Learning to love the self

I believe, as we grow older, that we also grow more wiser in regards to learning to love ourselves.

Picture from canberratimes.com.au

It is amazing how society has done a number on us, especially women. We are taught to question our beauty, or talents, and pin them against the likeness of others instead of teaching us to improve ourselves for ourselves. Instead of being content as a stay-at-home mom, we have to one up others as well as our husbands and do something “more” with our lives.  I have to admit, that for a long time I believed I was going to be a career mom. I grew up with a mom, who for awhile was a single parent, and very busy trying to find work to keep our little family going. She did get a position that she was very successful in, and became a workaholic. She had the chance to retire, but did not enjoy not working. She took a part time job, and then was offered a pretty lucrative executive director position she couldn’t turn down. The thing is, my mom grew up believing, or perhaps from her experiences learned, that true enjoyment in life and love of oneself is derived from what you do as a professional woman.  It wasn’t that being a mom wasn’t important to her, it just wasn’t where she derived her self worth from.

Now, don’t get me wrong… I don’t believe your self worth should come from just a job, or even from being just a mom.  I believe a person’s self-worth comes from just being. Surviving this world and all the good and bad experiences that occur.  I believe that a person’s self worth doesn’t come from someone patting you on the back and telling you that you did a great job on such and such project. Self worth should come from inside, and that the good deeds we do as human beings should be of utmost importance. That we treat others in life with kindness and humility, and we don’t judge others for their choices or decisions because we do not live in their shoes, nor have the background to base such choices on. That a higher power, be it God, Allah, Buddah, whomever, has called us to be better people and accepting of differences in each other because we were all created to be unique individuals.

For me, learning to love myself and be content with who I am today, has been an extremely difficult thing to do. Being a professional working mom was supposed to be what I strove for. You have probably read other posts where I have beaten the proverbial horse dead on this matter, but it is still something I am working on daily. Something I am faced with every time I get an email about a job (which I get about 20 emails a day regarding this) or information on disability related issues.  I have this part of me that so desperately WANTS to be out there doing more for the disability community. Volunteering, participating in legislative issues, working within the community of others with disabilities. But this all requires me to leave home and Sunshine is not permitted to join me.  If she were, this wouldn’t be an issue and I would probably be neck deep in volunteering with Sunshine strapped to my back.

So, here I am. Struggling with wanting to participate in the Governor’s Commission again, but also wanting so desperately to be a good mother. A lot of moms would have made a decision already. I actually have made a decision, by not making a decision. It has to be perfect. The job or volunteer opportunity has to be a sign from God that this is the right move to make.  I have been praying and praying and until that sign appears, I am content with being at home with Sunshine. Technically, we are rarely at home and my husband has been complaining lately that we use more gas than he does.  We have been going out a lot lately, but it is more for my sanity that anything else.  Staying active and involved is a huge part of why I believe I am doing as well as I am without medications.

I know this post is rather random, like much of what I write. But I wanted to remind myself, by writing it down, that learning to love myself is a neverending quest…. that I first need to like myself at bit more and that by striving to be a better person, to myself, to my husband and daughter, to others who I do not know and just meet on the street, a store, or a park…. that being a better person is first and foremost what will help me get closer to that goal of loving who I am.

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When it rains…

It pours.  Yeah, I know. Currently in the great PacNW it is snowing, and you know what that means?!!  Two inches of snow and the state goes down in “emergency lock down” mode. Government agencies, schools, colleges and the like all shut down.  Two inches folks!  Plus, we make national news for those lame two inches because of all the Wuck Fads out there that can’t drive in said snow.  Thus, I stay home and stay safe, out of the asshat drivers way.

So, when it rains, it pours.  (or in this case, it snows).  This is my life right now. 

Before Sunshine, I never batted an eyelash regarding returning to work after having a baby. It was a foregone conclusion.

Here I sit, eight months in with a beautiful little girl, and I haven’t gone back. On the one day (Seriously, only one day) that I felt like “Man, I need to be doing something else. I need to have a life besides just being a mommy,” I ended up applying for two different jobs that happened to pop up and that I would totally have wanted and enjoyed doing.  I still feel I would enjoy these jobs… but I have changed. My goals professionally may be the same, but an added factor has taken priority and really is more important to me right now than pursuing this professional career. Who knew having a kid would change a person? I still am involved in a semi-professional choir (who happens to be the Chorus for a Broadway musical coming to our area!). I still am involved in disability advocacy work, though in  a much more limited fashion. I still love to read, to write, and to help others. But my focus was changed forever when Sunshine came along.

It is hard hanging around my friends who have gone back to work (especially the ones who never  ask me what I’ve been up to because obviously  since I am at home there is nothing new happening in my life. So they never ask, and go on talking about their work lives and so on. It’s like I don’t share anything in common with them anymore because I am not working but staying at home and being a mom. I’m treated as if I have nothing to contribute to their discussions). I have begun to find others who share the work life I currently have and share my day-to-day trials of being a SAHM. My old friends will always be there, but for my own sanity it is good to have people to talk to about what I go through during the day.

Sigh. I digress.  I have learned that with change comes decisions. Some big and some small.  I didn’t fully put my heart into applying for those jobs, but guess what? When you don’t truly want something, it comes along and offers you a chance.  Now you are forced to decide between something you could want, and what your heart is telling you to accept. Yep.  Both jobs I was called in to interview for.  In this tough economy, I think this is great and this means my resume rocks!! I actually didn’t go to one interview because realistically, driving 1 1/2 hours to work, ONE WAY, would totally bite the big one. And this is on good days of traffic in the Puget Sound.  Not. Going. To happen.

