The happy medium

Freelancing is hard work. I like the variety of it, the ways that it has forced me to grow, but I am constantly searching for my next job — networking, sending emails, feeling desperate. I had planned to find a part-time job after having Henry, but good part-time jobs are very hard to find. Impossible, so far.

Even before having kids, I knew that I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. No judgement. I just knew that I wouldn’t be a great one. I liked my career, and I knew that I would miss having work that both challenged me and made me feel capable. But I also felt that having a full-time job and raising kids would be a lot — maybe too much — to juggle.

I’ve had little freelance work the past few weeks, and so it has felt more like I’m a stay-at-home mom. I am really missing work and adult companionship. And of course there is guilt with that. My mom worked when I was growing up, but she always suggested that she would have preferred to stay home. And I remember some of the women at our wedding shower saying how nice it was that I was marrying an engineer, implying that I would be able to stay home with the kids. There was this assumption that oh, of course I would want to stay home if I could. So even though most of my friends work, and even though no one has told me that I should stay home, I still wonder what is wrong with me that I can’t be happy at home. This is supposed to be the dream! Clearly, not my dream.

Given the dearth of part-time jobs, that leaves full time. There’s a catch, of course. We live in suburbia, far from most of the jobs that I would like to have. A 40-hour job would mean more than 50 hours away from home because of commuting. But, in suburbia, we are able to live on one salary, a very lucky situation. If we move into the city to cut my commute, we will need two incomes. Working is no longer optional.

Nothing is happening yet. I am not ready to put our family through such a dramatic shift, and I continue to foolishly hope that more freelance work will come my way. And I stew. Why does our society work this way? Many of the stay-at-home moms that I know would like to work part time. Many of the parents I know who work full time are overwhelmed and would be happy to cut back to 30 or 35 hours a week. A lot of us seem to want the same thing, a job that gives us some balance in our lives, and yet that doesn’t exist. (If it does, please let me know!)

2 thoughts on “The happy medium

  1. I spend everyday thinking of this same dilemma. We’re fortunate to have the income we do and the ability for one salary to pay the lot.

    But really, I’m unfulfilled as a stay-at-home-mom when it comes to intellectual stimulation and find myself dreaming of a part-time teaching job. I’ve done a little part time working, but I quickly realized I’m not a fan of teaching at the college level. My dream job is one so many stay-at-home-moms want, too. The one where you work part time and blissfully leave work at just after lunch to pick up the kids and frolic to the park.

    Dreams. They’re something. Hah. I hope your work picks up and there is more adult interaction headed your way. I crave it. Sometimes feels like an impossible dichotomy.

  2. There is no solution… just the struggle… I am also doing “consulting” supposedly to have more free time to spend with the kid during the summer, etc., and I’ve had the busiest summer ever…. Finding last minute summer camps right and left, getting babysitters, friends to help me… it hasn’t been fun. But I just can’t seem to say no to the projects, I just wished these projects didn’t all have an August deadline! It’s never easy, working as a mother is never easy… but not working is also no easy… I think it is just the mothering that is the very, extremely difficult job.

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