The working mom’s day is rushed from the time she opens her eyes until the time they shut at night. She wakes up overwhelmed with her to do list for the day, at home, and at the office, and goes to bed still overwhelmed knowing the list will fill up and overflow again tomorrow.
She wakes up to her husband next to her, whom she fell asleep with talking about their day at work because there is still meaningful conversation left to have between them. She lives a life outside of her kids that contributes to her fulfillment and her passion.
But she feels guilty for the late nights, and for the trips taken without them.
She feels guilty when she drops her son off at daycare. Every. Single. Day. Not for the benefit of social interaction a 2 year old needs, but for the benefit of her own social interaction she needs.
And that makes her feel guilty.
She hasn’t made it to a parent teacher conference in a year, except by phone, because it’s impossible to drive the hour long commute and make it at the scheduled times.
She can’t make promises she will be at her son’s soccer game, or her daughters dance recital.
She can only promise she will try.
She knows trying means nothing to her kids. What matters is showing up. Being there.
It’s not easy working full time and having a family, she has heard this time and time again from family members and friends trying to lift some guilt off her guilt ridden shoulders.
But it doesn’t work because there is a lot that goes unspoken between mothers.
She likes to work. No, she loves to work.
Sometimes on Sunday nights she fantasies about drop off the next morning, and getting to the office where she can drink a cup of coffee, in one sitting, never re heating it, and without it being knocked over, all by herself.
Because she hasn’t done that all weekend.
And she missed it.
She doesn’t tell people that although she looks forward to the weekend and spending quality time with her kids, that well- sometimes she doesn’t.
After a week of not being surrounded by them 24/7, (because by the time you get home and eat dinner, it is almost bed time with small children) a weekend being surrounded by your kids can prove to feel demanding, laborious, and burdensome. She wonders is it normal to feel like this? But as fast as she lets these thoughts slip into her mind she pushes them back out, because admitting these things, even to herself, feels like a disgrace.
Especially to the stay at home moms.
She has done that before too with her first kid, with good reason for not doing it the second time around.
It was isolating. It wasn’t what it was supposed to be.
It was supposed to be planning arts and crafts in the morning, and baking cookies in the afternoon. (Instead it was losing her temper for the third time, and playing Sesame Street on repeat so she could have time to herself.)
It was supposed to be a sparkling kitchen and a spotless living room. (Instead it is crusty substances on the counter, expired milk, and empty fruit snack packages littered in the living room.)
She was disengaged with them, even though her time was free to make her whole world revolve around them. She loved them more than herself, but sometimes they got on her nerves.
A lot of the times.
She daydreamed about going back to work, and the way in which she would twist the truth to justify her decision, so it sounded like she didn’t have a choice. When in reality, it was her choice, and what she wanted and needed was to feel like she achieved something more worthwhile than breaking up a fight over a Pokémon figurine.
She knew her job was important.
More important than the working moms at work, but she still couldn’t fight off the feeling of emptiness and unhappiness that haunted her and tormented her for days after hearing from her working mom friends and relatives.
So, with the birth of her second child, she decided she wouldn’t stay at home as long. She decided she would go back early but part-time. She felt grateful because most women do not get to choose. If they do, it’s usually a matter of you either work full-time or you don’t work at all due to the outrageous costs of daycare.
She was grateful for the choice, but even more grateful for the chance to experience both worlds.
She decided staying at home is hard. She decided the mommy wars are stupid, but that if she had to pick a winner, it should be stay at home moms. They are making a sacrifice she tried to make, and failed at. She knows they feel like they are failing every day, but they are sticking it out. That is something she couldn’t do.
Realizing all of this makes her feel guilty, like she should be impeached from her household as their mother, but she is also happy to have found what makes her happy, and a better parent.
She decided the choice to stay home or work is more personal than she ever thought it would be before having her kids. It is one that nobody should be judged for and one she wishes she could speak admiration of to a stay at home mom without them thinking she’s being passive aggressive.
Being a parent is many things she didn’t expect. The biggest one being- it is a job. And we need to be happy in our jobs.
She needs to do what makes her the kind of mother her kids will look back on and be grateful for no matter which choice she made. She can’t give them those kinds of memories if she’s living empty with no fulfillment from staying home or guilt ridden from working. The choice is no one’s but hers.
She decided you can’t have happy kids without being a happy mommy.