Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My New Full-Time Job and Why I Stay At Home. It's Hard Work!

Sometimes I lose sight of why I wanted so badly to stay at home with Carter. It happens most often during a "trying" day or when JCrew emails me for the four-hundred-and-seventy-sixth time telling me about their latest arrivals and how much they miss me or wondering where have I been hiding and trying to lure me back with discount coupons. 

Life is so much different now. Let's take a look back and compare the "old" Ashley Paige to the "new" Ashley Paige, shall we?

5:30am: Wake up, shower.
6:00am: Walk Sheepie.
6:30am: Drive the sometimes miserable commute into work. Holla, I-76. I don't miss you a bit!
7:00am: Grab a hot tea and croissant and let's say I'm scheduled to open the clinic this day. I'm unlocking rooms, turning on lights, stocking drawers and cabinets with supplies for the day and maybe I even take a crack at writing out the schedule of which nurse assumes responsibility for which rooms that day.

For approximately the next nine hours, I'm caring for patients. Starting IV's, embracing teachable moments, hanging chemo, hanging blood products, taking vital signs. Helping my coworkers. Putting out small fires and I'm sure on an occasion or two, starting a few too. Consoling my patients. Admitting patients to the hospital. Discharging patients from the clinic. Changing dressings. Holding hands. Wiping tears. Fielding phone calls and paging doctors. Writing orders. Checking, double checking and even triple checking things. Charting. Of course, if you knew my old coworkers (hi girls!) you would know that the days were also undoubtedly filled with lot's of laughter. 

5:30: Report off to a "closing" nurse. Pack up and begin the sometimes miserable commute home.

(Addendum: I'm sure there's a few things I'm leaving out. It breaks my heart a bit to admit that I've truly forgotten pretty much most of my life before Carter).

6:30pm: Arrive home, read the note left by my favorite dog walker. Write her back (Hi Karen!!). Walk Sheepie.
7:30pm: Begin some semblance of dinner. Watch a little TV. Do a little laundry, fold some laundry. 
Typically in bed around 10. Ready to do it all again the next day. For those of you wondering where Husband is in all this, he was traveling for business. Something he did five days per week for the last five years. Every week. Every year. Monday through Friday, it was just me and Sheepie.

I would be a huge liar if I said I didn't miss those days. Not the days when my husband was hudreds of miles away from me, eating a hotel dinner by himself on his hotel bed surrounded by paperwork and his laptop, but the days when I was a nurse. Working my first ever dream job. Making a difference.

More than that, however, I miss the people. Nearly ten months has passed and not a day goes by that I don't think of how much I truly loved living in that Main Line suburb, waking up and spending each day with the best coworkers and the greatest patients a girl could ask for.

Being a Hematology/Oncology Head, Neck and Lung Chemotherapy Infusion nurse defined so much of who I am as a person, that I believe I'm still mourning the loss of my previous self. The passion and compassion with which I practiced is so very me and although I care for Carter, my husband and our house with that same passion and compassion, it's still so very different.

Being a nurse is such a rewarding profession. I've gotten to witness miracles. I've held the hands of the dying and prayed with them. I've made friendships with patients and their families that have truly changed my life. The five years that I spent working full-time as a nurse have changed me. Have changed my outlook on life and the human condition. I've been so blessed.

I always knew in my heart of hearts that I would stay home with my babies. I would make any and all sacrifices necessary to make that hope a reality. And with a full heart, I'm happy to say that I'm currently living yet another dream job. My dream of staying at home with my baby, at least. Everything else? Well, those are just minor details. But it hasn't been easy. Is anything every easy, for that matter?

Without getting too specific, financially and emotionally it has been a struggle. On the very materialisic surface, to go from a dual-income household, taking tropical vacations multiple times a year, jet-setting at the drop of a hat, immersing myself in the prospect of immediate gratification in all things JCrew and Nordstrom to barely having enough money in the budget to order a pizza one night a week, let alone indulge in anything remotely frivolous, has truly rocked my world. At first it frustrated me. In fact, it still does. But it's also forced me to appreciate the things I already have. Even if most of them fit differently and awkwardly and cardigans and sweater shawls are my new best friends. 

The decision to stay home has created stress beyond my wildest imagination. The kind of stress that comes with counting pennies. Saving receipts. Fearing the negative numbers on the Excel spreadsheet. Dreading "family finance meetings." The kind of stress that is truly trying for any marriage. What has helped the most, however, has been my husband. The husband that works his ever-loving behind off to provide for our family and to allow for me to stay home and do what I know I'm meant to do in my heart of hearts.

I am not writing this post to gain pity points. I'm writing this post to share my experience. And to remind myself that this is a choice that I've made. A choice that my husband and I have chosen for ourselves. And to remind myself what I've given up for what I do every day. 

