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.


eve's lungs said...

Muser - this month I made up my mind that I would resign from my job come November because I am missing out on life . I want to spend time with my kids .
And yes I missed out on a lot of fun with my children when they were small and now I wish I had given up my job then.

A Muser said...

EL, would you mind saying why you decided to continue working after kids? Everyone has different situations and mindsets, and I am sure you did what felt right to you then. And if resigning feels right to you now, I am happy for you!

eve's lungs said...

I continued to work because I found my job exciting - and I had support . I didnt need to work for money , more for my self esteem I guess because my In laws made kababs out my self worth.

A Muser said...

Those sound like two good reasons to me :)

Terri's mom said...

Resenting the husband?!! Only if you think work is fun. Otherwise, money is my big draw, coupled with feeling "useful."

N said...

wow !! I can soooooo relate to EVERY WORD of this post.
i had to quit work much before we started a family- when we moved to US, courtesy my husbands career. And i hated the first year- i was cribbing.. But now that we have started a family, i feel content and cherish being part of and watching every milestone of the baby

A Muser said...

N, that's great! I'm so glad for you.
Terri's mom, if work ain't fun, I wouldn't do it just to feel useful. Gotta be fun.

Mystic Margarita said...

Dear Muser, I have always found that your posts resonate the way I feel :) I worked till a day before Popol was born and then I went back to work three-day 10-hour weeks, leaving P with a nanny, with my mil to supervise. Then I left the job - there were bouts of resenting the husband because he got to get away from the chaos at home and also becasause I felt overwhelmed with baby and household and resented not having him around to help as much as I would have liked.

However, through all this, I continued to freelance, which meant working into the wee hours of the morning and feeling like a zombie all day. Recently, with the recession and the wrist, I have cut down a lot - but freelancing for a couple of hours a day is not financially gainful and I do feel I'm not being 'useful' around the house, which of course is not true. I'm more relaxed now and as you mentioned, I rather feel pity for the husband as he's missing out on these wonder years due to his hectic work committments.

Anonymous said...

work has to be fun and finacially rewarding - otherwise just work for a charity. That will be more rewarding than anything else. otherwise, lots of ways to make yourself useful around the house.

Anamika said...

I just stumbled upon your blog and you write so well.
Age old dilemma of working moms. I plan to quit in a few months, end of this year to be precise and cannot wait. Only fear is the loss of self-worth if at all that happens. I am preparing against it already.

dipali said...

My choice was made for me when I got married and moved to a country where only one of us could work.
I did work on and off, when it could be dovetailed with the family's needs, but we've mostly managed on a single income.
I'd still love to work even now, but taking care of domestic commitments has been a priority over the years.
The Internet has kept me relatively sane:)
No regrets, either.

A Muser said...

Mystic, I'm beginning to contemplate going back to freelancing by having Rohan in a home daycare for a couple of mornings a week. I don't know how it's going to work out. Will keep you posted.
Anonymous (aka my dear husband P -- you've been found out!), thanks for your opinion.
Anamika, I think the best way to keep that self-worth is to make sure you still have an outlet -- maybe freelance work if that's an option for you, maybe making sure you get to go out (meet friends, take in a movie, go for coffee) once a week or every two weeks.
Dipali, thanks for sharing your experience!

Rohini said...

Hmmmm... interesting. I never though about this resenting husband angle of bring a SAHM...