These past few weeks that I’ve spent at home with my daughter, I’ve been privy to a world I always knew existed but had never personally experienced and, truth be told, really didn’t expect to ever experience (unless, in some perfect world in which I’ve yet to live, I meet a man I can depend upon). I have always worked to support myself, and now that I have my daughter, I have been working to support her, as well. This is just my life, and I embrace it for what it is.
But a few weeks ago, when I lost my job, I was suddenly thrust into a world in which many of my best friends have lived for quite some time. I had become a stay-at-home mom. Now, you may not believe it, but there are actually women out there who wake in the morning and are able to decide for themselves (without being told by someone else) how to spend their days. From what I’ve learned thus far, that’s a pretty cool situation—to be calling the shots in your life—and for the past few weeks, I’ve been making my own choices right along with them. What have I been doing, you ask?
Well, despite my reluctance to wear a bathing suit in public, I decided to join my girlfriends and their kids at the pool. I mean, we’re all mothers, right? I can’t be the only one who has lost the figure I had at 18! Who knew people actually did this every day? It’s hot as hell outside, and I’ve been slaving at a job when I could be flopping around in the baby pool with my kid or relaxing poolside with a bottle of water and a bag of goldfish? I could really get used to this! So yes, Kensie and I have spent a lot of time at the pool. I’ve met many moms I barely knew because I was working or not at all, have chatted about life as a mom and a little bit about the outside world (though I quickly realized that, for the most part, talk is relegated to family affairs: kids, husbands, having more kids, household repairs, napping, cooking, etc.). I have watched, listened, learned, and garnered a huge amount of respect for stay-at-home moms and this lifestyle I have never before understood or been a part of.
I’ve gone to lunch with friends and had early dinners out with family. I’ve spent time at friends’ houses for play dates and a little girl talk. I enjoyed a girls’ weekend after which I didn’t have to rush home Sunday morning to prepare for work on Monday. I took Kensie to the bowling alley (the one we used to go to when I was growing up is actually still around, though it’s still kind of dirty and hasn’t changed much if at all). Did you know that they actually have these little bumpers that pop up along the lanes so kids can bowl and not hit the gutter every single time? I didn’t even know they had special days just for kids!
I am truly amazed at this whole other lifestyle that exists while the rest of the world is working. I just received an e-mail from this Website to which I subscribe called MomsRising.org. It spoke on the topic of work/life balance. The former CEO of GE, Jack Welch, stated in a recent Wall Street Journal article that there's "no such thing as work-life balance." The women of MomsRising.org were outraged by this and argued that corporations should implement policies in the workplace that “enable women to advance to the top in their careers and also take care of their families.” As a single working mom (well, most of the time), I would also like to know the reason why companies do not implement more family-friendly policies and why more women, especially mothers, are overlooked for positions for which they are fully qualified and would be crucial in advancing the growth of that company.
In an ideal world, I’d be able to make the decisions that are best for my family without corporate policies getting in my way. As a working mom, I want the option to be able to stay at home with my daughter when she needs me without feeling guilty or pressure about possibly losing my job. I’d appreciate flexible work hours and paid family leave. I’d like to have more than 10 vacation days a year (the U.S. is way behind other countries on this one). I’d like the option of making the decisions for my family without anti-family corporate policy getting in the way.
I’m not sure if I’m meant to be a stay-at-home mom. Maybe someday when I’m blessed enough to have more children. These past few weeks with my daughter have been fabulous, and I am so grateful to have this time with her that I normally wouldn’t have had. I’m lucky to have had so much time with my girlfriends and the chance to get to know their kids better. It makes me so happy to see Makensie play with my best friends’ kids and have such a good time with her mommy sitting close-by to comfort her. I know I will miss all of this when I go back to work. I can only hope that the next job I get will be flexible enough that I don’t think every day about what I’m missing as my daughter is being raised by others while I’m working hard to make sure she is well taken care of. I hope I am a strong enough person to appreciate the blessings I’ve been given and look to the future, to the possibility that I will someday meet someone who can be my partner in life and allow me the freedom I so crave to spend more time with my family and friends, and do more for myself and my soul than I am able to now. For now, I’m just happy to be looking down at this beautiful blonde kid smiling back up at me as she “teaches” me how to properly use a baby monitor.
Bloggers’ Note: As this blog entry “went to press,” I was offered a job. I will soon be a single working mother again. I feel relieved yet sad all rolled up in one.