Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Life of a Working Mother

I have been drafting this post for a while but have been hesitant about posting it. Such controversy lies within the topic of working moms versus stay at home moms, although I'm not sure why. Both are equally challenging in their own right, and both are equally unappreciated, in my opinion. And while I completely understand and respect the difficulties that come with being a stay at home mom, I can only write according to what I know - and what I know is the struggle that comes with being a working mother. So here are my two cents on the topic.

When I was little, I remember my mother constantly juggling a thousand different things. She would substitute teach during the day and attend night classes at a not-so-local college all while raising two young daughters and maintaining a household. My mother was very particular about when and how things were to be done. I used to think that she was crazy. What I didn't realize then was that my mom maintained such a tight schedule because that was the only way she could fit everything in. As a working mom myself, I understand the method to her madness. On a typical workday, I'm out of the house by 7:30 and lucky if I'm back in the door by 5:30. Then there's dinner to cook (accompanied by a hungry little mouth reminding me just how famished she is), then bath time, story time, and bedtime for the tot. Once she is asleep, it's off to pick up the house, do the dishes, fold the laundry, and finally bathe myself. After all of that is accomplished, it's 10:00 and I'm exhausted. Another day is done and my to-do list hasn't been touched.

Looking back now, I understand why my mother insisted that we spend time on the weekends doing chores and preparing for the work week. When every single second of Monday-Friday is completely consumed, there's no other option but to utilize Saturday and Sunday for the other necessary tasks that need to be done. And even though there just aren't enough hours in the day to get it all done, life still goes on. The struggle to raise children, maintain a happy household, and hold down a 9-5 is exhausting. Most days, I do my best just to keep up with everything (and my desk/purse/calendar are full of post-it notes to prove it). And even though our time together is limited throughout the week, I still try to do extra-special things for our tot, because I know that this time with her is precious and will be gone before I know it. She is only little once, and I want to ensure that her childhood is full of happy memories that she will look back on one day and smile.

On occasions when the daycare is closed, I am able to get a small taste of what life would be like if I were a stay at home mom. While it's a welcomed change of pace at the time, I'm not sure it's something I could swing full-time. Some days are wonderful - the tot is well behaved, she naps on schedule, and we laugh and play all day long. As most moms out there know, these days are few and far in between. Other days are a complete disaster that leave me pulling my hair out and begging to return to work. It's a never ending struggle. When I'm at work, I just want to be with her, but after too many days of tears and tantrums, I'm more than ready to return to the office. I realize this is a relief that most stay at home moms never get, and it makes me grateful that I have the option to do both.

But that constant feeling of being pulled in two different directions is always present. On one hand, I love spending time with my girl. I love going on long afternoon walks and having picnics in the middle of the living room floor. I love seeing the look on her face as she experiences something for the first time. I love when she crawls into my lap asking me to read her a book or when she holds on to a hug just a little longer because she needs that extra snuggle. But I also love watching her interact with the kids at daycare. I love how strong and independent she is, completely unafraid and always eager to play with anyone who is willing. I love how much she adores her sitter as well as the other kids and their parents. I love that she is able to make decisions on her own without Jake or I there to hold her hand. Unfortunately, this back and forth is a daily struggle that has yet to get any easier.

And even though I miss our girl all day every day, I know that being a working mom helps me to be a better mom. I enjoy feeling that sense of accomplishment after completing a labor-intensive project, but I also love seeing Tay's sweet face after a rough day. Being away from her throughout the week helps me to fully appreciate the time that I do get to spend with her. And although I am constantly wondering what she's doing or if she's happy, it comforts me to know that she is in good hands. It's never easy trusting someone else to care for your child, but I know it's also good for her to be content away from our home and around other people. An act that I know is easier for her than it will ever be for me.

At the end of the day, I just want what all parents do - I want my child to be happy, healthy, well-mannered, and well cared for. It just so happens that this is the route best suited for our family. If/when baby no. 2 comes along, well...that could be a different story!