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Must be the Catholic guilt

I suffer from working mother's guilt. People who know me well (and probably even some who don't, because I am just that open about things) understand that I do not see myself as stay-at-home mom material. For years I was not sure I wanted a child. But when I found out I was pregnant (well, five minutes after anyway), I knew there was nothing I wanted more than to have this baby. But stay at home? Even if I thought I fit that mold, with Brian's new restaurant (and no paycheck) at that time, I had to work.

But even though I did not think I could be with my child 24/7, which I know sounds kind of sad for a parent, I also knew I did not want to work five days a week either. Luckily I was able to work out a four-day a week deal, though not without a struggle (you would swear I was the most valued employee with the grief I got). Having done this routine for four and a half years, I can tell you I wish I would have asked to work three days, although I probably would not have been allowed.

Working more days than being home with your kid is difficult. When not at work, there seems to be this constant struggle of getting things done around the house, spending enough time with my child and husband (the latter who has taken a backseat to the child), and doing some things for myself (choir, an occasional happy hour, etc.). How does one balance it all? Because Jordan no longer naps, it is even more challenging. For several years, while she was sawing some logs, I could do housework, stuff on the computer, even talk on the phone to my stay-at-home mom friends. For a period of probably six months, I even lifted weights while watching 30 minutes of my soap. Now I just end up feeling guilty when I tell her to play by herself for 30 minutes a couple of times a day so I can get something done.

I can almost hear some of you saying that I have to let Jordan do more things on her own, that it won't kill her to spend time alone. I know that is true, but when I think of how I worked the previous two days and hardly spent any time with her, it feels wrong to not spend as much time with her as I can. (I can also hear others telling me to get off the computer and play with her. But Jordan just left for a night at Grammie's, so Brian and I could attend a graduation party this evening. So now I can feel guilty for ignoring my husband for an hour instead!)

Yet for all the conflict I feel not being with J, I wonder how I ever could stay at home with her every day. Seriously, how do stay-at-home parents do it?! Even though I may feel slightly bad when I plop Jordan in front of the TV for 45 minutes in the morning so I can shower, start laundry, and check my email, I wonder how stay-at-homes go through this every day. And some parents don't even let their kids watch TV. I find that commendable, but inconceivable in my world. How do you get things done? Perhaps others have kids who just play better by themselves, who like to do quiet things. Every once in awhile "Fast-Forward Jordan" will play Barbies or play-doh for something like 45 minutes to an hour alone, and I am stunned; it is just not something she does on a regular basis; and when she does it for more than an hour, I end up feeling as if I should run in to be with her, since I will be back at work the next day.

I welcome your thoughts on how you do what you do every day, whether you are a stay-at-home parent or a working one. Do you do things for yourself? And if so, do you feel guilty? Have you cut back on sleep to be able to get more things done (I know some parents who get only six hours of sleep most nights)? Is your child always ahead of your spouse, or do you carve off a date night every week or month? Is dusting something that happens only when the seasons change? Let me know!


Kirb said…

Got to tell you, the best thing Russ and I did was to have the 2nd kid. Now both of them play together (can you actually believe it) and act as each other's baby sitter at times to give us quiet time. To tell you the truth, I still get a few nights out with the guys and she still does stuff with the girls. Is actually going to a movie tonight but a buddy is bringing his kids over to play with mine.

I know it against your financial planning philosophy but the best and I mean best thing we ever did was to hire a cleaning lady. She comes every 2 weeks and at least for those few hours afterwards, the house is clean. This has freed us up on weekends to spend family time together. If you actually call running to soccer and other events family time. It is well worth the $85. I will never clean a toilet again!

Although I know that having the 2nd child is not in your radar, it is easier than just one in my eyes. I love spending time with Alec and Katie but I also love the time they spend with each other and the neighborhood kids.

Good luck!
Facie :-) said…

I am sure it is true about the second kid; pretty much all my friends have kids who play together. Still have not ruled out number 2 yet; we'll see.

As for the cleaning, we had a service once, as a gift, and it was awful, but I think having a person would be better. I don't mind most cleaning really, and that I am not a neat freak helps.

Having one kid, I believe I get to do a lot more things than many others; I just end up feeling guilty about it. That is what I wish I could change. I am glad that you and Russ get to do things for yourselves; I see too many couples who seem to devote their entire waking lives to their children. Even if I feel guilty about doing my own thing, I know I have to for my sanity/happiness.


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