Friday, April 23, 2010

Working Mom

I'm a working mom.

I have often felt that there is a stereotype that goes along with that. I have heard the words from many that "if you learn how to financially sacrifice you should be able to stay at home with your children while your husband works." I agree with that to some extent, but I do not agree with all of it. Financially, some women can stay at home with or without the sacrifice. I have been there, and hope that someday I can be there again. But some women financially cannot do that, or perhaps choose not to for various reasons.

There are some toss-ups for arguments. I have heard: Some women work and therefore pay for daycare. But doesn't the cost of daycare counteract the money made? And there is the very good argument of the drawback that not being with your children is something you can't take back (which I believe). And we all know, that being a stay-at-home mom is a full time job in itself, and can be very difficult, and is something that you don't get paid for (except in an eternal way.)
But what about other situations? What if your husband is layed off? What if he is in school? What if financially.. you really can't cut it? What if you just need that professional time for yourself? Can it be done without sacrificing motherhood?

Here's my own scenario. I have worked for a long time. When I left my last job to move to Florida I left in desperation. I was tired. I was overworked. That was going to be my last outside job forever unless I chose to work. After a year in that Sunny State in which I didn't work, our situation changed. My husband got really sick, therefore his 100% commission job sank. We were stuck, and because there were no jobs for us there, we needed to make a move. Not to mention we needed to come back to Seattle for Aaron's medical care.

Our plan was different than planned. Than I had hoped. Than I imagined my life to be way back when. I would have to go back to work. My job would not only provide security and insurance, but the financial stability to pay off debt so that when I do have the opportunity to go back home, our bills will be cut in half. It was a smart decision and I am (surprisingly) not resentful.

  • I like contributing financially.
  • I like the professional side of me.
  • My situation is incredibly ideal because my office is literally attached to my home. I have the perfect working mother scenario and I am grateful for that.
  • Oddly, I can accomplish almost as much household work as before because I have to manage my time intensely. Often, when I was at home all day, I didn't get half as much done as I do now.
  • I treasure the moments I am at home with my children. I try to make sure that I am "completely there", although I admit that doesn't always happen. Still, I treasure that time when I used to be quite scattered about it.

But there are

  • Although I work at home, I am at work all day and do not have the ability to mother my children during that time.
  • Sometimes I want to cry when I have to tell my children "Not now, Mommy is at work."
  • I can't make bread during the week (one of my favorite things to do).
  • I can't go to the library or parks or playgroups. I can't keep up with the laundry or dishes some days.
  • One day due to starting work early and then a church meeting that night, I only saw my kids for 45 minutes the entire day. That made me really mad.
  • I can't go see friends every so often and connect with that women conversation we all desperately need (perhaps that's why I blog.) That is hard. It's even harder to know it's happening, and that I cannot be a part of it.
  • I am often envious of women who have the staying-home opportunities that I don't have. Sometimes I am angry about my situation. Sometimes it just sucks. I really have to work on those feelings daily and I know it will always be a struggle.

And so I think it is important to realize that sometimes working mothers feel left out. Sometimes working mothers feel criticized. Sometimes working mothers feel like crap. Literally like crap because they miss their children and the chance to do what they innately desire to do, which is be a mother at all hours of every day.

But there are more reasons that women work than the eye can see. There are personal reasons and although I know some are selfish, I believe there are so many working mothers that are un-selfish. There are mothers who can't always do it all, but out of necessity have to.

What are your thoughts?
I hope that one day I will be able to be completely home once again. But if it's not in my cards in this life, then I know that I can still be a mother.

And I am.


heather said...

Hate to contradict but you are a mother at all hours of the day! And just 'cause you might not have the chance to be with your kids all day, doesn't mean that you love them less or are less of a mother to them. Everybody has a different set of circumstances. One of my very good friends is the bread winner while her husband is a stay at home dad. It works for them & that is what God directed them to do. No judgement from me.

Candi said...

I feel the same way. Since I need to work, I am blessed with the most ideal conditions possible. I still miss out on some things and that makes me sad. When, I first went back to work Annagrace was 16 months old and I was afraid that I would resent Tyler later. But, I have loved my job, the opportunity to talk to other adults and be in another world, to have something other than my child to talk to my husband about over dinner. And the opportunity Annagrace has had to spend a day or two a week with her Grandparents has been wonderful. I just hope after baby girl #2 arrives that I won't have a hard time going back. (I've really enjoyed the last two weeks of not working!!) Fortunately, I think it is going to work out for me to go back just part-time - just a night or two a week. Anyway, my point is: it's based on each person and what works for them and their family. No judgments from me.

Sara said...

Carrie, you hit the nail on the head. I feel the exact same way.

Serene is my name, not my life! said...

My neighbor is a working mom and she always talks about how she feels like everyone is always judging her, even if they aren't.
I've met women that fall into every category of working mother. From those who didn't want kids had them accidentally and work because they can't stand being home, to those who would give just about ANYTHING to be able to stay home with their kids.

I don't judge. You do what you gotta do! You don't owe anyone an explanation.

wilkinson_fam said...

Though I feel very blessed to be able to be in a situation where I can stay at home, I know not all women have that opportunity or - frankly - the desire. This is definitely a scenerio that must be decided between you, your hubby and the Lord. End of sentence.

And - by the way - you are a GREAT mom. Your kids are blessed to have you.

Kristie and Ryan said...

oh carrie, I love it. I think it's something everyone should read. I'm glad I did. very insightful and sensible. what I love is how you know what you're trying to say. it's hard to write something when I don't exactly know what I'm feeling or what I want to express. you're loud and clear.

and by the way, you juggle both worlds beautifully and you've always done what was best for your family. you're pretty awesome.

Darren and Brandi said...

oh carrie, i feel your pain! not exactly the same, but being in school has me SO occupied. i had a hard time deciding to go back to school, but felt like it was the right thing to do. now that i'm in school, i'm gone about 10 hours twice a week and when i'm home, it's like i'm not even there because all i do is homework. it makes me sad. but at the same time i sometimes feel very happy about what i'm doing. i actually enjoy it a lot now, which is weird to me (who ever thought i would like school!). sometimes i feel guilty when i like something that is taking me away from my baby. i enjoyed reading this. it makes me feel better :)

The Lewis Family said...

I found your post from your comment on Mormon Mommy Blog and had to read your post. Thank you, I feel the same way and am in almost the same situation. My husband lost his job two years ago and so I am the one working full time while he is at home with our two children. It's the hardest thing in the world leaving my babies each day, I think everyone should know that working moms love their kids just as much as anyone else and work twice as hard to get things done and spend time with them.

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