It's Our Turn: Goodbye, yoga pants; hello work
As I set my alarm the night before my first day as a sports reporter for the Echo Press, I had the fleeting thought, "When was the last time I actually set an alarm?"
For the last three-and-a-half years, I've been (mostly) a stay-at-home mom to my two children, aged 3 and 1. In that time, I finished my degree and worked part-time freelance positions but I've never had a reason to set an alarm. My two kids set the rhythm of my days.
I was available to the kids and I still made some money. But I always felt the pressure of deadlines looming while changing diapers, making dinner and rereading the same Dinotrucks book over and over again. As soon as the kids were asleep, it was time for my work to begin. There are no evenings off when you work from home and care for kids during the day.
As my 3-year-old son entered preschool and my daughter approached her first birthday, I started to feel restless. And in came the mom-guilt.
For those who aren't familiar, mom-guilt is this cultural phenomena where mothers feel absolutely awful about their abilities as a mom and their personal self-worth, no matter what they do.
I felt bad for wanting more mental stimulation. I felt selfish for wanting a reason to change out of yoga pants and use my degree. I struggled not to feel like a bad mom for wanting to work more than just part-time in the evenings.
My husband, Gabriel, encouraged me to look for opportunities in the area that seemed interesting and engaging.
"Look for something you'd enjoy," he said. "Don't force yourself into a job you'd hate, but keep an eye out."
So when I saw the paper was hiring a sports reporter, I applied. And I was hired.
All manner of dramatic thoughts and emotions began to swirl in my mind. Who was going to watch the kids? Are they ready to be away from me? Am I ready to be away from them? Do I even have pants that aren't yoga pants? Are my kids going to remember me/love me/survive without me?
Once the logistics were settled, I started working. And everyone survived. My kids still remember me. Everyone still loves each other.
And I'm no longer bored.
I no longer wander aimless day to day in stretch pants smeared indiscriminately with food and baby drool, just wondering how to fill my day. Some people are great at taking an "empty" day and filling it with useful and productive things. I am not one of those people.
I'm learning to accept this desire to work. For many years, I thought I should stay home. I'm endlessly grateful for the time I had with my kids in those early year but I like going to work. I like filling my schedule with meaningful activities. I like a little bit of responsibility.
I'm glad I gave myself a chance to step outside of what I thought was expected of me. This new rhythm works for my family. And now I get the opportunity to relish my downtime with the kids on the weekends. I sometimes miss my peanut butter-smeared yoga pants but, mostly, working works for me.