Monday, August 27, 2007

Not Working

Here's a dirty little secret.

Although it is not something I would admit even to myself, ahead of time, prior to Eli, one of the reasons I wanted to be a stay at home mom is because I didn't really like working. Although I knew as you do all the politically correct $148,000 a year propaganda about how staying at home is working and I also heard all the sturm und drang about how hard it would be, it still seemed less...soul sucking, somehow. Like it might even be fun to stay home with my kids. I thought we could do projects and I'd get some fingerpaints or something and we could make crafts out of potatoes.

It's not so much that being a stay at home mom sounded easy, exactly, and it's not even because any of the jobs I've had have been so hard, but there's only so many mornings you can drag yourself out of bed at some ungodly hour to go adminstratively assist people who act like you suck because you LET them break the copy machine before you think that maybe NOT adminstratively assisting for a while would be nice.

But my god is THIS job hard. Hard hard hard.

I feel like I'm barely hanging on. I really do. I am so so crabby but when Mr. E asks me why I don't know.

One million years ago exactly when I was a freshman in college and seriously the most naive and innocent freshman in college of all time I signed up to take surfing classes. (Hee. Surfing classes. How awesome is the UC system?) One of the first things we learned besides the fact that the Pacific Ocean in October at 6 AM is really fucking cold is how to turn turtle - how to duck under the wave with your surfboard over you so you don't get all thrashed up by every wave. But sometimes you get caught anyway and inevitably it scares the shit out of you, the indescribably cold and unfriendly and enormous violent ocean tossing you in every direction and rolling you without stopping and causing you to lose all your bearings and sometimes you would only get the tiniest of breaths in and just open your eyes before wam there'd be another wave pounding down right on top of you, roiling you all over again.

That's the only way I can think of to describe this. Or maybe it's like I'm in a room where the oxygen is slowly leaking out. And it's leaking out so slowly that sometimes I think I'm perfectly fine, I don't even need that much oxygen, really, to live. And other times I know I'm dying.

I wish this wasn't so abstract. I hate that kind of writing. But unfortunately it's not as if there is just one thing I can point to and say "this is it, this is the problem, this is what is making this all so hard, let's fix THIS."

It's not just that my husband really wants me to stop being crabby and I simply don't know how to. It's not just that he won't take out the recycling, ever, and not just that my soul dies a tiny bit every time I open the broom closet to find thoughtless random scraps of cardboard that I will have to gather up and bag and cart out to the curb myself. It's not just that the second I finally get my house clean I can actually see the dog hair settling back over everything and I can feel the decay begin again, immediate. It's not just that I can't keep up with my running or my writing or my email or my friends or my family or my flickr account or my bills or my budget or my library books or my weight watchers points. It's not just that I can't imagine how anyone could do this with two or three or four. It's not just that I think I'm not doing a very good job. It's not just that I thought things must just gradually get better and so that's what I've been counting on and now my six month old is 100% straight up crawling and it turns out that's not easier than when he couldn't move at all and just stayed in one place and cried all the time.

So what I want to know is this:

When do I get a raise?

When do I get my two weeks vacation?

And doesn't someone owe me six months worth of two fifteen minute breaks?


Chris H said...

The answers are
- Never
- Never
- and NO....

some aspects of parenthood suck big time, get used to it!

bazu said...

I think what you describe is exactly why so many mother opt to go back to work. Work might suck, and kids might be better, but work has structure! A beginning and end, palpable compensation, and a sense of a larger world going on around you, which helps with perspective.

It might not be my place to write this response, but your writing is really evocative and very moving.

By the way, fellow UC person here- I came *this* close to taking scuba diving 101!

TB said...

I know. I know. I know.

Some days when I think about the fact that I have to run errands, with baby in tow, it makes me want to gouge my eyes out.

And just a few days ago I begged Jeff to please just watch the baby for 15 minutes so just this once I could take a shower without having to stop every two minutes.

On the other hand, I'm going back to work part time and that presents its own set of issues because now I'm going to be doing both jobs.


My name is Rima. said...

Thanks for sharing that little secret. I thought that, too, but I have never spoken of it until this day. Your comment about potato stamps cracked me up, too. Because I honestly thought I would be doing crafts with my kids every day, as well. These days play-doh is about all I can manage.

Crystal said...

This is perfect--exactly what I would want to say (minus the surfing). No crafts here either, and if there were...

p.s. I say we all demand our vacation and meet up somewhere totally relaxing. Who is with me?

crankybee said...

Why can't you have 30 min to yourself when your husband gets home from work. Why can't you get out the door and leave it all behind for just 30 min - walk around the block, sit in a park? Surely your husband can do that for you? Otherwise you sound like you are going to flip!