In Sue’s recent Oprah Highlights So-Called Mommy Wars post, an anonymous poster posed an interesting question that I’d love to address here. First anonymous asks,
Taking the long view of a woman’s entire adulthood/career life, are the decisions discussed in this blog really fairly temporary ones for the average woman?
She goes on to discuss:
My calculations show me about 10 years where my children will be small and my husband and I will have to make the decisions you all are grappling with regarding work, child care, distribution of responsibilities, finances, etc. Of course childhood lasts longer than that, but it seems from my observations like the early years are the most trying for parents in terms of work, etc.
Guilt: The gift that keeps on giving
I think once you have a child, as a woman, most of us are faced with guilt for the rest of our lives, stay-at-home or working mom. Whether it be because we have to give our child PB&J sandwiches in the car on the way to school because we didn’t have time to prepare breakfast, because we multi-tasked that day and didn’t spend as much time as we would’ve liked with our little ones, or because we couldn’t attend Sally’s dance recital, Bobby’s football game, and Julia’s jazz band concert because they all happened to occur on the same day.
When school starts
Once our children are under a schoolteacher’s care for most of the day, some of us will have to start looking for before or aftercare programs. Most schools start anywhere from 7:30 to 9 in the morning, and end from 2:30 to 3:30, which aren’t most people’s full-time work hours. In addition to being an additional cost, it breaks my heart to think O will be sharing his coloring projects or math test scores with his aftercare teacher before he shares them with me.
And then there are the extracurricular activities I discussed above. I wonder if I’ll be able to attend all of my son’s after school activities, whatever they may be. My parents always made it a point to come to all of their children’s games/concerts/recitals, and it meant a lot to me and my siblings. Will work ever come in the way of that happening with me? I hope not.
If I do end up having another child, there probably will be a time where O can start babysitting his little brother or sister after school. At that point I’ll probably end up feeling guilty for giving him that type of responsibility and not allowing him the freedom to do what he wants after school.
So does parenthood get easier?
In short, once you have children I think your life changes forever. It did for me, anyway, and I’m just six months into this game. There’s always some obstacle to face and I don’t think it gets easier as you go along. As soon as you master one part of the game, life—or your child—throws you another stumbling block.