Monday, January 30, 2012

To be or not to be, that is the question...

I feel on the heels of my last post about how important literature is, my next few blogs will be titled with well-known phrases from authors to further illustrate the point.

Might as well go with a good looking Hamlet. 
This little catch-all decision phrase is from Hamlet.  When I was a little girl I had a cat named Hamlet and my dad picked this name BECAUSE of the Shakespeare reference.  We didn't know if he was "to be or not to be..."  At the time, I'd never read Hamlet, I was just a kid, so I thought it was a silly name.  But -it wasn't.  It was 100% the best name ever and now I appreciate it.  Turns out, Hamlet was not to be - he felt it was more important to jump from the floor to the top of the refrigerator and destroy the bread, or to unroll the paper-towels every night among other sundry behaviors.  He went to live on a farm (no seriously, he did) but, alas, he was not be there, too.  The dogs got him.  And while this made me sad, I have no doubt he taunted them.

But back to the issue as hand - my own "to be or not to be..." - my job.  I've posted a bit about it here and there, the struggles to maintain my professionalism against being the best mom and wife I can be.  I feel like I'm failing miserably this year at all three tasks (although Jerry and CJ assure me I'm not).  But, I know I can do a better job.  I also accept that some of it is pure selfishness.  I don't want to be the "working girl" anymore.  I want time to do things I enjoy and that, my friends, is a complete luxury.  The question is - can I do it all?

I know there was a time when I believed working was the say all, be all of my existence.  The hours I put into my job both in college and career were ridiculous when I started.  I literally lived at the first school I was privileged to teach in and I've brought that same drive and determination with me to every subsequent school and job I've ever had.  I did this even when I was first married, working at least two jobs, if not more until I became pregnant and the whole world changed.  I became a mom.   I was overwhelmed, tired, exhausted, and completely hopelessly in love with my child.

I tried to go back to work after CJ was born and it didn't last.  I quit with the extreme support of my boss at the time who even offered to allow me to bring CJ to work with me everyday strapped to my chest in a Baby Bjorn (um, yes - best boss ever!).  I missed him so much when he was a daycare and I couldn't concentrate on my job when he was with me.  I was torn, and made the decision to stay home.  A decision I did out of fear and necessity but not true understanding of the value of being a stay-at-home mom.    I went back to work when he was right at a year old and have been toiling away every since.  What was I thinking???   Of course, since then, I've incurred debt (mostly a Master's degree) that now I need my job to pay off.  And I regret it.  I don't regret the education, but I regret not valuing the time I had home with my son when it was there, before I found myself unable to return.  Please no preaching about "regret" - it exists, we've all felt it.

Now, I work all the time.  I've had to cut out small niches of my life to be able to be there for my son and I feel like it's not enough.  I raise other people's children all day, with little success it seems, and watch my own son flail in the breeze.  I miss every awards ceremony, school lunch, field day, and library night because I'm either at work or so exhausted I can barely keep my eyes open.  I hate it. 

I miss this child all day long, even when he drives me batty!
But, the economy is so bad that not having a dual income scares me (and my husband mostly) to death!  I don't think my burden of decision is new.  I think women all over the world struggle with how to be a 1950's mom in a 2012 world. 

So, in short, I don't know if my tenure as a teacher is to be or not to be, but I know my tenure as a mother is.  The continual question at hand is how do I make it all happen?  Winning lottery ticket anyone?  Share!

1 comment:

  1. Always an enjoyable read.
    Things I gave up to stay home: car payments, awesome shoes, purses, and wardrobe, lots of meals at nice restaurants, latest electronic equipment, vacations that did not involve staying with family, specialty deli foods.
    Things I gained by staying home: no alarm clock screeching, time for friends and family, time for volunteer ministries, time to play and read and write and cook, and most importantly time to just be present and enjoy every moment.
    You can do whatever you put your mind to doing, and if you really feel led to leave, then trust that urge and trust God to provide.