Adjusting to life at home

Since I was laid off from my job in November, I have been really struggling with my self worth.  I feel like I am not a valuable member of my household since I don’t get paid for what I do.  As if the simple act of getting a paycheck somehow validates me.  

I think and wonder if my contributions to my household (cleaning, shopping, cooking, yard work, budgeting) are worthy of my time and intellect.  I wonder if I am ‘wasting’ my degree and potential. By staying home am I setting the best example for my son both as a human being and as a woman.  Dont get me wrong, I love staying home with Elliott.  I adore the time I get to spend with him and being the person that gets to teach him the foundational and valuable life lessons.  
But, I get bored too.  I feel unfulfilled.  I feel like I am wasting my time and talent.  I feel lonely. I wonder if I am teaching Elliott the ‘right’ things and being a loving and patient Mom.
At the end of every day I have to feel proud of what I do (read and repeat, read and repeat) or else I feel worthless.  I am working on how to feel proud of this new path.   I am getting out of the house as often as possible.  I am taking time for me when I can.  I am giving myself time to adjust and accept.  I know that it takes a while to acclimate to anything new.  
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Loose ends

I have been thinking about my sporadic posting patterns, and feel bad for not tying up some long overdue loose ends. So this post is a random smattering of unfinished business.

1. When Elliott was 5 weeks or so old, I was still experiencing extreme pain while nursing. I went to a LC and she diagnosed me with Raynaud’s phenomenon. I followed up with my Midwife, who gave me meds to try. I took them for 1 day, and stopped due to other symptoms worse than the nipple pain. Over time, the condition and Elliott’s latch improved until the pain no longer occurred. A fluke, the weather, whatever–It is gone for now, and he is still happily nursing several times a day. Our only issue these days is that each time a tooth breaks the surface (he is working on 8), it takes him a week or so to adjust his latch to the new tooth. The result is my nipples get sore for a while, and then once he figures it out–viola-no more pain.

2. We tried CSA from Seabreeze Farms here in San Diego, and weren’t overwhelmed. The cost was high ($67 every two weeks), but we were willing to pay for locally grown, organic produce. But, the consistency and quality wasn’t good either–some fruit was rotten, items were missing or not substituted, and they left the bag smack-dab in the middle of our sun laden (and not terribly secure) porch. So, I cancelled with this farm. I am going to try a few of the other ones as well. I will keep you posted on that.

3. Hubby and I were toying with the possibility of me not working. We were testing out the budget to see if it would accommodate our lifestyle on one income. And while we could manage with one income–it would come at a cost to our happiness as a family. We wouldn’t have any money left over, even with major lifestyle adjustments–and during our trial 2 month run–that left us feeling more stressed than work does. In addition to that, I think that Elliott likes daycare. He comes home happy, he looks happy while he is there, his schedule is the same at home or in daycare, and he gets to socialize with other children his age. Lastly, I don’t know that I have the patience to be home full time. I enjoy working on many levels, and I receive fulfilment from it. Plus, once the kids were in school I would likely want to go back to work, and re-entering the workforce would be difficult at best, after 5 plus years off.

4. The family challenge is going as expected for me. I have lost 5 pounds so far–which is about 3.5% of my body weight. You do the math.

5. I read the book that was suggested in this posts comments–I found it very moving. I also felt empowered by the honesty and courage that the authors exhibited. I have been trying to be more forthcoming and honest with myself as a result. Thanks for the suggestion!

6. Homemade household products have not yet happened. While I want to do this–I haven’t found the motivation yet! I am slowly (again) moving out products that contain known carcinogens, and (again) considering an organic household. With the abandonment of being a SAHM, we can afford this route again. I am constantly torn between saving money by looking for products that offer the same quality as similar, but more expensive options and organic, environmentally sound products that cost more. The saga continues. I have not purchased any new household cleaners, and we are slowly slimming down out pickins. I have been researching uses for Castile Soap–and bought a large bottle of Castile Soap in the hopes of transitioning some products out and it in. If you have any suggestions or unique uses-please let me know!

7. Of the 5 pregnant women I know–2 have had their babies, and 3 are still pregnant. We had the honor of meeting one of the new babies this past weekend. With the exception of being exhausted ALL the time, newborns are awesome and retrospectively — easy! I was WAY too anxious and over protective, and know that with #2 (whenever that happens), I will be very different and more confident.

