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part time working mom

A mom divided

I wrote this 2 weeks ago, and tossed it aside. Not for the blog, I thought. Too fragmented and emotional. When I read it again this morning, I  recanted. I should post this. Because it’s fragmented and emotional, and I’m sure some of you will relate.

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I love my new job. And it’s making it harder and easier to be a mom.

I get a break from the incessant demands of home and children. I ride my bike up the hill and sit at a desk and order lunch and walk about freely, where I’d like when I’d like. I’m making money, which feels blissfully good. Being at home has a new sweetness to it.

And

I have so little time to spend with Jo, just the two of us. I’m coming to terms with just how many hits our time together has taken in the last year: baby Cal joining the menagerie, Jo starting pre-school and me starting this job. This time last year, I spent all but 12 hours a week with Jo, traipsing to parks, wrestling him into rest time, gardening and navigating his physical outbursts sometimes with patience and other times by screaming in his face and then being racked with tears and guilt.

Ah yes, there was that. It’s easy to forget from this place, where unlimited time with Jo is the greener pasture. That damned greener pasture—always re-locating to somewhere other than where I am.

It’s such a radical shift to suddenly need to schedule time to hang out with Jo. So much so that I haven’t really done it at all. And I miss him. I miss the team that we used to be—sure, it wasn’t all roses, but he was my sidekick.

I worry that he may be suffering as a result. His crazy dips into extreme hyper-ness, run-by pinching of Cal.

And here’s the truth of it. It’s harder for me to connect with him these days not just because I have less time, but because I just don’t understand him as well.

Somehow, in the past couple of years, he’s slowly morphed from a soft innocent into a hard, fast trickster. And it’s harder for me to like him.

Right around that same time, I gave birth to blonde Cal. Sweet blonde Cal, into whose sweet, chubby softness I can dive for hours and feel an easy bliss.

I’ve been avoiding one child and seeking refuge in the other.

And the less I connect with Jo, the harder it gets. And the stranger he seems to me.

This division of myself between my two sons, this is what I worried about when thinking of having another baby—having to shift my attention between 2.

This gorgeous image was generously shared by Barbara Butkus. Talk about an honest photo. It captures that challenge of toggling attention between multiple kids, no?

Is this just the inevitable course of our relationship? This slowly widening distance over which it feels too hard to bridge?

In having a second child, was I unknowingly signing myself up to lose my closeness with the first?

Mostly stay at home mom tries to carve out space for another job

I’m about to find out just how much work I do everyday. Next month, I’ll have 12 hours less every week to launder and nurse and clean and shop and cook and shuttle and coordinate.

I got a job.

The acquisition of this job was a complete miracle.

As I bounced Cal down for one of the first naps after AJ returned to work after his paternity leave, I thought one of those thoughts that feels three dimensional. It popped up like a glossy cartoon bubble with words dressed in a distinctive font above my head:

I think I want a job.

It’s time for a big caveat now because, as we all know, I already have a job. A big, fat raise-2-children-and-keep-a-house-going job. And since I had Jo, I’ve had many paying jobs—freelancing video production or taking doula clients. But the cartoon bubble thought was about an employee job, an I-do-what-you-tell-me-to-and-you-keep-the-work-coming-and-sign-the-checks job.

Literally (and I mean Literally!) half an hour later, I got a phone call from a woman I’d met at a 4-year-old birthday party the week before, and she said, “Hey, this is Ada from Lex’s birthday party. Do you want a job?”

Why yes, I do.

And so now I have one. Weird.

The day before I got the job, I was lamenting the oceans of time I had at home. I could go into existential fits about the next sink of dishes or diaper change—“Is this all there is?!”

I’d find myself fantasizing about this.

Photo by Tim Caynes
Photo by Tim Caynes

The day after I got the job, I started clinging to Cal, and feeling all nostalgic hanging the laundry up on the line. I would actually find myself enjoying, nay treasuring the idyllic fantasyland that is staying at home with your children.

IMG_1726

Grass is greener anyone?

I start mid-November, and I’m nervous about all the logistics—getting Jo to pre-school, then Cal to the nanny share, then me to work. And then, 6 hours later, do the whole thing in reverse, burst into the house and start sorting dinner out while I try to deeply re-connect with one kinetic 4 year old and one snuggly 5 monther.

The amount of energy and coordination it is taking to free my time for 12 regular hours of paid work is extraordinary.  It’s as though I have to build up enough speed to catapult myself into orbit or something. I have to coordinate childcare schedules for two different kids at three different locations, re-work my participation schedule at Jo’s pre-school, figure out the whole breast pumping palava and wonder how, after all is said and done, the groceries will find their way home and the clothes will get washed and the food get to our table.

At the risk of sounding like a privileged, ungrateful whiner, I’m resentful about the particular overwhelm I’m feeling during this transition into work.

I wanna get all 4-year-old trantrum-y and stomp my feet. It’s just not fair that I feel like I’ll still have all the same responsibilities AND 12 hours of paid work to do every week. If I don’t initiate some conversations with AJ about a significant re-organizing of responsibilities and maybe finding a house cleaner, I’m basically expecting it to look like a hell hole around here in a couple weeks. I want someone to step in and equitably re-arrange everything so that AJ and I both have equal and manageable responsibilities on the home front.

I think that person will have to be me.

Well, would you look at that—another new job.