As it turned out, it was an easy decision to turn down the job offer. I am so glad that the interview took place on a Friday, as I was able to spend lots of time thinking ...weighing the pros and cons, over the weekend. I sat down and did the childcare math and if I had taken the job, BOY & GIRL would be moving from doing 25 hours in preschool/childcare to 50 hours a week. That would be 10 hours a day. I found that number just mind blowing. Of course, if it had been a job that I felt really passionate about doing, somehow we would have made it work. Somehow. Isn't it a human implulse to justify our decisions? But, this seemed an extreme jump in hours away from me for both of them. Also, BOY is just beginning small steps on his way back to gaining an afternoon or two a week -staying a full day. He is in such a good place right now and it is wonderful to see his growth and his readiness to take this next step. His first full day experiment will be a week from this Friday. He is very excited.
It was immensely helpful to meet with a close friend, who also has a younger, sensitive boy and talk it through. She works full-time, her husband is in school, and something she said really struck a note with me. "JCK, I have a wonderful job, love the people whom I work with- they're flexible when childcare issues come up, I've established myself...yet it is still very hard for me." And because her husband has a more flexible schedule, he can drop off the kids a bit later in the morning and she picks them up at 4:30pm. Then he gets dinner started so that they can eat by 6pm. She also looked over the job description, which I had asked for during the interview, and told me that it sounded like a job that I would excel at, but one that would truly be exhausting. And she is right. I certainly was qualified for the job. I worked as an Executive Assistant/Administrative Assistant/Personal Assistant for 7 years. I've got the chops. But, do I want that frenzy in my life? And the answer is "no." Being a mom to a 3 and 4 year old is frenzy enough, thank you very much. I can do frenzy, but my natural rhythms are not fast paced like that. I'm a tea drinker, chocolate connoisseur and occasional whiskey sipper, after all.
However, what I have been grappling with since yesterday's conversation with my recruiter is this: Why was it even tempting in the first place? Other than a good salary, which is really only a surface consideration. Not that additional money wouldn't help us, but the answer requires digging deeper. What I came up with is this... I'm needing to be SEEN - for my work to be seen. An acknowledgement that the work that I do as a stay-at-home mom has value. A recognition of sorts. Other than the intellectualizing of "I'm staying home with the kids to give them ___ (fill in the blank with what you will.) My "fill in the blank" is: "to give them time with me," and perhaps ...honestly, "for me to have time with GIRL & BOY."
It felt really, really good to be wanted, to have an offer 20 minutes after I left the building, to have a concrete monetary value placed upon my potential work that I would do there. What we do as mothers is so invisible. All of the little things that make a household run smoothly...or not so smoothly, but it runs - are so intangible. Sure, there are the concrete things: I do the laundry, cook the meals, take them to play dates, schedule our lives,etc., etc. But, all of those little moments ...gone like gossamer wings, yet vital to mothering. What of those? So, the truth? The truth is that this job offer was tempting, because my ego was fed and it was HUNGRY for food. The food of being a "valuable" citizen. And the lure of a job that I could do and do well with a paycheck at the end of it.
I sometimes fantasize about being a full-time working mom. I imagine myself with chic shoes and tidy clothes, free of food stains left by grubby little hands. I have friends who do the juggle - both a career and a family. Some work because they have to work for the financial benefit, others because that is what keeps them sane and they have a passion for their careers. These passionate women who work outside the home, who thrive on their careers, didn't exist many years ago. Today we have choices. Perhaps too many, but I'll take choices over no choices any day of the week. The women who are working today are enjoying the life of the women who fought for us. I believe it was something called ..."the women's movement."
One of the saddest things I find is that we as women are our own harshest critics. How is it that the source of our sanity, our sisterhood - the ability to share experiences with other women can also be the source of jealousy and competition? It is the SAHM vs. the Working Mom. And it is rampant. A powder keg. A set-up of US against THEM. I don't want to join in that contest. I want to support other women as they make the right choices for their families. Some women truly need to be working. They would go insane being a mom who stays at home. God bless them. They're right. It can be insanity. However, some of us as moms at home, at least on certain days, feel that the decision is a great one. For us. It can work! It is a roller coaster, but the ride can be an adrenaline rush!
Some women are "better mothers" because they don't stay home with their children. They feel they are "better mothers" to their children, because if they stayed home they would find themselves frustrated and angry. And they don't want to raise children that way. That makes sense to me. Some women have to work, and that is a better decision for their families. And some women choose to be at home, and that is my current choice. At some point, a job opportunity will present itself -perhaps even part-time, and I will take it. But, for now, on most days I am more than content being a stay-at-home mom. I just wish that, even for one day, I could experience someone handing me a paycheck for the challenging career that I do - that of being a mom who stays at home and runs a household. I would be visible. And, they wouldn't even have to say I did a great job. I would know it...