Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Pros and Cons of Working

Yes, I took this with my cell phone in the bathroom.  And then got right back to mopping!

In the next few weeks we will hit my 1 year anniversary with Safeway (and I even got a certificate to prove it!).  With Dan working at a better job, and specifically since that new job's insurance kicks in at the start of April, we are planning on me "retiring" the week of my anniversary.  I've spent a lot of time lately thinking about all the pros and cons of working, and I feel the need to write them down.  So this is more for me than anybody else, but here ya go!

I'll start with the cons so I can end on a happy note.

First and foremost, I have to leave my kids.  I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home mom, even back in Junior High and High School when everyone else had grand ideas of what they wanted to be when they grew up.  It's important to me, at least partly because of my church's teachings on the subject: "Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."  Especially while Nathan is still so young, I want to be home with my little ones.  But, and this is a con in and of itself, it doesn't phase me as much as it used to.  I used to spend a lot of the time missing them, but I've grown desensitized to it.  I think that's horrible!  I want to be with them, and miss them when I'm gone.  I hope that makes sense.

Probably the second worst thing about working is having to deal with childcare.  Most of the time these days I only work evenings and weekends when Dan is home.  But I had to work days much more last spring and summer, and it caused me so much stress!  I either had to pay somebody (and when I was making $9.24 an hour, I can't pay somebody much without it seriously hurting the point of working!) or rely on the kindness of my friends.  So over those months I sure gave a lot of people the opportunity to provide service!  I hated asking people, feeling like they'd feel like they had to say yes even if they hated it.  So sometimes I'd send out an email to anybody I thought might not be too inconvenienced by having a Morrilling or two around.  It always felt like a puzzle I had to solve, especially when it involved the kids getting home from school.  And not in a good way.

Another really big thing for me is the schedule.  For one thing, I usually find out my schedule on a Thursday or Friday for the following week.  Sometimes we get a few weeks at a time, and I love having that knowledge!  But usually not, it's just how it goes at jobs like this.  So when sign up sheets go around at church, I rarely know my schedule beyond the next week or so.  Today is Sunday, and next week is Spring Break.  I'd like to take the kids to Grandma & Grandpa's house, and left a note requesting at least 2-3 days off in a row, sometime between 3/30 and 4/7.  I know I have this Saturday, 3/30, off, but I don't know if that's part of the 2-3 days (or if I'll even get it, since other people have requested days off as well).  So I may be taking the kids there for Easter.  I may take them later in the week.  I may not take them at all.  And I hate not knowing!

The other thing about the schedule that's difficult is the lack of control.  It's mostly gotten better since the early days, but I still hate that, for example, sometimes I have to leave church early to go to work.  Or a few weeks ago I worked the Sunday day shift and had to miss it altogether (even though a coworker was willing to trade).  I wasn't able to go to the Stake Christmas Devotional - either session - even though Dan was singing a solo (Oh yeah, had to pay our neighbor girl to babysit for that, too.  Luckily we have a nonmember neighbor to babysit on Sundays when needed!).  I had to miss Ryan's class play last year (and was told that "There's always next year" when I expressed my sadness).  After 8 years with nobody telling me my schedule, it's been a hard adjustment.

The rest of my things aren't necessarily in any order.  I hate having to stop what I'm doing at home to leave for work.  I definitely have more energy and motivation in the evening, so working at 6 often means leaving right as I'm getting going on dishes and laundry and whatnot.  So I leave things undone, go spend my energy doing the "chores" at work that I should be doing at home, and come home ready to relax.  Sweeping, mopping, cleaning counters?  I do those at work every day, I don't get around to them at home nearly as often as I should.

I hate that I don't have as much time and energy to do fun things anymore.  I used to feel really good about being the fun mom who took her kids to the park, to the library, to playgroups, swimming, to the OMSI, etc.  I don't do those things very often anymore.

