who set my porch on fire a few weeks ago), and that my job is portable and didn't have to be a factor in this major life decision, among numerous other things.