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2014. Parent/career rant

October 29th, 2013 at 11:18 am

It occurred to me that it's almost November. Where has the year-- and the years-- gone? I feel like my life is running away from me, and I still have so much I want and need to do.

Time thoughts led to a jumble of emotions (mostly melancholy) and thoughts about the coming year and what I can do to transition into a more fulfilling life. The next stage, as it were.

I admit this was fueled in part by the parties I went to this weekend. I met up with a bunch of women who work at the same publication I do. Of course, they are all on staff, as I used to be. I freelance for the same company, but work from home and have small children.

They didn't say anything, but I left feeling empty and sad, as if I were 'less than' they were, because I have been raising kids and barely keeping my career going by freelancing. It seems like they have developed so much and had so many more opportunities than I have because they are still at it full-time. It just made me feel bad about myself.

I never wanted to be a stay at home mom, it's just the result of the economic realities of raising children, the tax code, and daycare in modern USA. I am still sad.

I know the kids set a bomb off inside my life, I know I never wanted to be a stay at home mom, but I have to, and I know I've tried to keep my career alive by freelancing,and I'm lucky to have had the kind of job where that is at least an option, but still. It angers me that we have to make these kinds of choices. Kids shouldn't mean either or. You should be able to 'have it all,' right?

***
Sorry about the woe is me. I just can't seem to shake the blues.

I have had to seriously cut back on freelance in the past few months. The new school schedule for the boys is killing me. I don't have time to do anything. I thought I was in career survival mode before, but I really am now. Between kindergarten and preschool drop off and pick-up I end up with less than 1.5 hours each day to work and handle anything else that needs to be done sans children.

Basically, it means it's impossible. I've had to say no to so many freelance projects because I simply do not have the time, and I'm starting to get the impression people will give up and just stop asking me, closing those doors forever.

ARGH!!! I feel like I've given up so much, and yet the world just keeps asking me to give up more and more. It doesn't seem fair.

And, I'm stuck in a weird vortex between the in-office career ladies I met with over the weekend and the 100 percent stay at home moms, who don't work at all, and therefore don't understand the unique pressures I'm under. It's very lonely and isolating.

I need to figure out how to shake these feelings and get out of my rut. I'm to the point where I don't want to do anything but lie in bed and have everyone leave me alone, but that doesn't really work in real life!

Let me just add that I KNOW I am lucky in so many ways. I have tow healthy kids and we have jobs and food on the table. But it's in my nature to ask, is this all life is? I thought I was meant to do great things, but is it too late?

20 Responses to “2014. Parent/career rant”

  1. Buendia Says:

    Hi! I wanted to respond right away! This is a good place to vent, and it's important to do that! But I so admire you for doing what you need to do for your family. I think that's what most of us are doing. I am also in between (not stay-at-home, not working full-time); some of my friends would say I have it all. But from here, I wish I could be with my daughter more and I also wish I was taken more seriously in my work. Catch 22!

    It helped a lot to open up to my friends, because then I found out that most are in similar situations - everyone works more or less than they'd like, and it's either economic or because of family realities or whatever (there is the former attorney with 5 kids who hated being an attorney, and there is the PhD in Philosphy who can't even get a part-time job at a non-profit here but needs to have some work for financial reasons, etc. etc. - and there are people who are employed full-time who miss their kids but they need to work for the money). I think what you need is a support network of people like you!

  2. Petunia in a Flower Garden Says:

    Aww. . . I hear ya. I felt similarly when I worked half time from home for two years after Daisy was born - neither fish nor fowl - not really a stay at home mom and not really a "working" mom either. (In my case I was interested in being a stay at home mom; Mr. H was not interested in that for me.) I do remember going to a mom-n-me kind of thing, and listening to the SAH moms talk about sitting down and putting their feet up when their kids took naps, and me thinking "Really? I run into my office and hope I can get at least a certain amount of time in during this nap. I cannot relate to you at all!"

    Keep looking around - you may find some other women in a similar position. . .

    This year will pass and hopefully next year's schedule won't be such a killer. And as the boys can do more things for themselves the physically draining part of parenting will get easier.

