Thursday, September 03, 2009

Why Work?

My neighbor was in a mood today. She keeps going back and forth over her decision to re-join the workforce after having 2 kids, even though she's now been doing it for over a year. Every day after she comes home from work, she says, "I just want to resign. I miss my kids. I should just resign."
Today, she talked about why she went back to work.
"It was just killing my marriage," she confided. "I couldn't stop myself from resenting K. I mean, he had lunch breaks, where he would get to relax. I would be so frazzled by the end of the day, watching the kids."
She talked about her friends who were stay-at-home moms, how they would endlessly bitch about their husbands. Maybe she was waiting for me to make a similar confession.
Instead, I said, "It is hard. It was harder for me when I had just Raina to take care of. Now that I have two, it's easier."
A paradox, I know. But what I mean is that I am now more used to the job.
After Raina was born, the first couple of years were miserable for me. I had been working till a month before her birth, and I sorely missed being outside the home, interacting with fellow adults. Motherhood seemed such an isolating experience to me. And anyone who's ever earned a paycheck can testify that there's a unique satisfaction in making your own money. For not just days but months I resented my husband for being able to say "bye," turn around and head to work. I couldn't sympathize with his concerns at work, simply because I didn't feel I had anything worthwhile to contribute to the discussion. There was nothing exciting going on in my life, or so it felt like to me. In short, I loved my daughter, but I was bored out of my skull.
So when she was 15 months or so, I put her in a home daycare for a few hours a week. It was so liberating to be the one to say "bye" and turn around and leave. It sounds pathetic, I know, but I needed that break from my daughter. I needed to use my brain, interact with grown-ups, make a little money and become a "productive" member of society again.
I continued to freelance from home until Rohan was born. Then I went back to being a full-time stay-at-home mom. Sure, I did a couple of projects from home, but it was too taxing to work during naptime or after the kids went to bed at night. So I gave it up. I could've put Rohan in a daycare instead. I chose not to -- because I was actually having FUN.
Sure there are hard days. It's true that raising two doesn't double but quadruples the workload. The laundry is endless, for example. The dishes, oh my goodness. And then there are worse days when I feel like an unpaid servant.
But I am not one, I remind myself. I am a mom. And I get the chores, but I also get the hugs, the taking care of booboos, the questions, the laughter, the sheer joy of watching my kids be kids, be siblings, bond and grow.
I don't resent my husband anymore for going to work everyday. Some days, I actually feel sorry for him because he's missing out on some fun times. But then when he comes home, I get to recount what the kids were up to all day. And no, I no longer think I have nothing worthwhile to contribute to our discussions anymore.
So if you're a working mom, I want to hear from you. Was resenting your husband part of the reason why you went back to work? Just curious.