On Unemployment And The Accidental Stay-At-Home Mom

Bridget Harrison loves both her son and her career, but after losing her editing job at a now-defunct newspaper, she admits that she's having a bit of trouble dealing with one without the routine of the other.

In a piece for the Times of London, Harrison describes being somewhat forced into stay-at-home motherhood, something she never saw herself doing, as she felt "there was never any question that I would give up my job to become a full-time mother." Once the option of working full-time was taken from her, Harrison had to adjust to the daily routine of being a stay-at-home mom, something she wasn't quite sure how to deal with, on many levels; emotionally, socially, and economically.

It's interesting to watch Harrison shift her positions on things as her piece, and time at home with her son, progresses. While I must admit that the first time I read this piece, I rolled my eyes and sighed a bit, upon re-reading the piece it became clear that Harrison isn't necessary throwing herself a pity party for—gasp!—having to take care of her son, but instead trying to deal, as many people do during periods of unemployment, with a very different way of living than she'd known for most of her life. Her schedules, her finances, even the way she and her husband half-heartedly clean the house; all of these things come into question now that she's not living the same 9-5 life she knew before.

It is both fascinating and irritating when Harrison sizes up the other stay-at-home moms she's now forced to socialize with, for her son's sake, describing them with a mix of fear and pity: "The stay-at-home-mums gang is something that strikes terror in all of us would-be working mothers. Perhaps it's the guilt of facing women who have made the sacrifices we fear we were too selfish to make. Or paranoia that they know we have always secretly thought their lives beyond tedious." The weird divide, real or perceived, between the women and the roles they believe their opposites are playing is really the basis of Harrison's article, as she can't quite rectify living the life of a stay-at-home mom when her heart is still very much at the office, if only because she doesn't know who she is when she's not living the life she had carried on for so long. It's a familiar situation for many, I suppose, in that she already made the decision as to how she wanted to balance her career and her family, and yet she's fallen into the opposite end of things, due to circumstances beyond her control.

Though Harrison ends her piece noting that she's become much more comfortable with the idea of staying at home with her son, claiming "it's as if my brain is switching away from the rapid pace of office life, and falling into step with the mind of my son," one still gets the sense that she's uncomfortable labeling herself as a stay-at-home mother or as a working mother. Perhaps it's because she's aware of how either label may change, and her life along with it.

Maternal Affairs: Back To Square Mum [TimesOnline]