Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Full-Time Working Mom. Rambly Thoughts


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?


34 comments:

  1. Trish it sounds like you have given this a lot of thought and are doing what is best for you and your family -- that's how it should be - it is a personal choice.

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  2. Trish, I'm going to admit that when I saw your tweet about trying to put together this post, I was nervous. I just find it mind-boggling how often otherwise very intelligent women fail to support the choices of others when it comes to this issue, and how they seem to be of the opinion that "the other side" has it so much easier. So Trish, *huge huge huge huge huge hugs* Like you said, we all just need to find ways to be more supportive of one another!!!

    I do think you're right though, and that it's only human, to wish for things that only happen if one makes a different choice. For me, it's money and some me-time. The me-time is getting slightly easier to find as they're getting older, and would certainly be in much higher abundance if not for homeschooling. But the money thing, well, that's not going to change. And of course, I know money isn't everything, but I do get envious when other people talk about traveling. I sometimes wonder what it would be like to go into stores and buy everyone's clothes new instead of buying everything at thrift stores. Stuff like that. But as you said, I know this is *my choice*--and I feel grateful that I'm in a position where I get to make that choice, because I know so many people don't get to.

    Btw, Trish, it didn't sound to me at all like you were trying to justify your choice. And that's good, because there's no fucking reason why you should have to!!! I just don't for the life of me understand that mentality that some people have where they think they're better qualified than the person in question to judge what is best for that person or that person's child or that person's family. No two people, no two children, no two families are alike, so why should they all try to live the same life?!! We get that kind of judgment all. the. time. when it comes to homeschooling--from both sides of the aisle, with lots of people finding it nearly a crime that Annie and Gray don't go to public school and lots of homeschooling families judging us as uncaring for sending Max to public school. People act as if we can't decide which is better because we have kids doing both. But no two kids are the same!!! And as a family, as parents, as the kiddos themselves, we make the decisions about what's right for each child as an individual. My kids are not a single entity--and thus their paths do not have to be the same. Same with the whole work outside the home/stay at home Mom thing--women are not a single entity, we're individuals who have different needs, different goals. There is no single path that all women can take to help them be fulfilled, to help them be the best Mom they can be, to help their families function in a way to bring everyone the most satisfaction to their lives.

    Thanks for this post, Trish. *more hugs, just because*

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  3. Hugs and applause? Women should support each other and trust that the decisions we make for ourselves and our families are right at that time. As a mentor once told me, FAITH & FUN!

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  4. Trish, I was touched by all you shared here. It's a hard thing for women - this work or stay home decision. I've come to the conclusion that each woman and each family has to decide what is best for them at that moment. Doesn't mean that it can't change. There are definite seasons in a person's life and each season may be completely different from the one before it, resulting in choices that could be the complete opposite of previous ones. I've travelled both sides of this fence, working and staying home. Each way has good points and bad points. But that's life, right? Some days are good. Some are more challenging.

    I think the most important point you made was that women (especially women) need to be supportive of each other, whatever choice they've made at that time. You have a good head on your shoulders and you are a good Mom. Love the picture of you and Miss Elle. Hugs, hugs, hugs!!

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  5. Agree that we should all focus more on supporting one another than getting up on our "my way is better" high horse -- which is no fun for anyone! Though I'm not married and don't have kids, I can definitely sympathize and understand everything you discuss here -- and I just wanted to say that I think you're awesome! It's obvious you're an incredibly caring, wonderful mom and wife... Elle (and her daddy!) are lucky to have you. :)

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  6. I get very, very frustrated staying at home with Madison. I love her more than anything and I love spending time with her, but I find staying at home day after day rather...tedious. I think I am a better mother because I do work. I love my job, and honestly I would not love being a stay-at-home mom. It took me four months to realize that that does not make me a bad mother. I will say, though, that I am very lucky my job still allows me to spend a lot of time with Madison. As a professor, I don't have to work from 8 to 6 every day.

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    1. Being a professor is a terrific career for a parent. It sounds like you and your daughter are in a great situation.

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  7. Like the other commenters before me, I love that you're emphasizing women's support of each other rather than tearing each other down. Yes! Why is this so rare?