I find myself sometimes losing sight of that. Especially on the trying days. And days when JCrew emailes me out the whazoo. And days when I'd much rather be sitting on the beaches of Turks and Caicos rather than in the family room of my home in Country Bumbletown, Maryland. 

Here's a gander at my new full-time schedule:

6:30am: Wake up to a smiley, happy raspberry-blowing Carter. On a rare occasion, it's a cranky, angry, whiney Carter. Change a diaper, sing a song. Head downstairs to start breakfast.
7:00am: Start coffee for Husband. A bottle for C. 
8:00am: Settle in on the couch for some Mickey time. There's a 50% chance Carter will actually watch Mickey and on a lucky day, this allows me time to drink my coffee and start a load of laundry.

For the next nine hours, depending on the day, I'm out running errands with Carter in tow. Depending on the day, I'm cleaning one room of the house. Every day I'm doing what feels like endless amounts of laundry. Sometimes it's the same load that's been dried and dried and dried again to rid itself of days worth of wrinkles that finally makes its way out for folding. Rarely, I'm able to put a load away. I'm prepping dinner. I'm singing songs. I'm playing games. I'm reading books. I'm making bottles, doing dishes, loading and unloading the dishwasher. I'm changing diapers. Changing clothes. Making baby food. I'm putting out small meltdowns and on some days, creating others. I'm taking Sheepie out to pee because I've finally noticed that he's crossing all four legs and hasn't moved from the rug in front of the front door. I'm playing "Musical Baby Equipment" as I try to pacify the prince into allowing me a free minute to blog or use the restroom. 

5:30pm: I attempt to have dinner ready for my husband as he walks through the door, an action that I know he sincerely appreciates, but I can only hope he sees the blaring underlying message that screams, "thank you for EVERYTHING that you do, the least I can do for you is love you unconditionally have dinner on the table for you each night."
6:30pm: Share dinner with our family.
7:30pm: Start the "bedtime routine" for Carter. This typically involves a bottle and some walking/rocking around the house. It's often done by my darling husband. Sometimes I'll clean the kitchen now. Most times I sit on the couch and breathe.
8:30pm: Catch one of our favorite TV shows with Husband. Maybe catch up on our day. Show him the 45,783 pictures that I've recently taken of Carter and uploaded to Face.book or Shutter.fly. Sometimes we just sit together. So exhausted, it takes too much energy to talk. Sometimes we fold laundry.
10pm: Get into bed. Thank God for what we've been blessed with and prepare for another day.

It's different. It's exhausting. It's work. Every day I work to keep a happy, healthy baby. Every day I work to keep a happy husband. Every day I work to keep a sort of clean house. Some days it looks as if a tornado has ripped it's way through our first floor. But every day, I work.

And I am rewarded differently. I am rewarded in laughter and smiles. In watching the small, minute changes in my son that I may not have caught otherwise. I am rewarded by an appreciative husband. Sure, I don't have the trendiest clothes any more. Honestly? I'm too disgusted by my post-baby body to care. Hopefully I'll learn to embrace the new "me" even if it makes me want to throw-up sometimes. 

Sure, there's no paycheck. But the reward for all of my hardwork?

Is priceless.

37 comments :

  1. Great post!! Everyone has their different reasons for working or staying at home... You just have to do what's best for your family (even if that means ignoring JCrew).

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  2. Loved this post and you made me feel better than I am not the only one that turns the dryer on multiple times to get the wrinkles out. Hardly ever do I do a complete load of laundry ...wash, dry, and then put away back to back... It just doesn't happen! Even though you have had to give up so much you have also gained so much. I would give anything to stay at home but I know it wouldn't be easy! Take care girl and keep the posts coming. You are so hilarious ;)

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  3. Thank you for this post! I have a 3 month old and stay home with him. Just yesterday, I was feeling crappy because I hadn't really accomplished anything all day. Then I realized, I have been raising a happy, healthy little boy every single day for the past 3 months. THAT is an accomplishment.

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  4. Honey bunny... I feel you! I don't know how you do it and you are a MUCH stronger woman than me because I couldn't be a stay at home mom. Terrible right? And tell JCrew to stop bothering me too. I haven't even bought myself a new pair of underwear in 6 months...

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  5. What a beautifully transparent post. I'm glad Im not the only one who sometimes sits and thinks about the old me, while looking at an excell budget remembering the things the old me would buy, do, or enjoy.

    I sometimes question my decision wondering if this is really what I should be doing.. its usually in those times that my beautiful baby girl tucks her head up under my neck and falls fast alseep... they kind of peaceful sleep that I know she couldnt get anywhere else but on the chest of her momma.

    There are days when my house feels like a mess, I'm re-washing the clothes that sat in the wash machine to long, cleaning spit up off the floor, catching it in my hands, or changing out of a shirt that is drenched in it.

