Learning to Love It

I don't use a typewriterI first went out on my own as a full-time freelance writer over 8 years ago. I was pushed to the brink by a soul-sucking corporate job and wanted nothing more than to be my own boss, be in charge of my own time. But the funny thing is, I would still show up to my office (which I rented with a few other self-employed people) every day at 8:30 or 9 a.m. and stay till 5 or 5:30. Regardless of whether I had 8 hours of work to do or not.

Sure, you could say I had a good work ethic, and certainly my time and effort in the beginning did pay off. But why was I still keeping the hours and the confining schedule I’d resisted so much as an employee?

Another freelancer acquaintance wondered why I didn’t take off on sunny days to go to the park or have lunch with a friend, or leave work early on Fridays just because I could. “I hope you eventually learn to enjoy the perks of self-employment,” she told me.

But I was afraid. Afraid of being labeled a slacker. Afraid of becoming a failure. Afraid of what other people would think. Afraid I’d slide down a slippery slope and find myself sitting on the couch eating Ben & Jerry’s in my bathrobe and watching reruns of “The Golden Girls” every day.

The same could be said of my transition to full-time stay-at-home mom/part-time work-at-home mom when my first child was born. (How I define myself depends on the week and my workload.) When I was a brand-new mom, I rarely allowed myself to lounge around in my PJs, watch daytime TV, or even go shopping or to the gym during the day. Everyone else was at work, I thought. And MY work was now taking care of this tiny person. I’m damn sure not going to treat this as an extended personal day. People will think I’m a slacker!

As if ANYONE would use the term “slacker” to define someone who devoted her time, energy, and breasts to her baby 24 hours a day. Nursing him around the clock, changing diapers, doing laundry, taking him to countless doctor’s appointments, CHARTING HIS BOWEL MOVEMENTS, for pete’s sake! I was working harder than I ever had in corporate America, that’s for sure. And with no lunch breaks or sick days!

It took me awhile -- 2 kids and 4 years, to be exact -- but I’ve loosened up. Some days I stay in my pajamas (or yoga pants) all day. Some days we have pancakes for lunch. I usually work while my (second) baby is napping, but if it’s been a rough day I may take a nap myself or zone out on the couch watching “Oprah.” I’ll take the kids to the mall on a Friday morning, spend my older son’s preschool time reading blogs, or have a picnic on a Tuesday simply because it’s nice out.

I’ve learned to enjoy the perks of the life I’ve chosen. I don’t worry so much about whether other people will think I’m a slacker. I wish I had TIME to be a slacker! What was the biggest adjustment to motherhood for you?

"kidney" - the leftover loot from Halloween; apparently out of sight ISN'T out of mind

"ah-pane" - those things that fly overhead several times day; and every single plane has to be noticed and commented on

"fie" - what he calls his pacifier. Get it? Paci-FIE-r.


It's Not Like a Cat said...

My biggest adjustment to motherhood was (and is) being invisible to "working" people. I'm now just a nameless mom w/ a stroller. I feel like I don't really exist on the same plane as a person with a paying job. Let's face it, you go to a party and someone says, "And what do you do?" as soon as you say, "I'm a stay-at-home mom" they glaze over and have nothing more to ask. Or if you mention you're also a freelance writer or editor, they say, "Of course, since you have lots of free time when the kids nap or after they go to bed." (Yes. Of course. Because I am chock-full of sharp mental energy at 9:30 P.M. when the baby is mysteriously wide-awake and I still haven't e

My workdays (as a SAHM) are different now than they were when I had a paying corporate job, but they are still workdays. With a different rhythm to them, a crazy-variation of pace between sweet slow times and the madness of just-before-dinner.

Mostly, I can appreciate it, though I do like a more predictable pace to my days. :)

Great post, BTW! Especially since yesterday I got caught in TWO SEPARATE DISCUSSIONS (online) about whether SAHMs are slobby slackers (and don't even get me started on the woman who said that moms who claim to have PPD are probably just lazy and too selfish to have children).

angie mizzell said...

My mom took my oldest for the weekend (surprise call this morning... I took her up on it!) and I thought it would give me more time to work on things this afternoon while the baby was napping. But I found myself sitting on the couch, eating leftover pizza and reading a book. Almost three hours of quiet (tired baby) and I have to say, it was nothing short of fabulous.

Wulfa said...

My biggest adjustment was not having a pre-set schedule. I thrive on day planners and busy days, and so suddenly staying at home all day with a baby was incredibly disconcerting. The second child wasn't much better: my husband was away for Army training and so we stayed in the house all day, going on small outings to preserve my sanity.

Now I've found my rhythm as a mother of two, full-time college student, and wife to a full-time college student and ROTC cadet. Most weeks I feel as if I'm about to go crazy, but I love the insanity, and I hope my kids will value higher education as they witness their parents fighting to finish college.

P.S. Because my husband and I maintain opposite class schedules one of us is always home with the kids; this places me in-between the SAHM and working mother status, and it's weird. I once tried a MOPS group and didn't fit in at all ... oh well:)

Mom2Miles said...

JM - good point about being "invisible." I've definitely felt that.

Angie - sounds like HEAVEN!!

Wulfa - I know what you mean about the schedule. Some days it kills me being so open-ended and fluid. And I also feel like I don't fit into a neat SAHM or working mom mold, since I'm somewhere in between.

Neena said...

I have always been fairly similar to you - especially with the mothering thing. I never wanted to be labeled or judged as the slacker mom (let's face it - we all judge moms at some point), but I recently learned that I'd rather just be me than live up to any kind of mothering image. And, if that means yoga pants or cereal in the living room I'm happy to oblige.

Shannon @ AnchorMommy said...

Yep, I have those yoga pants days too. Today, when my boy wouldn't stop bugging me to turn on a TV show for him, I caved. I put the show on, and stood in the kitchen, eating, reading a book and rocking the baby until the show was over. And I didn't kick myself that he'd already watched a bunch of TV earlier in the day. I needed the break, so I took it!

The biggest adjustment for me is something I'm still struggling with -- the days when we have nowhere to go! Even if it's just a walk around the block or a trip to the grocery store, I feel like we have to get out of the house or we'll all go nuts.

Loukia said...

I feel guilty going to work some days, like this morning, my 2 year old had a hard time letting me go. It's so hard sometimes...

Melissa said...

I needed to read this post! I have an 8 week old son at home and am struggling with the transition to being a sahm! I am half way through my masters and teaching license. I took this semester off and really am not enjoying being home all day with no sense of purpose except a screaming infant. Its j
Hard to have pajama days that aren't of my choosing...i just can't seem to manage getting dressed. Thanks for this!

Mom2Miles said...

Thanks, Melissa! Glad you found me. It's not easy, that's for sure. But w/ an 8-week-old you've barely had time to adjust to being a mom! Hang in there. :)

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