Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Yesterday was not a really good day to receive a link to my alma mater's alumni website.  Josh was sick, I was coming down with it, the house was a mess, my husband was on a 24 hour shift, and I could not believe that I was not sitting in a nice, warm, clean office somewhere with manicured nails and adult conversation.  So in the middle of feeling like this, I happen upon the wonderful exploits of my college friends.
Disclaimer: I know that many of my college classmates are now stay at home mothers.  They were just not people I was friends with..

As I've said before, I was in a highly academic program at a highly academic college.  Googling some of my friends from college, I discover they are now: three doctors, a college professor in philosophy, a Ph.D. in chemistry, a college professor in English literature, six attorneys and several professors of theology.  One friend has an MBA, my best friend from college is an editor and analyst in Washington, D.C. and I watch her sometimes on Fox News and CNN.  Four have written books.  And this was my inner circle at college, the people I was closest to.

Meanwhile, I wiped the baby's runny nose at least 8 million times yesterday.

It is hard not to compare our dreams with our reality, especially when many of our peers have accomplished what we believe to be what we wanted.  I wanted to be a lawyer or a college professor of philosophy or literature. Or both.  I did not want to be a stay at home mom, and, actually, I didn't even want kids. Or marriage--I didn't want to ever get married until I was 26 years old and Robbie changed my mind.  And I didn't want kids, but I knew that Rob would...and my doctor was clear that if we wanted children, sooner was better than later--there was no later.  So here I am, 29 years old, which in my college peer group is way to young to be married and a mother.  In fact, I am the only person I know from college who has a child.  And no doctorate, no corner office, no teaching position.  I'm a mom, and I have no idea how I wound up here.

This isn't to say that I don't love being a mom.  I do.  I love my baby boy with my whole heart.  But I don't always like being a stay at home mom, which to many people, is the next thing to heresy.  I don't enjoy running a home.  It bores me.  I miss people.  I miss doing things, accomplishing things.  I may not get a PhD at this point, but there is a certain level of success that I wanted to attain.  I want to wear nice clothes to work and not have to change clothes five times a day because they got spit up on.  I want to have a job where things are accomplished, my desk is neat, and I get to go to meetings and have coffee.  I may be the only person in the world who loves meetings.

Maybe I just want an accomplishment that I can stick up on the alumni board, too.

We've talked off and on about me going back to work. I  was hired back at my old job, working with emotionally disturbed children and their families, but I didn't have all my addresses back to 1982, which New York state now requires for a child abuse clearance.  And, frankly, working full time doesn't make a lot of financial sense with what we would pay for day care.  If I could figure out how to pay for school, I'd finish my teaching certification, but that's going to be on hold till summer at the earliest.

So I honestly don't know what to do.  I know that a lot of women would kill for my options, and I am so thankful that the choices are there.  But I have to decide what the right choice is for me--to stay home and keep trying not to be miserable, or go find a job and probably lose money on child care.  Or to find a third alternative that just hasn't presented itself yet.
But I have to figure something out before I go crazy.


nolongerIFBx said...

10 years from now when your peers are having trouble finding a man (cause they're all married, gay, or mental) or trouble getting pregnant because they put it off too long, you'll be glad. Education can happen at any time in your life. As you well know, the window of fertility can be fleeting.

Anonymous said...

I beg to differ. I found a husband (one with no children even) at 34 years old and I also had a baby at 36 years old. So, all is not lost for those who choose to wait. I think it's unfair to paint her peers as being relegated to lives of spinsterhood just to make her feel better about her choices.

As for the blogger: Don't fret. I'm sure there is a good choice out there that will give you the outside employment you seek while allowing you to enjoy the family you have. It may not have presented itself as of yet, but it's out there. Just keep looking and don't loose hope.

Katie said...

I used to have aspirations of going to a top five graduate institution for my field (computing) and becoming someone well-known. Instead I'm married, working in an average company, and dreaming of the day when I can be a mother. I know that we'll never be able to afford a house in our high cost of living area unless I keep working in at least a part time capacity, so I'll be writing computer code - with the ups and the downs - for the rest of my life. It's not the life that my peers in prep high school have; their bios tend to read like your peers from college. It's not the stay-at-home mom dream I eventually developed (after kicking and screaming against the idea for a while) either.

What I keep reminding myself is what both commenters above me illustrated - nothing is really all that permanent. noLongerIFBx pointed out that education can wait. He or she is right. My dad is in his mid-50s and working on completing a PhD and his work so far has been recognized in a few key places. A woman I know who found herself miserable full time ended up finding out that working 3 days a week gave her the right mix of time with her rambunctious kids and office time so that she and her family were happy and healthy. I know of teachers who both teach part time and switch days watching each other's kids for free, solving the childcare dilemma.

You know, of course, that you have choices. At the end of the day what really matters is finding the one that glorifies God, works for your family by working for you, and lets you both fulfill your duties and exercise your gifts and abilities for good in the world. You'll get there.