Last I left us, I was working two jobs for a short six-week period while I looked for a permanent full-time job.
A part of me really hoped that I wouldn't find one right away. I thought maybe it'd be nice to work part-time for just a FEW more months. Just keep working each of us part-time, equating to one full-time job, and lots more time spent together as a family.
But I got a new job. My first real job with my Master's degree. I am now an Elementary School Counselor.
This is what I always wanted when I began my program. I wanted to be with the little kids. I wanted to nurture them and help them along the growing pains of the childhood and pre-adolescent years. My school is inner-city/urban, about 600 students in Kindergarten through 6th grade. There are a lot of challenges but a lot of rewards too. I thought I would be somewhat well prepared because I had experience with children in this city and district in previous jobs and in my practicum. After a month of working there though, I realize now that there is a huge difference working part-time in an office separate from an inner city school (but still working with the children), and an even bigger difference working in an inner city school part-time versus full-time.
It is exhausting. It has already gotten to me. Sometimes I feel like - am I even helping anyone? What am I even doing?
I try to remind myself that even though change is hard to see, the fact that after only a couple of weeks there I had touched so many children who were genuinely excited and happy to see me, who remembered my name despite it being difficult for the adults in the school to pronounce, makes me feel like at least they know I am a person to trust, a person who cares about them. I get at least 10 hugs a day. The kids are just so sweet.
Adjusting to a difficult job is one thing. Adjusting to being a full-time working mom is another. I've never felt like such a horrible mom. Even when my schedule was at its craziest, I usually only worked 3-4 days in a row at a time. And the schedule varied so many I was home in the morning during more of Colton's waking hours and got to spend more time with him. Now it's just 2 and a half hours together before I put him in his crib. Much of our time together is preparations for bed, or bath time, or eating dinner. Sometimes I am so exhausted that we just watch TV after dinner or he plays while I watch. I feel like the quality of our time spent is just not good enough. I feel like I don't even know what he and Mark have been up to all day.
I should be happy that at least one of us can be the stay at home parent. But I can't help but be jealous that it's not me. I know that we've discussed my staying home with our next future child, but that won't be for a long time and by then Colton will probably be in kindergarten or first grade. I'll have missed so much time with him.
I know the whole working mom versus stay at home mom is a big debate. For me I just don't know. I never imagined that I'd still wish I was staying at home when Colton was almost 2. Before he was born I thought 3 months would be awfully early to go back to work, but 6 months would probably be okay. So much happens in a young child's life though! I don't want to miss a bunch of it!
Having this attitude has gotten me no where because when I am home I have just felt depressed on all I've missed throughout the day. Or I just feel totally detached from motherhood and am just counting down the time until he goes to bed - kind of like I'm just avoiding having any feelings about being gone all day I guess. Mostly though, I've been really trying to make an effort to stay positive, to be patient and caring, to play and resist temptation to veg out on the couch for any of our precious time together, and to just be present.
I can tell a huge difference in Colton's behavior when I'm in a positive mindset or in a negative one. It's really interesting how he seems to pick up on that and act accordingly. Tonight I was positive, happy, engaged, patient, and matter-of-fact in our routine. This is the first time that Colton came to the bathroom to brush his teeth the first time I asked him. He was well-behaved during bedtime stories and didn't climb all over me trying to get my attention. He gave me extra hugs and cuddles. He didn't whine or cry when I told him it was time for prayers. He nearly drifted to sleep while nursing and gave me no problems when I tucked him into his crib.
I need to remember what a difference it makes next time I'm feeling sorry for myself and take it out on the darling little boy who only wants my love and attention when I get home.