Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Dangerously Close to Falling into a January Funk

January is starting off as it pretty much always does for me.  


We got back from North Carolina on Sunday.  It was warm there.  My husband didn't have to go to work there.  I had free babysitters at my disposal there.  I ate whatever I wanted there.  I drank wine each night and didn't feel guilty about it there.  I showered whenever I wanted and went shopping and enjoyed my kids and my family and playing Words with Friends.  

Don't get me wrong - there was ample family drama and on more than one occasion I yearned to come home.  But it is just different being away.  There were always people around.  There were always activities.  Each day was different from the day before.  As all vacations are, it was a break from real life and the stresses and guilt and obligations that come with it.  
Now I am home.  My husband went back to work this morning.  Braden is back at school.  And I am on Day 2 of Weight Watchers. 

This morning, I will do laundry.  I will attempt to clean the house.  Then I will bundle Casey up in the frigid cold weather and pick up Braden from school, where he will probably bitch slap me upon arrival.  I will bring them home and pray they nap (which is happening less and less these days).  I will try and fit in a Jillian Michaels workout video, which is my own personal 20 minutes of hell. Once the kids wake up, I will have to find some way to fill a few hours of time, which will either involve going stir crazy inside for the rest of the day or going to some indoor play area where both kids will inevitably come down with an illness within 48 hours.  Around 5:30, I will start the nightly process of calling my husband to ascertain when he will be coming home.  I will sigh when he says it will be past the kids' bedtime.  I will feed and bathe the kids.  I will clean up.  I will put the kids to bed and watch crappy tv and tomorrow it will start all over again. 

I'm just not into it all right now.  Not at all.  It's mundane and it's monotonous and it's stressful and it's lonely.   

My only saving grace right now is our upcoming trip to the Cayman Islands, at the end of January. THANK GOD FOR THAT!  

Until then, I think I'm going to turn on my happy light.  


  1. I truly have a new admiration for SAHMs after this past week and a half. I'm an attorney and took off last week so that the nanny could have a week off and my daughter and I could have a staycation together. I loved being with her and returning to work today was reminiscent of coming back from maternity leave, but whoa was last week exhausting! I hope your Cayman Island trip comes quickly!

  2. I fear I may be chastised for this comment, but I am going to do my best to not sound judgey, because that is not at all my intention.

    Here goes... why do you choose to stay at home? It seems as if you don't enjoy it. Every single thing you typed is the exact reason I work outside of the home (the need for something other than monotony, the need to be intellectually stimulated, etc.) I have great admiration for SAHMs, and I'm not at all trying to judge, I promise. But, it seems that so many SAHMs are not happy (and before people start commenting, I know that there are also plenty that are). As a work outside of the home mom, I more than understand the mommy guilt of not being there 24/7. But, I also have been able to see the rewards... I'm not saying you shouldn't stay at home. I guess I'm just asking why? I would agree that 2 Big Law parents would make parenting difficult. But, couldn't you look for a job outside of the home that maybe didn't have the same Big Law paycheck, but also didn't have the Big Law demands? Something where you truly worked just 40 hours a week? Where you could be away from your kids long enough to appreciate the time you spend with them?

    If this was an isolated post, I wouldn't comment. We all have our moments. But, it seems to be a theme lately for you...

    So, just an observation, and an honest question, no judgement intended...

  3. I lived on a farm in the triangle area of NC for a very long time. I miss it sometimes.

    Hope the happy light is shining bright! :)

  4. As a full-time working mom, I can't relate to much of what you're going through (I'm actually a little jealous that you get to spend so much time with your kids while they're so young), but I DO really feel for you (especially the stressful and lonely part). Have you considered hiring a mother's helper a few days a week to help lighten your load and give you a little more freedom during the week to look forward to?

  5. Thanks for the comments and words of encouragement! January is always hard for me. @2:50, I will answer your question, but let me do it in a post - probably this week or early next.

