May 19, 2009

Why didn't Mama say?

Mama never said there'd be days like this. Of course, my mother had my brother and I six years apart, and she had no choice but to go back to work six weeks after we were born. She never got to experience this I suppose. Still, I'm rather surprised I got the all puppies and hearts answers when I was asking about how it was to have two children close together.

I feel cheated. I feel lied to. They said it got easier when the youngest started crawling. Yet, I never felt like I currently do until Sneak became mobile. Yes, I thought giving up writing altogether was a necessity when she was under five months old, but I never felt less than human. Not like now.

Staying home was a choice when I decided to leave work about the time Boo Bear was five-months-old. If you can call knowing we were about to loose our childcare set up, needing to provide transportation to and from work for a husband who suddenly started having seizures the month before, and feeling such was necessary for my sanity because of post pardum depression which seemed to stem from leaving my daughter every day a choice. Looking back, I probably should have simply moved Boo to a commercial daycare, prayed we could keep up the arrangement with coworkers the required six months Hubby couldn't drive, and just took the medication. My salary could have handled day care costs for one child...barely.

I was happy for a while. Then as Boo became more independent, I started feeling like a drain on the family more than a help. (I know my logic was scewed. Depression, post pardum or otherwise does that.) So I started looking for ways to work-from-home, especailly after Hubby was one of fourty-five teachers nonrenewed thanks to massive budget cuts. I turned down a job working for a local private school teaching English and creative writing under an emergency certification because Hubby had already landed another job. He was planning to go back to college to get a degree in gifted education since he knew the school system he was then employed by would need a new gifted teacher the following year, and we simply couldn't afford for both of us to go back to school. The emergency certification wouldn't hold without my returning to college to get a second degree in education.

Sneak was born the following summer. Hubby had been nonrenewed again as almost every nontenured teacher is this time of year, especially when the state legislature decides they want overtime pay and therefore ignores the state education budget along with other issues until after the session ends. (Sorry, I'm still a bit bitter about that.) Contracts automatically renew at the end of the school year otherwise, and you can't commit to paying a teacher if you don't know for sure you'll have the money to pay them after all.

I started looking for work four weeks after Sneak was born. Hubby was determined to avoid a return to education, and with the majority of his experience being in education, he wasn't having much luck in a tight employment market. It was then I discovered a disturbing fact.

I am well and truly trapped.

Given my education and experience, plus the fact I've been staying home, only working freelance for the last two years, there is a limited range where I can find employment outside the home. I would have to bring in at least two hundred more per week than any of the jobs I was interviewing for to keep from loosing money after paying for the gas needed to get to and from the job and childcare for two children under three. Working outside the home is no longer an option, at least not for the next two years.

Still, most days are good. I clean the house and care for my girls, then I write when they're napping, and I clean other people's homes one day a week. It's not glamorous, but it pays for our car and groceries. And I have generally have a sense of contentment.

Then there are days like I've been having lately, when I feel more like a tool than a woman. Days when I feel like little more than some weird combination of microwave, dishwashing machine, clorox wipe, and a wad of toilet paper. Even on the good days, I feel like I've been dunked in the toilet within half an hour of my shower simply because there is so much gross stuff included in caring for two small children between diapers, spit up, snot, and various spills.

I'm not even going to touch the constant noise. Young children are loud by nature. Loud I can deal with to a point. The ceaseless screaming due to teething is difficult to handle, but hopefully it will pass soon.

Either way I need to get past the urge to continually escape into fiction. It's not productive and just exaserbates the problem.

I wonder exactly how much of my hearing I've lost...

* The picture is of Sneak during her first week. She's so skinny because she was born at 36 weeks.

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