Friday, February 8, 2013

Best and Worst of Both Worlds

This is a post I've been wanting to write a for a while.  I still don't know that I have the words to really do it justice; but with the recent blog discussions about working and stay-at-home moms, I think I'm ready to attempt it...

As you probably know, I have just completed my first semester of teaching part-time.  Just to "set the scene," here's a little look at my (normal) day:

*The four hours in purple are the 2.5 - 3 hours Sam naps each day and 1.5 - 1 hour we have after bedtime each night.  I've included "other" to account for my time in the mornings getting ready for work and the occasional quiet time during the day.  I should also say that my wonderful mother-in-law keeps Sam all day on Mondays, so that allows me a lot of time to do things I can't do on other days and Jeff is amazing in the evenings and on weekends.

Breaking down my day by hours and figuring out how much time I spend doing what to make the above chart was actually a pretty good exercise for me.  Even still, this really doesn't give the full picture. I'll see what I can do...

I am blessed to spend time with awesome 9th, 10th, and 11th graders every morning and time with my sweet boy every afternoon.  In SO many ways, I have the PERFECT situation right now.  I get to do something I love that also brings in a little income for my family.  I also get to do things like take Sam to the park, meet friends for afternoon play dates, and be an active part of his growing and learning every single day.  I often tell people that this is "my dream" and brag about "having the best of both worlds," and that is 100% true. I would not change ANYTHING about my situation right now. This is important: please don't misread the rest of this post and think I'm not grateful for this opportunity. 

THAT SAID, I can also sympathize with both sides of the working/stay-at-home mom card; because along with getting many of the benefits of each role, I also experience a lot of the disadvantages too.  

I teach three different "preps" of high school English, which means that I have LOTS of papers to grade and plans to write each week.  Just like a full-time teacher, I have the same expectations to meet for my students and my principals each week.  I still attend meetings and trainings, call parents, write reports, respond to emails, try to be (somewhat) reasonable about returning graded assignments, and attempt to keep my lessons just as exciting and engaging as ever.  I LOVE doing (most of) these things, and I truly believe that they are a part of who God has called me to be. But, in many ways, I don't feel like I only work part-time.  Especially since I also teach two online English classes, I spend a lot of my time outside of school doing school-work.  I feel like I do a full-time job on a part-time schedule (and for part-time pay).

On the other hand, being home in the afternoon (while obviously giving me lots more precious time to be mom) means that I also put certain expectations on myself to keep the house clean, laundry done, and dinner made that I "excused' a little more when I was working full-time.  Plus, although I have more time to get these things done now; I also have a VERY busy toddler and spend a lot more time at home.  This combination means that many of my efforts are often in vain.  (For example, I can literally spend an entire three hour nap time cleaning house only to have it covered in toys and smelling like poop within an hour of Sam waking up.)  In addition, since I'm working in the morning and Sam is with a babysitter (who we absolutely ADORE, by the way), I feel the same "Mom Guilt" that many working mothers do about choosing to spend time loading the dishwasher, going to the gym, or grading papers when Sam is awake.  (And, frankly, I'm exhausted when he goes to bed.)

I worry about not socializing Sam more by sending him to preschool or being able to take him to "classes" and Mother's Morning Outs that (inevitably) are always scheduled for the morning.

I feel bad about not being able to serve and build relationships with my students and co-workers the way I used to when I was around for lunch and after-school activities.

I'm embarrassed that there are still LOTS of mornings that Jeff doesn't have a clean t-shirt to wear to work and nights that we eat cereal or Chickfila for dinner.

I hate that I hardly ever exercise anymore; but, I'd also feel guilty about taking Sam to childcare at the gym when I only get so little time with him in the afternoons.

To be honest, I usually feel like I don't fully fit into either group of moms anymore --- I don't work full time, but I'm also not a full-time SAHM.  I fear that working moms think I have it "too easy," and that I'm not living up to the stay-at-home mom standard of always having a tidy house, creative activities for my toddler, and a craft in progress.  I let myself listen to the little voices that say "you aren't organized enough to be a working mom" or "you aren't nurturing enough to be a stay-at-home mom." (Note: I know these things are stereotypes; I know that neither group has enough time or energy to sit around worrying about what I do or don't do... But, they are still lies that I allow myself to believe in my weaker moments.  Ok?)

You get my gist?

Anyway, the point of this post is this: Being a mom is hard.  It is hard no matter how you do it, and there really is no "easy" or "perfect" solution.  We mess up.  We choose an hour of blogging while our toddler watches a movie or an hour of trashing the kitchen with flour to make playdough while research papers sit ungraded for yet another night.  We do our best.  There is no right or wrong way -- we just love our kids and hope, with all our hearts, that they see in us that it is OK to make sacrifices, to show ourselves grace, to do what makes us happy, and to make mistakes once in a while.  