When Good Enough isnt enough

I am struggling. There I said it. I want to be a full time Mom. But, many days I still love my job. The days I don’t love it however are out numbering the days that I do. And last week I actually cried because I was feeling ineffective and worthless. Yup, worthless. Not a good feeling for an employee who feels she is doing her absolute best to get the job done. Also not a good feeling for someone who has high standards and expects herself and others to live up to them.

I have been digesting all of the reasons I went back to work, and re-thinking them. Money, personal fulfilment, boredom, pride, not wanting to be a servant to my husband and kids, I could go on and on. But, you get the idea.

Hubby and I have been actively nesting our funds away, and slowly paying off all of our debt. We have finally freed ourselves from credit cards, student loans, car payments and all other revolving debt. What we are left with is a hefty house payment and household bills (gas, electric, water, cable, phone, groceries, fuel, pet food, etc.). The awesome part of all of this is that we could make it with hubby’s income only. We would have to cut out all extras however. There would be a VERY small pad, and we would have to watch our spending. We would also have to learn how to budget better and have to learn how to say NO to outings, or at least set spending limits on them.

Hubby and I are terrible at saying No and even worse at setting limits. We often feel like we ‘deserve’ it, so we treat ourselves. We have made a commitment over the last couple of years to reign in our spending and have obviously done a good job. But, there is that last bit of frivolousness that we still enjoy and currently can afford. We would have to look at things in a new light, and allow ourselves a fresh perspective on frugal life.

I have been trying to look at this like a challenge to myself. At work I set goals. So, why not look at staying home like a goal–I challenge myself to stop spending money on things I don’t need (I shouldn’t need to stay home to accomplish this…but we all need goals). I challenge myself to accept and appreciate what I already have. I challenge myself to come up with new and creative ways to re-use the items I already have; give them a second (or third!) life. I challenge myself to learn how to shop, cook, and maintain a household on a slimmer budget.

This next month we are going to give it a test run. I am going to move my paycheck over to savings, and we are going to try and live off of just hubbys income. That will give us a feel for what it will be like. I will keep you posted on the results of the trial run.

I also want to use these challenges as a way to keep my mind working at problem solving. I worry that if I quit working that I will turn into a babling idiot who can only talk about her kids and poopy diapers. I want to ensure that I am challenging myself, keeping up on current events and aware of the world around me. I dont want to turn into the SAHM at the Mom’s groups that I dont like.

We also want to have another baby. We have talked about it many times over the last 10 months, and are both so happy as parents that we don’t see a reason to wait. If we space them close together they can play with one another, I can reuse many of their toys and baby items, they can share a room, and the time commitment needed will be condensed into a shorter overall commitment (of course it will be multiplied three fold in level of difficulty…but who factors that in). Plus, maybe we will want more than 2 children…maybe we will want 3. Hubby so NO WAY, but you never know. So, if we were to ever consider 3 kids, we should get a move on! I dont want to be categorized as ‘elderly’ in maternal age (they use this term when you are pregnant and over 35-can you believe that!!!).

So, here I am again. Deliberating my future. Except this time my future is the future of my children (is this wrong?); I am not even factoring in my career goals. They just don’t seem to matter to me much anymore. I want to refocus my energy on my family, and I just cant seem to allow/permit myself to be good enough at both. I need to be great at one. I want to be great at one.

Work Update

I am officially a part-time employee, and a Mom. I started back to work last Thursday. It was difficult leaving the house, but luckily there were no tears from either Elliott or myself.

I was grateful that we had the trial run with the Nanny. This allowed Elliott the necessary time to get used to being with her (and vise versa), and allowed me the time to get acquainted with leaving him with someone else. It also forced me to get out of the house.

Now that I am back at work, I feel like all of my worry was for naught. But, I know that had I not worried so much…I might not feel so positive about my decision. I also realized that I will still be expected to complete the same amount of work…just in less time for half the pay. I am going to try and reset peoples expectations slowly, so as not to put everyone in shock. But, its gonna be a hard transition for everyone to get used to.

I learned from my girlfriend, though, how important it is to set clear expectations and boundaries from the start, and stick to them. I started today. I responded to an email I received from a team member, but since it was ‘after hours’ for me, I said I would look into it in the AM.

I am also in the process of training a new trainer. She seems like she is going to be awesome, and I have already wondered if she will be better than me. It will take her a while to get ramped up…so I have a little bit of time to work on my game.

