I work full-time as an attorney; I am a wife and have two busy children. As a result, I am nuts – not clinically, but I believe I am starting to suffer from split personalities. I have started to feel really jealous of stay at home moms (“SAHM”). I’m not proud of it, but I am woman enough to admit it.
I often feel resentment towards the innocent group, and while I know it’s wrong to feel that way, I can’t help it. I know they don’t intend to make me jealous or want to cause harm, but they remind me of my guilt and the seemingly constant state of anxiety I am in. I know they are just doing their job, but I can’t stop thinking they only have one job and they don’t run the risk of getting fired if they mess up.
My jealousy usually rears its ugly head when I am overwhelmed, tired and want to feel sorry for myself. It happens on the days I wish I could go to a yoga class instead of running to court to argue about a thingy I could care less about. Envy will show up in the mornings as I drop the kids off at school instead of walking them in because I don’t have time to park and get out of the car. I can join the pity party in the middle of the day when I get a phone call from the school telling me my child doesn’t feel well, and I ask my child if they can just hang in there until school is out so I don’t have to leave the office or try to find a relative to pick them up. The feelings of wishful thinking come up as I drive home at 7:00 p.m. and realize I have again missed dinner with my kids but secretly pray their homework is completed because I am too tired to help them.
Why me, I ask? Why can’t I stay at home? Why didn’t I marry a millionaire? Why can’t my kids come home after school to their mother? How did I end up juggling a demanding career and a family? Am I doing a good enough job? Do my kids feel bad? Sometimes I even cry in my car as I drive to work.
But then I feel euphoric about my life. When I am not tired or overwhelmed, I am proud of my achievements and my ability to juggle it all. I look at my children with great pride and marvel at how wonderfully independent and confident they are in themselves. I smile when I watch them perform in school plays or speak in front of a large group; I feel the pure emotion of love when I watch them play fairly with their friends. I pat myself on the back when I think about the caring and generous children I have raised. When I remind myself of all the great things in my life, I realize I wouldn’t change a thing.
No, I wouldn’t quit my job to stay at home. My kids are learning the importance of hard work and discipline. They understand the importance of an education and completing a task assigned to them. They see their parents (both of them) acting responsibly, and experience the positive results of generosity. They understand their school work is their job and mommy has hers. It makes sense to them – we all have responsibilities and there are consequences when their obligations are not met.
The positive aspects of being a working mom are there, you just have to find them. Sure, I may miss some of the little moments in my child’s experience, but I make the big ones. I never miss a performance, an award, or an important event at school. I may miss a basketball game or a practice, but that’s okay – my kids don’t want a hovering parent watching their every move anyway.
No matter how many times I fantasize about being a SAHM, I know deep down inside, I really don’t want that job. I want two jobs: I want my career and my family. I may be schizophrenic – Do you want to stay at home or work?? Make up your mind, I scold myself. But the truth of the matter is that my answer depends upon the moment and my mood. Right now, I want to work, but when you ask me on Monday morning, I will probably have changed my mind.