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  8. I went through this with each of my kids -- your post does stir up difficult memories. :-) I don't know whether it helps, but I've run the gamut over the years: full-time working mom, part-time working mom, stay-at-home mom, and work-from-home mom. I've found that none of these situations is a perfect fit, and each one comes with some regrets. You've obviously made a thoughtful, loving decision about what's best for you, Elle, and your family, and it sounds like the right choice for all of you.

    I am saddened that moms of small children still feel they have to defend their choice to work (or not to work) outside the home. There is no "right" way to parent. If there were, damn it, we'd ALL being doing it. :-) I hope the day will come that moms support each other unconditionally instead of making themselves feel better about their own choices by criticizing others' decisions.

    (((Hugs))) By the way, your daughter is ridiculously gorgeous. :-)

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  9. We each make our own choices, what's best for us. I work 30+ hours a week and i know when my daughter was a baby, even a toddler, I just could not have ben a stay at home mom. I think it would have driven us both crazy.

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  10. What a beautiful post Trish :') My thoughts are much the same as Debi's. And I'm so proud of you for posting this. I HATE HATE HATE when I see people tearing moms down for either being a stay at home mom or being a working mom OR dad for that matter. Like you said, it's a personal choice, its a choice for the family dynamic and it varies for everyone. And you are doing what works for you right now and that's the best thing you could ever do :) *hugs hugs hugs* And *more hugs*

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  11. I don't think there's a right or wrong answer. Society has told us that we can have it all, but we just can't, so we have to make choices. Neither choice is better than the other. I think we all do the best we can and most kids turn out great because of that. For what it's worth from my personal experience, anyone can take care of a young child but but taking care of teens is a whole other story - that's when Elle will really need you. Don't beat yourself up over your choices - relish them. You're setting a wonderful example for your daughter!

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  12. I have quickly learned that this is such a hot button issue with SO many people! I have found myself getting pretty defensive about my decision in this regard too. It is SO tough trying to decide what is best for your kids and family. I definitely agree that we should support each other, and not judge others' decisions (though it's not always easy not to judge!). I have thought and rethought my decision to stay home SO many times, it's ridiculous! The newborn stage is REALLY REALLY hard...as I'm finding out again for the second time. But you were right in saying it is way more fun and enjoyable when they are older and able to interact. There are days when I think that I am literally going to get into my car and just drive until I run out of gas. But I know there would be days that I would feel that way about a job away from home too! Anyways, I am rambling...I enjoyed reading your thoughts about this topic! I think in my perfect world, I would work 2 days a week, and some Mary Poppins-esque person would take care of my kids. :)

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  13. *Diane - Somedays are definitely easier than other but for now I do feel this is right. Though part of me always wishes I were with the babe! ;)

    *Debi - And if I wanted to make this post even longer I would have mentioned that nobody has made ME personally feel bad or guilty for working full time. Honestly it hasn't been until I started gathering my thoughts together that I realized that this IS a choice. It doesn't always feel like a choice but it is. Scott and I decided a long time ago that we would both work--but I do think that there comes a time when these decisions need to be reassessed and we will do so when I'm pregnant again. Part of working is so that we can have the financial freedom to travel, etc, but I can't tell you how many days I've just yearned to call in sick and be with Elle. It almost shocks me that I've never done this (other than when she is really sick which isn't often).

    Debi, you make such a great point about your own circumstances and that all children are so incredibly different--as is every parent and every situation. I can't believe how much Elle has blossomed after we started taking her to daycare rather than in home care--almost overnight. I'm so sorry that you've had to endure questioning about the homeschooling--especially as I know that the road hasn't been an easy one. PS--I love the fucking hidden in your comment. That alone made me smile. :) Thank you so much for all of your words and support. Being MOM is tough enough without all the extraneous worrying, huh? ;)

    *Care - Faith and Fun. I like that. I do wish that women could stop being so competitive and just listen. Though I know that sometimes it's tough to hold my tongue. We (I) can all do better.

