Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Internal Struggle of a Working Mom

To Work, Or Not to Work...That is the Question
I have to admit, there are a few things I like about working outside the home. I get a sense of satisfaction from making my own money. Something about earning a paycheck gives me a sense of freedom. I do enjoy adult conversation, but not nearly enough for me to need to work 40 hours a week away from my kids just for that. For any of you who haven't worked outside the home much, you'd be surprised how many "adults" in the workplace actually act like children. For me, its more about independence. I have worked full-time for about 19 years. I have always worked and for the longest time I couldn't imagine ever not working. Until I had kids. 

I worked full time up until I had my first son in 2006, took a 2 month maternity leave, worked from home my first month back, and then I was in full swing until I was 7 mos. pregnant with my second son in 2008. I was abruptly laid off when my company closed, and I was LOST. So lost, that I went out and bought a maternity business suit and went on a crazy pregnant interviewing spree which I think back now must have seemed sort of desperate. I really should have just kicked back and enjoyed myself immediately and seen it as the blessing it was. But for me, a huge part of my identity was as a professional, and I didn't know what to do with myself without a job. Once I realized that the job market was in a shambles and that everyone I met told me to call them back after I had my baby, I knew I had no choice but to go with the cards I had been dealt. After a month or two, I got into a nice routine, and really started enjoying my time with my 2 year old, and soon after, my newborn.

My Newborn Buddha in the Hospital

My Monkey - Fun at the Mall Before the Buddha Arrived!

My Stint As A SAHM
Things that I loved about not working...Getting really involved with my kids. Not just what I do now, which is feed them, bath them, and put them to bed, wake them, feed them, and transport to school. But having the day to work with them on skills such as reading, math, potty training (my youngest is now 2 and we need to start on this), taking them to the park, going on walks and bike rides. The year that I was off was a priceless time, and I am so glad I took advantage of it. I soaked it in like a sponge. With all the help I have available to me, I rarely ever took anyone up on it. I loved being with my kids and wanted to feel what it was like to manage both of them on my own, to care for them just myself until my husband arrived home from work.  I really miss being in charge of my own house on a day to day basis. I also feel my kids benefitted from the consistency of having the same caregiver every single day. Who is better than Mommy, right?

I Must Say, I've Got it Pretty Good
However, for a working mother, I have the best possible situation. I am lucky that now that I am back to work full time my mother and mother-in-law split the work week. They come to my house, which is a huge convenience factor for me. My days are still pretty crazy though. I get up between 5:30 and 6:30 during the week to work out (depending on if I am meeting my friend for a run or doing a DVD at home). Then wake up the kids, make them breakfast, get ready, get Monkey ready, drop Monkey off at school  and begin my 45 minute commute to work. I do admit, its nice to have just that quiet time. I can listen to whatever music I want, don't have to worry about playing DVD's for anyone, and I can even talk on the phone! The hardest part of the morning is when I leave and my little Buddha is hanging on my leg saying "Mommy, don't go!" His cries and wails ring in my ears for a good several minutes I am on the road, until my coffee kicks in or a good song comes on to distract me. It breaks my heart. Many times whoever is there to watch him that day has to hold him back when I walk out the door. Moments after I'm gone, they say, he is just fine and goes back to playing. Thank God. I usually arrive home at about 6:15, have dinner with the kids, clean the dishes, throw in a load of laundry, then its bath and bed time. Since I get up early to work out, there is not a lot of "me" time at night. I need to be in bed between 9:30 and 10:30 unless I want to suffer the next day. My husband works at night so I'm Hans Solo. I wonder how I find the time to blog and tweet, but I do! It is an outlet I have come to rely on for my sanity, more than ever!

