Monday, June 23, 2008

Part II: Sacrificing the Career or Motherhood?

I think the discussion of this topic is really the key to my entire blog, because this is what almost every working mom agonizes about. Now, I'm not saying that I beat myself up over it, but it is a constant question, and there are new facets to the question as the children get older. When my little ones were babies, I hated to leave them because I knew they were most familiar and comfortable with me and I thought that I was abandoning them to a stranger. After a couple of months of daycare, I didn't feel that way anymore, but I still thought I could have been just as good as the people at daycare at taking care of my baby. Plus, I knew that if I was taking care of my baby myself, my baby would never have to wait to get his or her bottle or have his or her diaper changed. With that said, maybe waiting is a good thing, especially when they get a bit older - that way they aren't so spoiled. But you really do sacrifice seeing them wave for the first time, clap their hands for the first time, being the first one to feel their tooth poking through, watching their first steps, hearing the first belly laugh . . . the list goes on and on. I've resigned myself to that, and things just seem to continue as they grow up, but the worst part about them growing up is their awareness that you are missing it.

Now Luke is 4 and Evie is almost 3. Luke constantly wants to show us the work he is doing at school and if there is an event for Fathers Day, or Thanksgiving, or a birthday party, he is aware when we aren't there and the other kids' parents are. That absolutely breaks my heart to picture him sitting in his classroom, alone, while all the other kids are sitting next to their parents and showing their parents their work. That is worse than knowing you are missing a smile or a laugh, because now your child knows you're missing it too. Luckily, we do our very best to show up to all the events if we can, and he is so excited to see us.

He loves to see me and he loves to show me what he is doing at school and that is special too. If I was at home with him everyday, he wouldn't be so excited to show me all the things he is learning because I would already know. The excitement and pleasure on his face when he names his continents or matches rhyming words is priceless and makes my heart swell. I'm so proud of him and Evie and all that they are doing. I love that they know more songs than I do, that they play games that I've never seen before, that he learned how to ride a tricycle from an older boy at school, that Luke gets to talk about the Aggies and know that there are other schools out there aside from A&M, and that Evie can see that other little girls wear dresses and bows in their hair. She has girlfriends and he has boyfriends. Their little hands fit with one another and they like to share lunches. I just love everything about that even though I'm not there to witness it.

One of the best things I love about daycare is that there are other parents who are experiencing the same thing and some of these people are our very best friends. And they experience the same twinges of guilt and love that we do. It is easy to talk to them about their careers and their opinions about the education our children are receiving. For example, one of our closest friends is PAH. She is an OB in her last year of residency and she is going to join my OB's practice in the fall. We're all very excited about this. But you should know that this residency program has been very difficult on her and her family, but they've weathered it admirably. PAH and LH have a daughter who is two weeks younger than Luke and they have been in school together since Luke was about three months old. We've watched her grow up and she and Luke have been close friends from the beginning. She LOVES him and he likes her just fine. Sometimes it is a sad little love triangle, but we've all agreed that Luke will be kicking himself when he is 16 because will definitely be gorgeous. Sorry, I digress. Anyway, PAH started her residency at the hospital when little girl was only three months old and since then she has worked her butt off. I don't know how she does it. She works 12-hour shifts and she works a week of nights once a month. That alone would totally screw me up. Whenever we see her she looks exhausted and worn out. She and little girl love on each other, and Dad is constantly single at dinners with us or just out on the town. When I say "out on the town" I don't mean he is hitting bars, but he will hire a babysitter and go to Barnes & Noble or take a long run. And seriously he deserves it because little girl is hyper just like him. He spends a lot of time with his daughter and PAH spends a lot of time with her job. Unfortunately for her family (but fortunately for her patients), the job requires that she spend that much time there taking care of her patients. She and LH love each other, have been married for 13 years and are contemplating having another child, but it is so difficult to comprehend how they make it work since PAH has to miss so much of their daughter's growing up. Don't get me wrong, she makes it to recitals and birthday parties, but dinner every night is an impossibility.

So here is yet anothe example of a mother who is great at what she does, but I'm sure she wonders just like me, whether it is the best for her little girl. Plus, PAH used to be a teacher before med school. I know PAH is better off as a doctor and makes a difference delivering babies, but I also know she misses her family.

Must get to work now.


Ashley said...

I too didn't realize you had a blog until Ginny shared the news with me. I am home during the day right now and love reading about people's lives.

It is a hard decision to make about staying home or going back to work. I feel I am the type of person that works because I love my job and love being around people. I haven't had my first yet, so that might all change. Staying home this summer makes me go crazy. I also feel it is important for kids to have interactions with other kids. You can tell kids in school that have had other social outlets and ones that have not. I feel you are helping your kids out a lot.

I think in life we try to justify why we do things. Sometimes we just have to sit back and accept ourselves and the things we choose to do. It doesn't make us a bad person. We just direct our lives differently.

Keep up the blogging! Thanks for teh therapy session! Sorry this was so long.

Ashley Martin

Theresa said...

Thanks for your input. I really feel pretty good about my decision with regard to the children being in school while I work. I would not be a very good stay at home mom. I think I agonize more over the fact that I have to be away from them in the evenings a lot too. For example, this weekend I had three meetings that took up half of Saturday and almost all of Sunday. I was home last night, but tonight I have a board meeting and then Thursday I have a firm function. Two nights a week isn't too bad, but sometimes it gets a little out of hand. Thanks for your perspective as a teacher. It helps.