I’ve recently found myself…between jobs, you could say. I’ve been reluctant to write about my layoff because having a job is extremely important to me, and my pride was hurt. I was embarrassed. I still am. I know people get laid off all the time, but this was new to me and I was truly thrown for a loop. Even though I wasn’t the only one laid off within my company, and I believe them when I was told it had nothing to do with my performance, I took the news very personally and, if I’m honest with myself, not very well.
In addition to sadness, shock and a feeling of being lost, I also had a lot of anxiety over being at home with my son 24/7. I’ve admitted before that I found maternity leave boring. I get bored very easily and, being at home with a newborn while on maternity leave, although mentally and physically exhausting, was also quite boring for me. It didn’t help that my son was born in the dead of winter, and getting out of the house to do anything seemed an impossible feat. Most of our days were spent sitting around the house, nursing and sleeping. It got old fast.
And, yet, when I was offered a new job at four weeks into my maternity leave, half of me clutched my teeny newborn tightly, not ready to go, while the other half was rushing out the door, elated to have an excuse to wash her hair and put on a bra. At six and a half weeks, I officially went back to work. The transition wasn’t terrible, and all members of our little family were doing great in our new routines.
And then, I got laid off. I was going to be home again with my son full-time (because daycare is hard enough to pay for on two incomes, and let’s not talk about the meager amount I receive for unemployment) for the first time in months. Sure, we did fine at home together on the weekends, but I couldn’t help but think back to those early days of maternity leave when the days seemed endless and mindless. I wasn’t sure I had what it takes to do this. Every day.
I suppose I never saw myself as a stay-at-home mom, mainly because the reality was that we needed my income to contribute to the family finances. My experience of maternity leave only solidified this decision. With the layoff, I felt unlike myself–I could no longer identify myself by my occupation, and I didn’t relate to being a stay-at-home mom. I certainly didn’t like to admit that I was unemployed. I avoided social situations where I might get asked, “So, what do you do?” for a while.
The longer I’m home with Lenny, the easier this is getting. Despite my early fears, we have settled into a routine which breaks up our days and gives us each something to do. It helps that Lenny is much more independent and interactive at 10 months than he was at 4 weeks, so taking care of him is much easier and less monotonous. Although I still search for a new job every day, I’ve come around to thinking of myself as a stay-at-home mom. I actually consider myself lucky to be spending this much time with Lenny while he is so young. While the circumstances of me being home were unintentional, I am trying to be more intentional in how we spend the time at home together. It took me a while to realize it, but this situation is yet another reminder that “you can’t always get what you want but sometimes…you get what you need.”