Work Woes

Tomorrow starts my personal countdown of the return to civilization. The nanny is scheduled to start Thursday, and then the following Thursday I go back to work. Tick tock, tick tock

The anxiety has subsided a bit, and I am feeling more confident about leaving Elliott for a couple of days a week. He is hearty (17.5 lbs!!!), and healthy and overall a very happy, peaceful baby. He adapts well to changing environments, isnt scared when new people hold him, and is in good spirits most days.

Hence, the reason why when my boss called me this past Thursday I hung up feeling a bit stressed. The conversation lasted 2 days, and we still dont have a resolution. But, the cliff notes version is that one of the companies owners doesnt like the schedule that I will be working, as he doesnt feel that it supports the best interest of our clients. After hearing his reasoning, I dont disagree… But, if you recall…my boss was the one who set my new schedule.

We ended the conversation on Friday without closure. Boss man needs to talk with the owner, and then get back with me. But, basically…I explained that I can’t currently work the schedule he wants, as everyone is already committed and contracted, and there is not a way to change course now…or at least right now. I suggested that I come back to work under our previously agreed upon schedule, try it out, and hope that I can switch some days around in the long run and that the nanny’s schedule opens up. Or, I offered to train a replacement should this not work out for the company.

I have a ton of mixed feelings about this exchange…first off, why didnt my boss clear it with the owners BEFORE he approved it for me? Second, why are they waiting until 2 weeks before I go back to work to bring all of this up? Third, if some sketchy things hadnt occurred in our other office, we would still have the other trainer on staff and this wouldnt be an issue. Fourth, will my be boss be a stand up kind of guy, and tell the owners that HE was the one who already approved my schedule…and that it isn’t me being a difficult employee? And lastly, in a small way…I hope it doesn’t work out, and I can stay home after all (although, there is NO WAY we could afford it…i checked and re-checked the budget, and then checked it again. No matter how many things I cut out of the budget, or expenses I pair down–we wouldn’t have enough money to even pay the basic expenses without my income).

So, I am trying not to stress or worry. But, failing miserably at both. Suggestions? Thoughts?

Part-time proposal

I have to be logical. Although, it is extremely difficult given the amount of emotion I have swilling around in my heart. I can hardly think clearly about this subject, because I love Elliott so much it clouds my decision making ability.

I am going to propose a part-time schedule to my employer. If they accept, I will go back 3 days a week, hubby will be home a day and a half and we will have a Nanny 2 days a week. If I decide that part-time work isnt for me…well, then at least I tried.

If they dont accept my proposal and say that full time is the only option…then we will have to decide if we can afford for me to be a SAHM, or if I should go back to work full-time.

Here is my email so far:

I am extremely excited to be returning to work in October, once my Maternity Leave is up. The last few months have been an amazing time of transition with my new family, and I love being a Mom. But, I am looking forward to returning to work, and adding back the balance in my life that only my professional career can bring. I miss my clients and co-workers, as well as the daily conversations about the ever changing mortgage industry.

I would like to discuss options as to what may be the best way for me to re-enter my position at XX come October and long term. Prior to my Maternity Leave taking effect, I reviewed possibilities with Boss Man and the idea of me taking one day off a week was discussed. It was determined that I would need to use vacation time for any time I took off and once my vacation days were used up I would need to return to work full time.

As I look towards the future and my new role as a Mom and professional, I would like to re-visit these possibilities. I want to be available to my son for his first critical year, and I would like to consider the possibility of coming back to work part-time, and modifying my salary accordingly. I would like to review this possibility with you, in hopes of establishing a part-time work week upon my return.

I am open to ideas/suggestions/thoughts as it relates to hours, days of the week, and commitments that would need to be addressed and considered for this option to be successful and beneficial to XX. I would also like to note that should we encounter an exceptionally busy week, with some advance notice, I could make myself available for increased hours.

I hope after you have had some time to consider this option, that you will approve this request. However, I do understand if this isn’t feasible and am open to exploring other options with XX.

SAHM or not…

Why in my rational mind do I know that I have to go back to work, at least part time. But, my everyday brain keeps looking for ways to make it work with me being a SAHM?

It is coming down to the wire now too. The nanny needs to set her fall schedule. I need to get clearance from my work. We need to plan out our budget (for either variable). My hubby needs to plan his schedule, depending on what I end up doing. Etc. etc.

I need help. Please put your 2 cents worth in, and let me know what you think.

PS-finally made it to the LLL meeting, and 2 times to a breastfeeding support group. We also got a new bed, which makes night feeding a ton easier!

Consider this: