Friday, 30 October 2015

becoming gainfully unemployed (or how I'm giving up my job to stay at home wiping bums and getting punched in the crotch)



Today I gave up my job.

~pause for major anxious reaction


O.k. It's o.k.....I think. What the hell do I do now?!! 


The same thing I've been doing every day for the past year I guess.









                                   


So, the story is: This has been something we've been thinking about for a long time, since before Em was born really, but....

I've worked since I was 14. Actually I worked before that, I've helped out in my families business since I was eight, but I've had clocking-in, rostered, taking home a proper wage jobs since I was 14. And in all that time, in those 17 (surely not?!!) years I've never left one without a better one lined up or a plane ticket for some serious travelling booked...until today. 

Today I wrote a letter thanking my company for the last five years but regretfully handing in my notice.

Now, I'm....a mother. Who stays at home. I'm an acronym! I am a game-creator, a snack-provider, a cleaner-upper, a bum-wiper, a referee, a maid, a punch-bag.

This is going to take some getting used to.


                           


This is what I always wanted, in theory. While I love my job it has never been more important to me than my "real" life, not even close. I always thought that once I'd had kids I'd give up work the minute I had the chance. I thought I might go back to work after the first, but definitely not after the second. I had visions of us going on days out, doing arts and crafts at home and having the house cosy and dinner cooked for when my husband got home and then we'd all sit around the piano singing songs before bedtime....wait, that last bit was Little Women, scratch that. But you get the general idea.

But in reality being at home with two small kids is tough. 

Like really tough. 

Often it's "makes you think they'd be better off in a creche, cos at least they wouldn't get screamed at there" tough. And I really didn't expect that. I knew it wouldn't be easy, but I had no idea how hard it was really going to be. 


                  


Often I am shocked by the shortness of my temper and by the tendency of my patience to desert me at the worst moments. 

I have broken so many promises that I made to myself as a mother. Promises like "I'll never say that" and "I'll always be patient" and "I'll never lock myself in a bathroom with a packet of chocolate biscuits while they bang on the door and cry outside", you know, the usual. Every time it happens I make a new promise, and it usually holds a little longer, but something I've come to realise is that giving birth does not magically transform you into Mary Poppins. I am still the same person I was before, and that person is pretty selfish, and introverted, and easily annoyed. I thought becoming a mother would magically do away with all that, or that somehow these traits would never come to the fore when I was dealing with my own kids...but that's not what happened. 

I didn't expect it to feel like work, but it does. Everyday feels like those days at work where you're so rushed off your feet that you can't take your lunch and you have trouble finding time to go to the toilet. Except that your colleagues are all screaming at you and wiping snot on your legs and you have to watch them all the time to stop them sticking their hands in the toilet or shoving a breadstick in a socket. I find myself watching the clock when it gets near time for my husband to get home.

And yet, despite all that, I want to be at home with them. This phase is hard, but it won't last forever, and when it's over I'm sure I will wish for one more day where they cry for my attention and run to me with a million questions, trusting that I am the font of all knowledge. 

One day they won't need me anymore, and I will be the one chasing them, wanting their attention. So for now I want to be the one they follow around like little zombies, mindlessly moaning and screaming, covered in filth and gore.....parenthood, it's a beautiful thing.



                       


I took a years maternity leave with each child, the last six months were completely unpaid both times, so we had time to see if we could survive on just one wage. It took a while to get it right, but we learned how to make it work. We made a budget, writing down everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) that has to be paid for each month. After we allocated money for bills we gave ourselves allowances for things like food, outings, spending money, and once they were spent that was it. I make a meal plan for the full week and only go shopping once a week so that we cut out waste. We drive a really crappy car so that we don't have a loan.

So basically we won't be running off on any impromptu holidays anytime soon, but we have what we need and we don't owe any money other than our mortgage, so we're good. It's hard work sometimes, and I do miss just being able to buy some new clothes or book a weekend away without giving it much thought, but it's totally worth it. 

~Some days I have to repeat that in my head a lot though....usually while I'm locked in the bathroom eating biscuits.


                   


If I made more money than I do there might be an argument to be made for keeping my job in order to provide a better lifestyle for us, but to be honest I think that's b.s. Kids need food, shelter, love. They don't need designer clothes or to be driven to kiddy yoga in a flashy car. If you want to keep working then I say go for it, that's a different matter entirely, but if you want to stay at home, and you think you can't cos Santa needs to bring €500 worth of toys this Christmas then I think you need to re-evaluate.

