"A working (out of the home) mom gets to have a cup of coffee in peace and quiet."
"A working (out of the home) mom gets to have a break from her children so she comes home refreshed."
I was blessed with 11 weeks home with each of my boys after their births. With my first, I felt that I had just gotten a chance to feel connected to him when it was time to head back to work (thanks postpartum depression). It felt so unfair. Just before heading back to work I tried to spend extra time snuggling, cherished the middle of the night nursings, and ate up as much baby as I could. I dreaded going back to work. I dreaded leaving my son. I constantly worried about what I was going to miss, about the fact that I wouldn't be there to teach him. I knew he was going to be in loving hands, after all, his grandmas were going to watch them. And yet, I sobbed the entire way to work on my first day back. The. Entire. Way.
Following the birth of my second son I felt connected with him right away. I didn't feel rushed through the holidays and really got to enjoy just being with my kids. My second was an amazing sleeper so I actually felt rested after his birth. I loved being home. I did art projects every day with my older son, made Christmas cookies and gingerbread houses, had some sort of out of the house activity most every day, and felt like I was able to gracefully handle having two kids. Two fit me. And it fit being home with them.
Surprisingly, it wasn't as hard going back to work after my second. Though I still dreaded it, I didn't sob. Maybe we can call it tears streaming, but not sobbing. Why? I didn't feel robbed of the bonding time like I did with my first. I felt bonded to him and knew what to expect with the whole juggling work/kids thing. And I was so grateful that they would be with grandparents during the day. After maternity leave with my first, all the way through my second being 7 months old, I was working 4 days a week, 1/2 day in the office, and 1/2 day at home.
Then life changed. It made sense for me to go to work full-time and for my husband to stay home with the kids when they weren't with the grandmas. Though uncomfortable for me, we stepped into it knowing it was God's purpose, and as such, He would give me strength to weather the discomfort.
Some days are harder than others. Some days I feel I spend on my knees praying for that continued strength. Some days I have to let the cleaning go. Some days I have to say yes to take n bake pizza. Some days I have to put the kids to bed an hour early even if it means they will wake up an hour early. I have come to realize that my house won't be perfectly clean all the time, my kid's parties would have store-bought cake if I could find a place that doesn't make cake on the same equipment as nuts, and there are some days that I just can't get to blogging (sorry I've been on blogging hiatus for awhile). And you know what? All of these are okay.
One thing I've found though is that I have to be excited about working. If my kids see my constantly complaining about how I want to be home with them, they may view working as a negative thing. And I am so thankful for the job that I have. It's allowing me to provide for our family. It's something I do actually enjoy. It's allowing our kids to be watching by a combination of my husband and our moms. All things I am so thankful for.
But the guilt. Oh, the guilt. God, please take away the guilt! I feel guilty when I'm working...like I should be home with my kids. And if I do get to take a day off to be with them (usually when they're sick), I feel guilty that I'm not working. I feel guilty that I'm missing out on so many things (the biggest right now is the one on one time that everyone but me gets with my youngest while my oldest is in preschool). And I feel guilty if I take any me time (the reason I force myself to get up at 5am to work out; it's before I head to work and before my kids wake up). Some days I just long for opposite circumstances.
I am not saying that working moms have it harder. I am not saying that stay at home moms have it harder either. I am saying that being a working mom has been emotionally harder for me. If you want to see a great series about how ALL moms work, go over to The Mommyhood Memos.
But that myth I quoted in the beginning about working being a break from my kids so I feel refreshed when I come home? I am usually so drained from work that I have nothing left to give my kids. I try though. It's frustrating that I get them at the end of their day...when they are crabby (oldest doesn't nap, but needs to), fighting, ready to eat, etc. It pairs real well with my drained, crabby attitude. I think they can sense that.
And yea, that coffee break where I can enjoy a cup of coffee in peace and quiet? I would trade it in to stay home with my boys in a second. Rewarmed coffee 10 times? Yes, please.
Readers: How do you get "you" time? How do you balance that with your spouse?
© Transparencies of Motherhood 2010