    *Kay - I'm always wondering how women can strive to be more supportive of one another without letting the strange and awkward competition to be the best mom, wife, woman get in the way. Why do we feel we must continually prove ourselves (I know I can't really talk as I'm always trying to outdo myself). I agree with your comments on different seasons--and who knows, maybe with #2 things will be different.

    *Meg - Thank you so much for your sweet words! I often think about how easy it is to show you guys what I want you to see and hide all the rest of the junk on the blog. ;) I'm beginning to be convinced that every decision a woman makes is just plain complicated! xo

    *Trisha - In some ways I think it gets easier when babes are older (not so much crying) but also more difficult (are you really eating the doggy food?!) but I absolutely understand what you mean about it feeling tedious. I'm less frustrated with the home, babe, and hub when I get out of the house every day. You are lucky to have a flexible job!! Though I know that comes with bringing a bit of work home with you, too (or at least some professors).

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  14. *Word Lily - I'm constantly reminding myself that everyone's situation is different and what works for me (or her) might not be the same. It's tough but I think understanding is essential! I'm not sure why it's so rare. Makes me sad.

    *Stephanie - You make a great point of no situation being perfect--I only have 12 weeks experience with being stay at home but I can see the plus and minuses of both ways (not to mention the work at home and part time scenarios that you brought up!). I think you hit the nail on the head when you mention the criticism in order to feel better about one's decisions. I think that one of the ways we can all be more understanding is by talking and being truthful. And thanks about your comment on the picture.

    *Carol - "I think it would have driven us both crazy" Yes! I think this is me, too. I think that Elle is a much happier baby for being around other kids. But not all babies are like that...

    *Chris - Thank you love. I can't say that I am 100% without judgment but I am trying and trying to be understanding and openminded because I know that's what we all need. Although I can't help but think when writing this post why no one is outcrying about the decision for men to stay at home or work. (though I do know some stay at home dad's).

    *Kathy - Your comment reminds me of what my coworker always tells me--if she's getting love and attention and stimulation she's doing great. There will be plenty of moments when she needs me. Thank you for your wisdom and I agree that neither choice is better and as long as we are doing our best it'll all turn out. Just love em to death, right?

    *Laura - Job sharing. Would be so perfect, huh?! :) Stay at home/working is such a hot button and I do think that it's easy to judge the other side--I know that now that I have Elle my opinion of staying at home is completely flipped from what my original notion was. I really admire women who stay at home and a lot of me worries that I'm just not cut out for it. It would definitely require a whole new mindset, especially as I can be a bit selfish with my time. I hope all is well with you...I owe you a text!

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  15. Trish, it sounds like you have agonized over this, and I wish there were a way to get this post out to all the moms out there, working or stay at home, because you lay out the two sides so very well. There is no right or wrong answer. I think it depends on so many things - the mother's personality, the child's, that it really comes down to a personal decision. I admire you for saying that you find it difficult to be at home because it's so hard to give yourself me time, which I find it difficult also to do for myself. It's not easy, and there is no clear path, just one path that we each make for ourselves. It would be lovely if we all helped each other walk on it, wouldn't it? if we had helping hands instead of criticism.

    Madison is gorgeous. What a lovely photo of you two! You are both so happy there.

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  16. I totally understand your feelings, Trish!
    Just wanted to share with you that I finally quit my job last month; I'm now a stay-at-home mom, and I really enjoy the time with my family at this moment. Initially after my last day of work, I felt loss but I overcame that feelings quite quickly. I feel rather restless now without work, but I know the time I get to spend with my family will be worth it. I don't know, I will still be working in the near future, but right now I'm just enjoying every moment of it.

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  17. I've done both. They both suck. They are both good too though. I think there is no ultimate right or wrong answer, but I do wish that more women/moms could understand that. I have had to defend myself both ways. And really, I work a LOT harder now that I ever did when I worked. I also goof off a lot differently. It all balances out and you do what you need to do for you and your family.

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  18. I'm not a mom so I have no true idea how would I feel. When I did think for a short time about having a baby, all of these same thoughts did come into my head. The ideal situation would be to work part time, but that is not an option for everyone.

