Monday, January 21, 2013

Mommy of 2: Difficult Time Finding Time

I really mean to update my blog more, but watching two children is proving to be more difficult than I had ever imagined. My youngest, 10 months, is napping now. My oldest, almost 3 years, is trying to ride my back as though I were a pony. Still, this is about the closest to a break I get in the day, so I'm trying to type what I can.

There are so many arguments out there as to which is the more stressful gig--staying home full-time as a stay-at-home-mom or working full-time and then coming home and watching the kids as a second job. I'm convinced it has everything to do with your own unique introversion-extroversion tendencies. Of course, other things go into it, like patience and stress tolerance, but I'm just going to focus on how the ability to have private thoughts and experience an "inner-world" is what makes it more difficult for some stay-at-home-moms but not others.

When you are a stay-at-home-mom of two young children, you never, ever get to just sit and enjoy your own thoughts. It's exhausting for me to go from one external prompt to another. This was never the case with a job outside the home. My husband, who is a lawyer, is like me in this respect--we're both introverts who are energized by internal thoughts. He values what I do because he prefers doing intensive research and drafting briefs and going to court over sitting around with children who make it impossible to enjoy quiet time and private thoughts.

On the other hand, there are individuals who are easily exhausted by internal thoughts and are instead energized by external stimuli--the extroverts. I imagine that staying home with the kids and doing "stuff" all day--answering questions, repeating spoken requests over and over again because the child needs to be reassured, playing, watching, teaching, and all activities being back-to-back-to-back without a moment's pause to live inside your own head--is energizing to these individuals.  Being a lawyer and doing research and writing papers, on the other hand, might be exhausting.

Everyone falls somewhere on the introversion-extroversion scale and of course it is not to be confused with intelligence or with shyness. Just because you're extroverted doesn't mean you'd want to stay home and watch your kids--you might enjoy the fast-paced environment as a sociable CEO or something. You might be painfully shy, but not an introvert--you're still energized by the external world and exhausted by too much time spent in the internal world. Everyone knows someone who is shy but who keeps showing up at party scenes, or who is really easy to talk with but who prefers to stay in on a Friday night.

It comes down to what energizes us.

I enjoy spending time with my kids, but I find it incredibly exhausting. I feel like I can't get anything done, despite the long list of things that do "get done," simply because I have no time to think through my own private ventures, thoughts, and dreams.

For me, I'm 100% certain that working outside the home would be easier than being a stay-at-home-mom. But of course, like many things, it's a bit more complicated than that. Being a parent has had the effect of making me love my children so much that I'm afraid that no one else can watch them and love them as well as I could. I've been pushed to the brink of the irrational, I know. I might be convinced to place my precious sweets in the charge of a highly-paid, highly-qualified nanny who would watch them in the safety of my own house, but alas, such services are incredibly expensive. And I don't even have my own house yet. I don't have a reliable, familial matron to help watch the kids, either (that would probably be my first choice.) So here I am, watching my chillins.

I'm grateful to be able to stay at home and watch my chillins because I know that there are people out there who really want to but who aren't able to for whatever reason. I'm grateful to be able to build their self-esteems and imaginations and to watch them grow. It gives me peace of mind and I carry no guilt about my children's upbringing.

I'm disappointed that what I do is still under the radar as being challenging work. I'm disappointed when I feel judged for not contributing to my family's finances. I'm disappointed that my career has been put on halt and that I may never recover from the substantial gap in my resume. I'm disappointed that women and men continue to quibble over something that is highly personable and that is experienced quite differently for people with different personality profiles.

And of course, even children have different personality profiles and experience the presence and involvement of family members and various caregivers differently.

Anyway, I'd like to thank my toddler for holding off on her "cheesy eggs" just long enough for me to write this.

Background noise while creating this post included:

"Mommy? Mommy? Where's Rudolph the Rednose Reindeer? Is he under the blankets? Mommy, I'm hungry. Mommy? I want cheesy eggs. I want orange cheese. Are you done? Where's Rudolph? He had a very shiny nose. Turn the tv on. Turn the tv off. Okay! Okay! Okay-kay-kay! Turn the computer off!" etc., etc.

Background sensations while creating this post included:

Kick to the back. An "accidental" hair yanking. Acting as a pony ride. Getting my lap crawled into. Various jabs. Shirt sleeve pulls.

All-in-all, some pretty good "self" time (considering the other, needier child is still napping.)

It's a good thing I love my babies so much!