    I often wonder where my day went I feel like I just woke up and here I am going back to sleep.... HOWEVER....
    I know this is what I am supposed to do, This is the desire of my heart.. that I know was given to me by God to raise my baby. to love every minute, cherish all of her milestones, and instill things in her life that I know I wouldnt be able to do if I was still trying to live the old me.. with the additions of the new me.

    Heres to you.. and all the things you do for your sweet boy, the wonderful mommmy that you are......

    Im sure when C steps on the bus for his first day of school the old you wont really be the thought in your mind rather.. you will be reminded of the times you bounced him around the living room, sat him on your lap and read a story...and most importantly the day in and day out of the busiest, sometimes dirtiest, emotional, a** busting, full time, no paid holidays, way more then 40 hours a week, job that in fact... came with the most rewarding "Benefits Package"!!!!!!!!!!!

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  6. JCrew really has kicked the email notch way up lately, but it sounds to me like youre in a great new place.

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  7. O.. and thank the good Lord.. for the blessing he has given us SAHM's......MICKEY MOUSE!!!!!!!!!!!

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  8. Thank you for writing this! I love your honesty. Thank you for reminding me that SAHM's face their own kind of obstacles and just becasue they stay at home doesn't mean that their life is perfect in every way. As a working mom, it's hard for me to not be jealous of those who stay home, but I often overlook the sacrifices that you make to do so.

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  9. I was thinking the same thing about ole JCrew this morning when I got THREE emails from them! Sheesh!

    I struggle everyday with the decision of going back to work. It is so hard as a mommy to know whats the best thing for your family.

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  10. LOVE this post. I'm planning on only going back to work part-time after this baby arrives and although I'm excited to be home with this baby, I know there are so many sacrifices that will come with it. It just makes me feel better that there are other moms out there that can share how great it truly is.

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  11. I've been reading since this time last year but I don't think I've ever commented - but this post was amazing. As a fellow SAHM (and RN! new-ish grad, though), I can relate to pretty much everything you wrote - thank you for putting these feelings into such articulate form :)

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  12. can relate on so many levels, sister. so many.

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  13. Bravo. For both your previous career and your current one. Both are so rewarding. Having 11 days home with Connor on Christmas break made me realize I could never be a SAHM. I couldn't give up a set schedule, the reward of teaching, even at the most trying days of my patience. It helps me appreciate the time from 3:30- 7 that I do get with Connor that much more. I am even more lucky that his grandma's get to take care of him each day, which is rewarding for them, too. I can share. I am good like that :)

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  14. BTW... I feel you on the expenses. Even though I work full-time, private school teaching pay is not unicorns and roses! We are budgeting for 2011. Our resolution together. It is so much healthier to actually see what is going in and what is going out and adjust accordingly. I am not sure how you guys do it, but my husband found expenseregister.com that is free to use. We track our expenses and create a monthly budget and it creates awesome graphs, etc. to analyze. Thought I would share!

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  15. LOVE this post. I'm the same way with being a nurse...that paragraph about your 9 hours at work pretty much could've been written by me! But at the same time, I totally want to be home with my babies once I have kids. Seriously, you gained so much more with your new "job." And I know you're so happy. Love your blog and love your encouragement. You are SUCH great mom, btw. Hope 2011 brings you tons of joy and happiness :)

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  16. I love this post! Thank you for sharing.

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  17. Kudos to you for being honest and true to yourself...of course you miss some of the old "you" and life you had! I miss going to the gym 4 nights a week and rewarding myself with some CandyCakes for doing so...but the new me still rewards myself with the CandyCakes for chasing after my toddler! Being a SAHM is hard work; I loved my time at home for 4 months of maternity leave, but admit to having days of going completely bonkers and looking forward to going back to work. You are doing what's right for you and your family...going back to work was what I needed to do, and while that's a juggling act as well, I think being home would be harder work! Keep up the GREAT work!

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  18. I miss Starbucks. And clothes without spitup. And a reason to do my hair.

    But I wouldn't trade my SAHM status for anything.

    Tradeoffs no matter what we do, aren't there? The crux of motherhood.

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  19. This is a truly beautiful post.

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  20. I love this post. Thank you so much for sharing! I'm preparing to become a part-time working momma in March and I know it's going to be a difficult transition. It's really helpful to read your thoughts on going through it!

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  21. Thanks for this post--I'm currently working on a similar one (haven't had time to finish it for the past few days lol). Even though you were venting, it motivated me. It showed me that we SAHM's are not alone. No matter how hard and tiring it can be sometimes, I just remind myself I have the life I've always dreamed of... to be able to stay at home with my daughter. Now, I'm off to cook dinner for my husband, too :)

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  22. I heart you. For real. This post is so inspirational in the sense that while having a baby can change your life in a ton of ways - and you will lose a piece of you that you can never get back - there is so much WORTH those changes and loss. You are awesome. =0)

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  23. I'm about to be a new mom, and it's great to hear about what it takes to keep everything together at home with a new bambino. The pics of little Carter are just precious!!