    I think you always think the grass is greener on the other side, and whatever you choose to do, will be right for you and Elle. It's a personal choice and no one should ever make you or any woman feel bad about working or staying home. I hate that crap. Every one is so judgmental and an "expert". As long as you spend quality time with Elle when you are home then I think you've got it covered Trish. That time is for the both of you, not just her.

    And for a super feminist comment, when was the last time these questions were asked of man? If a man stays home he will be thought of as weak and not really a man. Really?? So not true. All of this stems from societal pressure and a place of BS. Ridiculous!!

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  19. This is such a wonderful post and it gives me such hope for the day when I'm potentially going to become a mom. I don't have kids. The Huz and I have been married almost 3 years, but neither of us are quite ready for that yet. I know we'll get there, but one thing that scares me is the thought of being a stay-at-home mom. It is absolutely the right choice for some women, but I don't think it would be for me. My sister is a stay-at-home mom and she is amazing at it, but it's incredibly hard. I don't think it would be good for my mental health. I thrive on organization and deadline (that's what a few years at a daily paper does to you). I like adult interaction and I worry about this home/work decision even though I'm not there yet. Thank you for posting this and giving me a little piece of mind. It's so good to see other women who have found something that works for them!

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  20. Relax... Breathe... You are doing a wonderful job.

    Some children who have the best of everything go terribly wrong; and some who have nothing and no one become exquisite human beings. That being said, the best thing you can do for your daughter is love her with all your heart and believe in her.

    Take care of yourself and she will have the roll model of a strong, caring woman to grow into.

    I wish I could take all the harried mothers out there in my arms for a reassuring hug and let you all know that while it is never easy, it will be alright.

    Signed,
    A grandmother who made it through

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  21. Oh, my. I completely missed this one...

    Hun, it's simple; most mothers cannot afford to stay home these days so, if you're feeling an guilt, put it away. My mother worked and look how I turned out. (That's suppose to reassure you, not sending you running for the hills.)

    The most thing is for your child to know you love her. There is no doubt that you do and that she does. Everything else is background noise.

    cjh

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  22. I wish more places would allow for part-time work with decent benefits. How much easier would the decision to work be if you could earn the same money and only have to work 6 hours a day? I did stay home when Miss H was born and I hardly ever saw grown ups and hardly ever got validation that I was doing a good job. I didn't like my job that much but if I had, I would have seriously thought about going back some days!

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  23. *Susan - Thank you for your kind and supportive words. As a new mom I'm realizing that other moms aren't always honest about their true feelings and I know that sometimes I like to cover up the hard stuff but we all do each other so much better when we're forthcoming. Of course I write about my personal experiences but I do hope that it might help another be more open with her own feelings. It is tough to get "me" time in when you're at home, huh? Between the babes and the house (and the husband), it doesn't seem like there's ever enough time for self.

    *Melody - Congratulations!! I'm so happy to hear that you're settled as I know that your job was causing you some heartache. I think that it's hard for working moms to switch to a stay at home mode--for me it would require a completely new learning and mindset! I hope that your being home is a wonderful experience--I'm sure your girls love it.

    *Lisa - LOL! I love you for your bluntness. I can always count on you for giving it to me straight up. ;) Yup, I'm not sure there is a perfect situation because being a mom is HARD period. And I do know what you mean about a different kind of goofing off. While there are many things that are difficult about working away from home, I think that I have the easier bargain.

    *Jenny Girl - I would love to work part time but my job doesn't offer the option and most time part-time work means no benefits. Stinks! But you're right that the grass is probably always greener. And don't think that it hasn't crossed my mind about men and staying at home. I DO know some stay at home men (because I work with the wives) but I definitely think we're a long way before it's expected, questioned, or even accepted. You know?

    *Melissa/Avid - Take your time--we were married for four years before we were "ready" (if one ever can be!) and I'm so grateful for those years we had together because I think it makes us a stronger parenting team (not to mention all of the experiences we were able to share). Anyway...All of the things you mention about deadlines/organization/interaction are things that I need as well and really struggled with when I was on home for maternity leave. I do think that eventually I will either work more flexible job or part time so that I can be home more but it will require a mindset change that at the time I wasn't ready to make. But the thing that I tell new moms (and old moms tell me)...you just figure it out! Whatever life throws you...you just do.

