Friday, October 11, 2013

On Choosing to Be a Working Mom

This post has been a long time coming. For some reason, it has been SO hard to write.  Not because I don't have things to say, but because I have SO MUCH; and because I have so much fear of saying something that will be hurtful to someone else. 

The title "working mom" defines me in so much as anything in this world ever will.  Although it carries all kinds of connotations, for me, it is the blending of two things I love so much - being a wife/mother and being a teacher.  Before I go any further, I should probably just say that I firmly believe that I am called to BOTH of those things, and that, with God's grace, I can be good at both of them.


There are days (like yesterday) that every bone in me craves staying at home and drinking coffee from an actual mug, snuggling with Sam on the couch, and actually putting away the clothes that have been sitting in my laundry room for weeks now.

There are days when my heart hurts over not knowing Sam's preschool teacher because I'm never the one to take him or drop him off (and days when I fear that she thinks I'm the worst mom ever).

There are days when the sting of another blog or another friend saying that they gave up their career in exchange for raising their kids hurts - bad.

On those days, my insecurities come out, and I question my decision to go to work every day.  On those days, I question why God calls so many of my friends and mentors to stay home full time with their babies, but He has called me to the classroom.  I wonder if I am mishearing Him, or being selfish, or setting myself up for a future of regret and worry that I somehow robbed Sam of something precious...  On those days, being a working mom is SO hard.


But there are other days when I sit at my desk and eat lunch with nine senior girls and talk about real life.  When they bring me their college essays for help and leave feeling excited and confident about the future.

... When something finally clicks, and a unit comes together perfectly, and I have literal chill bumps from the adrenaline of finally getting all my ideas down on paper (I know - #nerdalert).

... When students tell me they have never read an entire book, and they just devoured the one we are studying.  Or the moment that I see them "get it" in a discussion about themes and I know reading will never be the same for them again.

... When I ride school buses, listen to clips of the latest "it" songs, flip through prom pictures, and laugh - A LOT.

These are the days when I am SO thankful for a job that keeps me young, gives me life, challenges me every day, and helps me be sure of my purpose.


Y'all, I love my job.  If you've read this blog for any time, you know that teaching is a passion of mine, and a part of who I am - I've been "playing school" for as long as I can remember.

BUT, I also love my baby.  SO SO much.  All those years when I was playing school, I was also playing "house," and dreaming of the day when I would have my own little family.  Being a mama has always been a desire of my heart and a part of my identity, and no less now than ever.


One of the things that I struggle the most with in the whole Working vs. Stay at Home Mom debate (which I think is junk, by the way) is the assumption that the only reason people work after they have children is because they have to or because they are somehow choosing the extra income over the extra time with their family.  Even though I know this isn't the intention (usually), whenever a SAHM talks about the sacrifices she has made to stay home with their kids, I hear "but we all make sacrifices... I'm choosing money and you're choosing time."*

In my case, I am choosing to be a working mom.  Yes, I'd be lying if I said the money doesn't matter at all, or that I don't enjoy some of the perks of having a dual-income household; BUT, that has very little to do with why I work.  We have lived on one income, we have lived on a part-time income, and I have spent extended time at home with Sam (think: summer breaks).  I KNOW we could do that (and maybe one day God will call us to again); but, for now, I work because I really love it, AND I love who it makes me.  

I love that every day is different for me and my mind is constantly challenged.
I love that routine helps me function and make better use of my time.

I love that I have a good reason to get up and put on a cute outfit every morning.

I love that Sam will grow up watching his mama work hard at something she cares about.

(I also love that he pretty much will never be able to get away with anything when he is older because I am a teenager expert - haha!)

I love that Sam is secure and confident in my love for him not because of the QUANTITY of time we spend together, but because of the QUALITY.

I love that there are SO many people in our lives that love Sam like their own - his grandparents and our amazing nanny for starters. 

I really think I am a better mom/wife/etc. when I am working.

My boy is HAPPY.  He is well-loved.  He is smiling when his daddy gets him out of the bed in the morning.  He is smiling when Ms. Jennifer gets there in time to cut up his banana.  And, he is smiling when I get home in the afternoon.  

