So last week, I published a blurb breaking the pre-conceived notions that surround stay at home motherhood. But it wasn’t that long ago that I too put on my dress pants, dress flats, and dress blouse, grabbed my tote bag, and headed into my office everyday, while balancing the responsibility of motherhood simultaneously. Truth is, this balancing act is unique for working moms, finding ways to meet and even exceed your expectations at work, while ensuring your house is maintained and children are provided for. It can be trickier when you add in extracurricular activities, after-school programs, and other needed care, such as therapeutic services or other appointments. It’s doable- we see it done successfully everyday- but often times moms are pitted against each other, as if one’s choice to stay home versus another’s choice to go back to work is either easier or harder than the other.
I’ve done both, and both lifestyles has its limitations and its sacrifices. While it isn’t fair to say one has it harder than the other, it can be said that motherhood does a number on us as women, and it is important to break these pre-conceived notions of what it means to “do it right.”
So to my working mamas- those who split their time between the office and the homestead, this one’s for you! Let’s change those perceptions on what it means to be a working mom.
- We love our kids, and our jobs. Yes, we wanted children and we love them. But we love our jobs too. We worked hard to get where we are in our career and we didn’t want to give that up just because we also wanted a family. It is important that our children see their moms be successful in a career outside the home and relish in the opportunity to have an identity other than “mom.”
- We enjoy having our time away from home. Work is work and sometimes it can suck. But there is something very nice about having time around adults, enjoying adult conversation, and not having every waking minute be about our kids. Having our careers helps to sustain our sense of purpose, the feeling that we are accomplishing something bigger than us.
- We love to contribute to the household. We are not living in 1950s America anymore, and the cost of living has risen significantly. There is something very special about being able to financially contribute to our household, as well as retaining some financial independence from our spouses and/or families. Being able to buy what we need or want, when we need it or want it, is pretty damn liberating.
- Everyday life is a tricky balancing act. Just getting through and planning for everyday can be a challenge. To be able to work full or part-time, we have to be able to find a trusted childcare provider or babysitter whom we trust will provide the best care for our little ones. We also have to adjust our schedules to fit in ballet practices and soccer games, play rehearsals and speech therapy sessions. Sometimes, we feel out of the loop of it all because we can’t make every PTA meeting, or forget to check our personal emails on a nightly basis. And yet there are still some things that we cannot plan for, like a kid who gets sick in the middle of the school day. It’s not always easy to leave or take time out to take care of a sick kiddo, especially if we don’t have time to take without losing money. And sometimes we have to make really difficult decisions to effectively handle all our responsibility. Time management is of the essence when you are a working mom.
- We get so lonely… too. Hard to believe? Well, we can’t really blame you. After all, we get to go out and communicate with adult people. But we do long for the company of other moms, women who know what it’s like to juggle a job and a kid, women who know the perils of navigating medical appointments for our special needs kiddos, women who just get what it’s like to be a mom. Sometimes, our jobs are full of people who don’t have children, and sometimes we work with people who act more like children. Just because we have a job, doesn’t mean we are given the healthy social structure that working once promised.
- Mom guilt. We have it, by the bucketful. While we understand that we will not make every occasion- every concert, recital, meeting, it is still a hard pill to swallow. Choosing to continue our careers throughout motherhood wasn’t an easy choice because of this. We often don’t get to socialize as easily with other mothers of children who are the same age because most of those meetings take place during the day. It can be hard knowing that our little ones spend more time with their childcare provider, teachers, nannies, or babysitters than they do with us, and that there are a lot of things that we miss out on as a consequence. There might not be a home-cooked meal on the table every single night, especially in light of after school activities, even though there is a push now more than ever to provide healthy meals. It’s no fun having a rushed schedule everyday so that the kids can get to school on time and we can get to work on time. And it is all compounded by the fact that many people, a lot of them women and mothers themselves make us feel bad for choosing our careers over our kids, as if that’s even a thing. Sacrifice is the name of the game for ensuring that we can both parent and work outside of the home, and these things do not go unnoticed when we make that choice. Mom guilt is real, and although we do all we can do deal with it, it is still very difficult weight to bear.
Motherhood is hard, no matter how you slice it. Choosing to go back to work, either for want, or need, or both, is not a choice made lightly, or selfishly. It’s important to remember is that we know what’s best for our family, and what’s best for ourselves. Our happiness is so important, especially given the demands put onto us by motherhood, and we are willing to do whatever we have to so that we can maintain that, even if that means working or staying at home.
So, my dear, what do you think? Why did you decide to go back to work after having the babies? Drop your story in the comments and don’t forget to follow so that you get first dibs on all my fun posts as they are published!
Write (and Mom) on,