As a perpetually busy working mom, I constantly dream of a time when I won’t be quite so hassled and harried. A time when I’ll be able to focus on different priorities, when the house will always be spotless, dinner will always be nutritious and ready when the kids come home, and I’ll have all afternoon to play with the children and help them with their homework. For the past 9 months, I’ve expected this utopia to coincide with my maternity leave, which in Israel consists of 14 weeks of paid time off from work. In my naïve mind, three and a half months of ‘vacation’ would certainly allow me to get the house in order, dote on my children and husband and even have time for some fun – how could it not?
Exactly 4 weeks into my maternity leave (no, I cannot believe that so much time has passed, and yes, I hope to fill you in more about the experience another time), I can honestly say that things are not quite working out exactly how I’d planned. For starters, I find myself aching longingly for my computer, dying to know what I’m missing at work, how business is doing and if my colleagues miss me. Will they want me back? Or are they managing fine, so that when I do finally show up at the office, they’ll wonder why they need to pay me? Are my substitutes managing my duties sufficiently, or are they too busy with their own responsibilities to make sure my tasks are complete? Yes, I know this is sick. Most people would give their right arm for such a long paid leave. But for some reason, I find it hard to wrap my head around.
Secondly, I find that when the kids are off to camp and the baby has settled down to rest, I just don’t want to clean the house. Or start preparing dinner. Or fold yet another load of laundry (or wash it, for that matter). I think I’m starting to face the reality that my mess isn’t the result of my inability to clean it; it’s the sheer lack of desire that keeps things out and about instead of in their proper place. Does this make me a terrible person? A terrible mother? I don’t think its laziness, because I have no problem investing myself completely in my work – I just can’t seem to find the will to mop the floor.
Aside from a trip to NY (want to get together?), I honestly have no idea what I’ll do for the rest of my time off. I definitely have grand plans of getting rid of the clutter, organizing the kids’ rooms and stocking the freezer so that when I do go back to work, I can still offer the healthy meals of my dreams. Will this happen? I hope so…but is it really so bad if we continue to eat fish sticks and noodles for dinner? I’d like to think not – I just wish I didn’t feel so guilty about it.