  3. ceejay74 Says:

    ((hugs)) I totally know how you feel (although I've never had it to that intensity). Life w/kids is so rich and full and busy, yet sometimes it just feels like a runaway train, and all your old priorities for yourself get trampled in the service of others. I would never trade places and be childless again, but I'll admit to a bit of envy when I see friends without kids just continuing to party and self-indulge. It's partly the money that lets them do it, but it's mostly the free time and lack of responsibility for small dependent creatures.

    I'm amazed that you've hung on in the SAHM role. I can only imagine what a hard adjustment it would've been for me if I'd done it. I'm not cut out for it either.

    One thought, just something to turn over. Your financial goals are ambitious, but do you need to FULLY fund your kids' college education? They could probably do fine with a combo of parent contribution, grants, work-study and loans.

    And, a paid-off mortgage is beyond wonderful, but actually having one isn't the end of the world.

    If you took things like that off your plate, could you afford to give up paid freelancing for good? And if you did that, could you focus on your art (novel writing) more instead? This might give you more of a sense of self-worth.

    And eventually the kids will be in the same school, so your time for writing will increase. (Don't fall into the trap of scheduling them for a million sports and activities and spending all your time at practices and games! I had maybe one activity at a time some of the time and that was plenty as a kid.)

    I don't think many of us do the insanely great things we envisioned as a kid, but you can still do things that make you feel happy and fulfilled and creatively engaged with the world.

    Sorry for all the babbling. I hope some of it helped. ((more hugs))

  4. ThriftoRama Says:

    Gee guys. Thanks so much for the thoughtful responses. I really do need it. I've been very melancholy and distracted for days.

    Let me just add that I have been at this working/taking care of kiddies all day thing for 5.5 years now. I have only met one other mom that freelances with kids at home. All the others are either all or nothing. We are in a unique spot. No office to go to to escape the kids. The work and the kids are at home with us all day.

    And, this other mom who I can relate to went totally off the wagon this year. She decided she'd had enough, and put the kids in daycare from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day , still works part time at home, and spends a lot of time traveling to Las Vegas alone leaving hubby with the kids, so she can live it up. it's like she's decided she's over motherhood, and doesn't care how much it costs to get out of it.

    So yeah, my one person who understood me went off the deep end and wants me to go with her! it's very weird.

    Anyway, the vision when this started was that I would stay home and by the time the kids were in school my freelance work will have grown to the equivalent of full-time income, only we would have the flexibility to go on vacations, be home when the kids get home from school, etc.

    And yes, that vision was on track until spring this year, when if you recall, I cracked under the pressure. Five years of juggling never-ending, constant tight deadlines, working late at night to meet them, stressing about getting the phone calls in without the kids yelling in the background, and all that, and I cracked under the pressure. (and, the taxes ate up 60 percent of my income, so what did I really get??). i couldn't keep it up, so I gave up gigs. Now, I'm doing only minimal work (7 columns a month for the daily), and barely getting by, and i've had to turn down a lot of great gigs because I just can't juggle anymore.

  5. momcents Says:


    There are seasons in life where all we can do is muddle through. I'm muddling (rather unsuccessfully now) with a DH working 65-70 hours/week (at least four 12 hour days and the time at home on laptop). The volunteer commitments we have were fine when we were "normal". Throw in five kids, two with learning disabilities, and all the other activities that they participate in to become well-rounded individuals (really nothing more than band for one, soccer for three, dance for two, Scouts also).

    I know that I'm not in a good place when I'm feeling passive-aggressive - like last night. I should have been to the School Board meeting so I could report back to the Parish Board, but I was fighting with my daughter in a stupid argument about the biblical significance of Purim in the Book of Esther and had three boys who all needed help of varying degrees, plus dogs who needed to be walked, etc. Do you know what I did? I took a bath, put on my pajamas and went to bed. I woke up to find three kids sleeping on the floor in the family room and hope that DH had them brush their teeth, but probably didn't. Is today much better? Not really. I need to shake this funk, too. I'm tired of being Pollyanna, or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

  6. ThriftoRama Says:

    Hugs momcents. It's been that kind of week here too. Well, that kind of 5 years.
    It just all seems to be piling on. Work, the kids. Now our youngest is having trouble at preschool. We make LARGE children. He's 3 years old, nearly four feet tall and weighs 50 pounds. He looks five. some of the other parents of kids in his class have complained he's a "bully." The teacher, principal,a nd anyone who knows my son knows this isn't true. He is so sweet. Problem is, he's two to three times larger than the other 3 year olds, and when he gets excited, sometimes kids go flying. i.e. during a class dance party, he grabbed a boys hands so they could dance together, and the kid three three feet when my kid started jumping. He doesn't know his own strength.

