Wishing The Times Away.

by Christina Michael


So what do you do when you’re a lawyer, have 2 little kids, a husband who is always working, and no mom to provide support or company? Well, I guess you pull your hair out of your head, try to stay focused and vent your professional energies by keeping a tidy house, cooking a healthy dinner, and saving pennies by cutting coupons. Oh my, I have just been transported back to the 1950s and am living my mother’s life. Years of education and blood, sweat and tears as a lawyer, and now I’m just trying to wipe my kids’ bottoms and finish the laundry? Was this a good idea to go on “sabbatical”? I wondered and wondered, day after day after day.



I know it’s vital to be there for your children when they are young, and how fortunate I was to have the luxury of staying home with my kids for a time. Though luxury at the expense of what? What had I lost? Let’s recap: I had lost financial freedom and independence from my husband; I had lost any time to myself alone (at least time to have a cup of coffee on the way to work, listen to NPR, and to take a lunch break other than rainbow Goldfish at the park); I had lost the ability to shower and get dressed in the morning to look somewhat presentable. Was this a good move?



I know (and told myself often) that I had gained a lot by leaving my job and staying at home with the kids. I know my children will be thankful some day for the quality time I was able to spend with them when I wasn’t working. But was I truly making a difference in their young lives if I didn’t get down on the floor with them to play games, read books, and teach them their ABCs each day? I should be “working” at something (at least putting my education and training to good use by making my kids’ lives enriched). But I didn’t always feel that the work of a stay-at-home mom was fulfilling to them or to me. Maybe the time I spent with my first child when I was working was more quality time, time that I truly valued because it was so limited. Now that the days seemed endless and the time with the kids was UNlimited (is it truly only 9:30 a.m. and I’m trying to figure out how to keep sane until lunch?), I really questioned the decision to quit my job.



Years have passed. The kids have gotten older. Were they more enriched because I spent so much more time with them? I am not so sure of it. What I do know is that I have been fortunate to have the freedom to choose to stay home with my kids, if only for a little while. Now that I am about to “on ramp,” I am especially cherishing these times with my children. I am already wishing that I didn’t wish these few years away. I am already wishing I didn’t wish the kids would just be in school already. I am already wishing I didn’t wish the days would pass more quickly. Maybe it’s human nature to wish away life, like a young child wishes he were in elementary school already, like a young teenager wishes he were just 16 already, like a high school student wishes he were in college away from home already, like a single woman in her 20s wishes she were with the love of her life already, like a newly married woman wishes she had kids already…... Why do we do this? Why do we wish our lives away?




It's not just that we spent that time at home, ostensibly "with" the children (whether or not it was actually quality time with them or not -- maybe we were trying to re-sanitize our homes while they played amongst themselves). It's that we were there, in the house -- a parental presence -- a home, a safe haven with a loving, caring guardian in it. Not an empty shell of a house, signifying no special family continuity or adult supervision. I believe that, especially when my two oldest became very socially independent teens, my staying at home made the difference between creating a daily re-affirmation that we are a family vs. we are a bunch of individuals who all happen to live here.

Oh -- and you should try being an ex-lawyer with three children and suddenly LEFT by your husband! Now THAT's a whole 'nother story.


It's the being transported back to the 1950's that's the hardest for me. Somehow I became that stay-at-home mom that I never wanted to be, and end up with all the laundry, shopping, cleaning, carpooling, medical appointments, playdates, etc. But wait a minute...I also did all those things when I was working! Maybe the problem is my 1950's husband!


I so admire the way you've blended your own personal predicament with larger, really existential questions in your column, especially this most recent one. Yours is a terrific addition to the MommyTrack'd site.