    *Snowball - Thank you so much for your wonderful comment. I love your reassuring thought that while it is never easy things will be OK. There are times in the beginning when I might not have believed you, but it really is beautiful advice. We all survived it, right?

    *CJ - Thanks for the reassurance (and not for scaring me off...). My mom was a working mom when we were older so I think that's kind of what my expectation was. She did stay at home when we were little but I don't remember. How's that for irony? ;) We all do the best we can do, right?

    *Lisa - That's the killer--benefits. Part-time generally means no benefits which is REALLY hard for me to swallow. The validation is a big one as well as seeing other grownups. I think I would literally have to FORCE myself to join playgroups and the such just for some interaction during the day. Neither is easy, is it?

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  24. I guess now isn't the time to say I still wrestle with this, even though mine are 8 and 4, huh? But then, there are the days where I breathe a sigh of relief (which yes, makes me feel guilty) when I leave them with one of their grandma's and drive to work. And I know they probably do to. I know, deep down (and I have to remind myself of this constantly), that we benefit from having separate lives. It makes us value the time we have to together more. At least, I hope that's the way it is. Plus it helps get them ready for…when…they…leave…the…nest…. :\ Although my daughters swears she will live with us forever and when she gets married, we're moving in with her. LOL

    Just wanted to say I completely understand how to feel, in that roundabout way I have. Been there, still doing that. It does get easier, as they get older though, but it never completely stops. At least, it hasn't for me, yet.

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  25. I have struggled with this since becoming a mom 10 years ago, and it's something that never really goes away. The grass is always greener on the other side. I've never worked full-time, but there were times when working that I was doing 40 hour weeks on a limited basis, and I really struggled with guilt at leaving my kids in daycare. I also had a short time where I wasn't working at all and staying home full-time it was really mind-numbing (and sort of depressing) as much as I love my kids. I've found a happy medium working part-time and it works for me. I'm fortunate in that I don't have to work and could quit at anytime and it wouldn't affect our lifestyle. When I get stressed about work, my husband is always telling me to just quit, but as stressful as it is, I do it because I need it. I'm a better mom when I have something to challenge me and to allow me time away (mentally--as I work from home) from my kids.

    Each woman and her situation is unique and it is so frustrating that some are narrow-minded and not willing to recognize that what is right for them and their family is not always right for everyone else. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, as difficult as it may have been. I really feel like the most important part of being a mom is loving your child, and letting them know by telling them and spending quality time with them when you are home. The babe is very lucky to have you. I think I've rambled enough!

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  26. This was a really great post Trish so thanks for sharing it. It is never easy to make the choice to work or stay home...and sometimes it is even harder when you don't get the choice. I think that everyone has to figure out what works for them and their family and every situation is different. My kids just started going back to the babysitters recently and I had a really hard time with it. But I can see the difference with how much more my youngest is talking just by being around other kids (who aren't doing everything for him like my older two do. LOL!) Thanks for sharing this again!

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  27. What a great post, Trish. My own experience--and feelings--are so similar to yours. I could have written this post (albeit not quite so eloquently). I do wish that we could respect each other's choices whether an actual choice or by circumstance. There are so many issues parents, especially mothers, get up and arms about regarding parenting--attacking each other instead of supporting each other. It makes me sad. Especially given that there are bigger issues out there worth our time and attention.

    I go back and forth. I wish I could be home with my daughter full time. Yet I'm glad I work. All I really know is that I love my daughter with just about everything I am and I want what is best for her. I grapple every day with what is best for her. I cried and cried when she first started daycare. I sometimes still do. The first time I sent my daughter to daycare on one of my Fridays off so I could have a "me" day, I was a wreck all day. I felt so guilty. Here I am a working mother who spends so little time with my daugher as it is, and I send her off to daycare when I am not working. I have done it a few times since then, and it is getting easier. It is something I need to do for my own sanity and well being. I don't expect everyone to understand that, but that's okay.

