Yesterday, my youngest went to kindergarten, for the whole day, on her own. As the youngest of three she has been counting the days since we enrolled her in February, so for her, yesterday couldn’t come fast enough. She is beyond excited to be at school “with the big kids”. In a lot of ways, I too have been counting down the days till “all my kids are in school” since my oldest came along 11 years ago. I imagined freedom. A sense of relief. A little sadness. A lot of joy. What I feel now is obsolete. As a stay-at-home mum, I sort of feel like I’ve been given my pink slip. My kids asked me all summer what I was going to do without them, maybe hoping that I would spend my days weeping and wailing now that they were not there, but I answered gleefully that I was going to have fun without them. I thought I would finally get to organize and clean my house. Bake a lot of cookies and try not to eat them all. Maybe I would catch up with my scrapbooking, or finally work on my novel (insert snicker here). Even I am having difficulty mustering any enthusiasm for this plan now.
I admit that I have struggled with feelings of inadequacy and worthlessness since I made the decision to give up my teaching career to be at home with my kids, but because I had little people who depended on me I soldiered on. I convinced myself I was doing it for them. Sacrificing my needs and wants to meet theirs- St. Kirsten of the Suburbs. While it is true they still need me- my five year old is hardly independent at this point- that need is concentrated into the hours between school pick up and bedtime each day leaving me with a lot of empty hours to fill. My husband, a very supportive guy, is constantly telling me to take time for myself and do what makes me happy, but I feel ridiculously guilty when I think about filling my time with my hobbies or “lunching with the ladies”. Our lifestyle and schedule doesn’t really leave room for me to get a job outside of the home, as many of my friends have, and frankly we don’t need the money. There are a lot of families who need two incomes- I don’t want to take a job from someone who needs it just so I can feel good about myself. The question I have been asking myself constantly is how the hell am I going to earn my keep now?