Monday, September 03, 2007

Guilt, and I'm not even Jewish

I love my job. I really do. I love the people I work with and the reason for being there. The "work" itself is pretty easy, but it makes a big difference in the lives of the developmentally disabled people I work with.

But I hate working. I hate being away from my kids. I hate not being as active in their day-to-day lives, and it's driving me nuts. And making me feel very guilty.

When I was a stay-at-home mom, I knew all sorts of things that happened at school with my kids. I had met all of their teachers, knew the little quirks of each of their classrooms, and knew whether or not each child had had a good day at school. I knew what they had packed for a snack for school, and what they snacked on when they got home. I knew whether they ate their dinner, what new friends they'd made, which teachers they liked, how they were doing in the various school subjects... To put it bluntly, I was involved.

Now? Now I work third shift, and I don't get home until after they have gone to school. Now someone else makes sure they have brushed their teeth, that their clothes are on forward, and that their hair isn't standing straight up in the back. Someone else is making sure they eat breakfast, that Perrin has taken his medication, and that they put their signed papers back in their backpacks.

Now? If all goes well, I'm asleep when they get home. So someone else gets to hear them gripe about how much work their teachers expect from them. Someone else gets to sign the behavior reports and permission slips. Someone else fixes their supper.

Now? I wake up shortly before they go to bed. I get to give them a hug (if they bother to remember that I exist!) and remind them to brush their teeth. But that's about it on weeknights!

My schedule is Monday through Thursday, 11PM to 9AM, usually. But I've agreed to work Fridays this month, too, because they need the help and we need the money. Overtime pay is good. But this means that I don't actually get home until closer to 9:30 or 10:00. I get to sleep by 10:30 or 11:00. Add eight hours for sleep, and I'm not waking up until 6:30 or 7:00. Their bedtime is 8:00 on school nights.

Frankly, I miss them. I don't feel like Mommy anymore. I'm just a stranger that shows up about an hour before they go to bed every night, and it totally sucks.

I do have to say, however, that Tai has been absolutely wonderful. He has taken on the role of stay-at-home dad with grace. He makes it look easy, and I know from experience that it isn't. He's done a fabulous job of keeping the kids quiet so I can sleep. He's done a fabulous job of getting the kids off to school, keeping them fed, and even keeping the house respectable. He gets done what needs to get done. Housework, paperwork, contact with the schools...he's got it all under control. In a word, he's awesome.

But that is about to change, too. Tai had an interview Saturday, and provided he passes a pee test and a background check (no reason he shouldn't pass either), he'll start a new job on Friday. It's part-time, and it's a job well beneath his abilities, but it will be income, which is something we need in a dire way. And as I type, he's at an interview for another part-time job. I believe both places of employment strictly take new-hires on a part-time basis, and if they seem to work out, will make them full-time. But again, this second job would be far beneath his abilities. I hate to see him sell himself so short, but the truth of the matter is, there just aren't many jobs, and even fewer quality jobs in this area. At this point, he'll take what he can get. And, as he put it, at least it's not fast food.

With both of us working, I have no idea how we're going to work everything out.

We'll do it, I'm sure. But that doesn't mean I can't feel guilty about it anyway.


eatmisery said...

Ever think of moving closer to Chicago? What does Tai want to do for a living?

Mrs. Darling said...

OH I feel your pain. This must be so hard on you Meg. I cant imagine such a schedule. Hope all it works out in the end and hubby gets a job that values him.

E said...

I feel your guilt, we have been through the same thing, until recently I have always worked nights and I felt immense guilt all the time. I hope it all works out in the end and Tai gets the perfect job!

kate said...

You know, when you said you were working 3rd shift, my first thought was, Great, she can still be home with the kids! Of course I forgot one little detail-- you need to sleep! Oops! That does sound hard. Hang in there, and hopefully it will work out somehow!

Mindi said...

I used to work 3 to 11 and I felt the exact same way. Thing is, my DH did NOT do well in the SAHD role. When it was just Meg at home (he adopted her) all was well, but when it was both kids - OMG... I was lucky enough to be able to switch hours, but I know that isn't always possible. We're here if you need a shoulder to cry one. Yay for Tai for being such a good dad. It hurts like hell, but sometimes the kids do okay without us! Hang on for the weekends.