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?

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Best. Compliment. Ever.

Hopefully, you’re familiar with the feeling one gets when one receives a compliment. At its best, it can just about make your day, right? Ranging from comments in passing like “that shirt really brings out your eyes,” or the “Your hair looks great today,” to something deeper and maybe more meaningful, such as “I think you are a super role model for my daughter.” These can be a real pick-me-up. Today, I received such a compliment and for reasons that are personal to me and my situation, it pretty much made my year. Granted, the calendar year did just start, but being able to kick it off this way was/is pretty cool nonetheless.

Today, I was visiting my counselor and my ARNP. We were discussing my sleep, or lack thereof, as it relates to Sunshine-care. I happened to mention that I was going to be joining a MOPS(Mothers of pre-schoolers and this is # 6 on my list of new years resolutions- Woot!) group on Thursday and that I wanted to network and create more opportunities to get out and socialize. Perhaps it is that I am trying super hard to remain healthy and connected to people when I tend to want to stay holed up in my house with Sunshine and isolate. *sigh*…social anxiety sucks.

At this point, my ARNP stopped me and said, “You know. You are like a mom living without a mental illness.” She went on to explain that I am healthier than I have ever been (in her eyes), and being that I have been visiting her since 2006, this is quite significant to me, as well as flattering. She mentioned that perhaps this is the best job for me to have; being a mom, that is. She also spoke about how situations related to work most likely have had a negative impact upon my mental illness due to my anxiety, perfectionism, and having had some pretty crummy bosses/supervisors.

Depending upon your own perspective/experience, maybe you’re scratching your head and wondering how this might be a compliment. Well, you see – when someone says “You seem almost normal to me” when in the past I have felt anything but that, it gives me a boost of confidence to know that I am caring for myself well, and that this shows. Taking into consideration that which I know to be true about myself of late, I DO feel that I’ve got my crap together. I am super observant of my emotions and where they are taking me, so upon reflection, this seems pretty much spot on.

With this exchange having further cemented my decision NOT to return to the workforce at this time such that I might experience the joys of mommyhood full-time 24/7, I now get called to interview for a job that I would absolutely LOVE to have. *ARGHH*

Were I to accept an offer for this position, I would be working at a college teaching students with disabilities and helping them find internships. This is what I am good at. This is what I love to do. Can I take this on and still be a good mommy? Still maintain my mental health? Can I miss out on all the learning Sunshine will do, as she is so close to walking and possibly crawling (yeah, I know backwards but she is an ambitious little gal). She is engaged in learning new things each day, and I am not so sure I want to miss that.

The dilemma for this lovely day is to decide whether I should interview or not. I do not wish to take up this organization’s time if they are unable to accommodate me. I do great work. I am good at what I do. I say this while looking back upon the work that I have done during my career and this gives me the confidence to go and interview. I would be worth their time. However, I hope that if I am offered the position that I could ease into it somehow – I’m not sure how to get used to the whole “Sunshine and me apart for more than 3-4 hours” situation. She will be 8 months old tomorrow, and we have not spent more than 4 hours apart. I know that working will be hard on her, and incredibly hard for me. This Saturday will be her first time just with dad for the whole day while I attend a choir retreat. This will be really hard for me (and for the Orbs), but as absence makes the heart grow fonder, the return home to get my Sunshine hugs will be just that much better.

I also need to be realistic. She is still not sleeping through the night. As in, waking up about 9-10 times between 1:00- 7:00am. Plus we are still co-sleeping with her. This equals not so much sleep for me. Being a SAHM, I currently have the flexibility to sleep in a bit longer with her, or to just take it easy . This may be a significant factor as to why I am doing so well mentally/emotionally. Signing me up for a rigid schedule and book-ending it with a pretty hectic commute…well, maybe that’s not so fun or easy on my sanity and well-being. If we are still not getting good sleep during this next step in my professional career, at least Sunshine will have the option of sleeping during the commute. I will be jealous at times, I’m sure.

This is going to be a hard decision for me. We could use the financial stability. We could use the peace of mind knowing our bills were getting taken care of, and outstanding debt has been eradicated. On the other side of the coin, we could have the peace of mind knowing that Sunshine is with a parent, me, and I get to spend time watching her grow. I may also be giving myself the best chance at mental stability. Yeah. Not such a tough decision now, is it? *sigh* As my hubby observed, “It’s Murphy’s law. When you don’t want something to happen or don’t care if it comes around, it will do just that. When you do want something and the timing is right, it won’t work out. The perfect job just doesn’t ever seem to come at a perfect time.” No kidding.

“It is an experience common to all men to find that, on any special occasion, such as the production of a magical effect for the first time in public, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. Whether we must attribute this to the malignity of matter or to the total depravity of inanimate things, whether the exciting cause is hurry, worry, or what not, the fact remains.” (Murphy’s Law; Wikipedia)

Well, at least I can bask in the glory of the compliment I received for today. My ARNP thinks I am pretty normal. Considering where I’ve been, this is magnificent indeed.

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?