Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The New Breed

My mother was a stay-at-home mom. The kind who married, already dreaming of the kids she'd have one day, and held a job just to fill the days until her real dream, her real career (motherhood) finally came to fruition. I'm also a stay-at-home mom, but of the new breed. The kind with degrees hanging on the wall (a bachelor's, a master's), a decade and a half of career behind me (polished, impressive resume carefully gathering dust in some drawer now), too much of a control freak to trust anyone else with the precious task of raising my children, with a full intention of returning to my career when the kids are in elementary school. I'm in a play group with ten other moms just like me. We are lawyers, teachers, graphic designers, realtors, all coping with that awkward transition from hectic working life to chaotic home life with a child.

Our first-born babies are all toddlers now, many are starting preschool, and some of us are wondering about that transition back into the working world. When is the right time? After we've had all the children we want, and the youngest is in kindergarten? Several of us are keeping our skills up by working on a freelance basis from home (squeezing in hours of work while kids nap, or relying on Uncle Pixar to occupy them for a brief stretch so we can get some work done). It seemed like a great plan: keep those skills current, have something to put on the resume during these years away from the full-time working world, and gather some references for when we return to work. Then the economy tanked, and the seamless plan went down with it.

Now I wonder if I've already waited too long. I quit my job four years ago, and my youngest will be starting preschool in the fall (as long as we can still afford it come September). My dream of finding a part-time job, in my field, once she starts school doesn't seem as simple as it once did, with all the news stories about hundreds of people turning out for a few job openings selling hot dogs at the ballpark.

Not that I've been out there beating the pavement in search of my dream part-time job. After all, I'm busy changing diapers, doing the potty training battle, trying to convince cranky children that they really do need to nap, cooking meals that never get eaten, cleaning up endless heaps of toys and spills, and doing my weight in laundry every other day. Oh, and cuddling with my sweet girls, soaking up every minute of affection they have to offer. I'm a realist, after all. I know that having two girls only a year and a half apart in age means those teen years will be rough ones. They adore me right now, and I want my fill of that to carry me through. Which is another reason I haven't been out there desperately searching for employment. How can I give this up? The mere thought of my 2-year-old starting preschool makes me weepy for when she was a one-year-old and school seemed forever away.

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