    Anyway, long story short, it's hurtful to me that he's been branded as a bad kid at school by other parents, who give us the stink eye during pick up when they don't even know us. it just adds to the stress of every day!

  7. Petunia in a Flower Garden Says:

    Sorry your compatriot went off the deep end! (And it sounds like she really did go off the deep end!)

    Well . . . to be honest. . . I met only one person during that time period whose life was similar to mine. We didn't really become friends though for several years after we met - just no time while all the kids were little (and she was still having babies).

    You have us though. Smile

  8. Petunia 100 Says:

    Have you ever considered hiring a part-time nanny? Someone who could take the boys out to play while you work in your office? That would give you the ability to say "yes" to some of those freelance projects.

    I think "having it all" is a big phoney standard we are sold. You can't have it all; there are only so many hours in a day. You have to make some sort of happy compromise. "Happy" is the key. Smile Find your happy compromise.

  9. CB in the City Says:

    Other parents, oh yeah. I was a single mom, and I remember getting nothing but flak from other parents. Don't let them get to you. Only you know how good or bad a job you're doing as a parent. And if you're trying, you're doing a good job. Seriously! There are so many that aren't even trying.

    As a single mom, I had to work, so I would have been very envious of the time you have at home with your kids. We all get less than we desire, I think, and unless we're just incredibly lucky, the dreams of our youth get shattered. It's the human condition. It makes us better people, though. Have you ever spent much time with someone who gets everything they want? Ugh. Not fun.

    These years will pass. They will evolve into something else, maybe better, maybe not, we never know. Just keep loving your kids and take a deep breath. Find a few quiet moments. Superwoman never really existed, you know!

    Oh, and I am quite sure that the career women you envy are envying your motherhood. That's how it goes! ((Hugs))

  10. pretty cheap jewelry Says:

    This is so hard, the need for self recognition or satisfaction (or income) vs raising the kids. Ok, be honest and figure out what do you need, a little self psychotherapy. For me it is alot about getting approval by others and thus I work or volunteer where I am recognized, etc. Probably due to a lack of approval from my parents when I was a kid?? (not that they were bad, they were just self absorbed!!) Anyway, what is it for you. Once you know, you can tame the beast a little.

    I was also stressed alot as a mom 5 years ago. Now that the kids are jr. and high school, it is easier but I am sad a little. Could I have been more open to smelling the roses when they were younger? yes.

    An artist friend reminded me a few weeks ago when I was clashing with my daughter on some small issue:

    "Will this matter in 10 years."

    hang in there!!

  11. creditcardfree Says:

    ((Hugs)) Motherhood is the toughest job you will ever have! With teens I can tell you it does go fast, but I didn't think so when they were little. Wish I had the perfect advice, but know that you really are not alone.

  12. PatientSaver Says:

    I have never been a parent, but that doesn't mean I can't (easily) imagine how isolating and lonely it could be to stay home month after month with little kids. And it's not surprising at all that the women who never left their f/t careers made you feel like less, while the f/t moms couldn't relate. It would be great if you could network or seek out other who are hybrids like you: stay at home moms who still have a career going. Even if it's just an online relationship. I give you credit for speaking the truth, when so many parents will never admit to anything less than an idyllic home life. Unfortunately, despite all the supposed strides of the feminist movement of past decades, equality for men and equality for women mean two different things. Sure, women can have f/t careers, but men don't fully share in the chores of raising a family and keeping a home running. They'll "chip in," but share fully, 50/50? Highly unusual.

  13. ThriftoRama Says:

    It will never be 50-50. Men just don't see dirt the way women do.

  14. Nancy Says:

    Oh my, I can relate to your post in so many ways! I think I understand how you feel. I quit my job to be with my kids 4 years ago, and I started freelancing about a year ago. My main freelance gig ended about a month ago and I feel lost and empty.

    Here's to a great 2014! You are not alone.

