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August 01, 2008

Do I Really Want a Full-Time Job?

Bd06640_ It's been almost four months since my husband's epiphany that going to a job he loathed, just clocking in his hours until he could finally retire was not the way he wanted to spend the next 15 years of his life. And so, being that he's attempting to redefine his career goals-- or what he wants to be when he grows up, I've felt compelled to break out of my comfortable but not so well-paying freelance writing career and hit the pavement in search of a full-time job.

While I've gone on some interviews, I have to be honest, being that I live on Staten Island, my commute into Manhattan is at least and hour and then some each day-- which means leaving before my kids sit down to breakfast and getting home when they're ready to be tucked into bed. It's the dilemma every working mom faces-- the fact that when you're working full-time-you're probably going to get very little face-time with your kids.

I know I'm hardly the first or last mom to feel this way, and maybe if I had gone back to work full-time after my kids were born, this would be a non-issue for me but the fact is I'm having a really hard time making that shift to full-time worker bee.

In my dreams- especially back in the day when my kids were newborns and I sat covered in spit-up in pajamas feeling like the outside world was passing me by-I yearned to be in one of those sexy power suits (you know the kind Heather Locklear, aka Amanda wore on Melrose Place, in her role as the high-powered advertising executive)and trading in my fuzzy slippers for a pair of high heeled sling backs, and my kid's bottle for an after-work glass of wine.

But the time was never right and my husband worked long hours so, I settled into my stay-at-home mom life with my little writing career on the side. Sure I had moments where I wished I was an editor at a big glossy magazine hailing taxicabs and living the glamorous life- but as my kids rumbled into toddlerhood those were fleeting (who had the time) between  making dinners, giving baths and vacuuming up cookie crumbs for what seemed like the zillionth time that week.

Then my husband decided it was time for a career change- and it was finally  my time-- to be that shrewd, high powered editor at a major publishing house. And yet, after  fantasizing about this auspicious career-making moment and finally going on several interviews it dawned on me- in order to be a part of this heady, deadline driven, corporate sponsored, news-breaking echelon of top tiered editors there was a VERY hefty price to pay.

I don't think any mother who works full-time will disagree, that it is incredibly difficult to manage the stresses and demands of a full time, need to be in the office from at least 8:30-5:30 with the ability to both physically and mentally be there for the what I perceived as mundane- but now I realize how important there are to me - kid related chores.

In my pumped up day-dreams of the glamorous life- I had inadvertently forgot about all the other "stuff" I'd miss- brushing and braiding my daughter's hair in the morning, helping her pick out just the right outfit , listening intently to all her stories as I drive her to camp, and then being there in the afternoon when she got home. Being able to watch Spongebob episodes with my Spongebob obsessed three year-old son (who can blame him that Sponge is quite the charmer!)and laugh, play trains with my son for the umpteenth time- and simply sit beside him while he colored. Now that I was in danger of losing all these daily things that I took for granted- I began to feel that maybe the glamorous life was something that no longer fit into my life.

Would I love to be able to work full-time and still see my kids- everyday at 4pm- -YES. But right now, I can't seem to find that sort of job opportunity and I am not willing to let go of all the other mundane mommy stuff- which I now have really come to understand is what I value most of all.

When she's not cooing over her kids Melissa Chapman writes Kids in the City, a weekly column for The Staten Island Advance and is the Family Editor at Single Minded Women.

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