ay, there's the rub

I'm trying to get a handle on what it is that I think is so stressful about "the working world" that is mostly absent for people who stay home with their kids. I don't quite have it yet, so bear with me as I try to shed my legal and editorial training and attempt some free-associative writing (hilariously, the last 16 words were a mid-post edit). It feels like a sort of wilderness survival thing, like the lion pride I wrote about earlier, but I don't actually think I'm likely to lose my job anytime soon. I do think I will lose my job eventually if I don't continue to succeed--which entails not just treading water, but continually speeding up. And I worry that I can't do that. Or that I won't. Or, sometimes, that I will, but I'll be unhappy, but the further I go the harder it will be to stop. All that is part of it I think. And--sort of separately--there's ambition and pride and ... competitiveness maybe: whatever I do, I have to do it well. Which is not just ambition/pride/competitiveness, but also existential anxiety: if I'm not doing something Important and Meaningful with my life, what am I doing? What am I here for? Ack. Shiver. So what I am getting around to is ... a lot of that wouldn't go away if I were a stay-at-home mom. In fact, some of it would get a lot worse because I'd spend my days looking after the kid(s) and the house and the husband and not having time to Do Something and feeling desperate and guilty because if I can't find the time to Do Something when I don't even have to go to work then there must be something wrong with me, never mind that looking after the kid(s) and the house and the husband is a 24-hour job, especially when one is compelled to try to do it superhumanly well (e.g., reading the book about how babies' brains develop that has been collecting dust on my beside table for 9 months (I know it's ridiculous, but I sometimes feel like a bad mom because I'm not reading books about childhood development (yes, I am using not just parenthetical asides, but parentheticals within parentheticals, the horror! (suck it, my sweet grammatolatrist spouse (this is cool: http://www.visualthesaurus.com)))). Anyway. At least one more thing in the mix, and I think this is closer to what I have in mind: the responsibility. I know, stay-at-home moms are responsible for their children and what could be more weighty, but so am I. And on top of that I have to worry that I'm going to misread a statute or forget about a rule or miss a deadline or do any one of the million other things that could seriously damage my client's case. Enough with the whining, and I really probably shouldn't be wading into the minefield of working mom versus stay-at-home mom debates, but it's fascinatingly complex and shaded everywhere with gray and, well, quite germane.

1 comment:

Erin Davis said...

I think that maybe the problem is that we think of it as adversarial: working mom vs. stay-at-home mom. But mainly I want to say that I think you are writing about it in a compellingly honest way...I think women would be better off if we could all be this honest. And yes, the visual thesaurus is cool!