Stay at Home Mom versus Working Mom.
If you had presented these two options to me prior to having children, I would have turned up my nose and proudly stated that there is no way I’d ever be a working mom. After all, don’t good moms stay home?
Fast forward a few years, and my tune has changed.
When my older son was two and a half years old and my younger son was ten months old, I returned to work and officially became a “working mom.” (Although if you ask me, all moms are working moms. Raising tiny humans is incredibly hard!) I remember how excited I was to return to work and how guilty that excitement made me feel. I justified my return with a variety of reasons. But in reality, I missed interacting with adults and feeling like I was contributing something to society.
Looking back, it was flawed thinking to assume I wasn’t contributing to society because I was “just a stay at home mom.” I was contributing (and continue to contribute) in ways that aren’t exactly measurable, and will not be fully visible, until my boys are older.
In general, working outside the home brings me great joy and satisfaction. I enjoy having concrete tasks that allow me to start and finish an assignment. This is unlike my family’s seemingly magical laundry hamper that is never completely empty despite the numerous loads of laundry I do. I look forward to connecting with a variety of people inside the work place, forming new friendships, and developing older ones. Mostly, however, I just like how I feel about myself after a successful day of work.
The one thing that makes working outside the home difficult though, is the feeling that there is never enough time. I think the pressure to “do it all” looms overhead and feels almost palpable for most working moms. While trying to juggle all of the “hats” we wear in life, there is the ever present fear that we will drop one. And, in the process, fail our families, our employers, or even ourselves. So despite the happiness that working brings me, I still find myself struggling occasionally with three main emotions:
What if I miss a huge milestone for my children? What if my sons need me, and I’m not there? What if there is an emergency and I can’t protect them?
Do my boys feel like I abandon them when I go to work in the morning? I missed my son’s first day of preschool due to an important meeting at work. Will I regret that later? Will he hold it against me?
How is it that I never seem to be good enough in all areas of my life? When I find success as an employee, I feel like I fail as a mother. When I am having an awesome June Cleaver type of day, I fall short as a wife. When the dreaded croup strikes my son, I let down my boss as I need to stay home with my son. What is wrong with me that I can’t quite seem to “get it together?”
While these emotions and the events that cause them don’t keep me up every night, they do slowly creep into my thoughts and make me question myself and my ability to be a good mom, a good wife, and a good employee. As a mom in general, I am desperate to feel successful in all areas of my life. Instead of trying to do it all, which my fellow contributing writer Crystal talks about in her blog post, The “Balance” Myth, I have decided to set my sights on making three mindset changes during the year 2016. The three changes that I challenge each of you mothers to adopt:
In 2016, I will become more confident, content, and realistic in my role as a mother.
Confident that I have made and will continue to make the right decisions for my family and myself.
Content in all of the roles I play.
Realistic in knowing that not being perfect in all areas of my life does not equate to failure.
I invite all of you mamas to join me on this journey- changing how we view ourselves and the roles we play. By doing so, I hope that we all can start to see just how invaluable we are to those in our lives and stop allowing doubt and anxiety to play a factor in our happiness and daily life. Because quite frankly, if our time is already limited, we definitely don’t have any to spend on unproductive feelings and thoughts that cause such anxiety and discontent.