I’m scrubbing my counter – one of those jobs that only I do. I’m not exaggerating this time, no one else in my family ever wipes the counters, even if they spill. Anyway, as I scrub away, my mind wanders, as it tends to do when I’m cleaning, to my job search. I’m struck with the thought, what if I never get a job?
As six months of unemployment turned into 12 months, and then as 18 months approaches, I have to face the facts that I may not be able to get hired. The longer I’ve been unemployed, the less employable I get.
The idea of not working may sound like fun, but I had to consider – could I become a housewife?
I have been working since I was 16 years old. I have been a working parent for 21 years. I have never been a housewife, what if I suck at it? I’m not using “stay at home mom” because the two children that are still at home go
to school for most of the day. They don’t really need me to do mom stuff for them. If I remain unemployed, my day would be mostly cleaning, laundry, cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and cleaning.
I know that my trepidation is because of my experience at home so far. These days, my house is still a cluttered mess, and I have a cleaning service. I make excuses – it’s because I’m still busy looking for a job. I’m volunteering. I have to bring the girls to school. I have doctor’s appointments . . . I haven’t been able to focus. I feel like I haven’t been able to dedicate myself to anything because of my job search, but when I do spend time cleaning and cooking, I get resentful and bored. Would being able to dedicate myself to being a housewife make it better?
I don’t think so. I’ve never gotten much satisfaction from cleaning. I have realized that if I am going to make it work, I would need to be much more organized with my time, and make sure that I set aside time to work on my creative endeavors so that I don’t feel like a maid.
It makes me think of all the decisions we make about working – starting with college and our careers. I know lots of
women who chose their career because it was family friendly, offered flexibility, etc. Before I had children, I realized that I was going to have to work. I married seven years before we did decide to have children, and by that time I had seen a lot of working moms, and I knew that it was possible to be employed and a mom. I had my older sisters as role models – they both continued to work after having children.
I thought about trying to work a part-time schedule. I knew that was how several of my friends had found a balance between work and family. But, I looked around my employer, and I didn’t see many employees working a flex schedule. Not only were there very few, but the ones I knew had been asked to come back to a full week schedule (or leave). I decided that full time was ok with me. I rationalized that with a full time work, I’d have more flexibility. Let’s face it, you can’t plan for your baby to be sick on your off day – so there would still be flexibility issues with a part-time schedule. Also, the part-time schedule seemed to always stretch to more hours than was agreed upon.
It’s hard to leave an infant at daycare that first time. They seem so vulnerable. But, the truth is that anyone can give them what they need at that age – food, a clean diaper, sleep, and unconditional love. When the child gets older, their needs cannot be fulfilled by substitutes. I couldn’t hire someone to go watch my son’s soccer game, or go to the teacher’s conference (as much as I would have liked to!). So, I decided I would work when they were small, and when they got older, I’d look for a flex schedule.
It turned out that I didn’t really need to, though, because between mom and dad, we were able to be there when our kids needed us. I was right about working full time – it gave me the flexibility I needed to put my children first whenever it was necessary. So, I feel like the decisions have been made for me as my career proceeded. It all worked out for the best for our family.
Until now, when the decision is being made for me.* I’m not going to stop looking for a job, but the job market naturally slows down during the holidays, so I’m going to take this time to concentrate on being a “housewife” and see if I can actually hack it. Send me good vibes, I’m going to need it!
*check out my posts on being unemployed for more info