As human beings, we wear many hats. We have jobs, families, friends, organizations, religious groups, sports teams – you name it – that we claim allegiance to and responsibility for. As women, sometimes those hats seem to grow heavier or taller or simply multiply on the daily. More specifically – the hats of a working mom are even heavier, even taller, and sometimes multiply by the hour.
Throughout the course of my LOs 2 years on this planet, I have found myself stuck in an awkward and uncomfortable conversation more often than not. You know the one. The one where seemingly harmless conversation about kids and families that suddenly turns into a silent slap across the face, when you are asked the dreaded question, “But don’t you want to be around for your kids?” How do I put this simply? UHH, OBVIOUSLY. IS THAT EVEN A QUESTION?!? Please excuse my gaping mouth at your audacity to think that I WOULDN’T want to be at home with my kids. Believe you me, I don’t love having to get up at 5 AM every morning to get ready and out the door to work. I don’t love the idea of my LO spending more time at daycare with virtual strangers than me. I don’t love only getting to spend time with my LO for a handful of hours every evening during the week. Guess what though? I do it because we decided it is the best decision for my family at this point in time, and that is what matters most. I do love that she has her own space to learn and grow, and is stimulated all day long with her peers. I do love that I am able to contribute financially to our house, and that I have “adult” contact outside of the home. I love challenging myself, even on the days where it feels as though there isn’t enough coffee in the world. (Trust me, when our LO was still an infant and used to wake at 4 AM for a feeding and my alarm went off at 5 – I felt like a super-hero zombie when I made it to the end of the day.)
However, with having to work is the sacrifice of knowing that I won’t be there for all of her “moments”. I’ll never forget one of the days I picked our LO up from daycare right around the time she had started pulling herself up and taking one or two steps. Her teacher excitedly said to me, “H took four steps today!” Imagine the emotions that flooded me right then and there. While excited at this milestone, I was saddened with the knowledge that I missed it. It is moments like these where the working mom is super conflicted about what is better. To work or not to work? That really is the question. Thankfully, I LOVE our LOs school. All of the staff are warm and friendly, and never made me question leaving her there every day. Especially when she was so small. I have seen the wonders that her school has done for her in terms of her development, mindfulness of peer relationships, manners, and a simple understanding of the world around her. I am beyond thankful that we were able to enroll her in such a stellar place, and hope to be a part of their community for years to come.
Now with all of this said, I want to be clear. In no way, shape, or form, do I feel that being a stay at home parent is easy. I tip my hat to you all, and am envious that you are able to do so. I can’t even imagine what it must be like stimulating your child (or even children) every moment of every day all while keeping your household running, not to mention taking care of yourself. Seriously, it’s a hard job, and I hope one day it is one that I can do too.
While I am blessed that I do not have to work but choose to do so, so that we can maintain our lifestyle and that I can feel as though I have a purpose separate from my role as mother and wife; not everyone is. So, to the person who doesn’t think much of the question “But don’t you want to be there for your kids?” think twice before you ask. You never know the other side of the story; and for the parent who is working both “jobs” – you’re doing great.