Middle of the Night Momma Thoughts

3 01 2011

As I walked down the hall with thoughts of blogging on my mind somehow that Saturday Night Live title of “Deep Thoughts by Jack Handey” came to mind. Often when I blog it is some deep thought of the night that is on my mind that needs to be put elsewhere. If I don’t want to get out of bed my thoughts go onto a piece of paper next to my night stand.

I was about to sleep when Katie woke up with what I think may have been minor night terrors, but who knows really. I just know she thrashed around for about eight minutes in my arms saying weird things like “I want to jump!” and “no!” to everything she normally would say ‘yes’ to. Somewhat took the sleepy out of me with a bit of an adrenaline rush and now my mind is wandering through events of the day. One in particular.

Had an older woman mention to me today — “You know, you’ll need to say No some day”. At first I thought she was talking about reprimanding my children and I replied saying “we do tell them No quite often”. Then I realized she meant I will need to say No to something in my line up of busy commitments to give time to my children. This was at church and it struck an uncanny chord in me. I said that really I have only one committed extra-curricular commitment to PEPS (approx. 4 hrs, once a week for 12 weeks out of the year) and I didn’t get a chance to mention that I also do take time out to volunteer in Ellie’s classroom not on a regular basis but to chaperone a field trip and the class holiday parties and tally up the scholastic book orders for the class, or show up in the last few hours of class to help children with an art project or sorting papers into children’s take-home folders.  I can’t do it every week but it is at least 1-2 times a month on average. I take my children to their swim lessons and piano lesson — because the times offered for those are when Doug is needing to be at work. I also go to Katie’s daycare PreK class parties and events as much as possible and volunteer to bring items or donate various things as needed.

I KNOW in my brain I don’t really have to prove that I love my children to anyone, but I guess anytime someone challenges my position as a mother that works full-time outside the home, I really get defensive- mainly on the inside. I try to brush it off but I can’t. I never cut someone off with their thoughts, I just have a genuine conversation about it with them find out their history of child raising etc.

Tonight I realized though — people never really ask me why I work, they usually just tell if and what their opinion is about it. They don’t find out my history — for instance, I was raised by a single mother, for much of my childhood, who worked full-time as a hospital nurse and I grew up going to daycare or hanging out with babysitters. I don’t think I know anything different – like how to stay at home with children and not go crazy. I’m honestly not very good at it (in my opinion) because my patience/tolerance level is fairly low during spring and winter breaks. I try, but I get as stir crazy as my girls.

Another thing that has been reality for our family the past few years is that my not-the-highest-wages not-for-profit working-for-God-in-the-church ministry has actually been the steady job between mine and Doug’s. Yeah he’s an engineer and they definitely bring home more money than most of us in church ministry but he’s also in a field (working with buildings and structures) that depends on people having the money to want to build buildings and structures. So in all of this ‘recession’ time — he has been laid off once and a few months back his position was cut to 30 hrs/wk rather than 40/salaried. Some weeks there is more work and other weeks there isn’t…. his pay isn’t the same. My position however hasn’t waivered as much and some of you know that it has been furloughed 10% for this year. But in my mind 10% is nothing compared to so many others out there who’ve lost their jobs or had hours cut back to half-time. My working actually gives us some stable income during this recession – and thank goodness for that!

Having my position as a working mother questioned always makes me ponder whether I do or spend enough time with my children. Yet as I wrote the paragraphs above I realized I actually do quite a bit to make sure I spend time in their classes and such. I try. I think there was one time in elementary school that I remember my mother chaperoning a trip because it happened to fall on her day off and she attended my band/choir concerts at night and maybe would go to my plays in highschool. Then would pick me up from piano lessons – but I had to ride a bus to get there after school. She rarely if ever made it to any of my tennis matches or basketball games. I didn’t like that she couldn’t be there, but I understood she needed to work to support her three children… to feed us, to clothe us, and herself. I don’t at all hold it against her that she couldn’t be there. But it does make a difference in my choice of work — something flexible enough that I can be there for my kiddos for the most part.

And I hope that my children understand that for now, mommy needs to work to help buy food, clothes, pay the bills and student loans, etc. And I probably could put some trust in Doug’s salary to provide for us — but then again, its not always a guarantee so it is good for me to help provide a safegaurd.

Maybe I wouldn’t get so defensive if others asked me why I work rather than tell me that I shouldn’t.

I hope I can follow my own advice when in conversation with other parents… no matter their stay at home or work outside the home status. And I pray that I don’t judge others when their status is different than mine… especially if I don’t know their story and where they are coming from.

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One response

4 01 2011
heathercim

I completely understand. I probably wouldn't feel so defensive either if people asked why I work. I feel the guilt trip all the time from stay at home mothers or from society in general because I work. I hate that I will probably miss out on a lot of things I would like to see my children do (like games, etc.) but, unfortunately, I do have to work (and like you, I don't know if I have the patience to be a stay at home mom). I will try to do as much as I can with them.

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