I don't know what the future will hold; but, for now, this works for us.




And now, in an attempt to make this the longest blog post known to man, I would like to introduce you to a new series of guest posts I'll be hosting here over the next couple of months:

 
In an effort to connect other working moms (believe it or not, it can be a lonely place too - especially when it feels like every other blogger/friend/etc. stays at home), encourage them, and offer some helpful tips and advice for "making it work" on a day-in-and-day-out basis, I have invited several of my friends and E, Myself, and I readers to share on a variety of topics from now until... Well, until we run out.  :)

Here are just some of the things we have in store for you:
- Coping with mom guilt
- Making time for yourself (spiritually/physically/socially)
- Managing chores and household tasks
- Keeping your marriage strong
- Finding good babysitters/childcare
- Traveling for work
- Preparing for and returning after maternity leave
- Breastfeeding and pumping while working

The series will be kicking-off on Monday, and I am SO excited about it!  Working mom or not, I hope you will join us!


In the meantime, THANK YOU for allowing me to be vulnerable and share some of my heart here today.  I hope what comes across loud and clear is that I truly believe we ALL do what is best for our families... Motherhood is a HARD job no matter what, but we are SO much better when we trust ourselves and the position we are in.


*For the record, I have WONDERFUL SAHMs in my life who never make me feel judged or guitly.  I firmly believe that the choice you are making is the RIGHT ONE for you and your family, and I have SO much respect for you.  Anything *negative* I said about the way I feel perceived by stay-at-homes comes from my own insecurities and NOT from specific people or examples.  Please know that.

38 comments:

  1. Wonderful post! So great that you love what you do.

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  2. hi E! :) agreed, this was a great post! told you i'd comment some time!! as a SAHM, I was totally not offended, just to encourage you! it's funny because in some ways I envy you having something you love to do so much! we made the choice for me to stay home 1) because i feel lots of purpose in this job, but 2) because there's nothing i really love to do that would make me any sort of decent income…which is a bit sad to me! i have started helping my husband with his job from home which has been really life-giving, so I can totally imagine why you are a better mom because of your life-giving job! ugh, i hate that we all allow guilt to bog us down - whether we work or are a SAHM. and by the way, some days i feel like I'm getting more boring by the minute - and that baby agrees!!

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  3. My mom was a teacher (college) so she had summers off and spent all three months completely over-involved (but in a good way) in our lives. We relished the school year! HA! No, but in all seriousness, I wouldn't have wanted it any other way and she feels the same. Teaching is also her passion and she is fabulous at it. She taught me work ethic (just like you are teaching Sam), was very hands on, and I saw her plenty. I didn't feel slighted because I was at daycare - I loved my daycare lady (as we called her) and the other kids.

    All that to say, I find it so interesting that God has called ME to stay home, even with that awesome upbringing with my working mom (and dad too). In our case, part of my "staying home" involves foster care and that is hard, but what we are called to do. Everyone is different. A lot of moms stay home without additional things (work from home, foster care, whatever) and it is right for them. We shouldn't feel guilty that we are different than someone else, even though it is our human nature to want to be "normal." There is no normal.

    I do think there are bloggers that are working moms, but I don't think a lot of them blog about work hardly at all. I have been surprised on more than one occasion to find out a blogger works full-time because they never mentioned it. We share what we want, right? I am sure others really appreciate your working mom posts! Don't stop! Heck, I even read them and I don't technically "work".

    Long comment! Have a great weekend. :)

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  4. Love love love this and looking forward to the series. I think even if it was financially feasible for me to stay home...I'd work. It's just better for our family, but every family is different.

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  5. Can I just tell you how much I love this post? Thank you for sharing your heart. I am not a mother, but I am a teacher and it is my passion. I chose this career not for the money (obviously) but because I felt it was a calling in my life. I feel no greater fulfillment than being in the classroom (even in the midst of negativity from so many people about teaching careers). I have often said that when I do get married and have a family, that I would want to be a working mom. I appreciate EVERY teaching topic that you write about. I love the challenge and the fulfillment that teaching brings when students tell you how much of an impact that you have on them. It really is the best job ever. I am a believer that doing whatever you are called to do will bring the biggest fulfillment in your life. Whether that be a SAHM or a working -mom ...whatever you are called to do is the BEST decision for your family and you are a better person if you follow that calling.

