Monday, November 15, 2010

The Frustrations of Mom

Moms have a unique job. Most people in the workforce receive some type of monetary compensation and the fortunate ones receive some sort of benefits package that could include vacation and/or sick time. But the job of being a mother is probably one of the most under-appreciated, over-worked jobs. The only pay received after years of grueling hours with little sleep, is the joy of seeing children grow and mature into responsible adults. Ok, so there's that.

Besides the obvious lack of a salary or vacation time, moms don't get "sick days"- whether they work full-time, part-time, or stay at home with their children. When Mom is sick, life must carry on. This is not to say that all dads (or anyone else) get to wallow in their own self-pity, snuggled in their bed... but, seriously.
I have the utmost respect for single mothers who are forced to be "on call" 24/7. How in the world do you get time to yourself when caring for children without a partner? In 21 months without Jason, I never could figure that one out.

I think I convinced myself that I'd get a nice "break" when the deployment ended. Such delusions have probably fueled my frustrations. Even with a husband home, there is still work to be done- laundry, dishes, and homeschooling, plus unpacking, the chaos of the holidays, and multiple birthdays. Don't get me wrong, I am happy and I did choose this, but it's hard not to feel burned out.
When Matthew was a few weeks old, I returned to work full time. Long hours made it tough to care for a newborn and Jason stayed at home with Matthew. I commuted over an hour each way to get to work. Pumping breastmilk in a closet became second-nature. I longed to stay at home with my son. What I wasn't prepared for was the feelings that would come along with being a SAHM.

Gone was the sense of accomplishment I felt from bringing home a comfortable salary. Gone were my retirement package and benefits. It was tough to feel as though my coworkers looked down on me for quitting. I found fulfillment in starting a home-based business and volunteering through La Leche League and ICAN. I started attending births as a doula and looked forward to a career as a midwife. I though I finally got my groove back. And then life handed me two sets of twins.
Now my time is spread so thin that I have all but abandoned any of my personal interests outside of my children. My life is consumed with teaching, guiding, and caring for them. As it should be... But sometimes I start to wonder when I get to recharge my batteries? When will I have time to relish a good book or sleep in on a Saturday morning? Not to mention, will I ever go back to college? Will I ever have a career outside of the home again?

I wouldn't trade this life for anything. I love my family and I love the life we're living right now. But it's hard not to be jealous of perks like vacation time or free college tuition. It's tough not to notice that I don't have any adult conversation during the day.

Jason's block leave was wonderful, and we got a lot accomplished, but it's left me feeling a bit jealous. Sure, he was working 7 days a week in a combat zone all year. Nothing I've done can compare to that and that's not what I'm trying to say, so don't jump on me for being a bit envious. I'm certainly glad it wasn't me in Iraq, but ironically, Jason is glad he wasn't the one at home with the kids. That should tell you something.
Have you ever noticed that a lot of the most important jobs out there are completely under-compensated? Soldiers, teachers, firefighters, police officers... moms. Why are the most critical (and challenging) professions disregarded? Perhaps it is a result of our society placing more importance on things than people? Maybe the developer of the all-important computer chip trumps the teacher who is educating the future engineers that will create said computer chip? If we don't take care of those people who are taking care of us, how can society keep moving forward? We need soldiers, teachers, firefighters, police officers, and moms- right? So, why then, does it feel like what we do isn't important. I know it is. I suppose I just wish it felt that way sometimes.

What if, after a long night of caring for sick kids, you could collapse into bed knowing that you were appreciated and that you were important? Sometimes it just doesn't feel that way to me. What about you? Am I the only one feeling frustrated and in a funk right now?
Fellow moms, how do you do it? How do you find time for yourself? What fills you up? What recharges your batteries?
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