We are Catholic moms who follow the basic tenets of Attachment Parenting. We are different personalities; we're not clones, so you should see some varying opinions on different subjects. Join us as we continue on this exciting ride known as Catholic Mothering!

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

SAHM vs Working Mom

I have been struggling with this issue for nearly a year. Now that the kids are in school full-time, do I go back to work?

At one point, it seemed as though I would be the sole breadwinner for my family - which I was fine with. I mean, we do what we have to do for our families, and if one parent is out of work but the other can work, and she's willing to work, then she works.

But as it turned out, my husband did return to work full-time (one week before I was to embark on my return to the workforce) and I was relegated to remaining at home. Needless to say, after the buildup of finding a job, applying for a job, testing for a job, interviewing for a job - and then no job, I was very restless and unsatisfied.

Later in the summer, I did try to go back to work full-time. (I hardly told ANYONE about that.) I managed to work for a month. There were many reasons why I did not stay at the job, but it was very very hard to manage the kids, the house (which is on the market to be sold so it must always be spotless), the husband, my health, everything. I thought to myself, "Why am I putting everyone including myself through all of this upheaval if we don't have to be going through this?"

So I returned to staying at home, but this time I was quite satisfied with my choice. (I use the word "choice" very lightly here.)

But now I am feeling pressured to return to the workforce, at least part-time. I come from a family that has always prided itself on being productive. "You are your job" could very well have been my family motto. Grandpa's 92 and he's STILL working. My husband is trying hard to remain neutral ("I dont want to be the bad guy here."), but I see how his eyes light up with the thought of a little more income coming in; it certainly would alleviate some of the financial pressure off of him.

And I do feel guilty that I am home with time for myself now. I love having the time to myself. I can run errands without 2 kids in tow. I can go to the gym and have time to dedicate just for my own well-being! If the kids forget something at home, I can bring it to school on a second's notice. I can attend school Mass on Fridays and wave to my kids as they are seated. Bible study is starting up soon; I can join that (I'm not saying I will; I'm saying I can). I have quiet time to read a chapter in a book.

I relish staying at home. And yet, I feel this nagging sense of an obligation to reclaim my "economic power". It is humiliating to know that I don't count when it comes to getting a mortgage, that I can't get a credit card with no source of income (well, actually I probably can these days, ha ha), that I have to ask my husband if we're OK that I can withdraw money for personal purchases. I'm not talking about tampons; I'm referring more to something like a new winter coat costing $200.

I feel as though God has been testing me these past 3 years, ever since my husband (who was our sole source of income) lost his job due to an injury. I have prayed and prayed and prayed. At one point I was looking for a burning bush every time I went out driving. At first I thought that God wanted me to surrender my ambition, as I have a competative nature. So I did. But now I am thinking perhaps He wants me to dig deeper, that there is something more that I need - or that He wants me - to surrender to, and I haven't found that last piece of this puzzle yet.