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  6. Something that always comes through (to me) when you write about this is that part of your struggle is knowing that so many of your friends choose/are able to stay home. I live in part of Virginia where I personally know almost NO ONE who stays home. and I could see myself having similar struggles about choosing/making it work so I could stay home.

    I just went returned to work life after a long maternity leave and it's been easier and frankly more fun than I thought it would be. I loved our maternity leave routine, but I love our mom and dad go to work routine too. I hope we can position ourselves for me (or my husband) to get to experience being a stay-at-home parent one day, and for our son to experience having a stay-at-home parent, but this is where we are right now!

    And hey, just remember that Sam's teacher is called to do what SHE does and if you didn't entrust your sweet baby to her everyday, she wouldn't be able to do what she loves!

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    1. What a great reminder about Sam's teacher being called to her job too... THANK YOU! (Isn't it funny how quickly I forget that when it comes to other people?!?)

      I'm so glad you are adjusting well to being a working mommy and finding some of the good parts of that role too. I 100% agree about loving BOTH routines. :) Keep up the good work mama!

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  7. I love this post and can relate to you in SO many ways. I too am a Mama and Elementary teacher, and I love both with my whole heart. YOU are doing an amazing job at both, and should be so proud!

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  8. I was having a conversation on this very topic with a neighbor friend of mine. She was asked, "So what is it you DO all day? It must be nice." The thing is, being at home with kiddos is work, for sure. It's just a different kind of work. (I assume the same person who asked the question would never ask the same question of an in-home daycare provider or a nanny...) I chose to step away from my high school classroom for this season of our lives (in part because of my husband's here-and-away work schedule). Prior to becoming a mom, I devoted my all to my classroom and giving that up was one of the hardest decisions of my life--for the very reasons you highlighted in your post as giving you joy when you are there. I'm glad I did. I don't think I could maintain a work/home balance that would please me while hubby is away for long stretches (like a month at a time...). With that said, teaching is in my blood and I lasted 10 weeks (one summer) at home. When the community college where I'd adjuncted (is that a verb?) before asked if I wanted to pick up a class or two I gladly said yes. The benefit of that is I got to pick my schedule and number of credit hours I teach. Like you, I feel like I am a better mom when I have time away from home doing something that I am almost as passionate about as being home with my son. (And if you know anything about adjunct work, you know I didn't go back for the money!!)
    I appreciate your vulnerability in your post. There is so much societal judgement of both working and stay at home moms and I really think it is silly. There is no question that most moms are doing everything they can to be the best mom they can be. The balance won't be the same for everyone and that's why it is so amazing to have all the options we have. From your posts about your classroom and students it is apparent your students are just as lucky as Sam to have you.

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    1. I totally respect your decision to step away from teaching for the time being (I actually have thoughts too about wanting to put my "all" into both jobs and not always feeling like I can). No question, I am different as a teacher since becoming a mom. I like to think many of those changes are for the best, but I know they all aren't.

      I also love that you said teaching is "in your blood." YES. I'm so glad you found a way to balance your desire to be at home with your little one and your passion for teaching so well! Who knows, maybe I will find myself in a similar situation one day!

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  9. I'm not a Mom yet, but I think a lot about how to juggle working full-time/living in New York City/raising a child (or more than one!) So many of my friends are now SAHMs and it kind of makes me question everything sometimes!

    Elizabeth, this is a GREAT post, and I'm proud of you and thankful for you being so straightforward about this. Not as many people would be this brave. :)

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  10. I'm a mom/teacher, too! It is so great to "meet" you. Fabulous post:)!

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  11. Its not just that you "can" be good at both.. you ARE good at both...really really really good!! You're the best momma to my sweet little nephew and the world's most wonderful teacher (you are too mom..relax!) Love you with all my heart!