  6. I can totally relate.

    As I think I mentioned in an earlier post, I am currently torn between accepting my place at a School of Midwifery in New Zealand. I feel a need for a career and a career change, but having stayed at home for the last five and a half years and considering my strong maternal desire I am totally fragmented with the decision. I want to be available for my kids, share in the little moments, teach them and watch them grow. I want to be able to spontaneously pull out paints or read Dr. Seuss to my child. I do not wish to feel stressed, distracted, or emotionally and physically unavailable because I am preoccupied with my life as a student again. I see friends returning to school or work because they see the grass as greener. Yet, they soon find themselves in tears over the missing of their children, tormented by their guilt and the challenge of juggling the demands of home life and work/studies.

    At the same time, as a mother at home, my anxiety and periods of feeling lonely, depressed and loss of self worth and identity is a struggle too. My reality is a far cry from my childhood dreams that I would one day grow up to be a “perfect” mother and at the same time change the world through my many lofty career ambitions. My reality as a stay at home is not the dream I thought it would be. This is part of growing up.

    I think that a major challenge for stay at home mothers is those moments when they feel that their sacrifices/compromises are all for not. It is those days when our children lash out at us and we struggle with loneliness and we hear people telling us that staying at home to invest in our children doesn't benefit them any more than if they were in a daycare setting. It is these times that we break into self doubt over our sense of value and purpose in the world. After all, what makes one happy is a belief that they are serving others and that this service is valuable. As stay at home mothers of our generation it is hard not to succumb to the socio-cultural norms and values in an economically-driven era. It is never easy for the working mother, the studying mother, or the 24-7 all hands on deck mother. We have to go with our gut on what the right thing to do is, knowing that what is right now will change over time and that we must learn to adapt.

    In the meantime, when we have made the choice to stay at home and experience moments or or even days of self doubt over our choices because we feel lonely and struggle with self worth, we have opportunities for growth. These are the moments we need to love those hollow parts and fill them up with self appreciation and forgiveness. It is also helpful to practice mindfulness, where we really try to immerse ourselves in the moment of what we are doing, whether that be admiring the details of your child's face, relishing in the here and now of helping him/her with an activity, folding laundry etc. This is what life is made of. Of course, making time for regular (out of the home) exercise, a movie and date-nights can really help too! As you have alluded to in your earlier postings, life of a working mom has it's own sets of challenges. In my case, until I learn to master control over my attitude, develop tools to better manage my anxiety and be happy regardless, I will always see myself as trapped in my situation.

    From my experience, when the eldest is school aged a lot of the feelings I describe above do magnify, so it is good to have a plan for how to identify and address one's needs. Have you considered a sabbatical overseas or some sort of sojourn/working holiday for you and your family? Is this something one can do in the world of law? In my case, this just might be what is needed.

    My kids are calling so I must be off.....



  7. Come up to ny for a few days.

    Would love it!

  8. one more thing....

    STRUCTURE is key! Keep yourself scheduled and busy!

  9. As a former law firm lawyer and now SAHM, I must respond to 2:50's question with a question - would you ask the same question of any other girlfriend who had a couple of rough weeks at the office? Or would you simply voice some sympathetic words to the effect that work sometimes sucks and offer some helpful suggestions on how to gut out this rough patch? I've noticed as a SAHM that often the loneliness and long hours are compounded by a lack of compassion from, of all people, working moms. I'm not saying that being a SAHM is harder than being a working mom (in fact, for me it was much, much harder to be a working mom), but just like any job, being a SAHM still has its ups and its downs. I think the cold weather, short days, and post-holiday time is a particularly difficult time in this "business." But I would no more ask a SAHM why she's not working when she complains about the downsides of her "job" than I would ask a working mom why she doesn't quit when she complains about her time at the office. (If not, in the law firm world at least, you'd be asking that question of your fellow associates on a daily basis!)

