Wanting What You Have

I was *this* close to deciding to go back to work.

I mentioned having lunch with my (ex)boss a couple of weeks ago. We talked a bit about me going back to work, and my response to her was that I’d consider it if the right opportunity came my way. Meaning something close to home, part-time, low stress. I admitted to applying for such a job, an executive assistant position that was 20 hours a week and was 15 minutes away from home.

I didn’t get called for an interview, probably because I was over-qualified, I lamented as I ate my spicy tuna rolls.

“I wouldn’t hire you either,” my boss said seriously. “Not for that job, you’re right, you’re overqualified.”

It’s true, I could do that job in my sleep. And sure, it would have bored me, but I wouldn’t be taking my work home with me and I wouldn’t be arriving home all stressed and crazy.

A couple of days later, my boss emailed me and casually mentioned that she’s hiring a full-time manager for the homeless program. Something I AM qualified for, having done it as part of my job for a couple of years before going on mat leave. Three days later, on the Monday, after I had the weekend for the opportunity to sink in, she emailed me again, this time to tell me about one of my clients I’d worked with in the homeless shelter and how much he’s accomplished. How he credited his success to me.

And then.

Then, the client emailed me.

Good evening Tawny

Somethings have happened over the last couple weeks

to remind me of when I met you.Just last week I found

out that (_____) & (______) nominated me for a

(___________) AWARD and Im going

to the UNITED WAY with (_____) to accept it.

On this past weekend

I had a confrontation with someone I did my

partying with and had to ask him to leave the building.

When I see clients in the shelter that use to associate with

and think I could be there. I can t thank you

enough for giving me the chance to keep my life

on track.

(______)

After reading that email, I had all but decided to go back.

And I could have. Not that it wouldn’t have been rough – because a bulk of those full time hours would have been done on the weekend, after Clara was in bed, so during the day, I’d still be a full time mom to her. And it would have been a bit of a juggle to find care for Clara during the week so I could get downtown to meetings.

But there are lots of moms that manage that juggling act and so could I have. And yet, I hesitated. Still.

The judgement that mothers experience from other mothers – hell, from other women – is exhausting. If you’re a mother with a career outside the home, you’re judged for putting your career first or letting other people raise your kids. If you opt instead to be a stay-at-home mom, you’re judged for being a disgrace to the modern woman for not wanting – or trying – to do it all. For letting your husband support you and your children (as if that’s a bad thing). For being lazy and slovenly and uninteresting, sitting at home watching soaps while your kids play quietly at your feet. Right, because that’s what happens in our house.

I’ll admit it – I’ve been struggling with the silent judgement I’ve been (justifiably or not) feeling lately, being directed my way because I’ve chosen not to go back to work. When I’m with a group of people and the talk turns to everyone’s careers, I suddenly become invisible. It’s as if my career and all my accomplishments up until I went on maternity leave have been obliterated. Even worse, it’s unspoken but clear that the work I do every day raising my kid doesn’t count. Because everybody knows being a stay-at-home mom is the easiest thing ever.

And that, I realized, the other day, was what was driving me to want to go back to work. To feel included. To feel like what I was doing, and what I’ve done was important. That I wasn’t just a stay-at-home mom, but someone that had a career, did important things, changed people’s lives.

And then I realized I don’t need other people to validate who I am, what I’m doing, the level of involvement I’ve chosen to have in raising my child. I get validation from my daughter, from my husband and most importantly myself.

Last week, when all of this was weighing on my mind, Clara and I woke from a nap, and she went and pulled a book off the shelf as she sometimes does. This time, it was a book about joyful things in our lives, and as her and I curled in bed, turning the pages, I happened to read this:

Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have. (Hyman Judah Schachtel)

I thought about that as Clara and I got up, and we went into the bathroom to grab one of her cloth diapers. I saw our reflection in the mirror and paused. Me, still in my yoga clothes from that morning, both of us rumpled, our hair tousled and tangled. Us, together, rested and relaxed and happy. iPhone in hand, I snapped a couple of photos of what I saw, as a reminder. Not just of why I didn’t go back to work but also, that what I do, each and every day, is important.

It’s the most important thing of all.

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It’s so true. Happiness IS not having what you want, but wanting what you have. And I want what I have. How could I not?

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4 Responses to Wanting What You Have

  1. Tina says:

    The bottom picture is my favorite. And, here’s my 2 cents worth. IF you had taken the job where would you would be with Clara all day and then working in the evenings and all weekends, you would have burnt out. Hell, you’d be working 2 full time jobs with NO time for yourself. I did that when we lived in Nova Scotia. And I was miserable. As a family unit we were all miserable because we did not have the family time that we all desperately craved. We decided to give up what we did back there and move here and we’ve never looked back. You made the right decision.

  2. Jody says:

    Andy and I had agreed back when we were trying for a baby that I would stay home. I can’t imagine having it any other way. If you can afford to be home, why go out to work and pay someone else to raise the child you so deseperately wanted. Clara will always cherish these years. And I don’t knoany full-time mom who stays at home watching soaps all day. I know our mom sure as hell didn’t when we were little and how grateful I am to the years she gave us.
    You can think about re-establishing your career when Clara is in school. And even then if you didn’t want to work full time, that’s nobody’s concern but your family’s. I wouldn’t give a jot about what anyone else thought. Tawn… keep that phrase spinning in your head about happiness is what you have. Try and stop worrying so much about how other people perceive you!

  3. katitude says:

    Eff the people who judge you. Life is short, and watching you live your life happily is the best model Clara can have, IMHO.

  4. Pingback: Heigh Ho Heigh Ho | Five Days in May

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