Friday, April 3, 2009

Nothing Quite Like Family Guilt

Yesterday I wasn't feeling too hot. Several nights of zero sleep left me feeling foggy, nauseous, and achy. My older sister stopped by and within minutes was telling me all about a recent episode of Dr Phil that she had watched.

Apparently it was all about moms who go back to work after their baby is born so that they can support their 3,000 s.f. homes and brand new cars. My sister told me that I needed to stay home after little LadyBug is born and be with her. That nurturing my child was more important than anything else, and that I needed to do whatever it takes to stay home with her.

I was stunned. No one in my family has ever come out and chastised me for my decision to go back to work. I blubbered, "we don't have a choice! I have to work!" She retorted that there's always a choice. I told her we'd have to sell our house, and move into an apartment at least 30 miles away (apartments are super expensive in Seattle), and even then, we'd be lucky to pay all our bills each month.

She went on to say that she did it. She put her first baby in childcare, but when she had her second, she quit her job, stayed home, and opened a day care. "You just have to prioritize," she quipped.

Big Stream of Tears Ensued.

It's all so frustrating. BigB and I have worked our arses off to try and pay off our debt. We don't drive fancy cars, we live in a tiny home, we don't go on vacations, nor do we eat out more than a few times a month. On top of that, we have the whole overarching economy issue. Who knows if BigB will be out of a job in the next six months. It could totally happen. Now is not the greatest time for me to quit a steady job.

All that being said, I'm pretty sure I don't want to be a full-time SAHM. I can hardly stand being home all day when I'm sick. I have a sneaking suspicion that at the end of my maternity leave I'll be chomping at the bit to go back to work. I'm sure, too, that it'll be really tough to leave the little Bug and I'll be even more elated with every moment I'm able to spend with her. We're trying to be very creative with childcare solutions - working from home at least one day a week, having my mom watch her one day a week, etc, so we can maximize "us" time vs. "daycare" time.

I guess it's just frustrating to not have a choice, and then to be totally guilted by a member of your own family. I never thought I'd see it. I thought my family would know our situation enough to understand our decision. It makes me wonder what all my SAHM friends are thinking. My boss is thinking. Not to mention strangers. Not that I care (well...maybe a little bit).

Ugh. This dilemma is futile. I'm going to go eat something made entirely of chocolate and pretend life is a bowl of roses.


Leslie Laine said...

This is one of my most passionate issues!! It infuriates me when SAHMs start their sanctimonious crap about what the rest of us need to do and what is "best for the baby". What's best for the baby is for you to be a happy mom, and if you're like me, work makes you happy on some level. You have every right to go back to work and do what you need to do, and other women should support that. It's such a shame to me that, instead, women judge each other for such a personal decision.

I would highly recommend the book, "The Feminine Mistake" to you right now - it's a great book about exactly this dilemma, and I thought it was an inspirational look at why it's important for women to consider their options and that working doesn't make a woman less of a good mom.

I hate that you had to hear this today, but know that you're going to be a great mom, especially after everything you've done to get to this point.

Hope you can have a good weekend.

Martha said...

Sending you some scrumptious See's chocolates and Big ((Hugs)).
I am so sorry your sister got all judgemental. There is no Right or wrong way for everyone, parenting isn't one size fits all.
When dealing with folks who try to dictate what my Dh and I think is best for our family we have learned to grit our teeth while we smile and say, "Thank you for your opinion. This is what we think is best for us and our family and our comfortable with our decision."
Of course, this is hard to do when you are pregnant with hormones, but with some practice, it's possible. Like you, I enjoy work and we need the security in these crazy times.

Jen said...

I hear you. Oh how I hear you.

What I don't understand is why people are so narrow-minded. What works for one person doesn't work for everybody. It is why we have choices. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to have a reasonable standard of living. My hubby and I together make a very nice income, but it still isn't enough to afford a 3000 sf house or two cars. And wanting to provide a nice life for your child(ren) is not a crime.

Trace said...

I hear you. It's a big issue for me even though I wouldn't catagorize myself as a "career woman" I do earn a good living. I haven't figured out what I'm going to do.

Faith said...

YES -- Leslie is right on. A wonderful book. I'm so sorry you had that coming from your sister :(

momofonefornow said...

I am a SAHM. I love it. However, I don't think it is for everyone. I also think it is a really cruel thing to do, making you feel guilty about your choice. You will be a great mom. Just follow your instincts and ignore the advice that doesn't go along with that.

areyoukiddingme said...

Wow. Why would your sister want to do that? So her theory is that her first child is ruined and wasn't nurtured, but her second child is perfect? I bet that plays well in the family dynamic. By the way, running a daycare is working. Even if two of your clients are your own children, you must take time to pay attention to other children and their parents, not to mention doing all the ancillary stuff (like bookkeeping and cleaning and making lunches).

Don't let anyone else question your choices. You've already thought it through, and have come up with a solution that works for you. Not everyone is meant to be a SAHM. In fact, way back in the early 70's, my mother's doctor told her to go out and get a job to deal with whatever problems she was having.

Anyway, I think you could also revise your view. You did have a choice - you chose to stay near your family, instead of having your husband job search in an area with a lower cost of living, where you could stay at home comfortably on one salary. You chose to try to provide a good stable financial base for your child. You chose to minimize your baby's out-of-family time, but working from home. All of these are good choices, as long as they work for you. They are also flexible choices, and if they don't work, you can try something else.

Of course, if it were me, I'd just tell my sister to stuff it. You're going to have enough angst about the whole thing without her input. And next time she gets a haircut, I'd tell her it makes her look old and/or fat, because that's the kind of sister I am! :)

tryingin2007 said...

I'm beginning to think I'm a terrible mother because my sisters appear (in their minds) to have done everything perfectly with their kids. since dd's birth, I really try to tune out their suggestions (even though they are always right -- wink, wink.) I too feel like I could never be a sahm. no way. even though I work from home, my job keeps me connected, independent and sane. stick to your guns and ignore your sister. blah blah blah. you know what's best for you.

Martha said...

I nominated you for an award, please stop by when you get a chance.