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  12. Wonderful a voice for us Working moms....It is so hard some days, but we do it, right? I'm in charge of the drop offs in the morning boy oh boy #secondscounts ..like I said its hard some days more than others but we do it! I know I repeated myself, I'm too exhausted, but I do love the post and where you are going with this! Marisa

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  13. I just think that what anyone chooses for their well-loved kiddos is FINE. And for yourself. You still have to do what works for you and I think it's sad that both sides of the coin feel judged about this topic :/ You rock. Keep on keepin on.

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  14. Great post! I love reading blogs of other working moms. I truly think staying home is perfect for some moms and working outside the home is perfect for other moms. We are all different, but we all love our kids the same amount!

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  15. Great blog!! I am a teacher/mom too and I have been having the struggle of my life this school year. I yearn to be home with my son, but I love these kiddos so much. My heart is torn. Not sure what the Lord has in store, but I am seeking his direction and praying my heart out that he would lead me where he wants me to go in the future.

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    1. YES. I get this. It's hard to discern sometimes WHY God would give us such a strong heart for both things and not enough hours in the day. I hope you find some peace and direction from Him and are able to rest in whatever decision you make!

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  16. I started writing a post like this a while ago, but it still is sitting in my drafts. Haven't finished it yet. Love you! Love your blog! So happy to participate in your new series. xo

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  17. I'm really looking forward to reading this series. I'm expecting my first in January and will be riding the line between working mom / SAHM.... because I'll be working from home. I think you are so right that we all do what is best for our families! I'm still praying that everything will work out and I will figure out how to handle being CEO and Mommy.

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    1. Congrats on your pregnancy... You are in for a WILD and absolutely AMAZING ride! :) You will do awesome at both of your jobs as long as you remember to give yourself grace and accept help when you need it!! :)

      P.S. I'm hoping to find some work-at-home mommas to contribute to this guest post series. I have experienced that a little bit, and it is a whole realm of its own!! :)

      Good luck!

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  18. Love this post! So excited for this series E!

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  19. Love this! We aren't parents yet, but my husband and I have discussed if I would stay home (seeing as I bring home less money). We just don't think it's feasible for me. I think I'd miss the time at school with my students/friend/colleagues too much. You give me hope that I can do both jobs and do them well!

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    1. You totally can girl! There will be really hard days/weeks/months, but you will have those in motherhood in general - stay at home OR working mom! :) Glad you found some hope and encouragement here!

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  20. I absolutely love this post. I don't know if it was sparked by the article that's been floating around FB this week? It was written by a man whose wife is a SAHM. Anyway, i had at least 5 friends repost it this week. Don't get me wrong, I love SAHM's, i hope to be a SAHM when i have kids! But i also have seen/heard the judgement from SAHM's towards working moms. And it has really bothered me. Most likely I will have to work when we have kids, and that kills me because #1, i have always dreamed of being a SAHM, #2, i don't have a career that i would consider a passion, i work as a registration clerk at a hospital (which is still a good job, but i am just saying: it's just a job for me). I have had friends say, "you can do it, you just have to sacrifice". But... they say that without knowing our income. They say that from the comfort of their gorgeous home with a husband who makes a lot more than our salaries combined! We live in a trailer, we don't have cable, we don't have debt (except the mortgage & one car). I mean... it seems judgemental & unfair to say that. And i know that it's gonna kill me to bring my baby to daycare, but to have friends thinking "she could stay home if she really wanted to" - that's really hurtful.

    And you provided a new perspective. What about people who are CALLED to what they are doing! Teaching is a wonderful profession! What about nursing? And paramedics or lawyers or doctors? These are all callings to me. And God can call you to be a mom AND a teacher. Or any other profession.

    I really just wish moms would stop the silly debate & allow others to be who they are. We are all different. But thank you so much for writing this. It's refreshing. :) xoxo

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    1. Funny enough, I hadn't even read Matt Walsh's post about SAHMs until after this was posted yesterday. I don't disagree with most of what he said; and, to be honest, I usually don't feel judged by stay-at-home moms at all. I think its just one of those classic things where when someone else makes a decision that is different from the one you are making, it makes you worry and question whether you are doing the right thing. Insecurity is SUCH a pain! :)

      I 100% agree that this has a lot to do with whether or not you love what you do. For me, at least, it would be a totally different situation if I didn't feel passionate about my job. I can't imagine spending the day away from Sam doing something that I really don't care about/like. Of course, I realize that some people have to do that, and my heart really breaks for them. I'm so thankful that God has given me two things I feel called to AND the support-system, etc. to make it work (most of the time).

