Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Thoughts on Being a Working Mom

**note** I know this can be a touchy subject for some people. Just please realize that these are my thoughts, and even if they differ from your own, there is no judgement here, just my personal thoughts on the subject, based on my experiences as a working mom. 'Kay?

I hate being a working mom.

This doesn't mean that I hate my job, or don't want to work.

I like my job. Probably more than most people like their jobs.

It also doesn't mean that I don't want to be a mom. But nobody makes that assumption anyway, for some reason.

Mostly it means that I hate the juggle. I'm not a good juggler.

Some days I feel like I'm getting it right.

But most days I feel like instead of being really, super good at one thing, I'm just being mediocre at all of the things.

Mom. Employee. Wife. The million other roles I'm expected to play.

I also hate the assumptions.

Like being mommy-tracked at work.

Or people assuming that because you don't want to be a working mom, means you don't want to work at all. Ever.

Or people assuming that because you don't want to be a working mom, means you're judging them because they love being a working mom.

Or people assuming that you're working not to make ends meet, but because you are choosing your career over your family.

Or people assuming that you're working because you're more dedicated to your career than your family.

Or any of the other hundreds of assumptions people have about working moms.

And I hate missing out.

Like the sitter taking my daughter to the museum for the first time.

Or someone else taking my daughter to the park while I'm stuck in the office.

Or missing pre-school events because I'm the only full-time working mom in my daughter's class (true story).

Or my parents taking care of her on days when she's sick, but I also have some major items due at the office (note - if my parents weren't available, I would have stayed home).

I wish I loved being a working mom.

I wish I came home feeling so fulfilled by my job that any disappointments about not being home with my child paled by comparison.

I wish I had that perspective.

But I don't.

I do like that I am helping to provide for our family.

That without my income we would be living in much worse conditions, with no wiggle room, and wouldn't be able to provide our daughter with some of the opportunities we can now.

That my health insurance plan is really good, and allows us to be as cautious as we want to be with our daughter's care, without worries about making the bills next month because we chose to go to the doctor.

And I do like my job. I love the people I work with. They're like a second family to me.

And in a way I understand the mommy-tracking phenomenom.

Because yes, before I was a mom I was willing to work 70+ hour weeks regularly just because my boss wanted me to, even if I didn't see the need.

And now... it's not worth it. I will work it if it's needed, but not because someone else just feels like I should.

Because my family is my priority. Always has been really. But adding a child into the mix just makes it even moreso. And more pronounced. And more obvious.

So if being dedicated to my family moreso than my job, and making choices to spend time with my family instead of spending unneeded time at work just so I can keep up appearances... well, if I miss a promotion because I didn't keep up appearances, I'm pretty sure I didn't want the promotion in the first place.

Sometimes I think I'm setting a good example for my daughter by working outside the home.

Other times I worry that someday she'll be upset with me for working instead of being home with her.

I like something my mom told me, when we talked about how we want to take our daughter on an extra trip this year. The conversation turned to how if I were a SAHM we would never be able to take any vacations at all. She said vacations are good quality time. Together, as a family (ie including FireMan). She said that yes, there's something to be said for staying home with your children and giving them that quantity of time, but that there's also something to be said for working and being able to afford things like vacations, trips to local play areas, visits to the zoo, etc. That it's finding the right balance of quantity and quality. That plenty of SAHMs have the quantity, but their budget is stretched so tightly that they stay at the house pretty much every day, doing the same things day in & day out, and both mom and child are bored, and this usually leads to resentment. Of each other.

Considering she spent her time as a mother first as both a SAHM and later as a working mom... this meant a lot. And I've thought about it a lot since then.

And it causes me to want to make sure my time with my daughter is quality time. And not just more mundane routine, day in & day out. Every day.


And those... are my thoughts on being a working mom.

1 comment:

Jene said...

Yes, it's the quality of the time that matters. It's also the quality of the time you spend at work - when I was still in market research and hated my job with every fiber of my being, I really resented having to be a working mother. Now that I have a job that I find personally fulfilling and something I actually enjoy and look forward to, the pain is lessened. Sure, there are plenty of times that my FB feed is littered with posts about zoo trips on sunny days and I get a little irked that I'm stuck at work, but that's what paid time off is for, and I'm lucky that I get as much as I do.

Hang in there. All that matters is that she sees a happy mom. All of the research shows that happy mom = happy kids, so as long as you're not absolutely miserable at work and bringing that weight home with you, then you're good to go.

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