As I was driving along today, I noticed an obscene amount of people in their yards. It was an ok day weather-wise, and I could see if the people were retired, that would make sense. Mind you, it was in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week. Or if they had children, maybe they had taken off the vacation week to be with their kids. Regardless, I wondered why so many people weren’t at work. Was it because they didn’t work, didn’t have to work, or worked part time? I have often contemplated not working, although I know my husband has told me many times we need my paycheck to survive financially. I dreamt of being home with my kids, enjoying a lazy day shopping, playing in the yard, hanging out laundry on the line to dry. We’d enjoy our time together, with few to no time-outs, and everyone would be happy together. Enter my current status, full time mom and full time job, with two small kids who are in daycare. Although my vacations allow me to spend time with them when others normally couldn’t spend time with their kids, I couldn’t be one of those moms who you see dropping their kids off at daycare while in their work out stuff, on their way to the gym. Maybe for more reasons than I care to think about.
When I was in college, I remember visiting my college roommate in her hometown. It was so glamorous, as it was a pretentious town. We hit the town beach, drank Starbucks, and then got ready to go out in New York City for the evening. We drove around in her friend’s Mercedes M Class and I was smitten (with the M class, not her friend). It was so jaunty, so sleek, and yet, an SUV. I decided then and there, I was going to be an “M class mom”, not a mini-van mom. A few things woke me up to this. The cost of these cars are ridiculous. The fact that they are a foreign car means it’s more difficult to find parts and therefore more costly overall, even for oil changes. Especially if I was a stay at home mom, there was no way I could do this. And then, there is the size factor, too; I doubt I could fit my kids in there, let alone a full family! Sigh. I can dream, right? When do our dreams become a reality?
Back to my dream of being a stay-at-home mom. My mom was, for a majority of my young life. She actually stayed home until I was in the eighth grade. Lucky for her (and us), she didn’t have to work because my father’s law practice allowed her to. He owns his own law firm, and business was booming in our local, small town. It was, however, not without sacrifice. Now that my parents are in their age of retirement, my father is struggling to retire. He has to tie up so many loose ends, as his practice draws to a close. He also had to make sure that he put enough money aside for his retirement through his own business, but he had to put three girls through college, and pay for three weddings. The money didn’t come easy. When my mother went back to work, she made sure to work for the state, so at least her pension would help in her retirement, but she still had to work until she got sick (now recovered); but she was older when this all happened. So, in short, although we had a fantastic life in our early years, my parents are paying for it now.
The other big piece of this is my need to be in a constant routine, and several balls in the air. My OB noticed this when I had my second child. She woke me up to the fact that even though I could have more maternity leave time (she was willing to write me the letter to give me more time), she didn’t think I really wanted it. At first, I thought it was because she was willing to give it so willingly, as my last doctor with my first child wasn’t. But I realized she was right: I thrive on staying busy and keeping all of my ducks in a row. My brain works better and is less depressed when I have something to work towards, and being a stay at home mom probably wasn’t the answer to this, even for a few more weeks of maternity time. Although I felt a little stressed in first coming back, I eased back into a routine and worked in our second child to the mix of it all with only a few bumps.
So I am back in reality. I take my time with the kids as enjoyable and entertaining, even if we aren’t doing anything major during that time. I know they enjoy my company, but they work better with their own routine, their own friends, their teachers to guide them on day to day endeavors of learning. And when the stay at home mom dream pops up again, I just smile, and know that it isn’t for me. The routine-oriented, organizational freakish and regimented me.