Monday, June 1, 2009

Working Mom Blues

Ah, time off! The huge, gigantic, wonderful perque of being a road musician is that when you're not on the road, you're home. You're home with nothing to do all day, except what you want. Well, that's not always true. I mean, one does have to take care of the obligations that one hasn't been able to fulfill because one has been roaming around the country...but if you play your cards right, then your time off can be an amazing, low impact vacation, filled with the sights and sounds of your glorious town.

She's just chillin' with her folks

That's how Dave and I are working our time off this week. We've dubbed it our Austin vacation, and we're here just to hang out and enjoy America's most awesomest city with our daughter.

Right now, our daughter is sleeping, and Dave is getting a haircut (One of those things you take care of when you can...when you're home!) And I've decided to bring up something that's been on my mind since I went back to work.

Namely, working.

For the most part, I love what we're doing. I love the adventure of being a family on the road. I love the chutzpah we're discovering daily within ourselves to do this thing like we said we would. I love our constant problem solving abilities. And I love all the time that we get to spend with our daughter. Both of us, Dave and I, are getting to be with our little bean in huge, massive, snuggable, loveable quantities. It's awesome.

But every once in a while...

Every once in a while I let the judgement in, and here's what she says.

"You're a bad and selfish parent, Elizabeth. What mother takes a little baby on the road? You should be staying at home. You're sowing the seeds of irreparable damage. You're just plain doing it wrong."

In those moments I become scared. I take harmless comments the wrong way (Someone else "Man, your tour schedule is nuts!" Me (in my head), "Oh yeah, well, I don't see where you get off telling me what to do!") In those moments, I contemplate shutting it down. Sending my man out to make the bacon and bring it home while I get down to the business of bringing up our child. In those moments, I'm just not sure.

It's not that I'm actually worried about what other people think. I assume that some people approve, some people disapprove and most people truly couldn't care less. That's just the way of the world. Instead, I'm honestly worried that I'm making the absolute wrong decision. Because I've never parented before, and neither has Dave. We're just, you know, making our best guesses.

The thing I do know though is that I'm not alone in questioning my parenting choices, or my decision to work. I'm pretty sure that this is something most women struggle with. Whether you stay at home or get back out there, there's just no perfect child rearing answer. Either way you slice it, there's going to be a fair amount of sacrifice involved.

I was raised by a working mother. My mother could not have been a stay-home just didn't make her happy. And even though working and raising kids was at times a struggle, for her it was much preferable to the alternative. (My mom once didn't work for a year and a half when my sister and I were teenagers. I'd often come home to find her watching the soaps with a basket of untouched laundry sitting next to her. She's just not domestic, hence not so into staying home, which is, by definition, domestic.) She was just much happier when she was working. Consequently, everyone in the family was much happier when she was working.

And that's how I get through the doubt and could-be-crippling self recrimination I just tell myself that happy parents make for happy children. That the world is big, and everyone who ever lived was born and raised -- in every conceivable way possible. And no one ever knows what the right move is. All we can do is make the best decision possible with the information we have in front of us. And for Dave, Lisel and me, this is the best decision.

That sounds right, right?

Right Dad?


Tiffani said...

It's like you crawled into my head!

Carole said...

a comment on the photo of Lisel...absolutely gorgeous baby and pic...looks like a magazine cover.

no comments on your parenting ...well..perhaps one..which is I think u should assume u r doing it just fine unless faced with incontrovertible evidence to the contrary:}


Once again, welcome to motherhood.

melfitz said...

it's all a guessing game, isn't it? the grass sometimes seems greener on the other side. but, once you get there you see it's the same as where you were. we made the decision for me to stay home with our oldest after he was born 2 1/2 yrs ago... it wasn't easy for me to adjust to diapers and snot 24/7. now we have our second who is almost 3 mnths...i love it most days (others i want to run screaming from the house). we all have to do what's right for our families and poo poo on everyone else. i mean there is certainly enough poo poo to go round, right?

Nidia said...

Your daughter is gorgeous.

I have been both a SAHM and also a working mom and I can tell you that neither one is easy and neither one is "perfect". I have the same amount of good and bad things to say about both experiences so it all boils down to doing what is best for you and your own circumstances. You can only do your best and as long as she is healthy and loved, she will be perfect.

Desaray said...

well put, elizabeth. miss you and see you soon.

EMQ said...

Thank you all for your comments! It's good to hear from other moms that the "to work or not to work" struggle pretty much comes with the mommyhood territory.