Maybe it’s my American time-is-money upbringing, but self worth is something I’ve struggled with since becoming a stay-at-home mom.
It’s not like I planned it this way. I was lucky enough to work at a place that valued me, at a job I may have been able to take my baby to, at least once or twice a week, enough for pocket change. I had a great school supervisor who offered to watch the baby on location for me so I could work more. Sounds terrific, right?
But nature didn’t cooperate. I had a threatened miscarriage and six weeks of bed rest, during which my husband was transferred and moved away, leaving me at his parents’ house. I was alone all day. Bored, scared, fearful, plagued by feelings of guilt that something I had done led to this, (my doctor had firmly planted the seed of this in my mind,) tortured by the thought that the baby inside me might be suffering.
When the head office called and asked me to resign, I didn’t give it a second thought.
Eventually, things stabilized and I was able to join HRH where he was stationed in Shizuoka. I liked it there. He walked to work. He was home by six. There was a park and a pool and a kindy on the same company complex where we lived. But HRH wasn’t making much money, and we were down to one income.
I’m used to making do. I’ve spent most of my life scraping by, but when your husband says he wants to change to a job where he makes more money but is never home, what can you do? He’s already made the leap in his heart. The family isn’t first to him anymore.
So we moved back to Yokohama. I had the baby, then another 2 1/2 years later, and I kind of built a life that revolved around the kids.
They’re bigger now, but still need me for a big portion of the day. Their school schedules are erratic;they get sick often, especially Me Too with her upper respiratory trouble, and even though a part of me longs to get out and be part of society again, I know it would inconvenience everyone and destroy the fragile balance we have at home.
I am busy most days, but I’m doing stuff society views as being worthless, not worthy of income or respect or recognition (until I screw up.)
What did I do yesterday? I got up before dawn to handle laundry and my preschooler’s lunchbox. (She had shoga-yaki, ginger pork sautee, and a veg stir-fry, rice ball with salmon filling, cheese, and tomatoes.) I cooked three healthy meals and an insanely low-sugar but surprisingly tasty apple tart. I vacuumed and dusted, mopped floors and folded clothes. I took children to school and then picked them up. I worked on their English. I helped them with homework. I took them to the park and let them kick my butt at soccer. I gave them a bath and read them books. I did the extra load of laundry that needs doing every once in a while.
And I got complained at all day long. “I don’t like this!” “That’s not fair!””Where did you put my socks?””おかずはこれだけ？”
And then I wake up to do all of it again today.
I’m hoping staying busy will at least keep me from asking myself,”What’s the point?” Because if I start down that road it will tumble down a hole I can’t climb out of. I’ve done that before and barely survived. I certainly don’t want to try that in Japan.