I haz it.
It started (well, doesn't it start the moment we come screaming into this world? Cheery thought) last week, as Husband and I (and to a much lesser extent, Ethan) cleaned out the garage. No, not because we spent HOURS of our lives we can never get back sorting through the piles of junk we've amassed in our almost 10 years together, and somehow managed to lug all the way across the country with us in boxes, and found that so much of it was utterly useless (although now I'm feeling super about that, too). It's because in the piles of paperwork I found in a box marked "desk" (which is bizarre because I haven't had a desk in YEARS), I found my unsigned continuing contract for the school district I used to work for. The one I would have signed if I'd gone back to work the September after having Ethan. And I saw what my salary for that year would have been.
And that's when I remembered, for the first time in a LONG time. I used to make money. Actual, real, supporting myself money. Like, pay the rent, save for retirement AND buy those cute shoes money. And now I don't. And people paid me that money for being intelligent and articulate and for imparting knowledge and critical thinking skills and Shakespeare. And now they don't.
And yes, yes, yes, I know the work I do is valuable. I know raising a child is inherently valuable and worthwhile. And yet.
Here I am. All angsty.
Itchy for what might come next. Because what I had hoped and prayed would come next is so clearly not coming. Because the amazing little boy I do have is growing up. Because now I have no idea what I want to be when I grow up (not entirely true because I have lots of ideas, but right now the semi-paralyzing fear of jumping of that "what's next" cliff is far too strong). Because the truth is that, no matter what I decide to do next, even if it is going back to teaching (which it won't be), a chunk of change will need to be sunken into it. A chunk of change that I don't bring into my family. A chunk of change that will take away from our ability to do other things--travel, buy a house, save for college. It makes me twitchy.
I grew up wanting to be a mom. Wanting to stay home with my children. Wanting to bake and volunteer and do crafts. I was lucky enough to meet and fall in love with a man who had the same vision of his children's childhoods. I never engaged in the stay-at-home-mom versus working-mom debate because for me it's just about what works for you and your family. I have friends who went back to work days after giving birth. I know they love their children as much as my friends who didn't return to the work force for more than a decade. It's not about who is worth more, or who works more. Or who deserves more credit or respect, regardless of how society insists on pitting us against each other for its own amusement.
Its just about this angst creeping in. This wondering what comes next and am I doing enough in the now? Because if I'm not going to be contributing to my family financially, I'd better be doing a damn rocking job in my non-salaried position of mom. And I don't always think I am.