    I knew mothers could be a mean bunch, but I didn't realize how much and often the pot was stirred--just how many controversies there are out there. Breastfeeding, stay at home/working, sleeping arrangements, parenting styles, discipline . . . It's crazy. I'm all for feeling passionate about something that is working for you, but to assume everyone who does it differently is wrong . . . I don't get that.

    Such controversies are so miniscule in the scheme of things. I just have to be at work to be reminded how lucky most of us are--how lucky most of our kids are--that these are the main issues we have. When that call comes in about a child around my daughter's age having died at the hands of her parents, all I want to do is run home to my daughter, hold her, and never let go.

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  28. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to work part-time. I am home with T 2 days a week and working 3 days a week. And, still, the days at home are often tedious or filled with rumination about how much there is to do around the house that never gets done, and I have many days at work when I would rather be home with the little man.

    I, too, do better with deadlines/goals and need to be productive outside the house but am also scared of looking back at this time in his life and wishing I had spent even more time with him. And, I struggle with the in-home care vs. daycare center choice..but that's a different post :-)

    I'm really just trying to say, I hear you and can identify. And, it really does sound like you've made the best choice for you at this point in your life, and I firmly believe that when we do that, our kids truly benefit as well.

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  29. My husband once said to me that the baby is much better off in daycare, with other kids and people whose purpose is stimulation, than with me, in the back of the car while I run errands or at the receiving end of my impatience when I'm tired and cranky and bored. I decided that it's best for our whole family if I work. Recently I've been re-thinking how much I work and in the future I'm pretty sure that I'll be doing something more home-based and freelance. For me, it's important to think about what is honestly, truly best for you and your family and recognize that the answer might change from time to time.

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  30. I'm struggling with this very issue right now. My son, Garrett, is only 8 weeks old. The first few weeks I was adament that I was going to quit my job and stay home full time. Then the sleep deprivation and his really bad reflux kicked in and I was determined I would go back full time. I've finally settled on a combination of part-time at the office with some work done at home. I'm lucky to be able to do it this way. I, like you, am a homebody. On my days at home I never even leave the house. If I stayed home full time I think I would lose touch with society completely. Also like you, my job is one hour away from my house. This was a choice on my part when we moved for my husbands job. I do not regret this choice because I love my job and co-workers, but it definitely makes things harder now that I have Garrett. Right now we are having the grandparents watch him while I work. But eventually I want to put him into daycare just because he will need the socialization with other children. It's a tough spot for any woman to be in, and the way society has always viewed women and children do not make this easy for the modern woman to have to deal with. But having to defend your personal choice should never have to be something mothers need to deal with. Besides, it's not as if our choices can't change in the future. They can. And they should if you want them to.

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  31. I read this last week but didn't have the time to respond thoughtfully. Since I've been a mom I feel like I am so much more accepting of the choices other moms make. It's tough, especially that first year and I think whatever works for you and your child is what you should be doing. I don't understand those who seem to think there is only one way to do it correctly. Kathy was right, life is all about choices and you can't have it all and you just have to do the best you can for you and your family. I am not a good stay at home mom, but I didn't have a career before baby, so there was no work to go back to (or I would have). I totally understand the feeling of being a better mom by going back to work. We're actually looking at a pre-pre school that's 3 hours twice a week just so Gage will have some stimulus. I get boring fast :) I hope that he too will blossom even more, like your Elle. She's getting prettier every post!

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  32. *Heather - While it might not be comforting that you still struggle with the working away from home mom bit, it does help that I'm not alone in these struggles. I agree that a little bit of separation helps--I watched Elle blossom almost overnight when she started going to a daycare rather than in home care and even that made me feel a bit guilty. Of course I would love to have more time at home with my family, but it does make it easy to cherish the small moments together! And too funny about your daughter. I'm guessing she'll eventually change her mind. Ha!

