I left a new spouse's meeting tonight feeling very overwhelmed and teary (which usually go together in my case), my head spinning with options and choices and things to do. I came home and heard my husband getting the girls out of the bathtub and into their pajamas, but I couldn't handle anyone needing me at the moment, so I lay down on the loveseat and tried to gather my thoughts. I realized that what I was finding so upsetting was that I had been unable or unwilling (or something) to state what I really wanted - what was my ideal - as far as my job and the care of the children were concerned.
What is it about the institution of motherhood that is so intertwined with guilt? We feel guilty if we work and send our kids to school or daycare for not spending as much time with them as we could. We feel guilty if we keep them at home and don't contribute monetarily to the family. We feel guilty for doing things differently than our parents or maybe our friends. Whatever it is, we feel we could have done more or done it better.
We talked tonight at our meeting about how life in community requires one to set boundaries - for school time, play time, family time, date time, sleep time, study time, social time, etc. If you let them, your neighbors (or at least their kids) might be in your apartment all day or at times when you have other plans, so we each have to learn how to set and enforce boundaries. I realized that I also needed to set internal boundaries that I'm not going to let other people (intentionally or unintentionally) make me change or feel guilty for. I need to decide where I stand and draw a line there.
When I sat down to ponder it, and this definitely involved talking to my husband, I realized that what I've always really wanted is to stay home with my children. It's not clear cut. I feel torn about that decision when I realize that (a) we would be doing so much better financially if I took a full-time professional position, (b) I love being a librarian, and (c) the longer I go without using my degree, the less it is worth. However, I believe that my staying at home during the day is the best thing for my family right now. Considering other options makes me feel uneasy, and I think I should listen to that feeling.
There are other things that are still dependent upon outside factors and need telephone calls and outings to various offices to determine, but I have decided what would be my highest preference, and we can work around other details for that. I don't know much about boundaries, but I do know that you can only set them for yourself. You can't control what other people do, but you can decide how you respond to them. So here's to boundaries...