Now, when it comes to the money aspect of this decision there is also the little matter of how I feel about not having a job. I am, and have always been, very independent. I have never, ever had to rely on someone else for money before, not while I was in college, not while we were planning a wedding or buying a house, never. And I know it's not the same, for a long time there hasn't been any "my money" and "his money", just "our money", but all the same....it's strange. And I suppose I'm worried about giving up the reigns of my own earning potential and letting someone else take over...just because I have never done that before!

I was really good at my job. I don't feel like I'm so good at this.

What if I want to go back in a few years and I can't get a job? What if our financial situation changes? What if I'm really not that good at being a stay at home mother type person?

What if. What if. What if.

What if I don't do this and I regret it for the rest of my life I guess? That's the answer to all that. What's the point of going through all this crap and working harder than I ever thought was possible, and still not doing it the way I know deep down I really want to?





So it should have been a no-brainer right? I wanted to stay at home, the kids would be better off if I stayed at home, we could afford it (just!), no problem! But still, no matter how much I talked about it to other people and claimed I knew what I wanted there was a little part of me that still hadn't made it's mind up. It made no sense! I knew what I wanted! I knew it was do-able! Why was I dithering?!

Finally, after much rending of clothes and gnashing of teeth (read: stress eating and chewing my fingers down to the bone) I realised that deep down I thought that this was just something that I wanted, and that no matter what I told everyone else I really hadn't convinced myself that it was best for the kids. No, in the depths of my weird little subconscious I was afraid that I was using my kids as an excuse to opt out of working and take it easy.

Which is crazy. Obviously. I mean, I'm in charge of two other people's bodily functions, come on! There are days (often!) that are just an endless round of bum-wiping and body cavity searching (I wish I was joking). That is not taking it easy!

And also, underneath all that, lurking in the darkness, was another reason that I didn't want to acknowledge.


*whispers* I was afraid of what people would think.

I was afraid they would think I was lazy, or stupid, or that I wasn't able to get a real job. I worried that they would have less respect for me because I didn't "work". I was afraid it would be embarrassing when I was asked what I did and I had to reply "look after my children".

So what did I do to fix these feelings? Basically I tried to get over myself! I realised that I don't give a crap what anyone else is doing when it comes to their childcare, so why the hell did I think anyone would care what I was doing?! Women are really good at sabotaging themselves by imaging all this judgement being directed at them all the time. Seriously, I'm sure everyone else is so busy worrying about their own problems that they really don't have the time to give mine a second thought. I just need to remember that.

And when it comes down to it, what's best for these two weirdo's is more important than my vanity, or my desire to have nice things, or my need for basic adult human interaction. It's more important than anything actually.


               


So there we have it, I came to my senses and am now gainfully unemployed as a result. I may look for something very flexible and very part-time next year, cos being totally honest I do miss all the speaking to actual adult humans that work involves, and it would be nice to have a little extra money coming in so that we can occasionally run away for a weekend and you know, stave off the encroaching madness, but that's something I'll think about a bit further down the line.

I'd like to say i couldn't be happier, but as you may have gathered from the above ramblings, it takes a while for me to process things ;) 

For the foreseeable future I'm going to be focusing on these guys...and using this blog as a way to still have a creative outlet and hopefully not go (more) insane. 

Wish me luck.....cos I really, really need it! ;)
















               
                             

10 comments:

  1. Linda! Good for you! I've been a stay at home mother for 16 years now (I have 9 children so it's legit- I still have little ones at home, I'm not just slacking) I've know since I was a kid that it's what I've always wanted to be. And yes, it isn't perfect and guess what? I can't be either. It's messy and challenging and demanding. But I think there is nothing more important that I could be doing.

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    1. 9 kids! Fair play to you! Yes, I know what you mean, deep down I know it's the right thing to do, I just really, really agonise over big decisions!

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  2. We've yet to have children but we're hoping it's on the cards in the next few years. I've always thought that I'd love to be a stay at home mum if we could afford it, or if not at least just work part time. My mum gave up work as soon as she had me and continued to stay at home with my brother and sister. My parents were pretty broke a lot of the time and my dad often had to work extra hours to make ends meet and to be able to buy Christmas presents etc but we were well looked after. I'm a firm believer that what kids really need is food, a roof over their head and plenty of love-most of the other things are nice extras but not essential.
    Em x
    http://themusingsofem.blogspot.co.uk/

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    1. Our upbringing sounds the same! I think what really threw me off was the fact that for a very long time here in Ireland "doing without" was virtually unheard of, It's different now after the recession, but that feeling of "earn as much as you can, own as much as you can" is still very prevalent. I don't know anyone else who is doing what I'm doing without a husband who makes a fortune, so it's scary, but hey, I could be blazing a trail here! haha :)

