Wednesday, February 08, 2006

This Perfect Life

Sorry, but this week appears to be rant week on my blog. Perhaps it is the residue of hormones but I seem to have plenty to whine about right now.

Today I'm hot under the collar about being a SAHM (this rant applies to caregivers of all sorts as well).

When I was in high school during the 80's, I had goals that did not include marriage and a family unless a member of Duran Duran was involved. I had my sights on becoming a career woman. Captain of industry, political power broker, whatever, it was going to be high-powered and require expensive suits and awesome shoes.

Skip up 20 years and now I'm a hausfrau with three kids. I wear cheap sweats and slippers. On a good day I take a shower. How did I get here and why do I feel bad about it?

I have a good life and I'm not eaten up with regrets, so no, this isn't a pity party. It is more of a rant about the lack of appreciation for being a stay-at-home and why I of all people appreciate it the least.

By the time I reached adulthood I knew I had no desire to be a Career Woman Extrodanaire, they have to work too hard. But I figured I'd still work and be a productive member of society. But as things worked out, I ended up getting married. I still worked, but my priorities changed. I started having kids and I married a man with a stressful job with unreliable hours, so there was no way I could put in the time and energy to a career. That was okay because I'd re-discovered writing so I wanted to pour my attention into that instead.

My friends and I would go to lunch and see the SAHM's going to Target with their kids. We were so envious. Boy, they had the perfect life. They came and went as they pleased. They weren't bound by the restrictions of being employed. Think of all the free time they had. I wanted to be an SAHM so bad because, heck, I knew I could write probably 4 books a year and in no time I'd get published.

To make a long story short, I got my wish only the reality was so far different from what I expected. Time certainly wasn't my own and the responsibilities of being a full-time wife and mother really weren't what I expected. I can tell you the brief time I had for maternity leave did nothing to prepare me for the reality.

It seems like a lot of lip service is paid to SAHM's. We are told how important it is to do what we do, but I think the underlying feeling is that it is an easy job. Even I don't appreciate the effort it takes to do what I do. I'm a girl of the 80's, the beneficiary of the women's movement. And how have I used it? By becoming a homemaker.

There is a loneliness to my job. I am in the position of being an older mom. Most women my age do not have toddlers. They do lunch while the kids are in school. Some of them participate in charity leagues and the like. I can't do that with my little one. Also, the cloud of writing hangs over my head. If I have time to do lunch, I have time to write. Yeah, there needs to be balance, but there just isn't enough time and I don't have enough energy to do all that I want.

Another thing I've noticed is my lack of interest in venturing out of my house. It isn't fear, just a strong desire to stay home. I feel uncomfortable being out and about. I think it is my natural tendency rather than something that has developed. When I worked, I had to socialize whether I wanted to or not. I loved being in my cubicle, I liked the isolation. I also recognize it probably isn't the healthiest way of living so I volunteer for my kids and go to the gym.

My belief is that we have to find our own happiness. No great trauma put me in this position, I did it willingly. I'm not unhappy, but I do feel the frustration of being in a position I was not prepared for. I'm also frustrated because I haven't done all I can to make this a good experience. I will find my way eventually. Of course, when I have found my balance is the time I will sell a book and end up with deadlines and my whole balance will be thrown out of whack. But that will be a whole 'nother post.