I suppose I could blame my three-week posting hiatus on the holiday madness, but it wouldn’t be exactly true. Certainly my bake-a-thon and Santa errands and cross-country travel figured into the busyness scale somewhat; however, since I’m going for total honesty on this here blog (bloghesty? seriously, how many more mutant words can we get out of the blog trope?) I’m going to try to explain why I’ve been avoiding it.
Shortly after my last post, my husband was offered a job. At a solid company, in an industry he’d been wanting to move to, with a decent salary and enough seniority and benefits and challenge to warrant the rather hideous commute. So yay! Salvation! We wouldn’t lose our house or health insurance after all, the kids could stay in school, we’d actually have a Christmas, it was a genuine Miracle on Shriek House Street.
But after a few days of having my O! Elation! face on, it started to crack. I felt… blue. Left behind. Non-involved, non-contributory, non-grata. As we tried to find deals on new work clothes for him, and crammed in as much daddy-kids time as possible (since aforementioned hideous commute will essentially preclude his seeing them during the week), and drank wine every night because suddenly we felt so flush and celebratory… inside, my mood fizzled into grim self-pity.
And I’m embarrassed to say, it was all tied up in stupid value-of-work stuff, things that shouldn’t matter now because I made my choice to be a SAHM/WAHM and still think it was the right one for our family at the time. But this year I was ready for returning to work outside the home, and I have been sending out resumes since last spring with no results, and then he went and landed a job in less than three months. He was recruited. And his earning power is triple mine. Ow.
I tell myself it’s the gaps in my resume (that’s the SAHM part) and the career change a few years back. I don’t have senior experience in either field now. The job market is flooded with qualified people. Employers are scaling back. It’s the economy, stupid. It’s not me.
But that’s just nervous patter. It covers the real inner monologue, the one that goes: You totally suck. The only people giving you work are your contacts from before. It’s just mercy work. And you spend more time stressing and fussing over it than it pays. You’re barely putting a dent in the daycare and tuition bills you’re supposedly covering. Your husband can’t rely on you. He doesn’t respect you. Your kids think you care more about the computer than them. Your real writer friends are laughing behind your back.
And so on. I know we’re supposed to ignore our inner critics, or turn them off or transform them into unicorn syrup to serve over our glittering pancakes of greatness…. but I just can’t. There’s no off button. I think maybe it will shut up if I just find work, so I keep sending pitches and resumes into the ether, working on existing little projects, guiltily stealing an hour here and there to write bits of my novel, tweeting gamely about the daily travails of motherhood in a desperate effort to keep myself amused and engaged. Above water.
But really, it all feels like… you know that scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey, near the end, where Dave Bowman just drifts off into space, and you see him getting smaller and smaller and smaller before the immensity of dark, empty space? Yeah. It feels like that.
The less I work, the less valued I feel. The more time I spend on domestic duties, the more I resent them. The more time I spend with my kids, the more I value that time with them, yet feel it slipping steadily away. This is not an equation that balances out.
And now that I’ve vented plenty of steam and made it through this post (it only took three days of false starts) I realize, today on the eve of the New Year, I don’t want to end this year in a whining, navel-gazing grumblifesto. I don’t want that mindset to become a habit. So, um… hang on, I need to think how to extricate myself…
Ok. I’m going to let this be my bloggy version of a colon cleanse: a bunch of toxic crap that had to come out. But it doesn’t earn me a free pass to keep making more. No.
Tomorrow, New Year’s Day, I will start fresh, with less vitriol and more fiber. My resolution is to to try to let it all go: the self-directed hatred, the self-doubt, the judgement, the expectations, the resentment, the bitterness. My resolution is to try to find value in who I am now, not who I was or who I could be. I may need some reminders or flax seeds or something. But my resolution is to try. My best and my hardest. For me.
Ok, 2010. I’m ready. Engage.