  10. Jana, thank you SO much for your comments (here, and in my other posts). You are always so insightful, and I truly appreciate you taking the time to give me advice.

    @9:33- I completely agree. Every job has good days and bad days. And overall, my days are good (see my most recent post on 1/4!).

  11. @9:33 PM - I was the 2:50 question above. I actually commented on the 1/4 post, and I think that comment will answer your question more thoroughly. But, the simple answer is yes. If it were financially possible for the working mom to quit her job and stay at home, then I would ask the exact same question.

  12. Late to the ballgame here but to 5:08 -- I think the thing that moms like 2:50 and me see with the general malaise of sahms and their "every job has good days and bad days" is for us, being with our children isn't a job. taking care of responsibilities at home is not a job. That is life. I am happy my children will never hear me refer to them as a job or that their existence and care was some sort of sacrifice for me. And we don't say things like that to our friends who are working (about work sucking sometimes) because you have a choice. I have seen too many sahms through the years (myself included for 2 years) try to convince themself that they should be happy and lucky that they "can" sahm and that they should feel "guilty" for working. It's bullshit. The women's movement happened for a reason and you can choose to make changes that create opportunities for yourself. Your kids will be just fine if they truly are your priority and you are living in accordance with that priority (hint: it doesn't mean being physically present but mentally anxious and depressed).

  13. I think it is admirable that you post about the difficulties in being a s
    SAHM when you used to work and have a career. Many mums fall into being at home and have no issues with it if they were never career women. For the latter it is a different ball game. We sacrifice years of schooling, studying and striving to do exactly the one thing that we don't want to do, and that is not work or have a career. But when children are there, it isn't just that you are not working but taking on a completely different kind of job, that of a full time mum. I know sometimes it may sound like SAHMs hate the humdrum of daily life, but doesn't everyone hate launcry, cleaning, washing windows etc?

    I currently work full time, not so much in a career job but in a good, well paid position which has a future. I hate it. I studied and worked all my life for this job, and if I ever make noise about staying at home I get gruef: what a wasted life, what a waste of intelligence. You know how much I hate that? I am out of the house more than twelve hours, I wake at 5.30 am, come home to enjoy my kids for one or two hours before they sleep through the exhaustion of daycare. I am tired, irritable amd frankly cam barely move of the sofa to read them a story. I go to sleep when they do, nothing gets done, weekends mean i struggle to catch up on housework. My husband cooks, bless him, but not really what I would want for the kids. I watch their lives go by wishing I could have baked the cakes in the cook book on sundays with them, gone for nature walks, done singing or reading in the evenings, not been so tired that I yell when they need me in the night, that I could teach them the alphabet or first words or frankly anything.

    So you know what? I am clever, intellegent and a damn good educator and my life sucks. So we are trying for number three, and I will stay home with my kids, and domall the thungs I dream of, cook yummy dinners, bake, do arts and crafts, silly dancing, singing, go for walks and whatever. But I will teach my kids everything I can. I will pass everything I know on to them as best I can, because I have realise, that is why I studied. Not to have some career, but to be there for my kids, to support them and help them and to have fun with them. I know it will be hard and I hate cleaning as much as the next person, but I hate it more when I am too exhausted to move.

    I can't wait to give up my career and live the life I want to, and I will never regret it. Because right now, I am a rubbish mum, and I know it and I am sure my kids know it. They suffer through me working and I can see that, so my chlice is to give it up.

    I am sure I will moan about it too, on dark days, but I won't regret it. And I will be intellectually stimulated because I will always think of new things to teach and do with them.

    I think you are very brave. The hardest part of doing what you did is taking the flack off other people. But you can't explain your choices sometimes, as everyone ticks differently.

  14. Super late, but the post is timeless, and so is, I feel, the discussion here. I am so proud/lucky to be a woman and a mom, and see such an intelligent, thoughtful debate on the topic.


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