Tuesday, February 19, 2008

If Only It Was August

This morning I was reminded of one reason I can't wait to go back to work.

I have been a stay-at-home mom for the past 3.5 years. When I got pregnant with Sweet Pea, I took a year's maternity leave from teaching, expecting to go back at some point, but not really sure when. We knew I would try to get pregnant again a year or so after Sweet Pea was born and it didn't make sense to try to go back to work in the interim.

While I have enjoyed life at home, I have not been totally happy doing it. Some women are great at it, and others are not. I am not. There are many reasons why I don't love it. I miss teaching and my students. I get bored and lonely at home (the reason I started blogging). I miss adult interaction and the children try my patience, even on the best of days. The biggest reason I don't like it though, is that I don't like the box it puts me in.

I don't like that as a stay-at-home mom, I have taken on the mantle of housewife with all the things that the term implies. It's not the being with the kids all day that I dislike. It's the rest of it.

I don't like that I feel responsible for all the housework. I don't like that, in my mind and to some degree my husband's, my worth is now tied up in how clean my kitchen is or how nicely my laundry is folded.

It's not that I think housework is beneath me. It's more that I resent having it feel like my sole responsibility. And I resent that, despite all my other talents and accomplishments, my role now ultimately boils down to scrubbing floors.

My husband does do a lot to help around the house, but I really think that someplace in the depths of his mind, when he sees the floor in need of a mopping, he gets irritated at me for not doing it. I hear it in his voice when he makes some comment about the house. He'll swear up and down that this is not so, but I really think it is.

When I was in therapy last year after Ladybug was born, my therapist urged me to go back to work. Not only would I be happier, she said, but she thought my husband would be happier. She thought that some men, perhaps my husband, lose some respect for their wives when they see them in the role of housewife every day. Their wife moves down a notch or so in their mind. It makes sense to me.

For men who are attracted to their wives for their intelligence, accomplishments, and independence, as I think my husband was initially attracted to me, it makes sense that when the wives are thrust into a role where their most difficult decision of the day is whether to play Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, the husbands' lose a little bit of the appreciation they had for their wives. They begin to feel a little superior.

This morning I made a comment about how one of Ladybug's push toys has scratched the hardwood floor. Big B replied that he thought the floors looked 100 years old, they looked so bad. It wasn't so much the words, as the tone that bugged me. This was also right after I was queuing up Diego in the Media Center and he came over, unasked, and took over although I am perfectly capable of doing it myself. It just irritated me.

These might not seem like big transgressions. It's not a big transgression when he closes doors behind me that I left open because I am about to turn around and go right back out or when he turns out lights after me that I left on because I am about to go back into the room. Or when he turns down stove top temps or turns on the fan over the stove. Or when he says he is going to vacuum after the kids go to bed. It all just seems a little condescending to me.

I am not faulting him for my feelings on this. I think my feelings are a combination my feeling a a bit degraded in my role and his slight loss of respect for what I do everyday. I am hoping that these feelings disappear when I go back to work and I think they will. I think he will see me in a different light and I will feel better about myself.

If not, we may just have to hire a housecleaner!


Missyb64 said...

I finally have an interview this week for a good position that would be the challenge I am looking for. Everything you said about being defined by what you do is so what I feel every day. I could never do this day in day out... I would die from atrophy. And, more importantly, I know my husband did not marry me for my mop skills... and he doesn't like the person I am when I am in a role that is so much limiting for me. If I'm not happy neither is he. So, I'm hoping this is the opportunity for me to hire a cleaning service, fire up the drycleaners for his work stuff, and get my ass back out in the real world... I sure as hell need it!

Molly said...

Good luck on the interview! Glad to know I'm not the only one feeling this way. I've never really heard anyone say that they think their husband likes them less when they are not working--nice to hear from someone else!

Anonymous said...

Okay, I totally understand what you are saying. But I have to ask, were you hubbies ever a bit condescending to you before you had kids and when you worked full time? My husband is/was on occasion when it comes to computers and all the electronics(he is in charge of all that at our house b.c that is his interest/hobby. I dont feel it is different now because I am a stay at home mom. If anything, I think he actually does respect me more now b/c he knows how hard this job is. When was the last time your husband spent a full 24 hours in your shoes? It is not easy and my husband will freely admit he could not do what I do and has seen the hardships I have endured with 3 pregnancies and 3 1/2 years of nursing. It is a lot of sacrifice!I am def. blessed with a lot of patience and things rarely get under my skin. My husband, as much as he adores the girls, would be a bit taxed after 24 hours-so we both agree I am the right one for this job.

However, I totally GET what you are saying. When I stopped working almost 6 years ago, I missed work like crazy! Esp my friends from work and the routine of it. But after that 1st year, I got busier and busier and stopped missing it so much, so I admire your passion for teaching. You really have it and I'm not sure I do. I think of returning as such a headache, b/c then I will have a full time job AND will still have to do all the errands/cleaning/laundry etc. That I am not cut out for! But there is no doubt there is a intellectual need that gets put out by the wayside while raising kids- thank God for books!


Anonymous said...

Speakiong of interviews... while I'm reading and laughing I'm jotting down questions for you. I'm your interviewer for Neil experiment. You are really somebody even if you hide behind a very pink blog. Drop me an email so I can send you some questions.

MamaGeek said...

I can totally empathize. The good sign is that it sounds like you have so much clarity with this decision. If Mom's happy, the family is happy. Best of wishes!