Thursday, April 14, 2011

My job does not count as "me" time

I love my job. I do.

But now and then I look back wistfully at my life as a part-time science writer. There was more time, then, for reading fiction, attending meetings of my mothers’ group, and writing. There was time to get good home-cooked dinners on the table without too much stress (other than that provided by small children hanging onto me). There was time to relax with the kids at home. There was time to go to the gym.

Every now and then I read the online discussion threads of my local mothers’ group, and I feel a pang of envy as I read women making plans to meet up with one another (children in tow) at the local coffee-and-indoor-playground spot. I read of plans for a new monthly cooking club subgroup, a girls’-night-out, or the latest book club discussion (which I’ve missed again). My fridge is full of vegetables and meat that I buy over the weekend in the delusional belief that I will actually prepare it all during the week. Instead, I am racing through a restriction digest at work, and then running for the parking garage and off to pick up the kids, late again. Dinner is frozen Costco potstickers (nothing wrong with that; the kids love them and would eat them 5 nights a week if allowed. But I tire of them, and I do feel guilty about not introducing more variety into their diet!)

I do love my job. But sometimes, I also look back longingly at my prior life. And with summer approaching, I look back even further to those first two summers here in our Midwestern city, when I was home full-time with both kids, watching them splash in the kiddie pool and run through the backyard; arranging playdates; making friends with other stay-at-home mothers and exploring the parks and museums of our new home with my children.

It’s not that I want that old life again, exactly. I was bored out of my skull plenty of times, and crawling the walls. I have only to look back at some of my old blog posts to remember that. I love my children, but staying home full-time with them really take it out of me.

And yet. . . Husband was also more understanding of my need for “me” time back then. He was encouraging of my outside interests and nights out. Now that I work full-time at a job I enjoy, he seems to believe that my job counts as “me” time.

Newsflash: it doesn’t.

I love my job and children both. . . I just wish I had more room to breathe.

7 comments:

Cloud said...

How long have you been back at work fulltime? This might shake itself out. I think it is hard when one partner has been home, taking care of all the chores, and then is suddenly not- the other partner finds he/she doesn't have as much time anymore, since the chores still need to get done. And then resentment starts to build on both sides.

I am pretty sure that this is why my husband and I had a big fight about chores a couple of weeks ago. I had been home for about 4 months after being laid off, then I got a new job and went back to work. Suddenly, I wasn't taking care of the laundry and shopping and cleaning during the week and we had to fit all that in around our work schedules again. Even though we'd been doing that before I got laid off, I think my husband got used to the "extra" time he had while I was unemployed and its sudden disappearance led to problems.

Anyway, I hope you and your husband can find the right balance soon. It is hard to do, but worth the effort (in my opinion).

Dr. Sneetch said...

Oh so well put Bean-mom. Spouse totally thinks of my work-time as my me-time as does everyone else. I feel like a hamster running running ....

The bean-mom said...

Cloud and Sneetch,

Thanks so much for your comments. Cloud--you are so right. I don't know why I didn't really think of it from my husband's point of view; I just knew that he seemed resentful and I in turn was resentful of that, instead of trying to put myself in his shoes. It's been almost a year since I've been back at work, but you are right; with his dwindling free time (compared to before) I guess it's no surprise that he is more grudging of what free time I may take for myself. Before he wasn't so grudging because he was more relaxed; he didn't have to pick the kids up from school, dinner was already made--what was the big deal if the wife took an evening off every so often? It seems ridiculous that I didn't think of it in that way... but I guess sometimes I'm dense. Thank you, Cloud.

Of course, I'm not going to quit my job now, and we'll not going back to those old days. So my husband and I have to sit down and negotiate personal time off for both of us... which is hard. We'll see how it goes.

Sneetch--thanks for letting me know I'm not the only woman for whom her job is considered "me time"! I wish we could get them all to understand that it's not!

Amelie said...

Thanks for sharing -- I imagine the same could happen with my husband and me, if we're ever lucky enough to have a child. He already thinks cooking qualifies as "me" time...

The bean-mom said...

Amelie,

I'm also guilty of considering my husband's cooking time to be "me time" for him! I guess that's how we tend to feel about an activity if we know that person enjoys the activity... Husband does enjoy cooking, but he's also feeding the family, so I have to remember to consider that second part as well!

WOW Gold said...

Cloud--you are so right. I don't know why I didn't actually believe of it from my husband's place of view; I just knew that he seemed resentful and I in turn was resentful of that, rather than attempting to set myself in his shoes
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Subing said...

I'm not heading to quit my profession now, and we'll not heading back again to people older days. So my husband and I need to sit cutting and negotiate private time away for each of us