Friday, December 16, 2011

Each mom is different. Each mom is equal.

A while ago I  heard a working mom defend her choice to be a full-time working mom by saying that working moms who were dissatisfied just weren't in the right career field.

Her point was that she was tired of women saying they wanted to stay at home, when really they just needed to find a more fulfilling career, that the most important thing to being an effective mom was to be happy and content with your life.

Something like that.

This was months, maybe a year or more ago, so my memory is foggy, but that was the main point.

I didn't argue. Because while there are a million things wrong with her statement, her overall point is valid: being happy and content has more of an effect on your mothering abilities than your actual career choice.

I've thought about this repeatedly since.

I thought about it a couple of weeks ago when a stay-at-home mom told me that working moms just don't understand the stresses of being a SAHM, and if she weren't able to put her kids (an infant and a toddler) in front of the television for several hours every day, she wouldn't survive.

I didn't judge her for using the television to babysit. And I know that being a SAHM can be very stressful at times. But I did think: maybe being a SAHM isn't right for you.

Similar to the reverse of my situation.

Why blog about this today? Well, this morning driving to work, I pretty much had the realization that I have been trying, and failing, at this working mom thing for three years now. At what point do I (and my family) just admit that maybe it's just not for me us, throw in the towel, and find something that creates tranquility for our entire family?

SAHM? Maybe. Part-time work? Maybe. Work-from-home? Maybe.

But really, after three years of trying, and failing, and now, when I can say that I am happy with my life, I feel balanced, I'm in a really good place overall... I still cannot make this work.

I am stressed out and exhausted all week. I'm depressed on Sundays, giddy on Fridays. I'm pretty sure I'm the parent-FAIL at FireGirl's preschool, and I can admit fully that I know my work has suffered greatly since I became a parent. I'm just a mess.

It's been three years. Three years of me putting in effort, of repeatedly trying, and failing, and then getting stressed & frustrated, and sometimes depressed because I can't seem to figure out what millions of other working moms seem to do just fine, and many of them even enjoy.

Similarly, the SAHM who is putting their child(ren) in front of the television for hours every single day because being a SAHM is so stressful for her (that's the key, the "because it's so stressful" part)... maybe it's time she looked for a part-time job. Despite what many might tell her, perhaps her family will be happier, her children will do better, if she is less stressed. And maybe, just maybe, this could be accomplished thru a part-time, or even full-time job.

I guess what I'm trying to say is...

At what point, do we just admit that not every role is right for every mom, and it doesn't mean we failed, it simply means maybe we're  the right actress in the wrong play?

At what point do just give each other a break, tell each other (and ourselves) that maybe it's okay to stop fighting thru the muck of the role that we're in right now and move over to try something else?

When do we tell the working mom that's been struggling for years that it's okay, that there is no shame in admitting that she can't do it anymore, and maybe she'll be the best darn SAHM there ever was?

When do we tell the stressed-out SAHM that there is no shame in admitting that she didn't enjoy being home as much as she thought she would, and maybe her family will be more balanced if she goes back to work?

At what point do we recognize and acknowledge that every mom's role is glorious in its own right, that none is better than the other, that they all serve different purposes, teach different lessons, and they all raise marvelous children in fantastically different ways?

It just frustrates me that we as mothers tend to be so hard on ourselves, but it's more than that. Society is hard on us, and we are hard on each other.

We're all doing the best we can, the best we know how to do for our families. Do we sometimes make mistakes? Sure... we all do. Which means we are all in need of one another's grace and support.

Anyway, back to my original point... my point being that yes, getting the hang of being a mom takes time. Anytime you take on a new role in life it does.

But having as many working moms in my circle as I do... I'm 99% sure I should not still be struggling this much three years later.

Maybe... it's time to admit not that I have failed, but that I have been in the wrong role. That being a full time working mom is not the best role for me to be in. That the more I struggle, the less I am able to fulfill my role as a wife and mother, and that it is in fact not serving my family by staying in the working world, but perhaps may be an injustice to them.

Perhaps being a SAHM will be a better fit, like I have thought. Although now that FireGirl is older and in preschool, I wonder if working part-time might not be a better fit. Or maybe staying home but doing regular volunteer work. Or starting my own business like my sister did when she found herself out of work.

What niche will I fit in best? Will it change through the years as my family changes? As I change? Only time will tell...

... or will it? Because right now we can't afford for me to quit my job. Not without losing our house. And I can't imagine that's good for any of us.

So... blah. frustrated. stressed. stuck.


stuck in a role which I more & more believe is not right for me, and not right for my family.

What to do... what to do...

In the meantime, where do you find your niche? Are you in it now, or working towards getting there?


Steph{anie} said...

I hope that you'll be able to figure out an option that makes sense financially, rationally, and emotionally. I know how much you want to be more involved in FireGirl's life, so my prayer is that God will provide a way for you to do that AND feel content/fulfilled in life.

Amber said...

OH Girl, you are not alone!!! I constantly struggle with the same feelings...perhaps guilt being the strongest.

Being a SAHM isn't an option for me. I can't rearrange my finances in such a way that I could. So, for me, the bottom line is - if I don't work, I don't feed my family. I remind myself of that when the guilt hits the hardest.

However, I do have a profession that allows me to be home about 1/2 of their waking hours. If I'm not home, my boo is, which makes me feel better about working because at least they have a parent at home. When neither of us are there, we have a nanny, who is like family. (I'm totally not making a comment about daycare vs. in home - it was just the best fit option for us given the severity of my oldest allergies and asthma) And that helps assuage any left over guilt.

The trade off is that I don't sleep very much...but that's what coffee's for right?!

You'll find what's right for you!

Katie said...

That's a tough choice. I've done both -- and being a SAHM, even though it does stress me out, is definitely the right option for me. It's a different kind of stress, one that I can process better. But it's true what you say, every woman and every family is different. And there's really no way we can judge someone else's decisions. Heck, we have a hard enough time judging our own choices!!

Good luck with making your decision!

hg said...

I hope you find peace and a solution that works for you, and your family.

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