Thursday, June 7, 2007

My First 6 Months as a Dependent Homemaker

I watch them walk by our house every morning. They’re off to their real jobs and I’m home in my pajamas. This is where my real job is now. It’s the hardest job I’ve ever had, but doesn’t seem to hold the clout it deserves in today’s world. My daughter turns 6 months old today and I’m just so proud and relieved that we’ve made it this far.

The official leave from my “real” job is about to end. I was the first new parent at my office to ever take advantage of the 16 unpaid weeks granted by the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). That combined with my vacation and paid leave gave me a nice chunk of time. But that time is up as of today. I was due back at the office tomorrow morning. But I decided I’m not going back.

As I’m Canadian, I’ve had to switch my visa from a worker to a dependent. I’ve held various jobs in the US over the past 7 years and have always had my own visa and income. I am now on my husband’s visa and I wonder when it will start to feel normal. It doesn’t help that we’re in the process of getting life insurance and my job title on all the paperwork is “homemaker” with an annual income of 0 dollars. I now get a monthly “pay check” from my husband with “Mommy Duty” written in the memo section (we’re not organized enough to do our banking at the same place).

All that said, I know I’m not ready to have someone else take care of my daughter. But at the same time, I still want to have the respect I had when I was working (from who, I’m not sure). I want to know that I can take this time off to be with her and not be punished for it when I decide it’s time to go back to the office. Sadly, that doesn’t appear to be something I can expect. My old boss has told me to be careful about how long I take off as it could affect my future prospects.

It’s so sad that the new skills I’m developing will not be appreciated in the traditional work place. I have to be on call 24-7 as a new Mom. I never know what the day has in store and I always have to be ready for some emergency or other. The stress and exhaustion I have felt in the past 6 months doesn’t compare to any of the toughest work challenges I’ve faced in my career (maybe my jobs weren’t tough enough?).

Some days I really miss sitting in peace at my desk with a coffee and my email. Now I’m lucky if I can be on the computer for 5 minutes before my daughter loudly indicates her displeasure and jealousy. Other days I miss having a reason to get dressed in the morning. Pajamas or jeans/sweats, sneakers/flip flops and a T-shirt have become my new uniform. And my own pay check is something I’m sure I will continue to miss until I have one again.

It’s been 6 months. I don’t know what the future holds in store for me or my family. What I do know is that I’ve made the right decision for us now, and that’s all that really matters. On the challenging days I remind myself that jobs come and go but this time in my daughter’s life will never happen again and I’m extremely lucky to be here to experience it with her.

1 comment:

brunettechicagogal said...

Caught your blog via Skylight's. What you're saying about work and motherhood is my biggest fear about becoming a mother and also incredibly frustrating. Employers need to be far more flexible and recognize that mothers can be effective on the job while still attending to their children's needs if they're given some time to acclimate to the dual responsibilities.