I live in family rich community a ferry ride away from “the city.” Everything is a little more harder to come by here: high-paying jobs, certain household products/items, childcare, Costco…:P It’s both a blessing and a disadvantage to coastal living and if there is one group that can attest to that, it’s mothers of pre-elementary school aged children.
The challenge here for many moms I encounter is either trying to stay employable or find a job that makes sense for their whole family. Many mothers I’ve talked with either never had a career here to begin with or the coastal economy does not offer enough or any work for their profession.
So the challenge is this: what is the point of working a minimum wage paying job if most of the paycheck if not all goes to pay for daycare? Might as well stay home and care for the babes ourselves.
A time of searching…
Why searching? Motherhood itself is a dramatic upheaval in a woman’s life. No longer is her time her own, nor her thoughts, her money, her body. Everything she built an identity around is put on the back burner or left on the pages of her journal and resumes. There is a new person that grows and develops in those months and years following the birth of her child/children. No matter what she does or where she goes, her thoughts circle around one question “will my kids be okay?” It’s a beautiful and painful transition, the roller coaster ride called parenthood. It presses her to her limits and makes her heart soar to happiness she has never experienced before. She identifies with the experiences of other mothers and takes comfort in swapping stories about how their babies are sleeping and eating.
And then the day approaches when her baby is getting older and she is able to leave him for a few hours at a time and her thoughts search for a way to revive a piece of the identity that knew a world outside of mothering.
It could be that she wants to build that career she never embarked on or get back to it, or taking up a weekly class, organizing an event, a part-time job, volunteering, anything really.
So do it.
“Will my kids be okay?” Is this the best thing for them?
A mother who takes care of herself takes care of her kids.
She does what she can and at best, has a supportive team of fellow mothers to take turns minding each others’ kidlets. If work is scarce or doesn’t make sense financially with daycare in the equation, she might start a home business.
And sometimes, she waits (although it looks like anything but!) for the day in which she can reclaim some of what she found her identity in before motherhood. I don’t know about you but I know that a certain amount of that was the ability to be able to earn money.
Being a mother turns definitions of words upside-down and calls for a fair bit of self-analysis as she tries to figure out how she can be waiting for something but rarely actually sitting still for an uninterrupted minute. She knows her role as a stay-at-home mother is important but searches to find the same gratification that she experienced from her jobs in the past. That’s just it though, nothing about mothering is the some as any other job a woman will ever have in her life. She doesn’t earn a bi-weekly paycheck that accounts for all the hours she worked, there’s no promotions on the horizon, no bar to measure how she is improving in her work.
But as I wrote in my post “Brain Chatter” on my other blog Mootable, mothers are skilled in the art or multi-tasking and making things work! As far as small town mothers go, there’s a few distinguishable circumstances that serve to shape their versatility as a homemaker and provider in and amidst the preservation of their cherished dreams. They search for a means to provide be it through a job, staying at home or using daycare, all in the pursuit of happiness (thanks Will Smith!).