Wednesday, June 03, 2009

nobody knows .....

nobody nose

clutch of nose rings, freshly picked (!) from the tumbler

or do they?

Maybe I'm just being sensitive, but I'm noticing a lot more discussion about Life Outside of Parenting in mummyland. My twitterverse is seeing the subject a lot more, and blog posts (including mine) debate the matter daily. Even a phone conversation yesterday had me musing on whther stay-at-home parenting should be All There Is in life right now, or is it right to want/expect more? Am I being selfish or realistic in trying to forge a life aside from mothering? Is my wish for a some financial independance getting in the way of delivering domestic duties? What long-term and short-term effects will it have on the Wee Guy? What should I realistically expect from life as a mum?

In some ways I am already forging ahead with some quasi-independance - my fledgling craft business runs in, around (and in spite of) the family and has been relatively self-supporting for two years. But it's hardly going to pay the bills. Recently I sat down and crunched some numbers to calculate what I needed to earn to support my family. However, this was calculated for a working week of 40 hours ie. 5 days of 8 hours each. Currently my available working hours are just 2.5 hours per day. When the Wee Guy starts Grade One, my working day will only double since school hours are at best part-time! ..... and these are just my working hours for paid employment. Women still shoulder the majority of domestic and household duties so I could expect to continue with my unpaid position without respite.

So what do I realistically expect to achieve? I was the 'trailing spouse' on an international job relocation before I became a mother so why do I find my current job ie. SAHM, more frustrating, ungratifying, and repetitvely dull with very little feedback and insane work hours? I know women who revel in exactly the same conditions. Am I missing something? or why do I yearn for something more?

I'm still searching for the answers. So far I know that I am missing the measure of security that financial independance brings. I truly miss interacting with others in a working environment outside the home. I am finding it very difficult dealing with the loss of identity that being the unsalaried spouse who stays at home entails. It's very difficult to stay confident in one's abilities when there is no feedback from the mounds of laundry, the dusting, housework, cooking, grocery shopping, continual discipline issues and child wrangling that comprise a normal Day In The Life. Like a lot of modern day older mums, I've experienced the career path and been in charge of my own bank account. Having a child was a very conscious decision, its ramifications as fully explored as a childless person could and I'm still not regretting it one bit.

But, to paraphrase Monty Python, nobody expected the complete loss of self that comes with staying at home to look after your family.

At the beginning of the week I got an email telling me that my self portrait has been chosen for inclusion in the We Feel Fine book. I'm thrilled to be noticed, but as you can see from the accompanying blog entry, nothing has really changed in my life in the last 18 months! Add this to a couple of major let-downs plus a chronically ongoing disappointment and you can see why I'm currently at a "Is this all there is?" moment!


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