I’m Still a Full-Fledged Mother, Even if I Work Outside the Home…

Posted on | December 16, 2011 | 22 Comments

This morning, I sat at my desk and commiserated over the telephone with a dear friend of mine who is the proud parent of a one year old.  She was talking about how hard it is now that he’s fully mobile and pining for the days when she could put him down and know he was not going anywhere.

We laughed about how these boys of ours get in to EVERYTHING and try our patience day after day and then she said something that made me really smile, like ear to ear smile.  She sighed a little and said:

“It’s just so exhausting! And sometimes I feel like a horrible parent because I’ll think to myself ‘Oh thank God, it’s Monday… I can go to work.'”

Yes.  That.

Exactly.

Maybe it’s because we’re out of practice with our 8-5 jobs or maybe it’s because some of us just aren’t cut out for the stay at home gig, but for whatever reason, there are most definitely days/weeks/weekends when I breathe a hefty sigh of relief when the daycare door closes behind me.

Don’t get me wrong… I love the hell out of my little boy and I wish I could spend more and more and MORE time with him.  But when I have him home on a Wednesday and he’s running around hitting me, hitting the dog, pulling the dog’s tail, dumping his toys on the floor, shattering his third snow globe this season and actually ASKING me for time out? Yeah… I’m not sad to see Thursday come around and with it the return to “school.”

Being a mother is a hard job no matter which way you spin it.  If you stay at home, you have the perks of seeing every milestone and the drawbacks of seeing every temper tantrum.  If you work, you have the perks of being genuinely excited to see your child every afternoon, and the drawbacks of only seeing your child in the afternoons.  There are pluses and minuses, to be sure, just like in any other field. 

But for whatever reason, it seems to be frowned upon in the working mother world, to admit that there are days when you  stop and buy doughnuts for the office just because you are THAT GLAD that someone else is changing your kid’s poopy diapers for the day.

I miss my kid when he’s at daycare.  I miss his funny laughs and his questions and his cute blond curls.

But when I have him home for several days at a time?  I am infinitely grateful for my time at work and for my wonderful daycare that takes such wonderful care of my child.  I am not less of a mother because I value that time away from him.  I am not less of a mother because I happily deposit him at daycare some Monday mornings after a particularly trying weekend.  I am not less of a mother because I admit that working outside the home is the best fit for me and my child.

And neither is my friend who gasped after she said it and then giggled a little. 

It’s okay to admit that parenting is a really, really, REALLY exhausting job.  And no matter what we moms do 8-5, Monday through Friday, be it staying home with your kids or lawyering or teaching or whatever… we are ALL 100% moms.  There’s no dividing line between us.  We’re all frazzled and wide-eyed and sleep-deprived and crazed, just wondering if we’re the only ones who feel like strangling our kids one minute and scooping them up in hugs the next. 

I love my kid.  I love that he goes to daycare during the week and gets to play with other kids his age and gets to learn things I wouldn’t know to teach him.  I love that I get to play with him on the weekends and snuggle with him at night. 

You know what else? I love that for at least 40 hours a week, I get a break from hands-on parenting. 

And you know what? That doesn’t make me any less of a mother than anyone else.

Comments

22 Responses to “I’m Still a Full-Fledged Mother, Even if I Work Outside the Home…”

  1. Karey
    December 16th, 2011 @ 11:03 am

    As a stay at home Mom, I’m going to admit that there are days when my husband comes home from work to find me hiding in the bathroom with glass of wine and my laptop open searching Craigslist (is that even where you’d look?!) for want ads wishing I had a full time (outside the home) job.

    But then I think about it and realize that I’d have to get up at some crazy early hour to get everyone out the door to get to school/daycare/work on time. I rarely shower before noon, let alone before it’s light outside… I also don’t usually decide what to make for dinner until late afternoon (when I run to the store after Googling recipes for stuff that usually doesn’t even turn out) to grab the ingredients I’ve never heard of. Having a job (outside the home) and having to plan ahead would put a major cramp in my (lazy?) style.

    I love having the priveledge of staying home with my kids. That being said, I have more respect for working Moms than basically anyone else because I know how amazingly hard it must be and honestly, I couldn’t do it (well).

    You guys are pretty much my heros.

