In our current tour, I decided I was going stir crazy as a stay at home mom, after 12+years with occasional dabbling in part time and temp positions, and got a full time job at a credit union. We’d been living in the Navy Lodge for about 4 weeks at the time of the interview. I didn’t even have anything to wear, so had to find something on the fly from the exchange. I got the job and started working about a month after we settled into our off base home in a foreign country.
I loved the job…I felt validated in a way I couldn’t get at home from my duties with Littles, tending house and paying bills. The truth is, the only time I felt noticed at home was when someone was hungry or needed a diaper change. Even my husband came home (when he wasn’t underway or doing 15hr days for some exercise or another) and deposited his personal effects wherever he felt there was space, which most often wasn’t where I had made space for it! I felt completely unnoticed and unappreciated, and sought a job to try and fill that gap. At work, I was learning something new, interacting regularly with adults, and earning a little paycheck to add to the family pot! I was elated. I was an important part of a team that actually NEEDED me once I was trained up and set on my own to help the members. I was good with the members and happy to be there. And I felt accepted immediately by the small staff there.
Enter our first deployment since having 4 kids. Solo parenting of that size brood with a full time job crushed me. I hate to admit it, because I have always considered myself pretty damn capable. Hats off to you folks who can do it! While I still loved the job and did not ever dread going to work, I was written up, for the first time EVER since starting working at age 14, for failing to comply with attendance policy, or some other corporate mumbo jumbo that meant I was undependable. WTF?!? Dependable is my middle name. Seriously.
I recognized that I was in over my head. The Littles were in day care for 10+ hours a day, my “off” days were spent grocery shopping, bill paying, dealing with my landlord and house issues, etc. but NOT relaxing. I felt like I’d lost control. So, during my counseling (scolding) about using the sick days I’d earned, I asked to be switched to part time. Thankfully, the management was great and scheduling allowed for the switch, which gave me renewed hope. Unfortunately, that still wasn’t quite the answer. The Littles were still at daycare 10+ hours a few days a week and I still wasn’t really enjoying my days off. I felt guilty. I felt overwhelmed. And I was becoming more and more exhausted and irritable. So I quit. I cried when I talked to management about it because I REALLY enjoyed the job, the work environment and my coworkers. I truly couldn’t have asked for a much better situation at a job. So I was sad to leave it, but felt like it was necessary.
So here I am, once again a SAHM. I hoped that having tasted the work force again and sampling it in its different iterations, that I would be so happy to get back to being more free in my schedule and having all sorts of time on my hands. But not so lucky. I am back to seeking validation. Back to kinda feeling trapped in my days. Back to being faced with neglecting my inner extrovert…I’m sure it’s probably totally something in ME, my psyche…I dunno. Maybe I’m not comfortable with me. Maybe I lack confidence and thus I seek validation or reinforcement from outside sources. I LOVE my kids more than life itself, but dang it, I really don’t want to be home all day every day with them. And I admit, I suck at exploring this country with 4 kids in tow. I am intimidated by all the preparation, the baggage, skipping naps and inevitable meltdowns. I should get over that, as it would probably help get me out more. But for now, here I am, at home and struggling. Still trying to find balance.
What do YOU do for sanity? Do you work outside the home or stay home with kiddos? Tell me your stories, and PLEASE share your coping strategies.
Cheers and love,
Good for you for getting out and trying, we don’t have kids but due to my health and some stress I took 5 months off after we PCSed to Lemoore from the East Coast. I went absolutely stir crazy and couldn’t do it anymore. I felt like I had no purpose even though I was volunteering 4 days a week. You may want to look into doing that! I really felt fulfilled but I am highly competitive and needed to go back Into the corporate world so I felt important! Good luck! You have the hardest job in the world with those littles!
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Thanks for your words, Jacqueline! I totally get you on the need to feel important….and corporate jobs in Lemoore are not many to come by! We just came from there and have spent 9 of our 15 married years there! I miss it. I actually do volunteer twice a week right now, since I stopped working. I have been with NMCRS for years, as duty stations allowed. In fact, standby for my next post…it’s topic is volunteering! -C
Hi Christine, my response isn’t so much advice on how to cope with your feelings, but mire of a “I hear you, you are not alone and one day, sooner than you think, you will have the time to once again pursue a career.” We started our family late -I was 37 and 40 when I had our two boys. When my husband retired and his new job moved us out of state (and away from family) we decided I would stay home. I was nervous and happy at the same time. Being a SAHM is tough. On especially challenging days I would joke with my other SAHM’s that I used to have execs who listened to my every word and now I can’t even get a 2 and 4 year old to listen to “No!” Fast forward to today, the boys are 11 and 13 and I have re-entered the workforce, part-time, as a grant writer. I truly enjoy it, but can’t help and think WHERE I would have been had I not stopped working. I have friends who had children, kept working and are now Vice Presidents, executive directors, CFOs, and here I am, valued for what I do, but starting at the bottom…at 50. However, e having survived what you are currently going through and then having to start over, I can say the following – I don’t regret staying at home for one minute. Was it tough? Hell yeah it was. Did I struggle with self esteem? At times, definitely. But I know (having worked for 2 years with my oldest) that being able to stay at home with a sick baby, taking them to the zoo/park, museum with no crowds, painting at 9 a.m. on a Monday morning or reading story after endless story at nap time are memories I will treasure always. You are a wonder Christine-you are such a talented artist (the quilted piece I won at our neighborhood Christmas party is still my favorite win of all time!), you are a go getter, you make people feel comfortable, and you are passionate about the people and things you love. You’ve heard this before, “The days are long, but the years are short.” Be kind to yourself – you are the most qualified and best person to be doing the job you’re doing now. You starting this blog? AMAZING. Some of us think about doing something like this ….you DID IT! You’re an inspiration. Thank you for keeping the home fires burning for your family and thanks for lighting a fire for the rest of us. ❤️
Aw, thanks Melissa! We miss you guys! One of my family’s challenges living overseas in a foreign speaking country is that we don’t have peer kids around to just run down the street and play with. (Or quilt with!!). Can you believe I started over TWICE with the second batch!? Teehee. I appreciate your support. -C
I think most women “at our age” are trying to find this balance of work and family- fulfilling our family’s needs but not ignoring our own. I think it was brave for you to try different routines and brave of you to admit the reality of such a schedule and change your mind. It may not seem close but someday YOU ARE GOING TO HAVE MORE TIME. Someday your kids will be more self-sufficient and you will have the energy to pursue your passions. Meanwhile- keep trying, find ways to volunteer, be a leader in your community, look for opportunities to work from home and allow yourself some sacred time that is YOURS. You are a talented women and I know you will find your niche. 🙂
Thanks, chica! I definitely struggle finding that balance. I haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I feel like it’s better now than is was 6 months ago, so that’s an improvement! I was way too stressed while working, even part time. So I am trying to be kinder to ME and identify when I’m overwhelming myself, learning boundaries. Hahaha….always learning! -C