We need each other.  We need to admit to each other that NO ONE has it easy.  And, we need to stop comparing ourselves to the "snapshots" of perfect mothers we see on Facebook and Pinterest.  That's all.

Thanks for hearing my heart today.  :) I'm off to clean up spilled milk and build a train track.

(P.S. One of my very favorite posts ever on this topic was recently re-posted here.  Read it.)
Last, but not least, have you been to The Perch Shop yet?

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This stuff is all the craze in decorating right now; and, Perch makes it easy (and affordable) to achieve, even if you don't have time (or motivation) to spend your weekend scouring thrift shops and yard sales.  Check it out. 

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  1. I think this is a great blog post and I commend you for writing it! I am a full-time working mom with 1/2 days on Fridays that I use to run errands, have lunch with my friends, and pick up my girls early from daycare (twin 14 month olds). I definitely don't feel there's ever enough time in the day to do everything. Most nights - we get home around 7:30, giving us an hour to eat and play with the girls - I try to take full advantage of spending quality time with my girls. Some nights, I clean and catch up on personal things while they play together and those times, I feel so bad! I go crazy when the house is so unorganized (all.the.time) but there's just never enough time to play AND clean. But we do what we can, and I think our kids, my girls and Sam, understand what we're going through and know we're doing the best we can!

    1. I have twin 2 1/2 year old daughters. I worked for their first 14 months. It was exhausting. Positively exhausting. Now that I stay home with the girls, things are still exhausting. Don't feel bad for taking advantage of their playtime together. They are getting a unique chance to bond with their other half, learn how to negotiate the world with a peer, and time for creative, unstructured play. It took me a long time to come to grips with this, but once I did, it helped my mental health greatly!

  2. Well said my friend. I am in your boat (working part time) and agree that it can be more difficult than you think. Thanks for putting it into words so eloquently. You are a great mom and teacher.

  3. What a hertfelt post. Being a mom is tough. Enough said! Hugs to all the Moms who do the best they can every day!

  4. I love this post because I think that EVERY mom can relate, no matter what capacity she finds herself working. We always feel that we're not quite enough, that something else should get out time, and I think if we're honest, we'd all admit we're a little bit selfish with our time too.

    And how crazy is it that my posts for next week include a post about "SAHM moms" and my "lust list" for Valentine's Day. twinsies?! :)

  5. i get in the habit of thinking everyone who's not in my exact stage/situation MUST have it easier than me. working moms have it easier than me because they get a break, if you have a newborn, you might be tired but you totally have it easier than me because you can just put your baby down and they'll be there when you get back!! if you have a 20-month old, you have it easier than me because your child can communicate better, follow instructions better, etc. if you have more than one child you have it easier because your kids can entertain/play with each other.
    i hate that i do that -- it MUST stem from things i struggle with, comparison, jealousy, dissatisfaction with who i am as a mom, etc.
    once i was lamenting some things to my pediatrician and he stopped me and said, "i'm sure you're doing a much better job than you think you are."
    i think he's right -- about me, about you, about moms everywhere.
    it's a juggling act, it's hard, it's exhausting, it's impossible... no matter your situation.

  6. One of my favorite posts from you! Agreed with Ashley and Amanda (hi friends!). It is a plague.. feeling like you're not quite enough. It seems to be part of the whole FOMO syndrome. I feel like that's not only fear of missing out on events or things like that, but also on missing out on what you "ought" to be doing as a mom. Well said.

  7. I'm totally not a mom & have a lot of the same feelings. Can totally relate to what Amanda K. is saying too. Great post. I need more in-real-life friends like you!

  8. Like you, E, I am a teacher ... But I work from home 100% of the time because my current job is in a "virtual" e-school. In many ways, it is a wonderful situation because I am making money (in a full-time position) AND I'm with my kids everyday, but it is also a total juggling act of trying to be productive and complete my teacher duties (all the wonderful things you listed in your post), while not shoving my little ones in front of the TV all day. I have yet to find a "balance" and end my days completely exhausted, but there are always moments here and there that remind me how "worth it" this whole part of my motherhood journey is!!

  9. Is the title of the pie chart a typo? Isn't a full time mom a SAHM?

  10. I love this post. I'm a full-time el ed teacher, but the goal is to eventually switch to part-time and be home with the kids the other part of the time. You have such a great attitude about balancing the whole thing! I'm a first year teacher, and all I have is one foster child, and it's exhausting! I go to bed so tired, but it's worth it, because I get to make the most of my life and still provide an income for my family. Thanks for being so honest and positive in this post! I'm your newest follower :)


  11. I feel the same way! I work part time and am only really working when the kids are at school. It's hard no matter how you look at it. But I, too, love 100% our situation. I don't want to work full time anymore and I don't want to be a SAHM. SO this situation is perfect for me!


Your comments are what makes this thing fun! I LOVE to hear from you and do my best to respond to everyone! THANK YOU!

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