Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Is That How She Sees Me?

When I look in the mirror, I see a lot of people looking back at me. I look at the working woman who has the respect of her colleagues. I see the PTO president at the wee ones' preschool who takes on all the roles no one else can or will. I see the mom of two small children who does everything she can to make the best lives possible for them. I see a wife who helps her husband out wherever she can. I see someone involved in a babysitting co-op, a friend, a daughter, a cook, a cleaner, an organizer, a reader, and more.

I see it all in one face. I see it all happen, even when some aspects are more prevalent than others.

I've known for awhile that the working woman has been getting bigger. My hours have been increasing, and I've been spending more time and effort on my job than I'd like. There are many reasons for it, and I've come close to quitting a few times in an effort to better balance my life, but I keep telling myself, not now.

Not in this economy when so many others have no job.

Not when I work part-time and mostly from home.

Not when I have a job that challenges my brain and is well respected.

Not when I receive a paycheck that keeps me from hyperventilating when I open the bills.

Today, Little Miss came home with an art project from school.

My four year old daughter drew her family, and her teacher labeled the pictures for her. Little Miss is there, as is Mister Man. She drew daddy, and she included our two cats (although the teacher obviously misunderstood "Roar" as "Roy"). And she included "my grandma who likes to shop a lot."

But there's no mommy.

I didn't make it into my daughter's view of her family.

When I saw the picture, I asked her where Mommy was. She looked at the picture and was confused. She tried to say that Roar was me. And Meow. And my husband. And Mister Man. Even herself and grandma.

But I'm not there.

When Mister Man was two and a half, I quit my job because he cried and screamed "no" when he saw me on the weekends. It was obvious that my full-time account management role that kept me on the road or in the office throughout the week didn't work for my family.

And I think it's time that I faced up to the fact that maybe my job isn't working for my family now. And that? That is more important than keeping my brain challenged, the bank account full, and myself marketable.

I just need to screw up my courage and talk to my company. And maybe show them the picture Little Miss drew. As unskilled as it is, it's one of the clearest pictures I've seen in a long time.


Unknown Mami October 7, 2009 at 11:56 PM  

Oh Sweetie! Ouch! I'm sending you a hug. You are a good Mommy. You are just a busy Mommy.

Laura October 8, 2009 at 12:25 AM  

Ouch! So scary to think of leaving security but kids are only kids for about 3 seconds and then they are off and driving and then gone. I know.

morninglight mama October 8, 2009 at 7:09 AM  

I definitely can understand how seeing that picture made you feel, but can I offer a different perspective? I'm home with my kids full-time, and my 3 year old routinely tells stories about her "WHOLE family," including the granparents that live hours away and she only sees every few months.

I'm left out the vast majority of the time. Yup- the person with whom she spends all day, every single day.

That's not to say that you shouldn't make an adjustment if that's what you feel is right at this time, but it's just to suggest that there may not be the deeper meaning in your dear daughter's drawing that you've inferred.

(No offense meant with my comments, I hope you know-- I'm not weighing in on either option being better than the other!)

Cairo Typ0 October 8, 2009 at 9:29 AM  

I'm sorry. Staying home or cutting back on hours are tough choices to make right now. You're a good mother and your daughter knows that and that counts for more than any dozen pictures.

Jody October 8, 2009 at 12:21 PM  

Ouch. But maybe she assumed she had put you in there.

I don't know what to say I have no kids sorry.

Jennifer October 8, 2009 at 2:43 PM  

Wow. One time I heard Baby Girl playing and she said, "not now, Mommy has to go work, now hurry up..." I cried inside. It hurt. I wish I could do something about it, but I can't. Being a mom is hard. We've all been there.

Anonymous October 8, 2009 at 2:51 PM  

Ouch. What a terrible position to be in! Finding that balance is so difficult . . . I am here 24/7 - my kids are so tired of seeing me that they hardly notice when I leave. I hope you are able to work something out - soon!

Roxane October 8, 2009 at 5:13 PM  

Oh Hun I'm so sorry. I dont know what I'd do in your situation but I hope that you get enough peace of mind to make the right decision for yourself and your family!

H F W October 8, 2009 at 7:33 PM  

It's a hard decision now ... but you're right. Your kids are always worth any sacrifice. Hugs to you. I hope it's not too hard on you.

June Freaking Cleaver October 8, 2009 at 8:23 PM  

Like morninglightmama, my daughter left me out of the family pic at preschool. I was a SAHM - she just didn't draw me - that time. Other times, I made the cut.

She's grown now, and doesn't forget her ole mom.

Elizabeth October 8, 2009 at 8:31 PM  

Don't read too much into it yet. And remember that even if you were a SAHM, that doesn't necessarily mean you'd be spending that much more quality time with her! Right? You might be filling that up with more PTO presidency duties and cooking and cleaning and... blah, blah, blah. At least that's the life I'm living right now.

And, besides, you pride yourself on not being a helicopter parent and not hovering. If she's four and will be starting kindergarten in a year or two, she'll need to start separating then anyway. And I'd HATE to see you quit a job now that is so flexible and challenging and rewarding.

