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Wohms - do you ever doubt yourself?

(50 Posts)
susannahmoodie Tue 18-Nov-14 19:15:17

I have 2 small dcs and I work ft as a teacher. I enjoy my job and am ambitious. My dh is part time and flexible and extremely hands on. We have excellent childcare. My weekends and early evenings are sacrosanct time with my dcs, I play with them for 2/3 hours a day after work, sometimes co sleep if they need to, put them to bed and read stories every night and I do feel like I'm doing ok in terms of work life balance, and I get annoyed at the sexism I sometimes face when people imply I shouldn't be ft, or that it's weird that dh does more childcare than I do.

Anyway, we visited bil and sil at the weekend. Sil is a sahm with 2 small dcs and a fog and a cat and chickens in a v rural rambling home. And even though I shudder whm I think back to the days when I washing slowly insane on maternity with 2 dcs, I always come away from there feeling like maybe I'm getting it wrong and she's getting it right, as it all just seems so idyllic and relaxed, unlike the pace of our home life which is.a bit more frenetic (although we do enjoy the school hols!)

A sort of complicating factor in this, is, I'm ashamed to say, a degree of bitterness. Pil are extremely wealthy. They helped us with a deposit or buy a home which we are obviously grateful for, but when it came to bil and sil they were not in a position to get a mortgage so pil bought them a house outright. This is a big factor in sil not having to work and I do. But I also don't feel I could cope with feeling any more beholden to pil than I already do and I can't really understand how sil can sah knowing someone else is funding it. But sometimes when work gets too much I wonder why I don't just do what she does.

I basically need someone to tell me how to stop doubting myself and how to let go of these feelings of bitterness.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 18-Nov-14 19:26:42

Given the choice between working for a living and having someone else bankroll a lifestyle where all there is to worry about is feeding chickens or what flavour cupcakes to serve up at the village fete, I'm pretty sure anyone would find the latter attractive..... for a while. smile But if you find domestic stuff tiresome, you have to be realistic about yourself. Being bankrolled can also set up massive obligations. Personally, I'd see it as a failure to be dependent on a relative (DP or PIL) for an income and take a huge amount of pride in modelling self-sufficiency and a work ethic to DC.

'Comparison is the thief of joy'...... You're not SIL and she isn't you.

Lovelydiscusfish Tue 18-Nov-14 19:33:31

I'm a full time teacher like you, and felt guilty at first when I went back to work, but to be honest, I now think, dd will be going to school anyway, so we'll have roughly the same holidays (though hers will be longer as different sector), and I try to come home earlyish and work after she's gone to bed anyway, so really, I won't be seeing much less of her than if I was at home. And, if I'd left work for a few years and gone back once she started school, I think I'd have really struggled to go back in at the level (and thus the income) I am currently at, which would have made a lot of the things we want to do for dd impossible.
But yeah, if someone offered me a work-free idyll with chickens, plus all the money we (believe we) need, I'd bite their hand off!

Lovelydiscusfish Tue 18-Nov-14 19:35:48

Not saying you should with PIL, btw. My dad is always offering me money to leave work, strangely, but I couldn't take it from him, as why should he have to give it? I'd take it if I was made redundant and really needed it, say.
I meant more winning the lottery or something - I'd love that.

YellowTulips Tue 18-Nov-14 19:40:14

I went back to work 3 days a week when DS was 3 months then FT after a year.

I did have the odd pang that I might not be doing the right thing but 10 years down the line I have no regrets.

Working in IT it would have been impossible to take years out without a significant career impact and I certainly wouldn't be in my current position if I had.

My DS is fab and still remembers nursery fondly and we have a great relationship. Hand on heart I don't think he has suffered from me not being a SAHM.

In contrast some (but not all circa 50%) of women who had kids at the same time I know have regrets about not going back to work at all or not having done it sooner as the kids dependence reduces. Of those with no regrets some were never career orientated, others able to take a long career break with relatively minimal impact, some just loved being at home with the kids or so bloody loaded that the idea of work was organising the domestic help smile

Upshot is there is no right way. You do what you think is right for your circumstances. You may envy SIL now but positions could easily be reversed further down the line.

It's something you have to plough your own furrow on and not actually be swayed by "other people" because all the different factors make a "what is right" comparison pretty damn meaningless.

callamia Tue 18-Nov-14 19:41:48

I don't think you doubt yourself, I think you feel (justifiably) envious of your sister in law's lifestyle. There's probably plenty of non-parents who would quite like her rural idyll life too.

