In support of other women writers, today I’m trying a little something different on Blonde Mom Blog courtesy of Women on Writing (WOW)…a guest post as part of author Claudine Wolk’s blog book tour. Claudine is author of “It Gets Easier! and Other Lies We Tell New Mothers.”
I’ve always been a “working mom,” whether it be full-time outside the home, working from home while Miss A was a baby, and now 30 hours a week split between the office four days a week and telecommuting on Fridays. I think we can all relate to the challenge of transitioning to another stage of motherhood.
I hope ya’ll enjoy Claudine’s post below. Tell me in the comments what your modus operandi is. Are you a SAHM, do you work outside the home full-time, do you telecommute, or do you do work from home and in the office, like me? Today it’s not quite so easy to slap a label on our foreheads as a response to “What do you do?,” is it?
I’ve done it all as a mom – working full-time, working from home, working part-time, staying at home fulltime – there isn’t a working state of motherhood that I haven’t visited. Although they all have their challenges, going back to work after being home was the choice fraught with the most land-mines for me.
My foray back into the working world came by accident. My part-time job heated up and they needed me four days a week instead of three. On top of that, I decided that my life wasn’t complicated enough that I had to create my own publishing company and publish my first book, It Gets Easier! and other lies we tell new mothers. I knew that the hilarious title of my book was true, I just didn’t realize how true until I was back working full-time.
The biggest area of change and stress by far was on the home front. I was in charge of all matters related to the home, you see, and with two jobs taking up all of my time and energy, I quite simply did not have the time to address housekeeping – for lack of a better word. You might ask, “What happened?” Exactly what you think happened. Things were simply not getting done – dishes were dirty, cupboards were empty, clothes were not washed or carefully put away.
For my family, this state of affairs was a shock. For years, I supposed they imagined the fairies had magically provided all these wonderful services and that the laundry was magically cleaned, dried, and placed with care in their drawers. Now, all of a sudden I was getting questions like, “Where’s my underwear?” “Where’s your underwear,” I would say, “How should I know where your underwear is? I don’t wear your underwear?” As hilarious as I thought that response was, my family missed the humor. Similarly, I would get a question every morning like, “Are the dishes in the dishwasher clean, because they don’t look clean?” “Well, let’s see,” I would say, “I know I didn’t turn on the dishwasher last night, so if I didn’t turn on the dishwasher and you didn’t turn on the dishwasher then the dishes in the dishwasher would be? Anyone, anyone? Bueller? Yes, that’s right , the dishes would then be dirty! Ding, ding, ding! “
My family responded to my outburst as if I had two heads. How could I not turn on the dishwasher they wondered, or do their laundry, or buy food – all the things that I had done before so seamlessly? It was time for a long talk with my family. For my husband, I explained that I finally understood how he has felt for all these years when he was embroiled with a project that he could really sink his teeth into. I felt enthused, motivated, and exhilarated. In all those years while he was working hard, did I bother him with dishes, or ask him to clean my underwear, or wonder why he didn’t come home with groceries? Of course not. Well, now it was my turn. I was going to need to get the help and “the pitch in.” I got it.
For my kids, I was forced to do something I had been meaning to do for years – help them to find their independence. “Mommy needs help,” I told them, “it will be up to you to take complete care of yourselves in the morning. I have to be getting ready for work, too, so I will no longer be able to help you with your hair or your breakfast or your studying – you are on your own.” It was two months of sheer hell, but after that, an amazing thing happened, they actually got independent. They now can prepare themselves for school on their own and are quite pleased with themselves. They now know if they want a lunch for school they are going to have to make it. Clean clothes, same thing. Today if I have the time to make them a breakfast it is a welcome surprise and it is appreciated.
While making the transition from stay at home mom to working mom can be scarier than the original Psycho movie, with the help of your family, you can make it work. You may even discover some side benefits as well. The irony is that being a working mom forces you to engage the family for the family’s sake. If you are strong enough, and keep the guilt in a closet where it belongs, the long-term benefits to your family will be long-lasting. Think about it, who wants their kid to go to college without knowing how to use the washer? Not me, sister!
Read more about Claudine and her book on the WOW! Women on Writing blog.