  2. Bjhamill
    December 16th, 2011 @ 11:08 am

    Don’t feel like you have to defend your choices!!!! Here’s a little life lesson from a mom of 4 who has been there and done that ( worked like a dog, traveled too much, had a nanny, did the 50+ hours a week thing and now stays home, b/c that works for ME); there are all kinds of haters out there with waaaaaaaay too much time on their hands- you are a bad mom b/c you DO work, or b/c you DON’T work ( how can you give your daughters a decent roll-model if all she sees you do is clean the house? I swear someone asked me this recently). You are a bad mom if you only breastfed for a month, or 2 or 6 or a year, b/c little miss perfect breastfed her adopted twins until they started kindergarten. You are a bad mom b/c you did/didn’t: start cereal at 6 months, use formula, make your own food, make your own playdoh, use a bumbo, use a nuk, co-sleep, use a nightlight, use organic cotton sheets, wash with dreft, the list goes on and on and on and on. TOO MUCH TIME ON THEIR HANDS. Identify these people and delete them from your life. IMMEDIATELY. Work, don’t work, play the lottery, write a book. Whatever makes you sane and happy and gets you through the day. It’s all hard, every choice we make, b/c so much is riding on it. So make your own choices and don’t let the haters get you down.

  3. Bjhamill
    December 16th, 2011 @ 12:18 pm

    ugh, that would be “role-model”- seriously, kids suck out your IQ one point at a time….

  4. Adrianne Farr
    December 16th, 2011 @ 11:17 am

    Great, great post!

  5. rynerman
    December 16th, 2011 @ 11:18 am

    I work FT outside the home and I have thought about this a lot in the nearly 9 years I’ve been a mom and I believe that being a SAHM is like any other profession in that some people are really well suited to it – they have the right attitude and are really good at it. Just as I would not be good at astrophysics, so I would also not be a good SAHM. Just as I complain about my job sometimes, so SAHMs complain about their jobs sometimes. Being a mom just seems to be a blessing and a challenge no matter how it’s sliced.

  6. Mrs MidAtlantic
    December 16th, 2011 @ 11:24 am

    Laura is just as relieved to get to daycare on Monday as I am to drop her off. We love each other and have a great time together… but Mondays mean she gets to see her friends again! And that’s exciting!

  7. Roxanne Piskel
    December 16th, 2011 @ 12:29 pm

    This. Exactly. Thank you for saying what I feel.

  8. MM
    December 16th, 2011 @ 1:30 pm

    Yes. That.

    Exactly.

    I’m going to bookmark this post, and refer back to it whenever I’m feeling guilty- about work, or about being so glad to be away from home. I particularly like the comment that SAHM is a job for which some people are suited, just like anything else.

    For the record, I love going on business trips, too, for the same reason- it’s a couple day vacation from one of my jobs- and I’m not ashamed to admit it. I end up missing my daughter terribly, and missing her feels wonderful, too.

    I’m unequivocally a better mom because I get a break from it. I’m exhausted by the end of a work day, but I’m starved for kid time and make the absolute most of whatever we’re doing. I’m more patient and sensible, and just plain less crazy than if I didn’t work outside the house.

    It’s just hard to remember that all the time….

  9. Jen
    December 16th, 2011 @ 3:00 pm

    Thank you and your friend for admitting this. I feel the exact same way. I long to be a SAHM when i am at work and missing my son, but come Sunday night i am excited to get away Monday morning. It is hard to get home at 5pm, get dinner and dishes done then it is time for clean up and bath before bedtime at 7pm. And he has to go to bed at 7pm because i need to get him up at 6am so that i can get him dropped off and me to work on time. Maybe a part time job could be the answer!

  10. TJ
    December 16th, 2011 @ 3:23 pm

    Thank you for this. I struggle with this same thing, every day. I, too, am a Mom who works full time outside of the home. I miss my kiddos like crazy during the day and dream of a job that would allow me more time with them (while still earning the same salary that allows me to pay the bills). But, I have those same moments on some Monday mornings where I think: “Work today….I’ll actually get a break during my 8 hours there!” Sometimes, the kids are just far more work than well, work! Goodness, there are some afternoons when I pick them up, I’m so excited to see them, they are so excited to see me, we hug, we kiss, we start the trek to the car…and then they are either fighting before we even get to the car or running away down the hall or refusing to climb into their car seats or whatever…and I think: “how many hours until bedtime?!” Don’t judge me as a bad Mom (how can she possibly think that, she hasn’t seen them all day!), but just see me as a tired Mom, who worked all day and is now going to her most important job of the day…and why for the love of all that is holy, can’t we all just get along for the few hours we have together?!!
    Thank you for this post. I, too, have often felt that being a SAHM would not work for me. …despite my constant wish for more time with my kids. It’s a never ending battle of the guilt.

