Monday, December 5, 2011

The Continuing Doubt

I've written about this before.  And I will continue to write about it until I get it all sorted out ... because most of the time this blog is my therapy.  And let me say ... I'm not telling anyone out there how they should live.  I'm just talking about ME and what I'm going through.  Each one of us makes our own choices based on our needs and wants and requirements.  We are all different.  Our families are all different. 

You know how it happens.  You make a decision.  It's the right decision for you and for your family, yet there is this voice in your head making you doubt yourself.  You know it.  You've heard that voice.  It's the one that doubts the rational voice.  It's the one that tells you you're making a mistake.  The one that constantly says "what if"...

So here's the long and short of it.  My husband has a new job.  Same place, more responsibility.  More time at work.  More stress.  So we've decided that it would be better for me to work less than I have been (especially lately), and as my husband put it, I need to be in charge of our family's health.  Which means the garden, the cooking ... you know, that kind of stuff.  Make home a pleasant place for him to come home to.  Not more stressful.  Home can be a sanctuary for all of us.  Sounds good, right?  Well, it is. 

Some background.  I have a Master's Degree in Archaeology but decided to do contract work from my home office after my son was born almost 8 years ago.  I've been working far more than normal the past month or so.  Working on a contract that has me being part of a development that, ethically, I am not comfortable with.  Making HUGE money compared with what I normally do.  I've been working about 20 hours a week - doesn't sound like much, but for me it is a lot - it takes time away from my own writing, blogging, making jewellery, cooking, cleaning, being with my boys, taking care of things.  Compared with working moms, it sounds like I'm a wimp, and maybe I am.  But that number of hours with a deadline just doesn't work for me.  (I will continue with the jobs that I normally have which end up being about 5 hours a week for one company and a block of hours in the fall and winter for another - I'm not giving it up altogether, and I'm not suggesting that I won't take small jobs in the future.  But these big ones need to be over longer periods of time if I do them at all.) 

So, I finished up the very last of that contract last night.  There was the possibility of more work on the project with high pay, but I simply don't want it.  I'm burned out.  I need to step back into my life and away from the work. 

Sounds easy, right?  Sounds like a no-brainer decision.  Hubby has a raise, and we're doing just fine.  Don't need the money (although it's always nice).  And it IS a no-brainer.  Less work, more home time.

But there's part of me that still feels that if I'm not working more then I'm somehow less of a person.  Not as important.  A Loser, perhaps.  It's a small part of me.  But it's enough to make me question myself.  Do I really want to give up the money?  Do I want to cut off this client? 

Where did this doubt come from?  Our society?  The Women's Movement?  When did work in the home lose it's value?  ... Because it has.  We now devalue the role of a mother to the point that we pay other people to raise our children - it is less valuable to spend time with our own children than it is to be an executive somewhere.  These aren't judgments ... it's true.  We don't value raising our families as much as we value high-paying jobs.  We pay other people to cook for us, to provide us with sustenance, to clean our homes, to care for our elderly.  We've taken all of those things that help the people we love and farmed them out to others.  And for what?  So we can go out into the world and help corporations carve up the countryside?  So we can feel like we're climbing the ladder and being successful?  Whose idea of success??

It's a sad commentary on our culture.  Our world.  And the saddest part for me is that in a few months I'll likely have another great opportunity to get great pay and do interesting work that will take too many hours away from my family and home, and I'll take it.  Because of that voice in my head that needs that external validation.  That part of me that needs to prove that I can still do it.  I can still work, still bring in an income and still be a participating member of society. 

I know a lot of you out there do work full-time jobs and buy dinners more than you'd like, and I know there is a lot of guilt involved - and don't let me add to that.  We all do what is best for US.  Not what is best for someone else.  It's just that when we decide what is best, why is that voice still there?

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