That's just my two cents' worth. I hope it didn't offend you. It's just my view from SAHM-dom. The grass is always greener, right? :)

Mama Kat October 8, 2009 at 9:55 PM  

Awww, my heart hurts for you. That has to be so hard to deal with, but what a huge decision!!

Michelle October 9, 2009 at 8:15 PM  

Unkown Mami - I appreciate it. I'm a busy mommy, but the question is whether I'm busy doing the right things.

Laura - That's what I keep beating myself up with. I think I'm bringing that picture into the office to show my boss's boss next time I go in.

Dawn - Of course no offense taken. And it actually makes me feel a lot better to know that you get left out sometimes, too. But I'm still struggling.

Cairo Typ0 - It is a tough decision, but when I look at what's most important in life... I don't know that working is when I see the stress it puts on everyone and everything.

Jody - She did seem surprised when I asked her where I was, so that could be. I'm just omnipotent maybe!

Jennifer - It is hard. And the thing is, I *could* do soemthing about it. I just have to decide what the right thing is.

Nichole - That's where the grass is always greener perspective comes from. Can't someone just TELL me what works out best fifteen years from now? ;)

Roxane - Thanks, I appreciate the good thoughts. I'll have a chat with my boss's boss on the 20th when I go in again. We'll see how that goes.

Hyacynth - That's the reminder. Any sacrifice ... they're worth it.

June Freaking Cleaver - Good to know this side of th story. I do appreciate you telling me. A lot.

Elizabeth - I'd do some more with her, especially during lunchtime (where I let her help cook her own food) and after naptime when I'm otherwise stuck with work things. When I'm working from home and not able to eat dinner with my family... that's not so good. No offense, of course. And no easy answer, either.

Mama Kat - Absolutely. And one I've been agonizing over since spring. So far, intertia is winning.

Cookie October 9, 2009 at 9:17 PM  

Oh Wow! that' a tough one. I don't know if I would take it too personally though. I'm home with my kids and I was just a stick on my son's picture. he was drawn. His brother was there. And I was one single line. Oh and the teacher said that another student drew a dog for his family. I'm sure that kid's parents are very proud.

Tam October 10, 2009 at 10:21 AM  

I am with my kids constantly. My Husband is gone all the time..military. My Kindergarten drew the family at school and I was NOT in the picture. MY Husband was though..who is never here. I asked where mom was and he said he just felt like drawing Daddy and Brother. Go figure. Don't beat yourself up about it too much. MY boys take me for granted really and when Dad is home....HMM I am just the maid. LOL

Eliza October 10, 2009 at 4:21 PM  

Mothers have these inner battles with themselves all the time. It's okay to work, our kids will find something to hate about us being gone, but they will also find something to hate about us being home all the time. What IS the winning solution? Is there even one??

My new blog is up, would love to have you visit!

Melisa with one S October 10, 2009 at 10:46 PM  

Hmm. I think that you might possibly have felt crushed by it BECAUSE you've been so torn about work lately. I agree with whoever said not to read that much into it at this point. It would be a little different if Little Miss was acting out or giving you other signs that she feels your absence more than your presence. Just my opinion! :)


Steph at Problem Solvin' Mom October 11, 2009 at 6:16 PM  

Oy, that's a tough one - it's hard to find the "right" balance, the one that makes everyone in your family happy and comfortable.

Sweetpea says things that break my heart sometimes, but I think it's harder on me that I work than it is on her, at least at this point. I'm struggling with whether to go back to work after our facility gets closed.


Pat October 14, 2009 at 12:22 PM  

Ohhh, Michelle, this almost made me cry. It does make me think you've been spreading yourself too thin. By the way, your three-year-old daughter draws people better than some 5-year-olds do. I speak from experience as a long-term kindergartem substitute teacher.

bettyl October 17, 2009 at 1:19 AM  

I'm sure that it hurt to see, but then, as others have mentioned, I don't think she meant it like you see it. Maybe you are always there for her and she just takes you for granted.

Don't let it get you down or make you do something you aren't ready to do.

Sounds like you are a great mom, to me!

Michelle October 17, 2009 at 9:00 PM  

Cookie - True. At least we weren't solely represented by the pets :)

Tam - Gotta love being the maid. And Little Miss has made a point of saying that she'll make sure I'm in the next picture. It just hit at the wrong time.

Eliza - I don't know if there is one winning solution, but being happy and being THERE when the wee ones are is key. And right now, I'm too stressed for that, and much of that is coming from work unfortunately.

Melisa - You're absolutely right on the why. Bad timing. And no, no acting out thankfully....

Steph - Yeah... you have a good excuse to "try it out" for awhile to see how you like it. But that choice is a rough one.

Pat - She has great fine and gross motor, so she gets credit for that. Oh and she did turn four in August, so technically she's only mildly proficient ;)

betty - No, she didn't mean it. She's a sweet girl and she loves her mommy. And trust me, I'm ready. I'm just waiting for that proverbial last straw...

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