  15. Slowlygettingthere Says:

    I do understand...
    I have been a sahm for 16 years- somehow life has flown by. Now I am trying to get
    back in the working world and it is really hard. Juggling as you do is impressive.
    It is hard to split your focus- job or kids...

  16. snafu Says:

    {{{Hugs}}} Only in the movies and wishful thinking does anyone get to realize all/most of their desires and expectations. I have a different perspective as a mom who still struggles to relinquish that role while DSs became independent young men. I'm in reverse mode, working hard to keep my mouth shut saying no more than 'I hope you've thought thru pro and con'... when life experience lets me see issues/disappointment lurking for my university grad DSs. The loop mostly running in my head says...'mouth shut!'

    Moms have the furthest journey of all so while it doesn't feel very satisfying now - it will feel better as you celebrate each success, each step forward, and the constant change. I remember the loop I repeated endlessly was 'this too will pass.' I certainly understand your frustration and so wish there was a 1,2,3 solution like those we often offer to reduce debt. Meanwhile, this is a safe place to vent.

  17. Buendia Says:

    I love seeing that this post got so much attention - I think it means that this really needs to be addressed! Women need to be supportive (I'm glad we have this forum to support each other, but I mean in our own communities, too) and talk about these issues. I'm going to email some friends right now and see if we can meet for a brown bag lunch or something like that to just talk about our jobs (or lack thereof), the distribution of housework (which is a big issue, too that for me is linked into all of this) and anything else that's bugging us. Maybe it should be "invite another friend along" so we get some new perspectives...

  18. Looking Forward Says:

    ((HUGS))
    Lots of supportive comments here. Smile
    Only you can make yourself feel *less than* or *equal to*. Just because someone works fulltime or someone can party/sleep in because they have zero responsibilities in life doesn't make their life *better than* anyone else. It is all in the eye of the beholder.
    I know there is a good number of women who wish they could stay at home with their small kids and freelance. Just as I know of SAHMs who would like the chance to leave the kids behind and go to a job a few days a week. We all look at that "greener grass on the other side of the fence" without knowing how it really feels to be on the other side - its human nature.
    I say look at what you've got and think about what would truly make you feel fulfilled - then make it happen. (This would NOT be running off to Vegas!!)
    If you think it's a full time job then that is what you should pursue. Regardless of the childcare costs - that is going to be a non-issue in a very short (relatively speaking) amount of time.
    I think you can "have it all", just not all at the same time. Smile As someone commented above - when something is really bothering you stop and ask yourself, "Will this matter in a month? Year? Five years?" It helps me so much to do that.. I find I can completely let something go and not stress about it.
    And I don't think it is ever "too late" to make *it* happen.
    I really hope you can find what makes you happy, for your sake and your boys too.

  19. LuckyRobin Says:

    Yeah, having it all is a myth, and one that needs to be permanently put to rest. If you can afford a babysitter a couple times a week, I'd go with that. Have a young teen come in for a couple of hours after school to play with the kids so you can get some work done.

    Having young children is crazy making even under the most ideal of circumstances. It does get better when they get older and are less dependent. I know it seems like it will be forever until that time comes and it doesn't help you know other than to realize there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

    One thing you might consider is that seasonal depression may be playing a role in things, also. As there are less daylight hours so many of us can react to it. Make sure you are taking vitamin D supplements and if necessary use a light box to help. They have cheap ones on the market.

    Just know that you are not alone in how you feel. This year has been overwhelming at times for me. Homeschooling my difficult child, starting a rabbitry, writing two blogs and trying to find time to write fiction also, while keeping up with the laundry and dishes and cleaning and cooking and preserving food. And then DH is gone 2 weeks out of every 4 so I'm a single mom half the time... Most of the time I can handle it, but I have weeks where I don't want to face the morning. If DS would just go to public school I would be less stressed, but he would be more so. It's a trade off.

    Okay, I don't know how helpful any of my comments are, but hang in there. You really are not alone in your feelings and they are valid emotions to be having.

  20. ThriftoRama Says:

    Thank you guys all so much for commenting. it really is helpful, even if you think it's not!

    I am still in a funk. Mostly because I never get a minute to myself to even process these feelings, let alone think them through.

    I just feel deep down that I can't stay on the path I'm on, because it's not leading anywhere. It's a terrible feeling.

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