      Thanks for the sweet encouragement! :)

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  21. Hi!!

    I absolutely loved reading this post! I guess I can say that I have the best of both worlds as I have been so blessed to be able to be a working stay at home mom. I am so blessed that my company allows me to work full time at home.

    But before this, I had to travel a lot for work (5 out of 7 days a week). So much that my son looked at me as a complete stranger and his daycare teachers and grandma's were "mommy" to him. My heart would break every time I had to get on a plane and travel for work. I found myself praying constantly and asking God to make a way so that I could work and be with my son. It got to the point where I was going to quit my job because I didn't see any other way, but I knew that would not have been the most financially responsible decision for my household. I was so lucky to have had very understanding managers (who were also mothers to young children) to allow me to work and be at home for my child.

    I guess I just want others moms to know that depending on your profession it doesn't have to be one choice over another choice (work or be a SAHM) because I love doing both.

    xoxo

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    1. Oh, my heart just hurts thinking of you having to actually BE GONE all the time and your little boy calling someone else mommy. I'm SO sorry you had to do that, but so thankful for the people and the opportunities in your life that brought you through it! :)

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  22. Love this post! I totally identify with this. I'm a mom and a high school teacher so I totally feel the same push and pull from balancing family and work. It helps so much to just know that pother people are juggling the same things and feel the same way. Thank you!!!

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  23. Great post! Before kids I was a teacher, then "stayed home" for 10 years after my first son was born. I went back to teaching (and grad school!) two years ago. My boys are 11,10 & 8. Our lives are crazy busy, but we're making it work. There are pros/cons to both and unfortunately I have struggled with guilt both while staying home and now with working full-time. However, I LOVE being a mom AND being a teacher. I love how proud my boys are of me. My husband and three boys are my best cheerleaders and supporters! And I think being a mom makes me a better teacher as well!

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  24. Wonderful post! Becoming an instant working mom had its hurdles, but our family has made it work. I'm looking forward to your series!

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  25. This is the second post I've read by you after clicking on your button at different link ups. Maybe I'm meant to be a follower! I totally agree with choosing to be a working mom. I'm a teacher and a mom to a 4 year old. I'm also 37 weeks pregnant and still working, despite feeling exhausted all the time. As a working mom, I do miss my daughter but I know she loves preschool, her teachers, and her friends. I think it's good for her to learn structure too as she will start kindergarten in August. It's a tough decision and one moms always hear about but I like working and I then love my time together with my family. Maybe the time away makes the time together so much more valuable.

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  26. Love this post! It's so rare to read comments about working motherhood that echo how I really feel, that are thoughtful without being defensive, or simply being "I wish I could be home." Not that people don't feel that way, but it doesn't reflect the way I personally feel about working. Looking forward very much to the series!

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  27. It is like you read my mind when it comes to putting on paper why I chose to work & be a momma, too. I can't wait to hear from all the other working momma's out there, too!

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  28. I absolutely LOVE this post! I am a working mom, and have an 8 year old. You put the perfect words on this post to desribe the way I fee about working. I absolutely choose to be a working mom, and I felt like you were talking about me when you said "I really think I am a better mom/wife/etc. when I am working." Thank you for sharing this post!

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  29. What a blessing you are to the blog-world. You are most certainly a voice that needs to be heard. There are plenty of us working moms out there that need to feel like we are not alone. Thanks for connecting us, girl. Love you.

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  30. I just found your blog and this is exactly what i've been thinking about lately/ blogging about too. I went back to work in August after being off for 16 months. And as crazy as it is, it's working out great! Looking forward to reading more posts and I'd be happy to contribute if you are looking for more people to write!

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  31. E, I rarely comment on blog posts, but I read this post today after coming over here from Katie's blog. I totally understand why you work. It's why I work, too. Thanks for putting into words the feelings I have. I know God has called me to work outside the home for a paycheck right now, and I know that each day, God's grace is giving me the wisdom, patience, courage, and energy to do both. Thanks for the post.

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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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