Sunday, October 07, 2007

Back-to-work blues

The last thing I ever want to do is start a mommy war. Or a daddy war, for that matter. Raising kids isn't the easiest job on the planet no matter which chromosome pair you possess.

Staying at home is HARD, I'll be the first to admit it. Waking up with the sun and having to find fun things to do in 15 minute increments throughout the entire day while washing the laundry, emptying the dishwasher and trying to tidy a house is bone tiring work. Having no one to relieve you at 5 o'clock when the whistle blows on other jobs may very well be the reason.

Seriously, try and tell your sleep stalling kid that your workday is over and they must go to sleep NOW so you can get a coffee break and watch eye rolling at its best.

Working outside the home is HARD, too. Waking up at the crack dawn, before the kids get up on their own, having to wiggle them into clothes, cajole all the "wrong" kinds of food down their gullets before leaving the house eight to 15 minutes late every day doesn’t help either. It also doesn't help that by the end of your day you still have a long commute home with hungry, tired kids, who haven’t seen you for nine hours, NOT TO MENTION that you have exactly a hour and a half to get them fed, bathed and ready for bed just so you can do it all over again in the morning.

A person could need a vacation just thinking about it.

To be honest, during the work week it feels as if the non-parental caretakers are getting the best part of our kids. We get the tantrums and the pouts and the just five more minutes’ and they get all the smiles and hugs.

It just seems as if someone out there should have figured this all out by now, doesn't it? It's not like I am the first (or only) person on the face of the Earth who has experienced such exasperation.

There are tons of books out there ready to find fault with whatever it is you are choosing to do for your family, whether it be going to work or staying at home. There are probably an equal number of tomes dedicated to how wonderful you are for making whatever choice you've made, and "here's why you should be happy. ..."

But who's got time to read them? Even with my gobs of time on maternity leave I managed to read only one, paltry-at-that, book. One. Uno. It's a pathetic showing for someone who, before kids, used to devour three to five books a week.

Instead, the five to 10 picture books I read a day just makes me feel as if I'm doing five to 10. … in San Quentin. ... And I LOVE kids' books; I just don't love them if they are about Strawberry Shortcake or Care Bears or BarbieTM. Somehow the cartoon creatures have usurped the bookshelf space once reserved for Dr. Seuss, Knuffle Bunny and Homemade Love: all books that used to make up for my inability to read the latest Richard Russo or John Irving.

And yet these are the choices we make when we have kids, or at least that's what well-meaning people tell me. "Something's got to give."

I'd like someone to tell me, though, why it is we are choosing two hours of reality TV at the end of the day instead of things that might actually make us feel good? Could it be that we just are too tired to make the effort? Or maybe we're just fresh out of ideas to try.

I know I am.

It's your turn: Send me ideas of how I can combat the back-to-work blues. I'll try some and tell you how it goes. Maybe you’ll try others and tell us know how it goes, too.


Fairly Odd Mother said...

I'm now home, but worked when my oldest was a baby until she was two (when her little sister arrived). You are right, both sides have it hard and it is useless to argue over who 'has it better/worse'.

I also love (loved?) to read and feel like my brain is drooling out of my ears when I sit and watch TV for nights on end. Could you make a rule to unplug the television at the end of the day (or maybe 4 out of 7 days), so that once the kids are asleep, you can have time to read, take a bath, or even sleep? Also, I don't know what kind of commute you have, but I listen to books on tape (really, CD), with the kids and you could do the same with them, or just get books you'd like to hear. Most libraries have tons to borrow (David Sedaris is a great choice, btw).

the new girl said...

I second the David Sedaris. I work only so very part time but I don't know how you all do it, going back to an all-day, early in the morning gig. I have a lot of empathy for that.

I like to listen to loud music on my commute and also use my cell phone to call my friends. I am so unable to have a logical, two-way conversation when I'm with the baby, so I like that time.

Other than snacks??


stefanierj said...

Yep audio books and the cell phone are my salvation--makes the 25 minutes commute to the preschool almost worth it. I don't have TV right now (for very complicated reasons) but I think if I did, I would try to stick to just a couple of shows and TiVo or DVR them so I could watch them uninterrupted at my leisure. The 20 minutes I don't have to spend watching commercials could be spent reading, puttering (my form of yoga, as Anne Lamott has said), or chatting with friends after the kiddo is in bed...