I have been a full time worker for a few months now, and while it may leave me with less time to blog, I have to admit that I really, really enjoy it. For me, it's the peripherals that really make the job worthwhile. Being in charge of my own time, for one thing, is fantastic. I love being able to work as long as I want, then take a coffee (decaf tea) break, and then go back to it. I love being professional. I even like meetings. (Yes, I know. I'm weird.)
This experience has been challenging in many ways, and it's hard for me to get a handle on it, which is part of why I haven't written in so long. I am not sure what conclusions to draw, so it's hard for me to really write about what's going on. All I know is, when I am working this much, I get along with myself and with my family much, much better. I find that I am a better mother when I am not doing the 24/7 parenting. I really like not being in charge of everything with the kids. In a lot of ways it has helped me be less neurotic. I didn't realize before this just how much I worried about the kids, and even more, about myself with the kids. (Am I a good enough mother? Have I done the right things? Have I properly compensated for the things I have not done well?) Now, I have a general sense that just living a normal, everyday life is good for the kids. They are more self-reliant these days. They are creative and they can make their own fun for certain periods of time. Ben and I joke that we are doing our best to give them a 1980s upbringing in the middle of the 2010s.
Letting go of the neurosis is a huge gift. Seeing bigger numbers rolling in on my paychecks honestly makes me feel good. I don't know why I should feel that this is not a good thing -- to be satisfied to be earning -- but I do like it, and I sometimes I have to fight back should-shame (not real shame) that I feel this way. But I do. Maybe I have always liked a little quantifiable progress. I don't get grades anymore, so paychecks have to stand in. It's not an obsession, but let's be honest. It feels good to make some money. And friends, it feels good -- SO good -- to use my whole brain again. It's like I'm breathing air for the first time.
After writing all of this down, I can see that there really is a moral to the story, and a thesis for my self-essay. But it's a thesis I am a little afraid to admit, because of the myth of motherhood I tried to dive into headfirst, tried to draw up around my shoulders like a fur coat, tried to acclimate myself to in a thousand tiny ways. The truth, though, is that I hate being a stay-at-home mom, and I love being a working mom.
When I really think about it, it makes sense. My whole entire life I have been a worker. I set my mind to achieve things that didn't matter at all in the grand scheme of things when I was a girl. I was the first kid in my class to read a "chapter book" in first grade, and I did it more out of pride and spite than out of any real desire to read the biography of Ben Franklin (yep, that's the one I picked. Wonder where the Professor gets his inner drive?). I put my own nose to the grindstone all through school and was never happy if I wasn't achieving one thing or another.
I could look at this as a pathology, and I suppose I could dig up some deep-seated reasons why I feel "driven" to work. Or I could see it as something that has always been a part of me, and turn it into a strength.
I will always have to watch out for working myself too hard, and I will always have to carefully guard my sleep even though I sometimes have an open disdain for resting. And at times I will have to be careful to keep work and non-work separate, so that I stay fully engaged with my husband, children, and friends. But in the end I am a happier bird when I work. So, I will work. Paradoxically, it's one of the few things I do almost entirely for myself.