There are stay at home mommas (SAHMs), work at home mommas (WAHMs), work outside of the home mommas (WOHMs), and then there’s my category…. work outside of the home but would rather be at home raising my baby mommas (WOHBWRBAHRMBMs).
This April, I will have been at my office 5 years, making it my longest running job to date. I’ve worn a lot of hats in the past…I’ve been a grocery store bagger, an animal care taker, a line dancing waitress, a surgery assistant, and a hair stylist. I’ve worked with botox and pimples, burgers and beer, poop and fleas, and a disgustingly perverted old man with bloody gums and a scabby bald head (seriously, I could write an entire book about that a-hole). I’ve worked in a yogurt shop, a gas station, a kid’s clothes store, a post office, a pizza restaurant, a seafood restaurant, a dermatologist office, the mall, and a Hallmark store for 1/2 an hour before I quit, and I’m sure I’m missing a few or 10. And if someone would have told me back in high school, or college, or probably even just 5 years ago that I’d be working in a commercial real estate office training agents on computer software, doing admin work, answering phones and actually enjoying it, I probably would have thought you were nuts. Up until 5 years ago, I didn’t know what commercial real estate was, let alone the fact that there are lots and lots of people out there buying and selling CarMaxs and Walmarts and banks and and churches for millions and millions of dollars.
I happened here on a whim. I was living in my own apartment in the city, Albany Park to be exact, an apartment that by most people’s standards was pretty nice – 2 bedrooms, 2nd story with balcony, hardwood floors, courtyard – if only it weren’t for the bed bugs that infested my couch through the floorboards, or the burn holes that suddenly appeared on my patio chairs complete with little baggies that looked like they had been licked clean, or the person that was shot to death on the corner, or the prostitute I watched get arrested in broad daylight in front of my building, or being dropped off in a friend’s car in the alley behind the building where some really sweet man decided it would be good fun to run up and bash the back window in with a baseball bat and then take off running while I was left chewing on little pieces of glass in between my teeth…I’ve learned a shitty neighborhood does not a nice apartment make. But I was broke and I could afford it and I didn’t have to answer to anyone and it was all mine! Plus I had 3 locks on my door and 2 terrifying watch dogs that would hurt, maim, and kill if necessary, so you know, I was all good.
When I was living in that apartment I couldn’t afford internet and cable…ah but I could afford bunny ears for my tv, although much like the neighborhood, free endless marathons of Bonanza do not a good bargain make. But I survived it. Hey, if I was ok living between a Crafty Beaver, a shady carpeted bar with boarded broken windows, an Advance Auto, and a liquor store with flashing neon lights, what’s a little life without cable? I enjoyed hours of playing human-tv-antennae standing in the middle of my living room and ignoring the strange looks coming from the doggies while I put both arms and maybe a foot up in the air and bent body parts at different angles to get the tv picture a little less fuzzy. Of course it would only be good for a few minutes on particularly windy days before a light breeze outside would blow in through the window (no air conditioning of course) and cool me off while simultaneously altering the picture so bad that the 2 seconds of static noise were deafening. I’m happy to have grown up in the pre-digital age, otherwise I wouldn’t know what I was missing…
So there I was living on my own, doing hair at the Lincoln Park Ulta Salon, where full-time was 30 hours and seemed awesome while un-awesomely altering the number of zeros at the end of each paycheck, and I was barely getting by, sometimes not getting by at all without a guilt-filled phone call to my dad which was the last thing I wanted to be doing by the time I turned 30. So at 29 and 3/4ths-years-old, I decided to take a shot in the dark and start applying to more secure, less commissiony jobs on careerbuilder. I think I sent my resume out to every job that mentioned health insurance, salary, and paid vacation time and I got a few calls back, one of which ended up being from a recruiter who had posted one of the ads, something I didn’t even know was a possibility. And after finding out that the recruiter was there to not only quiz me, prep me, and practically dress me, but they would also be getting paid 1 year’s worth of my salary by whatever company hired me, I knew it was in their best interest to get me the highest possible salary they could negotiate for me. Um, yes please. So I interviewed, someone took a chance on me and here I sit still really enjoying my job 5 years later.
But this past Monday (President’s Day) and Tuesday (no babysitter) I got to enjoy being home with my little one despite the fact that she is currently battling her second cold right now, complete with a sheer volume of snot I didn’t know was possible and a frustratingly inconsolable fussiness, and it helped me realize that I’d give it up for a second if I could stay home and be with her everyday. I do so desperately want to be home with my baby and I can’t and it really sucks big balls. I miss her so much when I’m not with her, yet on the flip side maternity leave taught me that I’d probably go crazy if I didn’t work outside of the home at all. Plus when you factor in the three of us on my health insurance, the mortgage, my car payment and just enough credit card debt to pop a little bead of sweat out of my forehead when I look at the total every month, stay at home momma just isn’t an option for me.
Just look at that face, she’s saying, “mama, daddy’s so got this but I’m so excited for you to come through the front door…”
So for now when I pull into work I’ll put on my office hat and smile at the 10 pictures of my baby and my hubby that I have surrounding me at my desk and I’ll drink coffee out of my baby’s face on a mug and I’ll miss her so desperately my heart will ache but I’ll keep on chugging along and kicking butt. And when I get home I’ll pull up to my safe comfy house and I’ll throw my office hat into the trunk of my car and lock it up tight to be forgotten about until the next morning and I’ll put on my momma hat with gusto and keep on kicking more butt because out of all the jobs I’ve had, momma is by far my most favorite.
And until I win the lottery, I’m gonna keep on trying to make sure life doesn’t pass me by so fast.