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  24. Oh Ashley! I can totally relate...except for the child part. But you are right it is really hard and sometimes even harder not to resent! One day y'all will be back to that place, and you will still be a stay at home mommy, and you will look back on these years as the best years. I know for us, we have grown so much more as a couple because of the financial trails we have faced and conqured! Big Hugs!!

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  25. Love this post!! This is kinda how I have been feeling the past couple months. Being at home now since June 2010 with my son has been awesome but I also miss working too. Now with twins on the way I definitely won't be working again any time soon. Being a mama is a lot of hard work but not something I would trade for anything!! I would rather give up the nice clothes and vacations for these precious years that will go by all to fast!

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  26. I'm really proud of you, AP!!! It IS hard work, and anyone who says otherwise is a poo-poo head :)

    And while the old bulimic in me misses my clothes (and the money to BUY THEM) and the beaches of Maui, I wouldn't trade my baby for ANY of it. In my old job, I was pretty dang important to about 300 people. But in my new one? I'm INVALUABLE to TWO. And THAT keeps me going every. single. day.

    Love you, lady!

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  27. I'm crying. We made the decision to go from two incomes to one so that I could stay at home with our son. You're damn right, this is hard work! It's also really hard to explain it to your friends who don't have babies, and kind of look at you like "how could you quit your job after all the hard work you've put into it?" I can't say I regret the decision, but sometimes I do think of what I miss and what sacrifices we're having to make.

    Thanks for putting this out there! I really appreciate knowing there are other mommy's out there in my same position. Makes the hard times a little less lonely.

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  28. I found this post from a comment you left at Blue Eyed Bride. Thank you for writing this!

    I went from a full-time nurse in the military to being a stay at home mom this year. I have been having a hard time lately with not making a paycheck, answering "stay at home mom" when people ask what I do and just basically adjusting to a completely different life.

    At times though, when my daughter is cranky and can't be pleased, throws up, or messes her diaper I kind of chuckle to myself that my nursing experience prepared me for this:-) Thank you for putting these thoughts out there, it's nice to know I'm not alone!

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  29. I found this post via the comment on Blue Eyed Bride. Thanks so much for the eye opener! We're expecting our first and I'm planning on SAH, leaving behind a six figure income...I have no idea how I will manage on half the income we are used to. My breath just caught in my throat reading your "negative excel spreadsheet" item!

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  30. I love this post! And I definitely know what the two to one income crunch feels like, so I am right there with you on that one. All those Express & Victorias Secret e-mails just go straight to the trash nowadays!

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  31. I so appreciate this post. The financial aspect of being a SAHM makes me nervous...and I really appreciate your honesty. And the fact that it's all worth it...makes me so excited to make it my life :)

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  32. This whole mom thing is tougher than we thought right? I have definitely learned about sacrifice financially like you described and for me, I have to eat top 8 allergen free to nurse my son. But you are right, the rewards are priceless & one day we will look back on these hard, exhausting days and miss them.

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  33. I came over from your comment on Blue Eyed Bride. Your post is refreshing in it's honesty and authenticity. I am a SAHM to my nine month old baby boy and I'd like to just encourage you that for us at least the job of being home with him has gotten soooo much easier over the last couple of months. I am now teaching him things that he really picks up. He feeds himself (we started with table food not baby food via the Baby Led Weaning method) and I sit and eat with him and then sit and scrapbook or craft or whatever while I sit at the table with him and chat. He can crawl after me and explore all around which definitely keeps me on my toes in some ways but makes it so much easier in some ways because he is so happy being mobile and his fussy times have decreased dramatically. And from what I've heard it just keeps getting better and better. So hang in there and enjoy and thanks again for this post! Kelly

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  34. I almost cried reading this post...because "I understand!!!!" and "Finally!!! somebody besides me wrote EXACTLY what I'm thinking!!!" Thank you for putting into words the initial struggle that so many moms who decide to stay at home go through.

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  35. Hello,
    You don't know me but I stumbled upon your blog today. We have some things in common. My baby boy Emerson turned 8 months old today too (born July 30, 2010). I also struggled with the choice I made to stay home. Only I was diagnosed with Leukemia (AML) when my baby was 10 weeks. As I sit here typing, I am receiving platelets in an outpatient chemo infusion room, and I see you used to be an oncology nurse. Wow, crazy connections we have!
    Check out my caringbridge.org site , just search under JenniferSpry.
    Hope to hear from you!
    jennspry@yahoo.com

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