  11. Maija @ Maija's Mommy Moments
    December 16th, 2011 @ 3:41 pm

    I got to be a stay at home mom for 3 years (1 year maternity leave for each of my three children) It was awesome (especially the third time around) and I was great at being a SAHM. Now I’m back at work at one of those professional, 50+ hours, travel and dinner and drinks to entertain clients kind of jobs and it’s exhausting. But I am great at being a Work outside the home mom too. I don’t know which one I like more, but what I do know is that this right here – what you wrote – should be required reading for working moms.

    THANK YOU!

  12. Sean
    December 16th, 2011 @ 3:52 pm

    Yes, I wholeheartedly agree. Thank you for this post.

    I have a four day limit to staying at home with Ava before I get twitchy. But I love her with all my heart. And I’m a good mom and I make no apologies.

  13. IS
    December 16th, 2011 @ 7:34 pm

    THANK YOU for saying this outloud. I stuggle with the same feelings myself.

  14. Jennifer Williams
    December 16th, 2011 @ 9:58 pm

    Yes. All of this. Exactly this.

  15. Janellevf
    December 17th, 2011 @ 7:45 am

    Great post, and well timed for my recent fit of working-mom-guilt. I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said – if only I could make myself embrace it!

  16. Madonna Millerschin
    December 17th, 2011 @ 3:33 pm

    Thanks for posting how I feel constantly. If it’s not me making myself feel guilty for being a working momma, my husband does it too on occasion. I know I am a better mom by working outside of the home; I was not cut out to be a SAHM. But it works for us.

    There are weekends where I am thankful Monday has finally arrived, but I have learned that it is okay. E has a good day care provider who has kids her age and new toys to play with. I’m also thankful to have a night out with the guys to play volleyball and have an adult beverage. It’s when I can do or say whatever I want, while Adam bonds with E.

    You are a good mom. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

  17. beachmum
    December 17th, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

    As a teacher I get the best of both worlds- I get to go to work yet I get ample time off (holidays, summers etc) to spend with L. While my pay is crap, my working conditions are undesirable and I spend most of my days with other people’s children, I will someday be thankful for my schedule when L is of school age. That being said, like the others before me have voiced so eloquently… thank you for putting into words how we feel.

  18. Catherine
    December 18th, 2011 @ 11:27 am

    I love this post. Thanks for writing it. I feel validated. A friend of mine has posted on her Facebook that she is a “full-time Mom” (read SAHM). That upsets me. Am I a part-time Mom because I work outside the home? Do I stop being my children’s mom from 8-5 because I am not physically with them? No. I am a full-time Mom too. They are always my children, and I am always their Mom — wherever they are, or I am. Because, in the words of e.e.cummings, “I carry you in my heart” — and that is always with me.

  19. MaconMom
    December 19th, 2011 @ 3:28 pm

    Think I’m adding FT Mom to my FB profile, along with my FT job! Thanks for pointing that out.

  20. natalie_adair
    December 18th, 2011 @ 1:55 pm

    I am a mother of five, with ten years between the third and forth. I have worked outside the home I have worked inside the home. Doesn’t matter either way it’s work! Kids are great,their awesome(til teenage years at least), but if I didn’t have me time and time with friends and work I wouldn’t be able to give them all they need. http://bridgetsdaughter5.blogspot

  21. New Mom on the Blog
    December 19th, 2011 @ 3:18 pm

    I love you for saying this because it’s true for me too. I know that I am judged by people for sending my child to daycare and fully enjoying the career I have spent most of my life building, but…fuck ’em. I’m happy. My child is sublimely happy. And we are all awesome for being able to balance it all.

  22. Srlagow
    February 3rd, 2012 @ 11:14 am

    Thank you so much! You’ve just summed up everything that I’ve been feeling for years (Mom of 3 boys Ages 5, 9, 11). Its a tangled mess of guilt and accomplishment. I’m sending your mesage around to all of my girlfriends.

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