Contemplating a Return to Work

I found lots of pictures like this one--women juggling family life and work stuff. but you never see an old person up in the air as an item to juggle. Why is that? I guess with some creative photo-shopping, I could replace her bag with a box of Depends.

I found lots of pictures like this one–women juggling family life and work stuff. but you never see an old person up in the air as an item to juggle. Why is that? I guess with some creative photo-shopping, I could replace her bag with a box of Depends.

I need to start this blog entry with a disclaimer: This is not a Mommy-Wars piece. I don’t get the so-called mommy-wars. Breastfeed. Don’t breastfeed. Have an epidural or don’t. Homeschool or not. Really? Why do so many women care so deeply about someone else’s personal decisions? Men don’t do that. As I see it, every woman does what she believes to be best for herself and her own family. If we all feel confident in our own decisions, we won’t feel threatened by someone else’s. Yet, I’m painfully aware that when I write this piece about me just entertaining the idea of returning to work, some chick—perhaps a stay-at-home-mom or perhaps an employed mom—is going to feel insulted. I don’t care. My blog is about me, not you.

So, there. That’s my disclaimer. Now, here is my blog.

Yesterday, I saw a posting for a full-time job that genuinely interests me. I believe I am more than qualified for it, and I think I would enjoy the work. The salary and benefits are pretty decent. So, I might just apply for it.

Of course as I am contemplating filling out the application, my mind has already raced ahead to the job being offered and how I would manage to juggle home-life with my re-entry into the work force. Yes, you see how I just conveniently skipped right over the interview. Frankly, I’m not sure I could make it work.

Yes, I know women who work and have young children. Yes, I know women whose husbands work a 50+ hour. And I even know people who are caring for elderly family members in their homes.

However, I do not know any women who have a full-time job and have one child at home and one in school and a work-aholic husband with an hour-long commute and a mother-in-law with advanced dementia who lives with them. It sounds a little crazy for me to even attempt running such a circus since one of my main reasons for being a stay-at-home-mom is that I didn’t think I could do both parenthood and a career–and do them both well. When I thought of splitting my time between working and mothering, I imagined I’d be pretty half-ass at both. It would be unfair to my children and my colleagues–and mostly to me.

Yet, here I am reading a job description and thinking, “Oh, yeah, I could so do that.” Even after last night…

“What happened last night?” you ask.

Well, nothing terribly unusual. My husband was working late and so it was just the children, my mother-in-law and me at home. My mother-in-law went down for a nap at 4 pm, and I went into her room to wake her for supper at 6 pm. She was already awake and somewhat alert. She asked who I was—in Spanish. I answered in English.

I told her I was getting her up for supper, but first, I would take her to the bathroom. I got her into the bathroom, but when I lifted her from her chair onto the toilet, she yelled, “NO! Not you! Go away!” I told her I was the only one at home who could help her. She still pushed me away refusing my help and claiming she did not need to use the toilet. Of course, she didn’t need to use the toilet. She had already gone. I could smell the urine, and so I knew she had a full diaper that needed changing, but I wasn’t going to argue with her.

So, I told her that I would just take her into the kitchen for supper. “No! Not you!”

“Well, mom, do you want me to just put you back in bed then?”

“Yes.” Okay, I know it seems very wrong to put a person in a wet diaper back in bed. Plus, you are grimacing at me not insisting that she eat, right? But have you ever tried to change an ADULT who doesn’t want changing? Fed an ADULT who doesn’t want feeding? What else was I going to do with her? Leave her sitting in a wheelchair in a cold bathroom?

So, I wheeled her back into her room, and as I’m about to lift her, she says to me, “Where is Bob? I DEMAND to see my husband!”

I sat down on the bed, took her hand and said, “Mom, Bob is dead. He died over a year ago. You must have forgotten.”

“Oh, yes, I see. I forgot. I miss him.”

“Me, too. Do you want to talk about Bob?”

“No. Just don’t leave me. Promise you will never leave me.” And she had me in her super granny-gripe. Yeah, like I could leave. Ha.

So, we sat and talked. She asked me how old she is. I told her that I didn’t know for certain, but I thought she would be 90 in January. That seemed to sadden her. I told her that she shouldn’t be afraid to die. All living things eventually die and when her time comes, she shouldn’t be afraid.

In the meantime, my children who had been sitting unsupervised, eating their supper were now finished and running wild. ‘Cuz that’s what they do.

Eventually, I wheeled my mother-in-law into the kitchen and spoon-fed her soup, and then, we went back into her bathroom and I quickly did her night-time routine before putting her to bed. Phew, one down. Two to go.

And then, I put my children in the tub to start their bed-time routine. Once they were asleep, I went downstairs and cleaned the kitchen, which was a real mess not only from me cooking supper but from my daughter doing her homework. The homework involved glue. Lots of glue.

Nothing about this evening was unusual. This was actually an easy night at my house. Hey, I didn’t have to mop the bathroom floor or the kitchen floor!  Yet, everything about it was exhausting—physically and emotionally.

Am I going to be able to handle a night like this AFTER being in an office all day? Will being at the office feel like a relief because being at home is such a mind-numbing nightmare? I don’t know.

I do know I miss earning my own paycheck. I miss the intellectual stimulation one gets from grown-up problem solving.

Besides that, I have become a crappy stay-at-home-mom. I used to be the mom who took her kids somewhere fun every day—zoo, park, playground, farm, museum, etc. Now, I’m either at home taking care of my mother-in-law or I’m at the storage unit sorting through her things—and this is a big improvement over my previous job of emptying her house. So, I’m not the fun mom anymore. I’m the mom who mostly bitches about the messy house, and frankly, we could all use a break from her.

Still, how in the hell would I make it all work if I had a full-time job? And financially, would it be worth it? I’d need full time child-care and granny-care.  I don’t know. For someone who has yet to submit her résumé, I’m way ahead of myself.

Of course, I am a believer in that tired, old idiom “Where there is a will, there is a way,” and I do believe that if I pray about it and the job is offered to me, the other details will work themselves out. It’s a little silly to get worked up over something that has yet to happen.

But yes, I am contemplating full-time employment.



2 thoughts on “Contemplating a Return to Work

  1. Noelle

    Hello friend! Nothing wrong with contemplating… employment, that is… I am currently experiencing the not so balanced part-time job that I am severely underpaid for and realizing that I am unable to do both the mom thing and the work thing simultaneously and do them both WELL. Okay – maybe that’s a stretch. I am doing my darndest to do them both well and it is resulting in me staying up until 2 or 3 am about 3 nights a week. Not a good outcome for my own human self even if the outcomes are great for everyone else! My husband had off work for a week between jobs and I was envisioning my house being clean by the end of the week and me having extra time to get work done that would not have me up until all hours of the night… but it turns out, I was actually experiencing daily doses of disappointment of the things he wasn’t willing to do or didn’t do well or “right”. He took over several of my typical “mom” duties and while some of them turned out okay, some of them were disastrous and many things I ended up having to redo or finish in the wee hours as usual, despite him being home for the week. So, if I am working part-time and realizing that my husband is not able to do what I do and pinch-hit for me and do it well, then how will it turn out if I am working full time? I can hardly think it would be an improvement… I have 3 full time postings that I am been contemplating myself, and I’m actually leaning against it… mainly b/c if I am offered the job, I’d have a very HARD time turning it down and yet, I just don’t think the timing is right… for me…

  2. Lisa

    Good luck! It’s fun and exciting to examine the possibilities. Or maybe that’s just me. I love research. Praying for you!


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