Learning to Let Go
People tell me all the time how lucky I am to have "free" childcare - and of course why shouldn't I work if I have people to watch my kids? But its still tough. I worked full time well into my 30's and had kids later always thinking that eventually I would stay home with them. My husband and I had never planned on the economy going very very south and me not only needing to work but carrying my weight in the income department as well. I MISS MY KIDS. It's hard for me to leave them every day. It's hard for me to hear about struggles a caregiver had with them and not think of how I would have handled it differently. I cringe sometimes when I hear about what my kids ate that day knowing I would not have been so quick with the cookies or would have skipped the fast food.  I am constantly lecturing about not having the TV on so much during the day and hope it is not falling on deaf ears. I hate getting stuck in traffic and missing dinner with my boys.  And, I have worked pretty hard at getting used to losing control over my household. When you have other women running the show all day things just get done differently. But I have to remember how lucky I am to have family that I trust watching my children. Additionally, I have very flexible employers. I work from home on Fridays so I drive Monkey to and from preschool, and always eat lunch with my boys on that day. Since I don't have to commute on Friday, I actually start work earlier and am already home at the end of the day to get dinner going unless we have plans to go out. Some days I will stop and do a quick errand between dropping my son off at school and starting my work day. Anything to keep my weekends free to do fun stuff or things that just need to be done!

What struggles do you face as a working mom, WAHM, or SAHM? Do you ever wish your situation was different...and what would you change? 

Hi Ho, Hi Ho, It's Back to Work I go! Friday's getting closer...I can almost smell it!


  1. Working at home can be tough. I've mentioned this two billion times on my own blog, but it puts you victim to expectations that you keep your house and your children the way you would if you were a stay at home mom. It's a balance I have yet to master.

    That said, I absolutely 100% love my arrangement in the sense that if my kid is sick, I can go pick her up and still do some work while she is napping. On a light day, I do not feel obligated to stay until 5:00 at my desk, I can get stuff done or go pick her up early.

    And when it's insane and deadlines are nuts, I at least can spend an hour with her eating and bathing, and then work after she goes to bed.

    So I would say the pros outweigh the cons, but it's a very difficult tightrope to walk, and I never feel really proficient at either the work or the home part.

  2. I love the way you wrote this. You really gave those who are thinking of staying home or of going back to work a very clear picture of what both are like. Great write!

  3. For the most part I have worked outside the home full-time while raising my three kids. I tried staying home after my third child and was miserable. I am a better mom and a better person when I work.

    It is not easy, it has it's pros and cons. I am fortunate that I have a very understanding boss and a flexible work schedule. When I need to take time off for sick kids, dentist appointments, soccer games, etc I have been able to do so. I also have the option to work from home when the occasion calls for it.

    Often I feel like I am neglecting one aspect of my life for the other. It is not easy to juggle everything and do it perfectly. I am a work in progress and accept that.

  4. I am enjoying your blog and have an award for you.

  5. I was the opposite. I expected that I would go back to work. But I was out on disability at 4 months and laid off at 7. After doing the numbers, we realized it would cost more to go back to work, so here I am: another accidental stay at home mum.

    I'm hoping i like it more as Piggles gets older, honestly. I'm not a baby person and the days still seem long and tedious.

  6. These are the constant struggles of working Mommies. I worked full-time until I had my second child at age 33. I had been working and making my own money since 18 and it was very, very difficult (and still is at time) to have no money of my own. It is hard to change our identities and while people sometimes judge working mothers they often assume that SAHM do nothing but watch tv and lay around in pajamas. They often assume we are uneducated or that we are divas.

    Now following you back from the Giveaway blog hop!

    April@Party of Five

  7. I can totally relate to you! My 2 are 6 and 8. Long story short...I worked crazy hours (50-70) until my youngest was 2 1/2. Then I changed positions and gradually went from 35-30. In Oct 2009 I got hurt at work and have been home since then. I cherish the year and 3 months that I've had with them but I have to find a job. It's still a horrible job market. I'm having trouble finding a job with my restrictions and the hours I'm looking for. I'm hoping I'll find something and not lose what I have at home.
    I can't wait to read more!


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