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  3. Oh man, Linda. As someone who doesn't have children, I found it quite eery reading your 'before motherhood' thoughts. Because I'm 9000% thinking those exact thoughts right now. I'll be so patient with our future kids. I won't get snarky with them (like I get now). I'll be more mature and all those pregnancy hormones will even me out. I will be a perfectly placid mother. Awesome! So even though I don't know what it's like to be a mom, I know what the 'before' is like. And totally, I have a vision of me in a lovely dress with a calm toddler sitting on a play mat while I cook dinner in our pristine home. I've got 10+ years of nanny experience behind me. None of that happened. Yet I can't help but dump that pressure on myself. Brains are the worst.

    I applaud your honesty. Especially the hiding in the bathroom eating biscuits. Because that shit, I can see myself doing. I had a giggle when I read it because it reminded me of Charlotte circa Sex & the City hiding in her pantry (damn her and her fabulous home) from her screaming toddler.

    It's so messed up because I too would worry about what people would think if I became a SAHM. I'm like you - I've always worked, earned my own money, and only within the past year or two has Robert started earning more money than me. We all put so much pressure on ourselves, it's so ridiculous. Sometimes I think we all need to step back and look at how far we've come - and that certainly does not mean career-wise.

    xx

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    1. Exactly! I just kept thinking "what will you regret more, missing out on being at home with your kids or missing out on a few years of your career-which is not what you really wanted to be doing anyway?". Put like that the answer was obvious, but as you say, we put so much pressure on ourselves to do everything that making the choice still wasn't easy.
      Also, as regards the day to day realities of family life, I think we would all be a lot happier if we just a little more honest about what all this crap is really like! I mean, there's a lot of magical sh*t, don't get me wrong, (like waking up this morning to find a little girl trying to kiss me lightly enough so she wouldn't wake me...all of the feels!) but when it isn't magical it can feel like you're the only person who ever had to deal with anything like this, and I'm calling bullsh*t on that. (can you tell I've moved from "emotional" to "strident" re my decision in the last 24 hours? haha!).

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  4. I'd done some nannying and babysitting before I was a mother and I don't recall ever losing my patience with other's kids. However, it's different with your own. (Which is totally backwards, if ever someone deserved your best, it should be your own kids, right?) My best correlation is maybe like having siblings. You love your sister but sometimes you fight and say things to her that you wouldn't say to an acquaintance. If your friends call you and you're barfing your guts up, you don't go out with them. When you're a parent, there is no sick day, you can be exhausted from being up all night with a sick kid, barfing your guts in early pregnancy and you still have to take care of the the other kid(s). It's hard to be at your best all the time when life happens. So, yes, we lose it. There is NO perfect mother, even if you think your kids deserve nothing less. I'm glad I figured that out early on because I had been beating myself up about my small failures instead of giving myself room to be human.

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  5. First of all, your kids are mega cute. Second, I totally get it. I have an almost 15 month old. She is a gem. Love her. Don't love half of my paycheque going to childcare. If I were to add up the cost of my car, the insurance, the petrol, etc... I might think more seriously about doing exactly what you are. In fact, it has crossed my mind. I struggle with being a working mom all the time. I think you are being very courageous. It is hard for people to leave a career for fear that they will not be able to return to it.
    Thank you for this post. It has given me food for thought.

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  6. They are cute right? It's not just me being biased?!lol. Seriously though, yes, it's tough. Now that I've thought about it more I think one of the toughest things was giving up a job that I knew I was really good at to do one where there are often days that the best I can say is that I kept everyone alive. Someone sent me a lovely email after I posted this saying "I never heard of anyone saying they regretted staying home with their kids when they were small", and she's right.so I'm clinging to that! It's a really tough choice to make, and people have a LOT of opinions about it, but I hope you do what's right for YOU, whatever that is ;)

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    1. Agreed. I took the first 6 months maternity leave, and my husband took the next 6 months paternity leave. We were both really grateful for the chance to stay home and bond with her. Although, when he was home with her, i couldn't help but wonder if I was crazy not taking the whole year myself. Once childcare took over, i doubt all the time. Anyway, I will figure it out. As for cute kids, yes as someone totally unbiased your kids are adorbs. We were convinced we were going to have an ugly kid. And then she came and she was gorgeous. We waited until enough people told us she was cute before we believed it (all parents think their kids are, so we were sure we were just blind to her ugliness). LOL

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