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Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Pushing all the right (or wrong) buttons

I have been publishing slightly-altered excerpts from my blog in my local mothers' club newsletter for the past six months. It's been a great way to get exposure to some local, new readers.

Last week I got an email from the club's newsletter editor letting me know that my column for the September newsletter won't be published in the newsletter because "last month's column pushed some buttons with at least one of the other board members, and probably some moms out there, too."

I emailed the editor in an attempt to get some details as to how I pushed some buttons, but never got a reply. It's a strange feeling to get fired from a job I never really had and without a real explanation. So, I'm going to publish the said column below (the original, full-length version ran on May 23) to see if it pushes any of your buttons:
So many women around me have either brought a second baby into the world or are on their way to doing so. Then there's me and an increasingly smaller number of friends on the sidelines in our one-child families trying to figure everything out.

For me, I stress about wanting to work, but wishing I could find the perfect part-time job that would nourish my ego while not giving up the parenting-thing altogether. And because I don't have to work, I get to be a little picky about what it is I do. So I ponder, I wonder, I contemplate, I stress, I fret, I long, I pine. Ah, the luxury of choice.

And then someone made a seemingly innocent comment on my blog. It was so profound and life-altering that I have had a hard time not thinking about it. It was about making the transition from one child to two children and how that affected her thought process about going back to work:

"When I was still a mom-of-one, I often went back and forth... should I go back to work? If so, when? My husband used to ask me that question constantly. After my son came along he stopped asking because it really is too much to think about, especially with all the little things we Mommies have going on in our heads. And the only time I can stop and think is when the kids are in bed. At that point I can't even begin to raise that 'going back to work' issue. Ugh, such a tough thing!"

I know she didn't mean it this way, but this mother planted a seed in my head that has sprouted into a full-fledged possibility of postponing my predicament. Instead of trying to figure out how to find this wonderful, perfectly-customizable, part-time job, I could have another baby. If the only time to think about work is when the kids are sleeping, perhaps two babies will fully distract me from wondering, stressing, and pining for that perfect life balance. I'll be too sleepy.

In the first trimester, I'll be sick and achy and irritable. As the pregnancy progresses, there won't be time to think about work because I'll be too busy nesting. And then once a newborn is keeping me awake round the clock, there certainly will be no pining for additional work, even if it is for my poor, deprived ego.

It's the perfect solution! Or at least the perfect procrastination! Or maybe the perfect cop-out.
My guess is that the truth hurts.


  1. I have a friend who is due with her third child in October. Her otherwise youngest is entering kindergarten this year. she was really really really struggling with what she was going to do with her life, her time, her career, her goals, her talents, upon this kindergarten entrance. art school? become a counselor? how about an art therapist?

    then she emailed me to say that her husband and her sons were pushing her to have another child, and she was seriously considering it, and what did i think?

    i told her the truth. i told her that i thought she was using the idea as a protection from the struggles she was having. that it would allow her to postpone the soul-searching that was causing her strife.

    We do have the kidn of friendship (and respective personalities) that not only allows for this type of frank discussion, but REQUIRES it. yet, she didn't respond. we didn't talk for a couple of months (which isn't unusual for us, we live on opposite coasts, and i was in my first year of law school). she eventually called and said she had been crafting a response/ rebuttal, but didn't really have it in her, b/c what i said was mostly true - but - she is due in october!

    so, of course, i'm happy for her, for them, and can't wait to meet the new baby.

  2. Oh those words sound so familiar! ;)

    Well I've learned from my own experience that I should not have big plans for myself if I plan on having more kids. I know that almost sounds self-defeating and I'm sure there are other moms out there who have been able to juggle so much more with multiple kids. But I was overwhelmed to the point where I wasn't enjoying motherhood. I decided it was best to concentrate on the 'here and now' and enjoy this short time in which the kids are little.

    Sure I get slight pangs of jealousy when I talk to friends who have decided to work instead of stay at home. They have lives, I say to myself. They can go out and have lunch with actual adults without having to plan every minute detail as far as what to do with the kids! And they won't be playing this huge 'catch up' game like I will be years from now when I go back to work. The thought of that does make me frustrated. But that's just how it is, even though it's unfortunate that we have to make those sorts of sacrifices.

    But then, for me it has been worth it. By surrendering to my situation, I've found that I am in a much happier place. I no longer resent being called a 'housewife', nor do I care when people scoff at me becaues they think I lead a life of luxury because I don't have to work. My cousin once told me, "Gosh you are so LUCKY!" I had to bite my tongue when he said that, but then I think he's right!

    Of course, now with a third on the way, I'm 100 times more laid back about my life plans. Things do work out no matter how much I try to take control. Now when people ask me about possibly doing some freelance work, I don't get chest pains wondering how on earth I'll be able to do it with all these kids. Just take it in stride... if I can't then there will be other opportunities when I am ready.

  3. Anonymous9:35 AM

    Honestly, it didn't push any of my buttons. It was a very interesting perspective and a well written article. And I'm a mother of two who works outside the home. (Part-time...but work, none-the-less.)

    I work for a number of reasons - I have an incredibly flexible employer; the money helps us out a lot; I enjoy working and we have exceptional daycare arrangements. The kids are thriving.

    But if I were a mother of two who didn't like her job...or had to work to make ends meet...or who didn't have great childcare...the article might have pushed my buttons. The assumption that work is a "choice" might have pushed buttons.

    I don't know who your audience was - but if they were working mothers who didn't have the luxury of choice - maybe that was the button?

    Just a guess.

    Honestly, I don't find two children all that much more crazy than one, after you get past that first crazy year.

    Yes, there are twice the activities and twice the expenses. But, there is also twice the laughter and exponentially more love. It all works out.

    I keep reading that I'm supposed to feel frazzled and crazy and hate the balancing act between career and family. But I don't. It all seems to work out just fine. Sure, I could use more sleep....but other than that, I honestly wouldn't change a thing about my life right now. Either I'm getting older and wiser, or I'm missing something...

    Of course, when anyone asks when we are having a third, I look at them like they are comletely crazy. I can't imagine the kids outnumbering the parents. That I can't do. I'm not up to that particular challenge!

  4. Anonymous2:29 PM

    my question is, what's so wrong about pushing buttons? compelling writing has that causes people to actually think about what they just read and perhaps ponder on their own situation. lame that they wouldn't print it. i think you are spot on...perhaps it hit a little too close to home for the person it bothered!!!

  5. Anonymous7:05 AM

    I think your opinion is valid, but you overlook the women who have second (and third and so on) children because they want them. Not because they don't want to go back to work, but because they genuinely want to have another child. I don't work, and I don't miss it. I have two kids and love being able to spend all my time with them. I think if you're choosing to have a child just so you don't have to make a career decision right away, you should rethink your priorities.

  6. Well, I went for that extra baby. Now she's just two months and I'm already pining for that perfect customizable p/t job that feeds my writer ego! I guess I'm realizing that I'll always need some kind of writing gig to keep me happy.

  7. PS It's too bad they said it "pushed buttons." Obviously they don't want any kind of thoughtful commentary. Every mom thinks of it, don't they? Unless they're independently wealthy. Whether they're pining to work, wondering how long they can put off working, or hoping that nothing changes so they don't have to work...