The other position, well… I have been in for not one, but two interviews. It is down to me and one other person.  I could totally do this job and it is temporary.  Only an 11 month position to go in and clean house for the disability services department at a local community college that is only about 10 minutes away from where we live. SWEET!!!!  I thought it was the perfect situation because they have a onsight day care so I could continue nursing and visit when I needed to.  A sign of the times, however, as they lost funding for the 1 month-12 month infant program, and thus cannot take Sunshine until she is one year old.  This is the status of a lot of day cares in the area.  She is 8 1/2 months old right now.  That means trying to find a place that could take her for 3 months.

I hate to say this folks… but it is not looking good.  I love my kid, as so many parents love their children.  I grew up with my own past issues of being left with people I didn’t know countless times as my mom had to travel down to Sacramento or San Fran when my brother was in the hospital for whatever reason at the time. I was left with a grandfather who was a pedophile and we don’t need to go into details there.  We know what happened.  So, I have trust issues with my own family let alone trusting complete strangers.  I want my daughter near me. I want to continue to watch her grow and see as much of it as possible. I do NOT want someone else to tell me she walked for the first time, or said a new word.  I want to BE THERE for those milestones. I am not able to leave her just yet. I am not able to let go when she clings so much to me as she learns new things.

Would it be different if the day care actually did take Sunshine? Would I be able to say yes?  I probably could.  This job would get us out of the “red” financially.  I am lucky to have a hubby who supports me no matter what.  He is reluctant to truly say what he thinks I should do, but then again, neither of us have an answer as to what to do for the 3 months before Sunshine could go to the college’s daycare.  We have lots of friends that returned to work, but their family members are caring for their kids.  We do not have family nearby to take care of Sunshine.

So it is down to this: Anyone have any ideas as to what we should do for daycare? Anyone have any advice as to what I should say if offered the job?

To Work? Or Not to Work?

The Working Mom

When I was younger, I always dreamt that I would be a career woman. When I got older, I thought “I will be a career mom.”  Now that I have Sunshine, I find myself currently a stay at home mom. I have enjoyed these past 7 months. Only one day did I not enjoy it, and that was last week when the teething got so bad, and I hadn’t had any time to myself. I sat and said, “Lord, this is one of those days I wish I was working.”

I am actually surprised it has only been one day I felt that way. I so often thought that I would want to escape being a mommy just for a bit, so that I could be “me” before mommyhood. I guess I feel that is a bit selfish of me… to want to be the “old me.”  The “old me” no longer exists.  There is the me that exists now, and really… there is not much about me that isn’t wholly tied to Sunshine. What she eats. When she sleeps. What she poops. What she says.

What do I miss from working?  The interacting with “big people” every day. Interactions that just might feature multiple syllables.  The comments and pats on the back for a job well done.  Hearing someone say “You did a great job today” and knowing that I also helped to contribute to putting food on our table. That what I did today had nothing to do with a beautiful little girl, and her learning, but had to do with what I can offer the world, society, as a person: Giving of myself, my time, my talents, as were honed via my education.  I miss these things.

Disability Rights

I have a Master’s degree. Did I ever tell you that? I worked really hard to get this Master’s degree, with a 3.9 GPA. I have a degree in Rehabilitation Counseling. This is on top of my B.A. in Special Education. I passed the National Level test so that I am a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor. I love working with individuals with disabilities. I grew up with a brother with severe disabilities. I have a disability. I connect to a lot of people through the similarities and differences in struggles we stumble upon in our misadventures of being “differently-abled.”  I guess this is where I derive my satisfaction at helping others succeed. I discovered, however, that the scholarship that I received to obtain my Masters degree will have to be paid back if I don’t work in a non-profit or government agency for a time.  I have until 2015 to complete my obligation to work for non-profit/govt agency(for four years) before I lose out and have to begin repaying my grant.  The incentive and pressure to work is definitely increased by this fact.

On top of that… we have many of the same financial struggles as others.   Too much debt on the whole.  Just working for a bit part-time would help pay some of these things off, but then the cost of child care would significantly offset any gains. On this front, I was forwarded information about a position by a colleague.   This opportunity looks to be absolutely awesome, yet it would only be a temporary full-time position. Whether I am to be considered for this position, I do not know, but it would be a terrific opportunity.  Even paying for child care, I would still be able to help offset other costs we have. I know my hubby, the DOH, is rather reticent to have me resume my career just now.  He too wants for Sunshine to have at least one of us with her.  As written, that sounds terribly unfair, but in his own way he is sad to miss out on the experiences that she and I have together.  In addition to all of this, there’s the management of ourselves and our “hovel”.  My husband is still fighting off cancer, yet he is the one working. What if he couldn’t work anymore? Also, we have a hard enough time getting chores done around here even with me home. What will we do if I went back to work?

I would miss one year of Sunshine’s growth, her learning and smiles. Just this past week her “ma-ma-ma’s” that she’s been

You're leaving me?

saying since she was at five months, have actually been directed to me when she is upset and holding up her arms to be picked up. I could miss that first step, that run, that first sentence.  I could also miss out on the chance to be me, just Heather, for a while. I think this is important for my own sanity and mental health. On the other hand, I may be forgoing the chance to help get us out of debt.

So while there is no real decision before us to be made, I continue to ponder the what if’s and the maybe’s that could be possible. Wondering what living life without debt hanging over our heads (Wow! Is this even heard of?), and wondering what Sunshine will do next to inspire my amazement.  Is it worth it to work, even for only a short time?  I am beginning to believe, for the health of my relationship with the DOH (getting rid of this financial stress), and the betterment of our family, that working, at least for now would be the best option.

I haven’t even been chosen for a mere interview yet.  So why is it that I feel so guilty at just the thought of returning to work?