At the end of last year (2008) I unexpectedly (somewhat unexpectedly) was suddenly unemployed. (Yeah, that sentence does not really make sense but neither did the circumstances so, I am leaving it in.)
I have officially been a SAHM for a little over one year. I have to fill you in on a few things about me so that what I write makes more sense.
I was never the girl that dreamed of having children all my life. I always loved kids and thought I might want them one day but never had that deep, down need to have them from childhood. You know what I mean. I was never one of those girls that was a 'born mother'. I was not until I met Jay that I realized that I had just not found the right person to have children with.
So, once we were married I very much wanted a baby. Unlike a lot of moms I had no problem going back to work after Carson's birth. I adored and loved my baby but after 16 weeks of maternity leave... I was ready to get back into a routine, make some money and get my brain back. Truth be told (I did not know this at the time) I was totally overwhelmed with being a new mom. I genuinely feel that working made me a better mom.
Fast forward a few years and after Carson's diagnosis - work became a very good escape. Home life was extremely stressful. I was depressed and totally heartbroken and work was a good place for me to go and not have to face all my fears every minute of every day. Even though my love for Carson was more than I ever dreamed I could love someone, the pain of watching him not develop, not speak, not interact, and live in his own world.. was too much for me.
So, I continued to work. We also realized early on that if we were to get Carson all the help we need for him, I would have to work. At that time the economy was doing really well. Jay and I were very comfortable and I laugh now at the things we did and purchased. We could afford these things on top of any needed expense for Carson.
Then, I got pregnant with Fin. I had a very challenging pregnancy and work again, was a good place to be "off" of mom duty and actually relax a bit. I had a great boss, knew my work well and enjoyed it.
I will never forget being on bed rest and getting a call from my boss. He said he was resigning and was sorry to tell me while I was out on bed rest but that he would not be there when I returned from maternity leave. I was devastated. My old boss was the BEST. He was supportive and knew of Carson's needs and was always willing to help me work it out so that I could be a good mom and a good employee. His leaving work was a big turning point.
I returned to work 12 weeks after Fin's birth. I was not as overwhelmed with my new mommy role as I had done this once before but now I had two children. Two children was harder. Two children was more work at home and lets face it.... I had one child, a newborn and another child, a toddler with special needs.
I can honestly say that I was still very much in the grief phase of Carson's diagnosis when I had Fin. I had terrible baby blues and cried for months. I truly thank God that Fin was such an easy baby. To top it off, we moved into a new home, lost thousands on the home we sold and the economy was tanking. I knew we were in for a very bumpy ride.
So, I stayed at work. I could not afford to leave. At this point I was exhausted and ready to start entertaining the idea of being a SAHM but, if Jay lost his job we would be.......... sc#$#ed. So, I held on tight and tried to do a great job at work and at home. Any WOTHM can tell you, this is no small feat and if anyone out there judges working moms all I can say is... you try it. It is not easy at all.
As Carson's needs grew so did my need to be more available. Jay made more money that I did so, it only made sense that if one of us had to take time off, it was me. My work was very supportive and again, I will always have that as a positive memory. Eventually though, we (my place of employment and I) could no longer make it work. Lots occurred and that really does not matter anymore now but in the end, December 2008, I was unemployed.
I remember having so many different feelings about this. I was so happy that a decision was finally made but yet also angry at the same time. Let's face it. Carson's diagnosis trumps anything and everything. Autism has ruled our life from the minute it appeared that he was on the spectrum. I was resentful. I was resentful that I could not choose to leave my job to be a SAHM but that I HAD to leave my job to take my child to therapies, doc appointments, etc. My idea of a SAHM was not what I was going to live. I was not happy about that but, of course, knew there was nothing I could do to change it. Please don't judge me on these feelings. I wanted to be home with my kids but I wanted to be doing fun things with them, playing with them, enjoying them. Not living in an Autism bubble.
To add to it, the fear of Jay loosing his job was very real. Insurance does not cover much for Autism but at least it covered a bit and the reality of our very insecure state was very stressful. We had many discussions on the "what if's".
I remember Jan and Feb feeling like years of isolation. I am ultra social. Work was a great outlet for me and I had a very social job. I knew very few people at home during the day. I did not know our neighbors. I would call Jay at work and eventually went over my minutes on my phone plan just trying to find someone to chat with.
I also went though a ton of emotions dealing with Autism. Being home full time allowed me to see all day everyday just how much my child was affected. I guess those hours of being at work really did allow me to escape the reality of our situation. Carson was challenging. VERY challenging. I cried almost daily and needed help.
Over the next few months I created a great team for support. We got a social worker, behaviorists, I met and loved my fellow neighborhood moms. It got better and I felt like I was getting better at it too.
Finding out I was pregnant with Mia was a joy. It was perfect timing. I was home. I did not have to worry about going back to work for a while and could enjoy the pregnancy and her birth.
The summer flew by. Our schedule was packed, HBOT, sensory camps, OT, PT, and speech. Carson had two to three appointments each day. It was a ton of work but again, I am so grateful that we were able to do it. Had I been working, we would not have been able to do it all.
I also got to enjoy one-on-one time with Fin before Mia's birth. While Carson was at his appointments, Fin and I would go bumming or just hang out together waiting for Carson to finish. I am so lucky that Fin is so young that he does not resent or even realize that he lives by his brothers schedule.
Mia's birth came in the fall. Carson was going to mainstream Kindergarten (with a full time aide). Things all seemed to fall into place. Even though I was (still am) sleep deprived and a bit crazy, we managed to fall into a good rhythm.
Gone were the days of feeling resentful, overwhelmed and depressed. Gone were the days of feeling insecure. Yeah, I can't control if Jay looses his job so, I figured I would not continue to worry about it.
I guess what I wanted to say was - it was a really hard year. We worked really hard. We watched every penny. We changed our lifestyle. We grew as a family. I grew as a mom.
I will forever be grateful that I have been able to be a SAHM. I don't know if it will be forever. For now, I am content, happy and tremendously blessed. This experience has changed my life and it is one I never thought I would like or have.
Just goes to show us that even in the most stressful of times (or years) there is so much to be gained. So many beautiful memories and moments to treasure. I can tell you this, if the day comes when I want or have to go back to work, it will be really hard. I am madly in love with my family and like hanging out with my kids all day.
In a nut shell, I never realized what a gift it was to end my employment.Happy New Year to you. No matter what the year brings, you will find blessings when it is all over. I promise.