Ooo, here's a good one (I took notes last night while working, and I'm looking at my list).  Dan and I were doing a good job on our diet and exercise before I started working.  I was at the lowest weight I'd been at since puberty, and Dan had made some good progress.  Well, when I have to leave at 5:45, I often either run out of time or decide it isn't worth spending my last minutes at home making dinner, and we do something easy instead.  Easy rarely equals healthy.  And Dan was going to the gym 3-4 times a week after the kids went to bed.  Now I'm not home to watch them, so he can't go.  So we've both gained back quite a bit. :-(

My other complaint sounds kind of silly, but I didn't think so last night!  I have things that I have to do outside, regardless of the heat, cold, rain, etc.  Sometimes that's super miserable!

Okay, now that that's out of my system (still with me?  I'm impressed!), on to the Pros!  The things I'm going to miss!

I love seeing how much more nurturing Dan has become.  He does the bedtime routine without me more often than not, and he does really great!  He can feed the kids without me telling him what to feed them.  He really can handle being the only one with them, which is probably part of the reason I don't feel as bad about leaving the kids anymore (phew, not just me becoming unloving!).  I especially love seeing the relationship that little 2 year old Nathan (Oh yeah, he had a birthday.  Maybe I'll blog about it sometime.) has with his Daddy.  It's hard to describe, because it's not like they love each other more than the other toddlers did.  But he certainly doesn't see Daddy as just the fun guy.  He takes more comfort from his dad than the others ever did.  And the other kids have grown closer to Daddy, too.

After all that about wanting to be home, I have to say, it IS nice to have a break.  It's nice to have a couple hours of nobody whining "Mom!  He hit me!"  I certainly don't get as overwhelmed by them as I used to.  Going to have to find a way to keep that going after I quit.

Oh, and not only do I get a break from the kids, I get a break from being The Homemaker.  When I'm at home I tend to have a feeling that there are thousands of things I should be doing.  I won't actually be "done" unless every drawer, closet, cupboard, etc. of every room is thoroughly organized.  Yes, I spend a fair amount of time goofing off at home, but there's always that nagging feeling, overwhelmed by the amount of things I "should" be doing.  At work, I have a list of things I have to do.  The vast majority of the time I get them done with no stress whatsoever.  I get a few hours where I can't do anything about the house, kids, etc., and the stuff I do need to do is easy.  And since most of it is mindlessly easy, I get some nice quiet time to think.  True, it gets boring, but it's nice to feel like my mind is getting clear.

Friends!  I have friends!  I have some really awesome co-workers, and I really enjoy hanging out with them. That also helps with the clearing of my frazzled brain, getting to chat with an adult outside of the situation.  It's really, really nice.  I think it's probably what I'm going to miss the most.

Not only do I like chatting with my co-workers, I really like interacting with customers.  The majority of people are really nice.  It's nice to have pleasant interactions with people.  And no, not just the ones that compliment me or flirt with me.  Although there is that! :-)  I've been actually asked out a few times and had people be obviously interested other times ("married, huh?").  And many people have told me that they like my smile. It's a rare week that nobody says anything really nice to me.  It feels good!  In fact, I think my confidence is higher than it's ever been.   And of course, people are usually grateful for my help, even though it's my job.  That's another thing I'll miss at home, because rarely do I get thanked for cleaning the toilet or folding the laundry...

Oh, yeah.  Money.  The whole point of working.  That's certainly a pro.  And as a Safeway employee I get 10% off Safeway brand products, which is kind of like getting more money.  Luckily with Dan's new job he's making more money by himself than both of us made last year, but I couldn't list the pros of working without mentioning it!

Okay, since probably nobody is reading anymore and dinner is ready, I'll wrap this up by saying that after a year of working outside the home, I no longer feel like that's all I want to do.  I want to be home while they're really little, but I'm definitely throwing around ideas of what I might do as they get older.  Nursing school is tempting, as is getting my teaching license and becoming an elementary school music teacher, becoming a children's librarian, and a few other things that change from time to time.  It's fun to imagine, it'll be interesting to see where I am a decade or two from now!