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The Balancing Act We All Act

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The most difficult part of my whole marriage is when both my husband and I are working. The schedule balance is filled with potential emotional landmines of “who has the more important project” and feeling stifled because we can’t do exactly what we want when we want.

Add to this already potentially bad power-struggle the belief my husband has – that I can somehow get copious, high-quality amounts of work done when the kids are home. He has every right to think so because for most of my working-from-a-home-office career, I have been doing just that. Most of you know the story about having a crawling baby grabbing my leg while feeding the other baby in one arm and typing with one hand on the computer keyboard to get a project done. (and crying, because that was the worst day of my career)

I’m a little bit older now, and I just don’t have that kind of energy anymore. You just cannot tune out kids the way you tune out babies when they babble. But basically, I do a lot more strategy now and it requires my train of thought not be interrupted by random kiddie catfights.

The thing is, my husband has never been able to concentrate with the girls in the house. It’s one of the main reasons we have a brick and mortar location. It allows him to work in peace and silence.

So, the fact that he thinks I don’t rate the same peace and silence just because I’ve done it the other way in the past is entirely unacceptable to me. But it’s tough to show that I need the peace and silence to concentrate when he has seen me, for years, accomplish so much with the kids under my feet. It almost sounds, to him, like I’m just being a spoil-sport and wanting what he has just because he has it.

It’s not about deserving an office or deserving peace and quiet. It’s about efficiency and good parenting. I would like to be a parent to my children when I’m home, and working on work when I’m not. I would like a more “normal” working environment because I could get things done twice as fast and maybe, just maybe, leave work at work once in a while instead of having to think about it 24/7 because the office is right there waiting for me to be productive and impressive and amazing.

So it’s a little rough right now trying to get schedules in place. Especially this time, because my husband has been doing his thing and I’ve been a stay-at-home-and-hating-it mommy for almost a year now. Maybe a little over a year. It’s kind of a blur because of the total dislike I have for the whole thing. I have the utmost respect for SAHMs who love it, but man, this is just SO not my bag. My sense of self is tied up heavily in my own accomplishments, and as much as I love my kids and spend time with them and talk to them and teach them, it just does not trip my trigger the way having a Fortune 500 company on my resume does.

I don’t know why.

I do know if I devoted myself entirely to my kids and not my own growth that I feel I would be a stagnant mother and would run out of stories and interests pretty quickly. I do think I’m showing my children that life is about learning no matter how old you are and life is about having personal freedom as well as choosing your responsibilities and excelling at what you choose to do. I do not want to raise daughters who think their sole purpose in life is to be mothers. I don’t have a problem with anyone else choosing that life path, it’s just not my choice of life path.

So I have to figure out how this all balances and then present my husband with a solution that will work for both of us. I’m not sure why this can’t happen as a conversation and why we can’t schedule a meeting and set things up in a way that will be a process, followed by both of us. Maybe it can be done that way and I just haven’t found the correct way to broach the subject.

We shall see.

I swear, if nothing else my life is always interesting. Thank goodness I dig interesting.

Any suggestions? We already use Google Calendar to keep our meetings, etc. separate as well as having the calendar for the kids’ activities and school stuff. (Oh, that reminds me, I have to put all the days off for the school year into the Google Calendar. Kill me now. It would be a kindness.) So it’s all in there, I just need to figure out how we can play fair when someone adds something to the calendar and the other person doesn’t see it right away and then schedules something verbally and a disagreement ensues.

Because if I don’t see the entries and ask a question, I assume he remembers his calendar enough that he can tell me. Maybe it’s me who needs to be more cognizant of the calendar rather than verbal communication when it comes to the schedule.

Huh.

6 thoughts on “The Balancing Act We All Act

  1. I definitely agree with Dawn for the “mommy’s helper” thing, if you’re comfortable with it. There’s someone there to keep the peace…but you’re there too (which essentially means you don’t have to pay said person as much). I’ve been a “mommy’s helper” before, and really it’s easier for everyone. The kids tend to not be anxious by the absence of a parent, and the parent doesn’t have to be constantly interrupted.

