Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Yin and Yang

I have now officially been a SAHM for a month. It has been an interesting transition.

I have always worked, always been thinking of a way to make money. When I was six years old, my dad filled my red wagon up with vegetables from his garden for me to go give the neighbors. Somewhere between my parents house and my first stop, I got the idea of charging 10 cents a veggie. My neighbors paid without hesitation. I even gave a "volume discount" - if you bought five tomatoes, I threw in an ear of corn!

Our neighborhood was small and we knew everyone, it was a different time, so my parents were only occasionally glancing out the window to make sure I was okay. They weren't really paying much attention to the transactions going on. When I arrived home, minus the vegetables and $5 richer, they were horrified that I had extorted the neighbors for what they had intended to be a nice gesture. They made me go back to all of the houses and give back the money, this time at my side with an apology. Strangely enough, no one really wanted their money back. They all thought it was "cute" that a six year old showed such early business acumen and wanted to reward that with some spare change out of their pockets.

This goes to show that even from my youngest days, I was always thinking how I could make money. I was a hard worker, too, and the combination of ingenuity and work ethic served me well. I used my determination to get through college with less than $5000 in debt, which I paid off in the year after graduation. I worked two, sometimes three, jobs all while maintaining a 3.91 GPA. I applied for scholarships, fellowships, grants, and essay contests, anything I could think of. When graduation loomed, I started interviewing for jobs, even while I was still studying for finals. I had two weeks "off" after graduating from college at the age of 20. While most of my friends backpacked through Europe or hung around the pool for the summer, I was flying cross-country for sales training. I had a company car and a decent salary right out of college when I started my first job working for the Camp.bell Sales (Soup) Company.

A few years later, when I got an opportunity to interview with Jans.sen Pharmaceuticals, a division of John.son & John.son, I jumped at it. I had wanted to get into the medical sales field for awhile, but it is competitive field and not easy to break in to. Working for John.son & John.son was an incredible experience. It is an amazing company, with phenomenal opportunities, and I really felt as if I was always able to do the right thing by customers. It is a company that stand behind its products and I was proud to tell people what company I worked for and the products that I represented. I represented several products in my tenure with the company, but I was most passionate about the life-saving antibiotics that were in my bag. When I was promoted to the hospital sales force and starting working in the ICU, I felt as if I was truly helping people. And I was good at what I did.

The other side of me, however, was the part that wanted to meet Mr. Right, settle down, raise 2.5 kids with the white picket fence. I am an interesting dichotomy of wanting to climb to the top of the corporate ladder and blow through that glass ceiling, all the while dreaming of a simple life with my babies. I think infertility threw an extra wrench in this whole split personality thing, too, because when my body kept failing me, at least I could feel as if I still had some purpose in life.

I did meet M, we did get married, we bought our home (no picket fence, though) and we had miscarriages. All the while, I threw myself into work, trying to distract myself from the sadness and feelings of futility that infertility brings. I had to grapple with the very real possibility that parenthood would always elude me and I started realizing that my career might come to mean more to me than I ever expected.

So when it came time to give up my job, I truly felt as if a part of my identity was being ripped away. This is a feeling that I never expected, but looking back, I was incredibly naive. When you do something that you love, something that you are passionate about, of course it is going to become ingrained in you.

The truth is that life is about making choices. Right now, my choice has been to nurture the homemaker in me. I ignored that half of me for a long time and now it's her turn. I am not complaining, but rather just looking around me in a sort of half-daze, wondering when it is that I am going to wake up and have to go back to work, not quite realizing that for the foreseeable future, that isn't going to happen.

And my days are very full. I spend a lot of time with Will, I take time for cleaning and laundry that used to have to be crammed into the weekends. When M is home, I try to focus on family time. I am getting involved in some Mothers Groups and enrolling Will in swim classes. I don't find that I miss work so much as the sense of "getting the job done." With motherhood, there are very few times when you really feel as if you have truly accomplished something. We're now in an 18 year (plus) marathon rather than the sprints that I used to find myself in corporate America. But when I see how happy Will is, or when I get to focus on him rather than running around trying to get out the door for work, I am sure that I am nurturing the right part of myself right now. More importantly, it's not about me anymore, it's about him and giving him the best care that we can. I do feel fortunate that we can make this work for our family, so I don't want this post to sound whiny. I imagine most people feel this way, whether they choose to stay home or go back to their careers. The push and shove, the yin and yang. It's what's life, and parenthood, is all about.


Joy said...

This is a beautiful post--- and it's wonderful giving your homemaker self time to shine, all for Will's sake!

So... are you guys going to build a picket fence?! LOL! Life is grand, isn't it?!

Fertilized said...

I thin this post sounds extremely happy and not whiney at all.

Jen said...


I do agree with the lack of completed tasks feeling. I hate that I can never have all of the diapers clean at the same time. :) I keep a checklist just for the fun of checking things off so that I can feel like I am accomplishing things.

Adriane said...

We sound a lot alike, my friend. Same college experience, worked hard all my life, etc. I really loved this post because it wasn't about losing your identify, it was about seeing a different side of yourself and jumping in full force. Fabulous.

~Hollie said...

I don't think this is whiney. I think you put into words a feeling that many haven't been able to. You put a voice to that feeling. Its great for me, especially since I'm grappling with the idea of being a SAHM. Once I leave, there's no going back until the perfect thing falls into my lap, which could be quite some time. Lots of questions to answer, but I loved your perspective on this. Thank you

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