I also work full time, in a career that I've worked hard to achieve. I love my job, my child is in a lovely nursery and my husband also does a good job of sharing the load.

Sometimes, I doubt whether I can keep up with my job, but I put my son first. It's a change for me, and one in still getting used to, but I think it's ok. You do whatever you need to to make yourself content.

jimmycrackcornbutidontcare Tue 18-Nov-14 19:47:46

Yes, that seems unfair. It really is. You could be spending more time with your children if your PILS had treated their sons equally. They probably intend to give your DH an equal inheritance but by withholding it until a later date or death (as is usual) they have limited what he can do with it whilst at the same time changing your BIL and SIL's whole lives.

Ilikesweetpeas Tue 18-Nov-14 19:52:35

You sound like you have a great balance between your career and spending lots of quality time with your children.

TiffanyToothache Tue 18-Nov-14 20:02:39

I work part time (0.5 wte) and if it helps I constantly doubt myself. Should I be working at all? Am I a good enough team member at work? Do I drain their stretched resources by eg requiring the same hours training but only being in for half the time. Am I a good enough parent? Do I spend too little time at home? On days when they're a bit under the weather or clingy and I have to get them up early and bundle them out of the door it feels shit.

So, in conclusion, I think it's natural to doubt oneself, and right to keep questioning whether the current arrangement fits your circumstances but I try and own my choices. Because of the choice I have made my family has a roof over their head. Our house is small and can feel inadequate, but to have more would mean working more hours. If I worked more hours i would spend less time with my children in the years they are at home, which I don't want etc etc

It's a circular thought process, but I think if you think it through and always reach the same conclusion then there's nothing wrong with that.

There will be no perfect arrangement, the compromises are made for the benefits reaped.

ThinkIveBeenHacked Tue 18-Nov-14 20:20:08

Tbh it probably seems idyllic because she is happy. You are also happy. Neither is the "optimum" way to parent.

I have two dcs and am currently on materity leave. Im not maternal, particularly, and much as I dont like my job, I will be happy to go back to working ft once matleave is done (once this is sleeping better!). I enjoy my work/life balance

I also go a bit doolally on maternity leave and have a good friend who is Mrs Motherhood grin she adores her life. I adore mine. I have no guilt.

You seem and sound happy. Honestly, happy as SIL is,would you swap tomorrow?

Cabrinha Tue 18-Nov-14 20:28:56

I've never doubted my return to work. I'm happy, my daughter is happy.
Honestly, I'd be jealous if my PIL bought one child a house but not my partner! In fact, we have a minor version of it over school fees. But not bitter. Just a tad jealous.
Doesn't make you a bad person to feel jealous. But better to put that in a box and not dwell on it.
You sound happy - good career and lots of time with your kids.
Embrace what you have?
Chickens? Really? Find yourself a nice free range egg farm place and get them from there.
Chickens are over rated wink

alicemalice Tue 18-Nov-14 20:32:54

Actually I don't at all anymore. I used to, but DD is thriving and happy so I don't worry.

Anyways I don't have any choice these days, I have to work full-time so now the choice isn't there, I feel much less guilt.

The key is feeling very comfortable with whoever does your childcare, I think.

alicemalice Tue 18-Nov-14 20:35:27

Also I used to have a very comfortable life. Then it all got washed away with my divorce. I'm so glad I kept working as you never know what will happen to you.

And I do love working, I would feel bereft without it, even if I didn't need to work.

ClawHandsIfYouBelieveInFreaks Tue 18-Nov-14 20:37:32

I can sort of understand your jealousy but on the other hand I find it faintly disgusting too.

DH and I have no parents to help with a mortgage.

RiverTam Tue 18-Nov-14 20:40:03

I went back to working (firstly freelance at home for a year, and then in-house) after 2 pretty awful years at home with DD. I am not cut out to be a SAHM at all. The nursery she attended from aged 2 was wonderful and she blossomed there in a way I don't think she would have with me.

Some people make wonderful SAHMs, and are lucky enough to be able to do so (because of not having a mortgage, for example). I think we could have been as rich as Croesus and I would still have wanted to go back to work. I grew up with working women, it is totally the norm for me and my family (especially on my mum's side).

A snapshot of someone's life when they have visitors tells you nothing - everyone's normally on good form/best behaviour. For all you know she could feel a complete drudge and wish she had a dynamic job. Or, she might love her life. But that's Her life, and you have yours. That's it.

