I started my new job two weeks ago. I was thrilled when I was offered the position – work from home, no office hours required except for one day every 2 months (presumably to make sure you are still alive and they aren’t paying your dog for working). When I quit my old job I told everyone I was really happy because now I could spend more time with my son. Who could ask for more?
I’ve full-out cried three times in the last two weeks and had two panic attacks since I’ve started. Working at home is nothing like I imagined. What was going to be my son attending two half-days of preschool has now turned into 4, and the 5th day is spent playing alone. I feel like I’m no more present to him now than I was as a WOHM, except for I get to eat lunch with him every day. Two days ago I found myself slipping into despair – should I have kept my WOHM so at least he had great interaction with his then daycare provider? That was when I realized I was looking at things from the wrong point of view.
First, I had incorrect expectations based on incorrect information from a WAHM friend of mine. Expecting to work full time but having a 3-year-old attend preschool for only 6 hours a week was an unrealistic expectation. My son is used to full time day care, so even going 9-12 four days a week is a more-than-half cutback. This is an improvement. I get to control the healthy items he eats for breakfast and lunch, and I can finally have us eat the organic foods I’ve wanted us to eat (his old provider fed her kids her own food, so this is also an improvement). I get to spend an hour eating lunch with him every day. Granted, his FAVORITE cartoon (Micky Mouse!) is on from 12 to 1, but now I get to enjoy conversation about what HE likes! And my day pretty much ends when he wakes up at the end of naptime. I no longer have to wake him up at 6:15, he can sleep in until 8, which means he doesn’t go to bed at 6:45 anymore, but stays up until 8. That right there is 5 hours each night I get to spend with him instead of the hour and 45 minutes I used to get. Plus lunch makes 6. And lets face it – at three years old, he LOVES school. The day he has off he spends all day asking me to go to school, so I don’t feel bad sending him!
All this to say, so many times the mommy wars we deal out to each other put expectations on each other that are unrealistic. What works for one family just doesn’t work for another family. I felt like a failure not being able to play push-the-car-back-and-forth with my son all day long, when in reality I was more than tripling my time with my son while still providing for my family. I should be proud that my son can see where I work, and when he’s sick, I can still take care of him without having to call in, all while wearing my fuzzy slippers.