Monday, February 25, 2013

Either Way

The night before my first born turned 8 weeks old, I put her to bed, packed a diaper bag, set out my work clothes, and cried myself to sleep. The next day I would return to work.

During my last weeks of pregnancy my boss asked repeatedly, "Are you really coming back to work?" to which I answered an indignant, "Of course! Me - a stay at home mom?!? Never." I was an accountant at a bank. I liked my job. I had my sights set on big things. Big, successful, career-ish things. I believed with every fiber of my being that I would happily, willingly, be a working mother.

There's a reason certain sayings catch on. You know that one that goes, "Never say never"? Yeah...that. About 2 seconds after my sweet baby girl was placed into my arms post-childbirth, I realized I had been wrong. So, so wrong. A young and naive idiot that had no clue what motherhood would do to her. Or how instantaneously the change would happen.

Even though Charming and I both had professional jobs, we were young, only a few years out of college, with student loans and no nest egg to speak of. For the eight weeks I was home on maternity leave, I constructed scenarios in my head that would allow me to stay home with our new precious miracle. We could eat Hamburger Helper every night. Minus the hamburger. I would NEVER shop. Ever. I would never go anywhere that required a car or gas or...okay, I would never go anywhere. We would not go out to eat or buy things or do anything fun that required admission. At the end of the day I realized I was being ridiculous and, at that point in our lives, the only real option was for me to return to work.

For the next two years I worked full time. I wasn't miserable, but I couldn't help but be jealous of the moms I would see when I was out on my lunch break. The moms in their yoga pants and no make-up that were out having lunch with their sweet little toddlers. Chasing kids around the indoor playground. Wiping ketchup off of tiny fingers and faces. I wanted to do that, too.

As the years passed, we became better off (enough) financially that staying at home was no longer a pipe dream. I first cut back to working part-time, and when baby #2 came along, I was able to become a full-time stay-at-home mom. I remember feeling jubilant the night before my first day on the "new job". I couldn't believe the next day was Monday and I wasn't going to be getting up before 6 a.m. so I would have enough time to get myself and 2 kids ready, bags packed, dropped off at school and daycare, and to work by 8 a.m.

My kids are older now, but not so long ago they were still little and I was the mom in the yoga pants with no make-up (I still am but for different reasons that are not important to this story so we won't discuss it). I was the one cleaning up the mess left behind in the restaurant. I was the one exasperated and chasing around a toddler in the play place. There was so much I didn't see when I was on my lunch break all those years ago! I didn't see that those moms at the restaurant were likely there because they couldn't stand to be cooped up in the house another minute. That they were wearing yoga pants and no make-up because "what's the point?", and that they were repeatedly chasing their kids up and down those germ-infested indoor slides in hopes they would go home and take a long nap so mom could catch up on laundry and cleaning and sanity.

I've been a stay-at-home mom now for almost 8 years. I have had a couple of very part-time work-from-home gigs, and I "worked" at my son's preschool for a short time. I don't regret my decision to leave the "career world" in the least. I've loved being at home with my kids and I realize how incredibly lucky I am to have had such an opportunity. However, I admit that sometimes when I see women out on their lunch break, I still feel jealous. But now I'm on the other side of the window. I'm envious of lunches out with grown-ups and important business meetings and paychecks. I'm jealous that their biggest accomplishment for the day was likely more impressive than getting caught up on laundry, or finding a 2 for 1 sale on bags of frozen chicken.


I have recently seen several instances in the social media world where either a stay-at-home mom blasted a working moms' decisions to pursue a career, or a working mom minimized the relevance of a stay-at-home mom. I can't help but be annoyed at both. I've experienced each side and I wish (can't we all just get along?!) we could all come to an agreement that, truth be told, it's hard either way. You have to make sacrifices either way. At some point you will probably question your decision either way. The grass is always greener either way.

And most importantly, we're all mom's doing the best we know how...either way.



Either way, you can't go wrong by clicking on this banner!


17 comments:

  1. I'm jealous, jealous, jealous you were lucky enough to stay home with your little ones... Such a wonderful gift!

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    1. It's SUCH a wonderful gift. I don't want to minimize that. There's just benefits to both, but sometimes they are hard to see. When I was a working mom, I felt like SAHM's were being judgy, and now that I'm a SAHM, sometimes I feel like it's the other way around. *sigh*

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  2. Ah thank you for that little twist of empathy, that we of the yoga pant are not always particularly overjoyed with our life choices,either. Maybe no one is ever over joyed with any life choice.

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    1. I think all life choices come with sacrifices and consequences. So, it's hard to be completely overjoyed and confident that I've chosen the right path either way.

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  3. I've been a SAHM and a Worker Bee. They both have definite pros and cons. I think the fact that we found such a wonderful school for the wigglers eases my conscience a bit about working but I still miss them during the day.... unless the baby is teething. ;)

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    1. It definitely helps when you feel good about where your kids are during the day. I had that for a while, and then our childcare situation got complicated. Now that mine are in school all day, it would be easier, but there would still be the issue of after school care. And since we don't know many people where we currently live, I don't know how good I would feel about things.

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  4. I think this is one of those instances where the grass may always seem greener on the other side. Because there are such positives to both situations. While I try to steer clear of those discussions/comment threads where women are attacking each other over those choices, it makes me so sad that it ever has to come to that. Let's all just respect each other's decisions, being a parent -- no matter what situation you're in -- is hard enough as it is! (Or I imagine it will be in about three months when I'm one as well :)

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    1. Respect! Yes! We can only dream... ;)

      P.S. Good luck and congrats!

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  5. This just has me thinking of your sister's pic with Santa and her smiling at the camera. I LOVE that pic!!

    Your Pals,

    Murphy & Stanley
    Online Doods

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  6. I worked full time when my oldest was a baby, too. I think if I had really enjoyed my field, I would miss working more than I do. I love being home with the kids, and I really enjoy going to my teeny tiny part time job. When it comes down to it, I traded money for elastic waistbands. Totally worth it.

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    1. Good point about the elastic waistbands. Not much can compete with that luxury.

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  7. Inspiring! I was reading this while I was at....work. You're right, I totally envy the mom's I see with their lil gremlins and wish it was me. I have a kind of job that doesn't let me go if anything happens to my child. (stoopid outside job) I rely heavily on my husband who takes care of our son during the day. I've been working since my son was a month old and see no end in sight. Yes I make the big bucks, yes I support my family. Yes...I miss out on some of my son's development. Breaks my heart, but gotta do what ya gotta do. It sucks total ass, but it makes a day off ten times more amazing. (tantrums and all)
    I've read "working mom" blogs and honestly they are frustrating. I don't understand the "im better then u and my husband is my bitch" kinda attitude. I read one recently and wished I could punch em in jugular.

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    1. I'm so relieved to see a working mom comment positively! I frequently feel judged my career women. I'm honestly in awe of working moms - I don't know how I did it. Kudos to you for being the primary breadwinner, and for realizing how special it makes the time you get to spend with your son.

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  8. Totally and completely true.

    I've been a working mom and Im now a SAHM. And I've been envious of both. What it came down to is where my passion lies no that was with my children.

    I found you through Daily Dose of Damn and I'm now a new follower!

    www.MommaCandy.com

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    1. Hi! Thanks for stopping by! That DDD is awesome, amirite?!

      It's a tough balance. Even though sometimes I'm jealous, I know I wouldn't trade these years I've had at home, and I don't think I'd exactly jump at the chance to go back to work. :)

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