Monday, March 19, 2012

Mommy Mondays: 200 Posts As A SAHM

Good morning everyone! This is my 200th post! That's right, in a year and a half or so, I've managed to find enough time to post on this blog 200 times. I can't say all of those posts were very good, or even worth reading, but it's still an accomplishment of some sort. It's meant that even when things weren't going very well on the novel-writing front, I was writing SOMETHING. And that's half the battle right there.

It also means I've managed to find a way to stay busy since quitting my job as a magazine writer and editor in late-2010. Not that being a full-time mom isn't work enough. But some days, I can't help but wonder, is it enough?

Here's the thing. All my life, I've wanted to be a mommy. I was the little girl who played with baby dolls, who played the mom in "house," who took care of the younger girls at camp. I didn't know what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I knew I wanted to have children. I saved my dolls and favorite outfits for the daughter I would some day have (ha!). I didn't know when I would have kids, but I knew I would have them. And then I got pregnant, and I was ready to quit my job then and there. But I stayed with it for a while, because even then a little niggling bit of doubt began to creep in. What if being a mom full time wasn't as fulfilling as I imagined it would be? What if the writer thing never panned out? Did I want my resume to shrivel up and die in the meantime?

So I worked from home the first year of Jack's life. But I was also his full-time caretaker. Toward the very end I got a nanny a few hours a week, once my boss made it clear that bringing Jack to work wasn't really working for anyone (including me; trying to edit and breastfeed at the same time is tricky, people). I tried putting Jack in daycare, but as much as I feared giving up any semblance of a career, I feared leaving him with strangers even more. It wasn't that I thought they were going to harm Jack in any way. I just knew they weren't going to take care of him the way I would, and I'd always told myself there was no point in having kids if I wasn't going to raise them myself.

It's funny the things you believe BEFORE you've had children.

I don't regret staying home with Jack, especially not for the first 18 months or so. But lately, now that the Terrible Two's have kicked in, I'm starting to think that if we weren't moving to Russia in five months, I would be looking for jobs during nap time instead of blogging. Admittedly, I was hoping that my fiction writing career would have taken off by now, in which case I wouldn't need a "job" job. But that hasn't happened. And after more than two years of staying home with Jack, I'm starting to feel burnt out.

Maybe that isn't really surprising. I've never lasted at a job for more than two years! And while I never used to consider myself a particularly ambitious person, or someone with major career goals, that all changed once I discovered writing. I've been lucky to continue to write and edit since having Jack, but it always seems like Jack decides to cut a nap short, or wake up early, or be generally impossible, on the days I really need to work. Take this morning, for example. John encouraged me to apply for a position at the Consulate in Yekaterinburg as a way to keep busy and meet new people once we move. Of course, I don't even know if I'm going to have childcare, so it's a little premature, but the job requires a security clearance, which takes months to get. At any rate, this morning I was supposed to complete a writing sample at 7 a.m. (Moscow is 8 hours ahead). Jack normally sleeps until 7:30, so I figured I'd be fine. Guess who decided to wake up at 6 this morning? So while I'm busy trying to write a fake letter to an incoming Eligible Family Member arriving at a post I've never even been to, Jack is tugging at my leg, asking for "Chicka Boom song" and "lap." I can't wait to see how my 7 a.m. conference call with Moscow and Yekat is going to go tomorrow morning...

Of course, there are days like last Wednesday, when I get to do this while everyone else is sitting in a cubicle:

Chesapeake Beach boardwalk

I mean, if you've got to spend every. single. day with one person, they might as well be short, chubby, and adorable right?

You don't want to stay home with ME? Say wha?

I am so grateful that I'm able to stay home with Jack, that I wasn't forced to take a job I hate just to put food on the table. I know how lucky I am. And I'm grateful for my amazing SAHM friends who have helped keep me busy, and sane, over the past two years. Being a mom is fulfilling on so many levels, and no matter what anyone says, it IS work. But is it enough? I don't know. Maybe I'll be able to tell you some day, after another 200 posts or so.


Sarah said...

Congrats on 200 posts! I'm so proud of you and how much you manage to accomplish while raising a child. And I love the pic of you and Jack.

i'm erin. said...

Congrats on 200! Also, I can't believe you are moving to Russia. I'm sort of fascinated with you. good luck with your baby and the terrible twos. My daughter hit them when she was 18months and they lasted till she was three. It wasn't bad all the time, but sometimes she would launch herself into massive fits. Not fun.

Jenny S. Morris said...

Congrats on 200 posts!!! And Jack looks so cute.

Amanda said...

Congrats on the great achievement Mara! If the job at the Consulate doesn't eventuate maybe you could find a club of some sort to join.

alex said...

I really think no matter what you pick there are doubts (unless you're one of those awful people who are optimistic and happy all the time). I'm on the other side of the table, working full-time, and I move between thinking it's absolutely the right thing for me and having major regrets. But I figure unless it just feels absolutely wrong day after day then it's probably best to keep at things as they are. Your gut has a way of guiding you to the right place, I think. (P.S. If you'd be interested in teaching writing online let me know. I used to work for a great company and am happy to pass on the info. The pay isn't great but I found it really rewarding.)

Mara Rae said...

Sarah - thanks babe! Courtney managed to grab one shot of us before the child wriggled away :P

Erin - the terrible twos are well underway, and it is definitely not all fun! So I have until he's three, huh? Only nine months to go! Oh, and I'm not all that fascinating, but thank you :)

Jenny - thank you! He IS cute, despite the terror.

Amanda - I'm hoping to find a club either way! If there's no English book club in Yekat yet, there will be soon (a book club of one, perhaps...)!

Alex - it's good to know moms on the other side of things have the same doubts. We can't really win as mothers, can we? The only consolation for me is that there is no job I'd rather be doing (other than being a novelist, which I'm working on), so I don't feel like I'm missing out on anything. I just get worn out :P I'll let you know about the teaching thing! Thank you for the offer. If the CLO job doesn't happen that might be a good way to keep busy :)

Peggy Eddleman said...

Awww! I love this post! Huge congrats on the 200. And I totally agree-- being a SAHM is fulfilling (and hard!) on so many levels. I was able to do the same until my youngest was in first grade. I wouldn't trade those moments for anything.

Mara Rae said...

Thanks Peggy! I do sometimes have moments where I say to myself, I would have missed this if I were at work! And then I feel like I've made the right decision. Then there are moments where Jack is screaming like a banshee and I think, Gee, I'd kind of like to be behind a desk right now :)