Thursday, September 27, 2007

a working mom (is there any other kind?)

A few weeks ago I started my new work schedule. Since I didn't have babysitters for my girls for all of my regular days, I had to change my schedule accordingly. It brings me from 2-3 days a week to 1-2 days a week -- every Tuesday and 2 out of 5 Fridays. I pretty much now work half as much as I used to.

Great, right?

Well, I think so. As difficult as it is sometimes to be at home so much (and as challenging as it may be to make up for that loss of income), it's really the best thing. For me. For Les. For the girls. And if I could be at home full-time, I would. It really is a tough job though.

And that's what a lot of people don't understand.

I'm having a hard time with the cut-back of hours for this reason. I get comments several times a day when I'm at work now. Comments like, "Man, what a great schedule", or "I wish I could have that many days off." Or "You only work WHEN?" And it's the way the comments are being said -- with sarcasm. Like I'm getting off easy working so few hours a week. Like I'm living the high life being able to be at home the rest of the time.

Granted, most of these comments come from people who don't have children at home. So they don't get it. And I know I shouldn't take it personally. But I do. I feel like they think I'm lazy or something. Or that I don't know what "real work" feels like.

First of all -- I have worked full time for several years in a row. I do know what it's like. And secondly...I have done the stay at home full-time thing too (for my two one-year maternity leaves). And guess which one is harder? The full-time stay-at-home-mom gig. Sure, there are benefits -- I don't have to set my alarm for 6:30 every morning. I have "quiet time" in the afternoon where I get to put my feet up and watch "Ellen."

But it's a 24 hour a day job. You're constantly "on the clock."

It's emotionally draining. You're constantly needed. There's always somebody who needs a diaper change, somebody who needs a snack or a drink, somebody who needs a hug, somebody who needs a "time out", somebody who needs to be given something to do, somebody who needs food cut up and blown, somebody wo needs their hands washed, somebody who needs to be put down for a nap, somebody who needs to be settled for "quiet time", somebody who needs....

Get it? There's always somebody who needs something.

And then there's being on call during the night too. Generally my girls sleep fairly well. But then suddenly there will be a night (or two or three) where things don't go quite as smoothly. It's exhausting to have to get up a few times during the night for something. A bad dream, or something needs to go to the bathroom, or they need a drink of water, or...

And on top of the needs of the children, there's the needs of running the house -- the laundry (groan!), dusting, sweeping & washing of the floors, bathrooms to clean, bills to pay, meals to make, grocery shopping to do...and the list goes on.

Sure, I have "slack" days where I do less than what I should (but let's be honest -- we all have those days ocassionally at work too, right?). But it really is not just fun and games being a SAHM -- and anybody who is one will agree with me...right??

I guess what I'm saying is that I don't have to be a "working" mom to be a WORKING mom, you know what I mean? A mom IS a working mom, whether she has a job outside of the home or not.

And what I need to keep in mind is that there is nothing more important for my kids right now than to be with their mom. Before you know it, they'll be in school and I can increase my hours again. This is only temporary. But until then -- I need to realize that I don't need to feel guilty for having only casual hours at the office.

My kids need me; this is where I need to be.


andrea said...

wow!( just catching my breath from running with laundry...!!!) i totally agree with what you said. many demands, yet time goes so can feel guilty about how you spend that time.for me, a balance between quality and quantity. something has to give like the kids, house, and unfornately sometimes Kris, and then i'm plagued with more guilt.

ValleyGirl said...

Ah, it's a tough job but somebody's gotta do it. And only mothers are built tough enough to handle it.

Louise said...

I totally agree with you! The laundry doesn't just hop into the washer and get done, nor do the groceries jump into the cupboards and fridge.
Imagine the guilt you feel when you have the kids around all day and then imagine the guilt when you are a stay at home mom full time and all your kids are in school, the comments you get then are just as "nice", I keep on saying to people my kids don't stop needing me when they go to school, it is reassuring for them to know they can call me anytime if they are sick and they always have someone to come home to at the end of the day!!
You keep going girl you are a great mom and your girls love and appreciate you being around!!

Jamie said...

Of course I agree with you because I'm a stay at home mom. It's extremely frustrating that people without kids, or who are past that stage in life, or whatever, just don't get it!!! I'm lucky to have people encouraging me, like my Mom and Grandma and my husband, though the latter really likes to joke that I never do any work and I'm so lucky to sit at home and watch TV when the kids nap. It's really NOT FUNNY to me, even if he knows how it really is! It's a sensitive subject.

andrea said...

after putting #3 to bed last night, i was told that my job at home is really valued and that i have the hardest job between the two of us( totally out of the blue). I would never want his job and all its craziness and demands, but it sures feels good to hear that perspective from others! thanks for your thoughts on this...very fitting !

Amanda said...

I totally agree with you! I'm just starting off as a stay at home mom but I am more exhausted now than when I was working 50-60 hrs a week. Like you said it's never ending 24/7. Don't let there comments get to you, you have your priorities straight, you know what's best for your family.

Gloria said...

I hear you sister!

Ruth said...

i loved that last line, "my kids need me -- this is where i need to be"

exactly right my friend. what an honor -- you are part of molding and making the next generation!

Melanie said...


I used to think I worked hard when I worked 45-50 hours a week. That's nothing compared to being a SAHM. When do I get my 15 minute coffee break or my hour lunch?

TammyIsBlessed said...

Preach it sister!