part-time mother

I was a stay-at-home mom for eight years. For eight years, I had no employment outside of raising my own children. I made no money, I had no career obligations. I was a classic “opt-out,” a woman who traded in a potentially high-powered job for the hearty mix of wonder, boredom and mess that is being a full-time caregiver to small humans. I didn’t choose to stay home because I thought it was best for my kids, that daycare or working mothers are somehow lacking. I chose it because it felt right at the time and I am well aware it was a privilege to do so.

Two years ago, I chose something different. I got a job, a part-time job as a writer, that has taken up increasing amounts of my day, that has colored increasing amounts of my identity. Now when people ask me what I “do,” the answer is more complicated. It is a Venn diagram rather than a simple circle. I am half of one thing and half of another, and because both halves happen mainly in my home, there is an intersection, a blurry middle ground in which I find myself crafting sentences and macaroni and cheese at the same time.

Half of one thing and half of another. That’s not entirely accurate, though, is it? You can be a part-time worker, but can you be a part-time mother? It makes me think of the Stevie Wonder song, “Part-Time Lover,” I hum it to myself, changing the words for effect. Because yes, compared to the past, when my children were all of the phases of the moon to me, sometimes I feel like a part-timer indeed.

You can read the rest of the essay here, at Brain, Child Magazine.




Filed under parenting

3 responses to “part-time mother

  1. Congratulations on getting into Brain,Child. I think there’s no clear win-situation here. If you stay at home, you feel out of it. If you work in an office, you feel guilty. If you work at home, you feel that strange mixture of anxiety about getting everything done. I guess we just have to accept what feels right and go with it. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Stay at home mom (with writing ambitions) for almost five years here. Clicking over to Brain, Child Magazine to read the rest of your article.

  3. You are not just modeling “self-fulfillment,” it seems to me. As a child psychiatrist I find you are also conveying to your children that you contribute financially to your household so that everyone can enjoy the benefits that money brings. You are also helping them to understand there are limits in all relationships. You must at times remind them they have to wait until you finish your writing. And, the corollary, that you will put your writing aside sometimes to pay attention to their needs first. In this way they learn give and take from your modeling.

    If all children could learn these limits in relating from their parents we would not have so many self-indulged, demanding, narcissistic children.

    So, please don’t second-guess the good things you do for your children by continuing to write and have another “job.”

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