Friday, October 27, 2006

Grass is always greener??

I had to run some errands today at lunch, and included in those errands was a stop at my parents’ house. My parents live on the nicer side of town, and as I was turning the corner onto their street, I spotted two moms that I see often when I run over to that side of town on lunch. I assume they are moms, because every time I see them, they are pushing these oversized strollers and they look to be about my age, which is a good age for having babies. Today as I passed them, walking briskly down the sidewalk, pushing their strollers in unison, wearing their cozy-looking fleece jackets, I felt a twinge of jealousy. No doubt, since I often see them out and about with their kids in the middle of the work day, they are stay-at-home moms. They probably are married to guys that have great jobs and earn enough money so that these women can stay home to raise their children instead of having to go and work outside the home.

I suppose I felt the twinge of jealousy because I have often thought about the benefits of being a stay-at-home mom, and being the single working mom that I am, this is something that just isn’t going to happen for me or for my daughter. I looked at the two other moms, strolling along happily, looking healthy and content, and then I looked at myself and felt tired, hurried, and overworked. I imagined what life as a stay-at-home mom would be like, as I have many times before, and felt a longing to be able to spend my days with Gracie, to be able to take her for a walk in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, and to not have to run in the door at 6:00 at night, already totally worn out from a full day’s work, and rush her through supper, bath time, and bedtime so that we can do it all over again tomorrow. Wouldn’t it be nice to spend all week lounging around, playing with Play dough, reading stories, taking walks, and most of all, spending that precious time with my child?

Then I came back to work. The phone was ringing off the hook, emails had to be answered, instant messages had to be returned, and paperwork had to be completed. I dove into the busy-ness of my job, and I suddenly realized something. I have something that often stay-at-home moms don’t have. I have a stimulating job, full of challenges and opportunities. I have meaningful professional relationships. I have this whole separate identity outside of being a mommy, and I think that helps me be a better mom. When I get home at night after being away from Grace all day, I am so incredibly happy to see her and I have missed her so much during the day that I am immediately and completely focused on her from the moment I step into the apartment until the moment she goes to bed. We have lots to talk about—what happened during her day at “school”, what she saw, what she learned, who she played with. Seeing her refreshes me and reminds me why I work so hard. And, I truly believe that being in day care is a good thing for Grace. She has blossomed into a fun, friendly, smart kid. She’s learning a ton, not the least of which is learning how to interact with others outside her family. And, she squeals with delight when we pull into day care everyday (well, most days), so it warms my heart to see how she truly enjoys her time at school.

Sure, being a single working mom is tough. After Grace goes to bed at night, I’m usually so pooped that all I can do is take a nice hot bath and sprawl out on the couch with a bowl of popcorn and watch Seinfeld reruns. Some days I barely know if I’m coming or going. But, I have to say that despite the difficulties, at the end of the day, I feel a sense of pride about what I am doing.