Thursday, October 16, 2008

My reign of terror is over

I knew it would happen eventually, and yet somehow, I wasn't prepared when it did: we finished editing the dictionary. Z finally came and now it's done.

Now I'm back to being "just" a mom. No more awkward answers to awkward questions. No more trying to finish an entry before Magdalena wakes up from a nap. There probably won't be as many semi-supervised Photo Booth sessions for Miriam. No more sifting through unsavory sentences for words like "suppository." And now I can finally scrape together some "free time" to do other projects, like organize our photos or make DVDs of our video camera footage.

But you know what else there will be no more of? Well, for one thing, paychecks. Although that wasn't the main impetus for taking the job way back when, it certainly was a nice perk. Something else that is gone that is slightly less tangible is a certain sense of worth. And that is what I'm struggling with the most.

For over a year now I've had this outside project that was always there for me to work on. It didn't wake up during the night or need to be fed or, admittedly, give me kisses or hugs or tell me it loved me. But it was my own little pet, just for me, and some days it was the only measure of myself I could depend on. When I wasn't doing so well as a woman, wife, or mother, at least I was still dang good at editing the dictionary. And I had the paycheck or complimentary email from a boss to prove it.

Now I'm on my own. It's just me and the kids, not me and the kids and my job. For the first time in a very long while, if Miriam asks me to play Candyland, the answer doesn't necessarily have to be, "No, I can't, I'm working." I'm not sure how I feel about that yet. On the one hand, I really don't want to play Candyland, and having to work is an excuse Miriam (if not Magdalena) has come to understand. But on the other hand, it is so nice to be able to drop what I'm doing without having to hit "pause" on a timesheet and say, "Sure, I'll be right there!"

I have hopes that there will be another project forthcoming. Generic Non-US Dictionary company does, too, but it's still technically an "if" and even if it does turn into a "when," I don't know exactly "when." So for now I'll organize those photos and burn those DVDs and maybe figure myself out enough that I don't need to delve into the intricacies of English language in order to feel that I'm worth anything.


Liz Johnson said...

I really love this post. I have to admit that I get insanely jealous of women who have part-time jobs from home or something else to give them a constant source of gratitude or validation of self-worth. In fact, I think that's part of the reason I started a blog. I don't get paid for it, but it's nice to get comments and know that people out there actually think enough of it to read it or at least stop by on occasion. I still have to fight the desire to go back to work so that I can be confident in myself and my abilities. Because like you said, I may not be a good mom or wife or person, but I was a DANG GOOD welfare caseworker. It was proven on a graph of my accuracy and timeliness and customer service calls. Motherhood really is one of the ultimate sacrifices, no matter how you slice it.

Jill said...

Unlike you, the part-time work I'm doing is for the paycheck. Sure, I'm a dang good space planner and furniture specifier, but somehow I don't identify myself that way. Actually that surprises me because I've been doing this for so long (since before I graduated from college). I would LOVE to have extra time to play a game with Ryan, spend more time at the library, go on walks, actually make some progress on my scrapbooks instead of always feeling like I'm behind. Maybe I'd do more housework during the week so the weekend could really be just for fun when Daddy's home. Somehow there is never enough time in the day. It seems like a couple more hours would make such a huge difference.
I guess the point of my comment is to enjoy the extra time you now have to organize your photos and home videos. Life only gets busier the older we get and I'm sure there will soon be something else to take the place of the dictionary!

Jeanerbee said...

I totally hear you - I went to part time when Eli was 10 months old and it quickly became VERY part time... but it was still something. I could say "I work in foster care." When I got pregnant this time and was so sick I knew it was time to quit. On the one hand I was so relieved and looked forward to not having to answer to a boss... but then when it happened it was actually really hard for me to adjust to "just mom" and I'm still working on it...

Eevi said...

What a great post. I love your honesty when you write about things. Though I am not a mom yet, I think this will be one of my challenges when the time comes. It's nice to have friends who understand you:)

Bridget said...

One thing I didn't really touch on in this post is that as more and more time passes, my resume just gets that much more outdated. And that fills me with a moderate sense of panic, on the achievement-oriented level of myself. When I stop to think about it, it has been four years since I had a regular old full-time office job (and what a great job it was, with such possibilities...sigh), and three years (suspiciously, the same amount of time Miriam has been around) since I had a regular part-time job that required my physical presence. And those numbers are just going to get bigger as the years go by.

Jill, I don't mean to belittle the time I spend with my kids, but that's all the clarification I'll give because I know you know what I mean. I appreciate your perspective.

Bridget said...

And what is with us, anyway??? There are tons of moms out there who are just dying to stay home with their kids and can't. Maybe I should just shut up, huh.

Anna Lewis said...

I liked this post.

Here what I think is so lame-- I work 4 hours a week teaching at a community college. It's not much money and I spend very little time thinking about it. However, when people ask me what I do I always tell them about my piddily job first and then about my baby.

It seems like the role of women has changed so much over the course of a few years that no one really knows what a successful woman is. No matter what a woman chooses: to stay home, to go to work, or to do both she will always have to battle some sort of guilt. If she's working, why is she a bad mother? If she stays at home, why is she so oppressed, lazy or stupid?
A part time job seems the best answer (people usually make noises of approval when I tell them about my job). But the truth is the sense of "fulfillment" I get from having a job is not so much from the feeling I get from teaching students how to correctly formulate an argument, as it is from receiving social approval when I am asked what I do.

I, just like the next woman, want to be successful and fulfilled...but I am not sure that I have delineated for myself what that means.

Julie said...

Bridget, I like this post since I have had very similar feelings. I also liked Anna's comment. Being a mom is such an interesting challenge!


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