Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Ego v. Heart

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My mind has been all over the place lately. One day I want to go back to work. The next day I want to move to a farm, homeschool, and raise chickens. It is all rather predictable - whenever I have a baby, I start feeing this way. I always get the itch to move to a new house right around this time, too. Right when the baby starts crawling, we pick up and move.

We're renting our little beach house, and it is hard feeling unsettled. Like the landlords could raise the rent at any time (they just did). Or kick us out (could happen, too). There is a little bit of powerlessness that goes along with renting and I don't like feeling under anyone's thumb. On the other hand, there is freedom in renting, too. Should the rickety fence fall down...not my problem!

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I have my own law practice very part-time. It's a transactional entertainment law practice. I have clients here and there, some famous...some not-yet famous. ;-) I actually really love the work but have been reluctant to take on more business because my number one priority at the moment is taking care of these kids. So when I do decide to take on a client, I end up squeezing in calls before the girls wake up or I stay up all night writing contracts into the very wee hours. I make it work, but it's a lot to juggle. I wonder about getting "help" - and increasing my practice or going to work officially at a law firm.

Part of me says that the kids are only little once, so stay home. Stay home...even when it seems like all we do is shuttle from activities, pack lunches, and change diapers. You know...the day-in, day-out routine of raising kids that is certainly not glamorous but yet is so fulfilling in a thousand intangible ways.

But then I see a dream-house for sale, and hear of friends closing fancy deals and dining out in fine restaurants on their lunch breaks (and I'm not talking McDonald's!)...and all of a sudden, I kind of long for that experience, too. The kind where I am financially contributing to our little family and the thought of buying a nice house in this incredibly expensive area of the country doesn't seem like such a distant pipe-dream.

It's probably a push-pull between my ego and my heart. My ego wants the big house and all the fancy stuff that goes with it. My ego wants someone else to take over once in awhile, when the house is a wreck and the kids are screaming and...when for the love, can I just go to the bathroom without an audience?

My heart wants to be here with my kids, even if it means we eat peanut butter sandwiches every week until infinity. Even if it means the only things I get accomplished in a day are keeping my kids fed and bathed...and sometimes not even bathed. When my work uniform is yoga pants and a t-shirt stained with spit-up.

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I get frustrated with living in sweatpants and feeling like my biggest accomplishment of the day is getting Paprika to and from school on-time...when I used to accomplish so much pre-kids. If I could just take a shower and get my weight down, and get a handle on the mile-long to-do list in my head (like that basket of laundry that never seems to get put away), then I might feel less like somehow I'm failing everyone.

Not to say that I'm not happy. Because, I am happy! :-) I just guess that, like everyone, sometimes I second-guess if I am really doing everything I can in this life to live without regrets. If being home and making all the sacrifices we make for me to be home are really worth it.

And then sometimes it feels like this is the only choice I can make, really. Remember our sitter that we had coming once/week? Well, that isn't happening anymore. Last week (Saturday), we left for an hour and Ginger started screaming and would not stop. She did not want us to leave, and spent the whole time in the corner sobbing. Our sitter called us, and I couldn't quite understand her (she was speaking Spanish very rapidly)...so I raced home. The sitter was so shell-shocked that I don't think she wants to come back. Maybe we're not enough hours to make it worth her while, I don't know. But again, so even if I wanted to go back to work...how realistic is that? I can't have Ginger sobbing in the corner every day. I know she would get over it, but it still breaks my heart.

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And bottom line, I would miss these girls too much. I understand that not everyone has the luxury to ponder working vs. staying home. I get that it's a pretty great problem to have. I just sometimes wonder the other what if side of things, and if me being home is really as beneficial to my kids and our family as I make it out to be. Could they be just as happy (or happier?) with a nanny, living in a big fancy house with me not being around so much?

I posed the question last night to Paprika and she started crying and said, "I don't want you to go to work! Let's get a big fancy house and you can stay home in it!" Clearly, she doesn't believe in compromise. ;-)

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I go back and forth with these thoughts on a daily...no, hourly basis. But then I remember something like this day, when Ginger ate chocolate ice cream all by herself with a big spoon and I think, "what if I'd missed that?" Moments like these are etched forever in my memory, and they are more precious than gold.

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7 comments:

Kim said...

