For as long as I’ve been a contributing writer on this blog, I’ve wanted to talk about what it means to be a working mom. I keep thinking of things that would be great to write about, that I’m sure every working mom has to deal with, but I can never seem to really put all my feelings about it into coherent words. And to be perfectly honest, I’ve been a bit fearful of my words coming off in ways I do not intend. It’s a difficult and touchy subject to discuss: the working and the stay-at-home mom. But I think if I don’t just start typing, I may never write it. So here I go.
Being a mom, working in or out of the home, is difficult. There are certainly many challenges no matter your choice, and each is very valuable for families and children. These challenges, however, are different.
I am not a stay at home mom and cannot speak well to its challenges (although I can imagine some of them!). I can only speak to the challenges I face each day I go to work. Since there are many of them, I will focus on one: the work/home balance.
I have two jobs: mom and policy associate for a children’s advocacy organization called Voices for Vermont’s Children (check us out!). But sometimes I think it would just be easier to focus on one job and be really good at it. Read that again. I’m not saying staying home is easy. I am saying that managing home and work expectations simultaneously is really stressful and it would be simpler to only manage one of those things at a time. To feel like you cannot give all of yourself to both things is difficult for me to swallow.
Now some of you are probably saying “but you can give 100% to both! You can do it all and have it all!” I’m sorry. I cannot. If you can, then please tell me your secret. I cannot be good at both jobs every day. One usually suffers at the expense of the other.
First, I must be clear; I’m incredibly lucky. I have an amazing work environment and it simply cannot be any more family friendly than it is. Yet even given that, the expectations I set upon myself for both still make it a very difficult challenge.
For the past two years, I’ve had to leave early to make it to daycare before it closes. I’ve had to pass on attending important meetings and conferences that I wanted to go to. I’ve had to walk out of daycare while my son screams and cries that he wants mama. I’ve yelled at my son to hurry up and given my husband a cold goodbye while trying to rush to daycare drop off so I’m not even later than I usually am. I’ve spent too many weekends doing chores that could not get done during the week, leaving family time much less fun than it could be. Worst of all, I know that if I didn’t work, I would have been able to maintain my milk supply and nurse both my sons until age one.
This balance is difficult. And honestly friends, it is harder for women than men. My husband is an equal partner in every way. But the expectations given our family’s schedule currently has me doing more child related work than my husband. It’s just the reality.
This is not me complaining. This is me telling you what it can feel like to be a working mom. It is me acknowledging all the women who try to do it all. Who want careers and families. I made this choice.
So you’re probably thinking, why do you do it? If it’s easier to not spend so much time balancing the two jobs then why don’t you just stay home?
It’s true that staying home for my family would probably bring more weekends focused on family outings instead of chores and less stressful mornings.
But you know what? I like my work. I like my co-workers. I’m good at it.
I like sitting at lunch talking with other adults about HGTV. I really love that when I walk into a room and start talking about the work it surprises the older men who think because I’m young and a female, I’m the assistant and not the person who actually knows more than them and can win the argument.
What I do is important. Important to me and hopefully important to the world of good public policies for children. Children cannot vote, they cannot stand up and say that this policy will put them into deeper poverty. They need someone to stand up for them. Advocacy for children matters to me as a mom. The well-being of all children, not just mine, matter. And so, I go to work every day and advocate for good public policies that ensure each child’s life in Vermont is enhanced in every way possible.
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thanks for this. A lot of what I think and feel. I especially like the last part because people so often focus just on their family and don’t seem to think maybe we all an obligation to those outside our family too to make the world better.