Those of us who paid attention in Sunday School learned that Satan was originally an angel, chilling with the Big Man in Heaven. Unfortunately, a little thing called pride got in his way; he believed that he should rule the roost rather than be a humble servant of God, so he decided he would de-throne the King. The result: Satan was booted out of Heaven and became a real pain in the ass.
This story is significant to me right now for a few reasons: I’m currently engaged in the Battle O’ Toddler with my son and I pretty much blame myself for the whole shebang. Let me explain…
A few months ago, I was the blissfully unaware Mama who would nod in faux understanding when other parents would tell me stories of their completely-outta-control kids. While I certainly empathized with them, I didn’t have much experience with The Biter or The Tantrum Thrower or even The No-er. But that was then and this is now. And now, my son is being lured by Satan himself and I fear the Prince of Darkness is winning.
I know that young kids don’t have the emotional wherewithal to share their feelings, so when Brady lashes out because we have to say goodbye to Gramma and Pap, I get it. When he throws a handful of blocks because I have to nurse his sister instead of build a tower with him, it makes sense. It does not, however, jive when one second he’s giving me a hug and the next he’s punching me in the face. Literally, a balled-up toddler fist came in direct contact with my temple. I miss the enthusiastic, spontaneous affection; I can do without the boxing lessons. The worst part of it all is that there was no indication that Brady was going to become this challenging, defiant, mini-Manny Pacquiaco. He just woke up one morning and BAM! that was it. I’m just really, really sad. I miss my boy.
I don’t consider myself to be a crier, but cry I have. All week. I realize all parents struggle with the Battle O’Toddler (and I’ve heard three is even worse than two…), but I tend to blame myself for Brady’s outbursts and I often think: “if I didn’t work, would it be any different? Would it be better?”
The rational answer is Nope. Kids will be kids.
The emotional answer is Maybe. Cue the tears.
Because I work from home, I find myself saying, “Hold on, buddy” or “Just give me one more minute to finish this…” an awful lot. I’ve talked to other gal pals and they’re going through the same thing. I know it’s not just me, yet I feel like I am the single worst mom in America right now. All because I work. I love my job and I love the opportunity it affords me to stay at home. On the surface, it sounds like the most perfect set-up ever. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find me, a self-loathing lady in a tug-of-war with her conscience because I have chosen to hold a job.
Since my son’s metamorphosis, several people have casually reminded me that, technically, I do not have to work. While I certainly appreciate the
implication reminder, no one seems to question the fact that my husband works a full-time job, is involved with every winter sport in some capacity, coaches baseball each spring, teaches summer school each summer, and organizes and hosts a nation-wide baseball clinic each winter. At this juncture you may be thinking he works all of those extra jobs because we need the money. Or you might be thinking that I could just quit my job and have him be the sole (monetary) provider. Or you may just be wondering what in the world my point is. My point is this: why is it that I, the MOM, am made to feel guilty (either through fault of my own or by means of others’ “reminders) for working?
I am not the only female on the planet who has kids and a job. The two can coexist. But there are still some who believe to have them both, one will suffer. I used pffft at that, but now, I’m really wondering: are my kids worse off because I work? And to add insult to injury, I admit it: I like working. I like making a contribution to the world of education and to my family. I am proud of the paychecks that I earn. And there it is: do I work because, like Satan, I think I do a good job? A better job than most? Maybe. Is the sole reason behind my professional endeavors pride? Probably. Is that a good enough reason to keep this full-time job? I have absolutely no idea.
I’ve actually been called a feminist because I speak my mind and I tend to wriggle out of the 1950s housewife stereotype as quickly as I can. Let it be noted, however, that if a woman chooses to stay at home with her children and make dinner in high heels and a starched apron (just trying to evoke that stereotype, ya know), that is her choice and I 100% respect and admire it. That’s the thing: regardless of what we decide, shouldn’t others–especially other women–just respect it? But that’s a story for another day, let’s keep this ship sailing…
I am at a crossroad here, one at which I am certain other women have found, are finding, and will find themselves. It’s hard. I feel like my parenting suffers because of my job, and there are days when my job suffers because of my parenting. And I honestly feel as though I would personally suffer if I wasn’t able to hang onto my profession, and then wouldn’t my family suffer as a result? Or am I being selfish? I don’t have the answers. I’m hoping one of you does, though. When you get a minute, could you just send a messenger pigeon with a simple note letting me know if I should keep my job or not? Until then, I’ll be here waiting, bathing in my guilt, dodging my kid’s right hook, and ultimately, falling from what I thought was a pretty perfect post here in Workfromhome Land.
Andrew Kovall (@AJKovall) says
You need to be happy and fulfilled – there is nothing selfish about that! If you love your job and left it, you would be unhappy because of that choice, too. If you are unhappy, nobody wins. You’re always going to question if you are doing the right thing or not, and that, my friend, is why your family won’t suffer too badly. Face it – you’re a good mom! Brady will snap out of it. At least that’s what I tell myself about my own demon spawn 🙂 (This if from Tricia, by the way!)
When my sister faced this same crossroads, I reminded her that working does more than make her feel good or bring in income: it models hard work, patience, perseverance, and all the things we want kids to learn. While I don’t have any of my own, I think it’s important for kids to learn it’s not all about them all of the time, too; that sometimes putting something or someone else first is healthy and betters the world in which we live (which I happen to think education does). My mom worked because she had to, but I can tell you I’ve learned more than any schooling from watching her in that process.
I am sure that doesn’t make you feel much better, but in your heart, trust that you are a fantastic mom. The very facts that you feel guilt or ambivalence about working, your heartache over watching your children struggle to figure out how to deal with troubling emotions and to learn to self-soothe, well, would a bad mom even care? For what it’s worth, my friend, I think you’re outstanding.
Oh, and given your and your husband’s intellectual capabilities and your own varying degrees of fervor, I am hardly surprised your children are willful. The trick will be you showing them how to harness it into the work ethic that has made you two the awesome people you are. Them seeing you and your hubby harness that passion on a regular basis – I can’t think of anything better!
This is Ryce by the way, just in case you were scratching your head, wondering who in the world was rambling here. Oh, and I second what Trish says, too! Just on girl’s opinion 😉
Thanks girls; I appreciate your advice AND your kind words. I think I just needed some reassurance (and kind words!) this week. You came through, as usual 😉 <3