Tuesday, February 28, 2012

SAHM-hood: One Year Later

I went on maternity leave one year ago, and I didn’t go back to work. It’s been a year since I –
… stared at cubicle walls
… attended a team meeting
… sat in rush hour traffic
… frantically scribbled an idea out on a white board
… created a presentation with my mad Power Point skills
… shot the shit with a co-worker.

I left that glamorous life behind, traded in my business slacks for yoga pants, and became a stay-at-home-mom. After a year on my new mommy-job, I can honestly say it’s a lot harder than my corporate job, and it’s not at all what I thought it would be. I love being home with Quinn, but there are some things I miss about my old job.

For example, I never had to touch poop in my old job. Another person’s poop never came anywhere near me. Ever. Not even on accident.

I was also able to go to the bathroom without someone standing outside the door and crying. A few times, someone would try to have a conversation with me, mid-stream, from the next stall, which was weird and a little distracting, but that didn’t happen very often.

And occasionally someone might stop me in the hall on the way to the bathroom and trap me in a long conversation about something very important to them, and I would have to perform a very subtle pee-pee dance. Now, I often hold it FOR-EVER because I can’t get Quinn to sleep. The swaying back and forth is more to keep me from peeing my pants than to rock the baby.

All alone in my cubicle, if I occasionally took a short break to peruse Facebook, it wasn’t a big deal. The boss never stood over my shoulder, and he wouldn’t have minded anyway. Now, the boss always busts me. Every time I open my laptop, Quinn decides he needs me right at that moment, despite the fact that he was playing quietly right next to me just seconds before.

I never endured bodily harm at the office. No one ever bit me, hit me, kicked me in the throat, pulled my hair, or poked me in the eye. There were definitely pride-swallowing moments, but no one ever smeared food on me while I crawled on my hands and knees to clean up the food they had dropped. Now all of this occurs daily.  

In my old job, I enjoyed the freedom of a flexible schedule. No one cared when I came in or when I left. I could take a long lunch – or even an hour in the middle of the afternoon – to run a couple errands, and that was perfectly acceptable. Now? Hell no! There’s no more “stepping out real quick” to run to Target. I run my errands with Q in tow, and they take twice as long and I accomplish half as much.

Of course, I was a slave to my Outlook calendar, and I attended a zillion pointless meetings that I didn’t want to attend. I often had to get in early and work late to finish a big project. But for the most part, I was in charge of my time. I could eat, go to the bathroom, and come and go whenever I wanted. I took my morning shower for granted.

I received validation in my old job. I kind of rocked at it. Okay, I totally rocked at it. There were defined goals and project plans. My ideas were supported. Performance evaluations and casual feedback confirmed my bass-assness. I was good at that job, and that was good for my self-esteem.

Now, I have no f**king clue I’m doing.

I know that work is work. That’s why they call it that. But it was a game I knew how to play. Even when the shit hit the fan and I came home stressed and angry, I knew it was temporary and everything would be fine. But as a SAHM, nothing is familiar. I don’t know how to “play” it because there is no game. The stress doesn’t feel temporary.

Before, when I went to the gym or out with my girlfriends – or, God-forbid, sat and read a book for thirty minutes – I did so guilt-free. After working 40+ hours a week and dealing with “corporate bullshit,” I felt I had earned that me-time and not a soul disagreed with me. Now when I want to do those things, the guilt is extreme. I have to find someone to watch Quinn, which means calling in a favor, even if that person is the Hubs. Me-time now comes with worry and anxiety and feeling like I owe someone something.

It seems there’s more freedom in being a corporate slave than there is in being a SAHM.

But after all that ranting, I can’t imagine going to work every day and leaving Quinn behind. I don’t want to put him in daycare or leave him with a sitter. Just the thought of it breaks my heart. As much as I complain and stress out about being a SAHM, I know it’s the right job for me.

For now, anyway.