Llareggub Tue 18-Nov-14 20:42:01

I'm another who finds herself glad of a career following divorce. I'm very grateful I kept on working (albeit part-time) during my marriage. I'm now a single mother, working full-time and able to support my children in a well-paid job. You never know what life might throw at you.

I could do with a part-time husband though to take care of the housework!

DaisyFlowerChain Tue 18-Nov-14 20:45:57

Never doubted my decision to work, DS has never suffered and has a nice life. He sees hard work as a way of life and will hopefully have learnt it's possible to work and parent.

I imagine most SAHPs are funded by somebody else, unless they saved themselves for the period of being unemployed. I can't imagine being reliant on another adult for my every need and in the event her relationship goes pair shaped she will be left with no income.

NoSquirrels Tue 18-Nov-14 20:46:55

My DP and I have worked lots of combinations of FT, PT, freelance, at home and outside it whilst our DC are little. It's hard to balance, there's always compromises to be made, and some days are harder than others. But we have a roof over our heads, for the most part interesting jobs/opportunities through those jobs, and much to be thankful for.

I do feel guilty, though. I do feel that there should be another, magical way in which I could spend more time with them, bake more cakes and go swimming at midday and for walks in the park to examine minibeasts more often that just at weekends, volunteer more at school for ad-hoc parent-helper moments at the last moment, instead of feeling accountable in all directions. But life is not perfect, and I hope I am teaching the kids that a work ethic is useful, that you have to make choices but that all choices are valid, that not everyone can have what someone else has or do what someone else does.

And yes, good childcare.

Fwiw, my parents both worked long hours as teachers 6 days a week and more in term time, but they really made the most of the holidays with us. I had a lovely childhood, which I wouldn't change.

Thehedgehogsong Tue 18-Nov-14 20:47:50

I'm a teacher too and I love working. It's so hard with the hours and work load and managing that with parenting is hard. But I never feel guilty for working. I have great childcare and my DD is happy. I've just started mat leave for my 2nd child and 3 weeks in (still no baby) I'm missing the structure of work like crazy!

northernlurker Tue 18-Nov-14 20:53:38

I don't doubt the choices I've made and I'm proud of the working me as well as being proud of my wonderful kids. There have been odd moments - like when dd3 really wasn't clicking at school when I've thought I should pack it in, be a sahm and home educate her. Those thoughts last about 30 seconds because that isn't me, that isn't what I want to do and that isn't what's best for my family.
In your case OP I can see why you're bitter. You've had a small gift from your pil but bil and sil have had much more. When dc ae little sahming does seem very seductive - but revisit the comparison in say 6-8 years time. When your career and disposable income is going up and up and sil is still sahming or in a much less well paid job. Being a sahm has a huge cost in real and emotional terms. People think it's the wohms who have regrets but look at it with a 20 year view and you'll be fine. Can't say the same for her i'm afraid.

BigfootFilesHisToesInYourTea Tue 18-Nov-14 20:58:46

If ever the phrase "you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't" was applicable to anything, it's WOHM/SAHM.

susannahmoodie Tue 18-Nov-14 21:21:47

Claw I'm sorry if I have disgusted you. Comparison is the thief of joy is a good saying.

You're right I am happy, so I guess that says a lot.

ProveMeWrong Tue 18-Nov-14 21:25:05

Read the first paragraph you wrote back to yourself to see how sorted you have it. You know what you want out of life and you're doing it. Now forget about the other two paragraphs. You know deep down that staying at home isn't the right choice for you. Being at home is nice for a bit, but as a SAHM who used to work I can categorically tell you you're not missing out on anything magical in terms of quality time. A lot of my day is spent keeping the house at the same level as the morning when you left it, in winter it's hard to entertain toddlers, and you do lose a chunk of your identity. I am happy I'm doing it but if I could work, I would, so just make peace with yourself, you have carved a very good life out for yourself and your family, be proud! Who knows, maybe your SIL looks at you and feels jealous too!

alicemalice Tue 18-Nov-14 21:39:13

You're battling against deep-rooted sexist ideas that a woman should be at home with the children. I'm sure many men aren't troubled by the idea of going out to work.

okeydonkey Tue 18-Nov-14 21:40:30

I've just had this conversation with my DP. My "career" has only just begun and is going up and up, and with a toddler. I've actually chosen to work 3 days a week as I want to build a "career".

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