I definitely think staying home is so worth it over the fancy house. Maybe you're overwhelmed having to take care of everything while Mr. M was gone. Of course in a time like that you would feel like you can't get everything done...who could?! Thankfully a basket of unfolded laundry and kids without baths for a day or two is not a big deal in the scheme of things. You are doing a perfect job at staying home and taking care of your three kiddos! It might not be "perfect" but what is? I think it's great that you have clients here and there, that leaves you open to opportunities to expand when the girls are older. I'm not saying it's bad for you to go back to work, but don't make that decision based on you thinking you aren't doing a good job because you are and I don't see those girls being any happier than they are with their mama. And the job can always come later. No hurry:) Good luck working through those feelings!

Cristy said...

Ah ... the work v. non-work post. As someone who can relate SO much (law school grad) I know how hard this decision is. Can you maybe find something that's part time? I don't work part time, but I do work 40 hours and am out of work by 4 pm every day. This means I still get quite a few hours with the little one. Let me tell you, it still gets EXTREMELY stressful because there aren't enough hours in the day ... to get a work out, go grocery shopping, clean the house, do laundry etc. And when I do get all those errands done, I don't spend time with my children at all. It's a tough balance. But for me it works. Maybe, just try putting your name out there and SEE if you even get an offer. If you do, maybe try it out and see what happens! You'll soon realize if it's the right choice or not. I rambled. Sorry.

FourJedis said...

This post is really close to my heart as I always question my decision to work. What you do for your kids, your experiences with them, and what they are going to both learn and remember from their childhoods is worth more than any big house, or fancy outfit. I absolutely hated working while Greg was traveling each week. Have you ever looked at the value of taking on more work, but putting in 1/22 day and getting a sitter? You could either do work from home (although it's virtually impossible to get any work done with kids around) or go to a local coffee shop/hot spot for a few hours of the day. The kids get to learn to feel comfortable around someone else, you get to see the other side and you get to get a taste of the other side and see what works for your family. It certainly doesn't help the laundry pile (does anything? we have that too, and I'm the worst with it) and who is to say you will use extra income for buying fancy stuff (because I don't...). I can see you turning it into something for the kids, or putting it into college funds for the kids...

Whatever you decide down the road will be the right thing for you guys (no one else), and I look forward to reading about it.

noswimmers said...

Oh hun...I don't know why, but I'm getting a little teary-eyed at this post. Being a mom is so hard, the decisions we have to make.
I can't tell you what to do, the answer can only be found in your heart. But I can tell you, as a mom who works outside the home full-time, that I struggle with the same feelings. Some days I love my work, it enables me to play another role besides "mom". Other days, I wonder "Why the hell am I doing this? I'm missing so much of Sherbert's life!" There are days I don't even see him awake. Monday-Friday, I only get a few precious hours with him...and I try so very hard to make it "quality" time that I end up neglecting all the other stuff, and end up with hours of chores to do after he goes to bed.
Long story short, I think we all want what we don't have. You want my business lunches and high-powered meetings, and I want your yoga pants and spit-up on t-shirt! LOL.
Oh...and the fancy house? I have one of those (well, a Midwest version of one, at least)...and I'm barely ever there! Sometimes it doesn't seem worth it. Its family and love that make a home.
Much love coming your way - you'll get it all figured out. xoxo

B.W. said...

I think the hardest thing about working full-time when I started a few years back, was the cyclicle aspect of EVERYTHING. Those priceless laughs, random outings, picnics, etc. are obliterated by the routine of school/work/childcare. And in Winter, when the days are shorter, it broke my heart to drop the kids off when it was dark and pick them up again when it was dark. Something about that made me always feel like my day with them was non-existant. When my husband got a raise a year later that compensated for my income, I decided to be back at home and have never looked back.
I will say that I'm glad I "got it out of my system" and realized where my heart truly lay and made me appreciate everything so much more. As I had been wistful to contribute financially and get additional adult interaction, my return was honestly more of a forced one due to financial reasons more than anything. Thanks for sharing such an honest post and my apologies for inundating you with my thoughts :).

Mimi said...

I sympathise.
I think as mothers we always have this dilemma (well, except the super-rich maybe!!)
I went part-time when mine were little, cos I didn't want anyone else collecting them from school. I did that for 10 years, which means I will be working longer at this end (now back full-time!) to get a decent pension, but I don't care...that time was so precious and I will never have it back again. Some days it was difficult, and I felt caught between 2 worlds, rarely got a lunch break (that was travel time!) but honestly if I had to do it again, I wouldn't change a thing.
You've written very honestly and I thank you for that. hope you're happy whatever you decide.

B.W. said...

I have 4 baskets of folded laundry upstairs and thought I should tag you in a picture of them to prove you're not alone ;)! Of course, then I remembered that kind of thing is just for Facebook... but I was definitely thinking of you!