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,