Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Several months ago I received an email from a non-blogging reader who was about to go back to work after an extended maternity leave and wanted to know what advice I had to share. Her questions and pleas and heartache, which I read on a break during work, made me sob at my desk. It took me an embarrassing amount of time to be able to write her back an email in which I confessed that I didn't have adequate advice to share.
I am a full-time working mom--working an hour away from my house. And while this sometimes doesn't feel like a choice, I am fully aware that this is a choice I have made.
I struggle daily with working full time instead of staying at home with my daughter. It is a never-ending conflicting battle but when it comes down to it, this post could be written from so many different angles--the benefits of working, the benefits of staying home, my opinion, your opinion, what society seems to be pushing, etc etc. I think the only thing that matters is that this decision is a personal decision and is different for everyone and different for every baby. No matter how I try to approach this post, the thoughts get jumbled in my head. So, a very rambly view of the work stay home conflict for me (each paragraph is its own so you can easily jump around or skip or whatever).
I am focused and do well with deadlines and goals. Whether they are self-imposed or not. At times I felt lost when I was at home on maternity. Some days my goal was to make my bed and take a shower. These two things got done no matter what but I'm not gonna lie that sometimes brushing my teeth didn't happen until Scott was home from work and I had an extra set of hands.
I've been asked if I worry about missing out on milestones while I'm at work. If I think about this too hard then yes, I do worry. But the first time that I saw Elle take steps was the first time to me. Kind of like if a tree falls in a forest with no one around... I know this is faulty logic but it's not worth driving myself crazy for every single little thing I might be missing during the day.
Some days it's hard not to think about Elle all day long. I've surrounded myself with pictures of her and sometimes I can't help but stare.
Sometimes I say that I can't afford to stay home. This isn't true--we could figure it out if we changed our lifestyle. I'm not going to lie and say that would be easy, though. Eventually I think that we will strive to figure it out, especially when the price of daycare trumps my paycheck.
I get sad when I see all of the things that I could do with Elle if I were at home with her. Story time. Play dates. Swimming. Hanging out reading books together (right--like she'd ever sit still that long). Cooking and baking all day long (double ya right). 90% of the time I don't see Elle until I pick her up in the evenings because she's still in bed when I leave. This is major sad making.
Mentally it was hard for me to be at home with a colicky baby by myself. I was relieved to go back to work and this makes me feel like a bad mom. Now that the babe is older and is able to interact I think staying at home would be easier. But then I worry if I would be able to help her grow as much developmentally as she is in a school setting. I am a hard worker and smart. I do well with my work but how do I make sure that when my work is raising intelligent and well-rounded children that I am succeeding? What if it's not enough?
I know that Elle's teachers care for her but no one loves her like I do. Period.
I'm kind of a homebody (read: very much a homebody) and fear that with staying home I'd absolutely lose touch with a social society. As a stay at home mom this might be my biggest struggle, especially as I love daily routine and can be a bit selfish with my "me time" (read: time when baby naps)
I actually get more done [for me] now that I'm working because I get to work early and take a lunch break. This might also be because I'm not caring for a baby who may or may not take her nap. I have a really tough time letting go of the "need to" while I'm at home and baby naps.
I don’t like having to defend my choice to work. And I don't think that stay at home moms should have to defend their decision to stay home. It's really hard to not want what the other has (for me being home with my baby and maybe some more flexibility in my day; for stay at home moms maybe it's my structure and daily adult mingling--for example), but I'm always wondering how women can strive to be more supportive of one another.
I love my job and I love working. I love my baby and I love being with her. This is just one of those topics that I can't overthink without getting stabby for one side or the other. Reading over the list makes me feel like I'm trying to justify why I am working instead of staying at home. It wasn't my original intention and I don’t feel like I need to prove anything or answer to anyone.
Is this a forever decision? I think that work is good for me and my personality. But I want to spend more time at home and with my kids. A perfect situation might be part time work but that isn't in the cards right now. We'll see. I'll continue to be flexible with what's right for my family. Right now I have to feel confident that this is it.
I'll still continue to feel that twinge of jealousy as moms continue to stay at home, but I'll continue to keep in mind that this is a choice.
So...how's that for a ramble? Any rambling thoughts you want to share?