    *Kristi - Thank you for your honesty in your comment. For me it is mentally tough to be home all day as well (or at least with little ones who can't talk back) and one of the things I've been really struggling with since becoming a mom is battling the guilt that creeps up. With everything! I would love to know more, though, about how you work at home with the kiddos--I know that some of them are older and in school for parts of the year, but the rest of the time do you work a flex schedule? We were discussing this on twitter yesterday--trying to figure out how work at home moms handle the work and the mothering. It's definitely something I'd like to consider one day but not sure how the separation would work. Either way I'm glad that you've found something that works for your family!

    *samantha.1020 - I noticed a big difference when elle went from staying at an inhome with no other kids her age to a daycare with others her age--I definitely think it can help with development--but of course every child is different! You're right that it's tough--and especially tough when it doesn't feel like a choice (or isn't a choice at all). I'm finding one of the toughest parts of being a parent are the complicated emotions and feelings!

    *Literary Feline - I can't imagine some of the emotions that must arise for you while you're at work Wendy. It's hard to comprehend some of the things that can happen and do happen and it certainly makes things like appropriate lengths to breastfeed your child seem pretty petty. I struggle with the supportive aspect of mothering daily--yearning for a way that we can all support each other more and decrease some of the judging but I feel like the guilt aspect of mothering is so deeply ingrained that it's hard to let some of that go. Feeling guilty because I didn't breastfeed as long as I would have liked, feeling guilty because I'm at work and enjoy being at work, feeling guilty because I would like to have some time where I'm not with my husband or child, etc. I have never in my life experienced something so complicated as being a parent and I know know know that I haven't seen anything yet. I'm not looking forward to the complications of school friends (teasing?) or the teenage angst years. How can we ever prepare? Ok--enough looking into the future. And Wendy, I absolutely understand the guilt you feel for taking "me" time but I firmly believe we also need a recharge. As hard as it might be for us to allow ourselves that...

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  33. *Missy - I firmly believe you're right that when we make the choices that are right for us then our family will benefit. It's remembering this that gets tricky sometimes! ;) Your situation sounds like one that I would ideally like--whether it be every other day or doing half days, though I know that in reality there will always be plus and minuses to every situation. In home versus daycare does get really tricky and I'm grateful that Elle was able to be in a home when she was a baby but I'm grateful that she's now in a center with more structure and learning and other kids. But I think that's because of her personality and that another child would do better in the home than center. But let me tell you that it was hard hard hard to send her to the school where I knew that her attention would be divided and not immediately answered (among other things). And something that I've wondered about now that I'm a parent--when you stay at home when does all that stuff get done?! I find it so difficult to be productive with the little one at my heels.

    *joanna - "receiving end of my impatience when I'm tired and cranky and bored." Yup--I hear you Joanna! I hate to admit that this is me but it definitely is and I need a little bit of separation in order to recharge. If I ever did stay home I would HAVE to make sure that I had this time but honestly am not sure how or when that would come into fruitition because in the evenings after elle goes to bed I mostly just want to spend time with Scott. That would definitely be a big struggle! But like anything else about parenthood I think that there is a learning curve in addition to the amount that is innate.

    *talesofabookaddict - It sounds like you've really weighed your options with your own personal experience and settled on the best thing for you and Garrett. You hit on a great point--that the choice we make today doesn't have to the the choice forever and that things and circumstances evolve as our life and children do. I know many women who have worked when their babies were younger and then stayed home and others who stayed at home with young babies but later went back to work. So many of the commenters here noted that the love we provide is the most important thing--and while I do believe that it is a little bit more than this, we have to trust ourselves and our decisions. I know it'll get easier for you--it certainly will when Garrett is getting a little more sleep. It's amazing how small a difference in sleep can make a huge difference for everyone at home. ;)

    *stacybuckeye - Part of me feels like since I became a mother I'm so much more aware of the attacking that goes on between different groups and different beliefs/theories. it can be really tough and I know that I have my personal preferences but I have to remember that they are my choices--not right or wrong. I think that you and I might be similar in our stay at homing--although you seem to do really well at it. I think that when I was at home Elle was terribly bored with me and I was terribly bored with being at home. I *want* to be a great stay at home mom but I think that some have an ability that I would need to learn if I were to stay at home. Definitely a different mindset for sure! I hope that pre-pre goes well--I bet that time will be nice for both of you.

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