    If that’s not your thing, I’d just try to be upfront with your hubby. Tell him just because you’re at home does NOT mean you’re available to handle every kid issue. Treat your work at home job like an out of the home job. Schedule yourself a time to start, a lunch break, and a time to finish. Essentially…to you and your family you are NOT home (even though you really are). Everything needs to run as if you weren’t really there.

  2. My only comment is I love you, and I cry as I write this, because this is SO TRUE, and SO THE PLACE I’m IN right now, and I love that I’m not the only woman on Earth who doesn’t like being a stay at home mom and needs to do things FOR ME to be happy.

    I also do it to teach them to be more than mothers, and that it’s okay not to fit the mold, and take care of yourself the way you need to, while still taking care of others…. but I still struggle with the ‘working moms’ guilt’ bit about not wanting to smother myself in 100 of my own babies all day long and do nothing else. It’s just not for me, and why on Earth I let myself feel bad about that is beyond me, but I still do…

    I’m rambling, and I don’t even know what to say…. but this says so much more than you may realize (or maybe you realize exactly what it says– and knowing you, you sure do). I can never get my words to work as well as people like you can… that’s not where my talents are.

    But thanks for being a mommy and a woman like me, thanks for not fitting the mold, for having the same communication issues with your husband as I do, and for being brave enough to share it. This is the first time I’ve read it, and as I mentioned, I can’t stop crying… and I love you for making me feel like I’m not alone for the first time in a very long time.

  3. Thank you for an extremely honest post. I would imagine a lot of women feel this way but won’t admit it because it could sound like they don’t love their kids. I know that’s completely not true. But I think some women fear that would be the perception. It takes a lot to say what you said … and more importantly, to admit it to yourself and to act on it.

    As an aside, isn’t it interesting how many women who work outside the home think we have it so easy because we get to “stay home and work while we take care of the kids?”

    As far as the calendar situation — if you both agreed to use the calendar, I would say yes, anything on the calendar should override verbal communication.

    Maybe set aside a time of day (in the morning or at dinner) where you both review the calendar for discrepancies and potential conflicts? That way the calendar will never be more than one day out-of-date.

    Also, budget and availability permitting, perhaps look into hiring a mommy’s helper/sitter, who can keep the kids out of your hair while you work in an office at home.

    I definitely sympathize with how hard it is to concentrate with toddlers interrupting every few minutes!
    As far as your

    1. The in-home helper is a REALLY good idea– maybe a good place to look is COD, or Moraine Valley for people interested in teaching or child development work that can add this to their resume and do it in the hours they’re not in class.

      If you had the space, you could even offer an au pair type gig, though I know that’s asking a lot.

      But still, a little cash goes a long way when you’re a student, and when paired with helpful experience like this that can help with their career, you may just have a winning option! Good idea! Let us know if you try it, so we can try it next! 🙂

  4. I can’t agree more with the comments. You make us realize that we are not the only ones. We all tend to feel this way but so many of us. Me included. Don’t share it and so we think we are alone in the world.

    Although my kids are older and in school now. I was totally feeling this way this summer. It was so hard to feel like a good mom while trying to work from home and entertain the kids. At times I felt like a totally crappy mom and was inviouse that my husband could leave and go to work and I was here.

    I even considered getting a job that I could just leave at the end of the day and then come home. But then my daughter would be in daycare all day long while I was working. At least now I can work, play, work, play.

    Totally love the mommy helper idea..

    Thanks again.

  5. Great post – I think there are a lot of SAHM’s feeling the way you do.
    I have been working from my home for 20 years running a home daycare and it just hit me I am a SAHM also – never thought of it that way.
    I work, clean, cook, chaufer (sp?), do laundry and many other things throughout my day. I used to get mad at the moms who would think that just because I work from home I was available to do the volunteer junk at school. I have done my share in my time believe me and I enjoyed it.
    Calendar- we use the Google option as well – the only difference is when we add to it we email the addition to each other just to confirm – this has helped alot in the conflict of appts.
    When working at home – maybe try no tv until you have to really spend some working time and make it the only time tv is on – the kids will look forward to that time for a fun movie or cartoon and you can get some work done maybe. Just a thought.

    A mommy helper is a great idea as well.

    I would just tell your husband you need to sit and work this out as well.

    Good Luck

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