I've been phoning it in. I've been waiting around, formulating post after post, editing and finally deleting everything that I've written simply because I DO NOT WANT TO WRITE THIS POST! (And the stuff that I HAVE posted recently? Well, "sorry" is appallingly inadequate.) I don't want to see what I'm about to share in black and white. It feels too final, too absolute, to irreversible. But the fact of the matter is (deep breath, now):

I am a stay-at-home-mom.
No duh, you say. See, everyone else is fine with that statement. But I'm having trouble with it. For the longest time I've been able to live under the canopy of "waiting on/working towards my teaching credential in [insert state we happen to be in currently]". I even joked about being a "kept woman" before LG was part of the picture. But it was always a choice. It was always my choice. I was the one responsible for whether or not I had taken the tests / turned in the paperwork / filed the applications, etc. I was fully in control of my state of employment. And for the most part I was okay with that. I was frustrated with myself when deadlines came and went, delaying my re-entry into the classroom, but ultimately, I knew where the blame lay.

That's all changed. I suppose the choice is still mine, but suddenly I've come face to face with the dark truth that the career I've chosen ranks only slightly higher than horse-shit-scooper (seriously! The Teacher of the Year picture? Three up from the bottom of the page. Scroll past the Motorcycle Club, the Cheerleaders on ATV's, the clowns, the giant tub-o-corn. Keep going. Riiiiiiiiiight there. And the Pooper Scoopers on Parade? Clear at the bottom. In your face, Scoopers!). A quick search on shows that after 20 years of service the median salary that an elementary school teacher can expect is slightly higher than 50K. Apparently this nation truly values the education of it's future. A 1-4 year veteran like myself (thanks, [insert your choice of state] for requiring fully licensed, credentialed, degreed, [whatever-the-heck-term-you- choose-to-give-to-the-worthless-piece-of-paper-that-I-spent-6+- years-of-my-life-and-I-don't-even-want-to-think-about-how-much- money-to-get] teachers to spend additional hours and money to prove themselves worthy to teach in your state. Because obviously the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic are so extremely different once you cross state lines.) can expect to earn less than 35K per year. Subtract from that the cost of re-licensing tests, application fees to the state, fees for providing college transcripts to each and every school district applied to in addition to whatever application fee might be applicable, child-care costs, transportation, etc., and there's just not much left to take home at the end of the pay period. Oh, and in many cases, those fancy schmancy art projects and the cheerful decor of the classroom? That comes straight out of the teacher's pocket, too. Check out the classroom library. Chances are good that most of those titles are on semi-permanent loan from the teacher as well. And we won't even begin to consider all the hours put into planning lessons, creating worksheets, binders, projects, and portfolios that don't even begin until well after the hours that the pittance salary applies to.

Bottom line is this: I can't afford to go back to work. No matter which way I crunch the numbers, by the time I take care of Uncle Sam and daycare, I'm left with less than $500 profit per month. What's that? I need to go to work? advises that I should plan on looking (on average) at another 14K for a used car. And I'm supposed to dress professionally? Target track pants aren't suitable? I could rant on and on and on (and probably have already gone on too long already).

Please don't misunderstand. I love the time that I spend with LG. Well, most of it. (And if you can't understand/relate to that, well, go read someone else's blog, please. I'm just not inclined to explain/justify myself right now.) I'm excited that I can use the skills that I've worked long and hard to hone to benefit my own little darling. But it pisses me off that I don't get to make that choice (Again, if you want to discuss things like whether or not I'm truly able to make that choice? Piss off. I know that there are always choices and that it all comes down to what I'm willing to sacrifice, blah-de-blah-de-fucking-blah.) That I have to feel pushed into a corner, resigned to the idea of staying at home. That in the process I relinquish all rights to referring to myself as something other than "so-and-so's wife" or so-and-so's mom". That I'm no longer a separate entity to be identified on my own.

I'm guessing I'll make my peace with it. I'll figure out how to make my hours fulfilling. I'll find tasks and events and opportunities to round out my days. But right now? I'm a stay at home mom. And this place is giving me cabin fever.



Lora said...

I think about you every day and am so jealous how strong and brave you are to be a stay at home mom. I can't even do it on long weekends.

Hats off to you. I suck.

Amy Jo said...

Although this probably isn't what you want to hear, Welcome to the Club. I knew long ago that the only career that would give me true fulfillment wouldn't exactly jive with having kids. Luckily, I've found other ways to satisfy my artistic inclination that does fit in with rearing my kin.

It's a struggle, but know that you are important, as an individual, to many people, myself included. I never call you 'LG's mom.' To me, you are (and always will be) my friend Susan.

Jacqueline said...

And don't forget you are extremely valuable in the "Talking One Down from the Ledge" area. :-) Do you think that maybe when LG starts school it will be a more viable option?

P.S. If the cabin fever is too much, you can always send LG to stay with Aunt Jac for a while. I won't ruin him. I promise!

susan said...

Thanks, girls! Friends like you are what keep me going!

Lora, someone once told me you are only as strong as your support network. So if there's any strength left in me it's just because I've got access to a seemingly endless supply. Mine ran dry long ago. And you don't suck... it's people like you who make it possible for people like me to wallow in self-pity about having "no choice" but to stay at home, playing with our babies. I don't know anyone else who manages to go out there and save the world everyday AND look good doing it!

Amy, knowing that you're a member of the "club" makes it a whole lot easier to sign my membership card. Thanks for the reminder that there ARE alternatives for feeding my passion(s)... I just need to start looking outside the confines of this box and find them.

Jacq, yes, definitely I'll be revisiting this whole issue as LG gets older. As for an extended visit to Aunt Jac, how does next Tuesday sound? Check the bottom of the box for feeding instructions... :)