One Year. What’s Next?

Boy Detective has now completed his first year on Earth as an independent being. However, he has his own blog where we rhapsodize about his cuteness and cleverness and fabulosity. While I’ve ended up mentioning him on this blog WAY more often than I’d anticipated, this is still my space to do with as I please. So I’m going to talk about me.

In relation to being a mother.

(DAMMIT! He wins again.)

My life right now isn’t awful. It’s actually pretty damn luxurious. I essentially work full time split between two jobs and one paid blogging gig. I spend 10 hours a week in an office, so my commuting time is minimal, and I have a full time nanny. Wah wah wah I haven’t had a decent night’s sleep since January of 2007, but honestly I’m almost used to it by now and Amy’s ice cream covers the gap nicely most of the time.

I’m just not sure what to do next.

I had somewhat realigned my self image to fit into the idea of being a stay at home mother, because I really liked the “stay at home” part. I always thought I’d be totally awesome at that. After six months of it I was pretty much losing my mind, though, because I hadn’t really factored in the baby’s constant demands for my attention when fantasizing about time to quilt and read blogs.

Stop laughing. It’s not that I thought I would have time to do all of that. I have actually met mothers and babies before. It’s just that I was running two parallel and totally disconnected imaginary future lives in my head simultaneously, and I mistakenly identified them both as “don’t go to work anymore” so they got mixed up. THIS one, the one I am living, is the mama one. The OTHER one was supposed to be clearly marked “winning the lottery fantasy.”

So for months seven through eleven, I had a babysitter three days a week and worked part time from home. Some of the work was paying, some of it was networking and writing to build a portfolio, and some of it was just getting my sanity back by THINKING. For AN HOUR AT A TIME WITHOUT BEING INTERRUPTED.

(This is the part where all the other mothers I know kill me with sticks.)

Messing around like that, though, I could still think of mothering as my primary occupation.

When my old boss needed my help, I agreed to work part time for a few months – upping the babysitter into a full time nanny – and then make a decision about whether to go back in earnest or quit again. The way that job works during particular times, you can’t do it halfway, and they’re coming up on one of those times. I’m helping them get ready, but I don’t know if I want to stay for the madness. A lot of the faces on the team have changed in the past year, but the new kids are good kids, and being part of a smart, funny group of hard workers feels good. I’m just about out of accessible friends here in Austin, and work can provide a surrogate for that.

(As much as I love my mother in law, who is the aforementioned babysitter turned nanny, we talk about the baby almost all day long. And she doesn’t curse as much as I do.)

Working full time also requires another shift in self image. I said to C-Man on Sunday that we both work full time and we have a nanny. He looked quite startled. I’m quite startled. I only work in the office 10 hours a week, but I’m still working almost all day every day, and often at night after baby’s lights out. MIL takes kiddo to the park, the library, the store, and now a “baby gym” class at a facility that I’ve never even seen.

That sounds WAY more wistful than I feel, because wow do I ever love going to the office and not having anyone pull my hair for HOURS at a time. However, it’s definitely a mental reset to realize that I’m working as much as my husband and the primary person spending time with Boy Detective during the day is not me.

Of course, he interrupts me often during the day and often plays in the same room where I’m working, so I get all of the inconvenience AND all of the freaky “where’s my kid” feelings. Aces!

I know the “aah, things have changed, I feel funny” feeling will settle down here presently. But then I really don’t know what to do. I like working. I like being kick ass at something, which I totally am at my old job. It’s interesting work. I like money.

How else am I going to afford my Prius and lattes, people?

I also really like being available to Boy Detective during most of the week and knowing what his days are like. MIL is his grandma, and we are beyond beyond beyond lucky to the nth degree that she is his caregiver because wow, how lucky is that? She’s family and she’s having a good time and we’re supporting her with the money I make – kind of like a multi-generational family except that she gets to go home at night so Boy Detective doesn’t wake EVERYONE up. But I’m his mama.

If I go back into my old profession, I’m not going to be working at my house. I’m also not going to be facing the terror of entertaining a one year old all day by myself, which is good because I hate it.

(You heard me. I hate it. He’s my son, and I love him, but I hate being the only adult responsible for entertaining him for 10+ hours. Last weekend C-Man was out of town and it almost knocked me dead.)

If I give up my old job again, I’ll be lucky to make half of what I do there by working from home. That’s probably okay, because I’m privileged and fortunate and I planned well, so I only need to make enough to keep MIL from having to take another job and to pay my own income taxes. I think I can scrape that together.

(Again, killed with sticks.)

So after a year of mixing mama with worker bee in various recipes, I guess I’m asking the universe to give me a sign. What to do? And then I’ll work out how to revise my self-description again.

2 thoughts on “One Year. What’s Next?

  1. becky

    Yeah, even after almost 10 months I still feel scattered. I thought this was something I’d have the hang of after several months. Oh, I care for the kiddo just fine. But balancing his needs and mine, giving him attention but not too much, and still managing to get some work done (because I HAVE to work) — most days I’m hanging on by my fingernails.

    Problem is, we can’t afford a babysitter on what I’m making (which is substantially lower than my previous job). And we don’t have family nearby who can help. Sigh. (Which is one of many reasons why we’re considering moving.)

    Maybe it helps that I’m happy (somewhat) as a homebody. I don’t have to get out a lot, and hubby and I take the kid out fairly regularly to give him (and me) a change of pace). And while I don’t have a ton of friends, I have a few who can spend time with all of us, or just me (even though I don’t like to go out that often – mommy guilt!). It’s enough, most of the time. I think.

    It fascinates me that we can have two totally different experiences. I quit my job because I didn’t want my son with someone else during the day (as he gets older that may change, but right now I want to be around). That statement really simplifies things, as there was a lot more going on than that, but that is a big part of it. And yet, I have to work a lot just to keep our (financial) heads above water. So is it really any better? I just don’t know.

    Great post – really got me to thinking about so many things. No killing with sticks, but maybe some general poking here and there. ;)

  2. capello

    well, i can tell you what you’re NOT doing. you’re NOT not going to be my coworker. understand?

    and i dream of days of going to the bathroom uninterrupted.

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