Days like today I find myself oddly happy that I am a working momma. It would seem that I imbibed a bit too much wine last night at a First Communion celebration we attended for our friends child. It was so nice to be out with adults in a social setting. We really do not do that enough. By around 730 Nikki had munched chicken, potatoes, and fruit (shes loves food!), and had bathed in the attention of everyone around her but was starting to get very tired. Usually she is in bed by 730, and boy, does she love her sleep. Since adult dinner had not yet been served we called my mother in law and sent baby home to bed while we enjoyed another 2.5 hours of food, friends, and … wine.
Oomph, I am hurting today. It’s a lovely perk of getting older to feel like death after a few glasses of wine – despite a handful of Advil and being in bed by 10 anyway. There are no words to describe how happy I am that I am sitting in my office, where I can close the door and work in silence – occasionally spacing out – and drinking too much coffee. Nobody is screaming “MAMA” because its their favorite word of the five they know. Nobody is clinging to me as I drag myself to the coffee pot for more liquid life. Nobody is toddling their way into the bathroom while I try to pee in peace.
There is apparently a good deal of “mommy shaming” and judgement from both teams when it comes to stay at home vs working parenting. I never really understood this because being a mom is a full time job whether or not you leave the home for a career each day. That is a bonafide fact, my friends.
Whether to stay home or go to work is a decision that varies depending on the needs of each family. I live in NYC where the reality is that 2 incomes are necessary to give our child the life we want. Perhaps we could downgrade our expectations and I would be able to stay home, but that was never really an option for us. I am also fortunate enough that I have minimal child care costs because we have large families willing to help out.
My situation is unique to my family. I have never felt the slightest urge to judge women who make a decision to stay home with their children. I would never in a million years think or say that those women somehow had it easier than me. That woman has just as much a full time job as any of us. I know plenty of these bad-ass household warrior mommas also face concerns and question their decisions. Perhaps they struggle with giving up their careers or losing touch with their dreams to raise their family. They miss daily social interactions with other adults, and sometimes feel like life is passing them by. I was able to stay home with Nikki for a while and in many ways I found staying home to be much harder than being in-office every day.
I have never been a true stay at home mom, but I was a work from home mom, and that may as well have been hell itself. This well-written piece sums up how I felt every day during that period. Imagine being on an important conference call while feeding your crying newborn. Imagine having to review an million dollar proposal with Sesame Street blaring in the background and a child screaming because they are bored with the bouncer and just want some one-on-one time with mommy. Imagine having to plan your entire work day around the feeding and nap schedule of a baby. Imagine the pressure of tearing yourself between your work and your child while never leaving your living room. Imagine finding time to do laundry, plan & make dinner, sweep & mop, and maybe even shower. Imagine living a life where your only face to face social interactions are a baby and your husband for weeks on end. Imagine living in pajamas almost constantly because you have no real reason to slip on some jeans and shoes.
For me, going back to in-office work was a bittersweet moment. I had been there for my baby’s small firsts – rolling, sitting, crawling, solid foods, her first words. I have been able to watch her ferocious little personality develop and cry as she exhibited her determination and independence. Not being home during the day, though, meant that I would be missing a lot as well. No longer would I get to revel in those “first” moments. She learned to pull herself up, stand, and take her first tiny steps without me there, and I have never been more heartbroken in my life. Videos, sent to me by relatives, do not yield the exhilaration and joy that being there would have. Instead they bring a painful feeling that I should have been there clapping and crying. Every day I remind myself that I am working for her, so she can have the best possible life.
What I am trying to say is that their is regret on both sides of the fence here; both teams are struggling to make it work. Perhaps there are times when a judgmental or snarky comment is actually thinly veiled envy or regret. That mom wants what you have, just as you may sometimes want what she has. None of us are perfect and we are all just doing the best we can and working with what we have. It may kill us a little to always be torn between so many things but we are all doing what we believe to be best for our family.
As mothers, we often feel like we are never enough. Whether that pressure comes from society or inside of us I cannot be totally certain. If you are reading this and feeling that way know that I am right there with you; feeling every bit as inadequate and wondering if my daughter deserves better. I spend most days wishing that I could give her more of myself, while simultaneously wishing the same of my career and my passions.
That being said, I am also hear to say that you are enough! You are better than enough. You are a bad-ass momma, tackling the world the best way you know how, and one day your children will see that and be inspired by it. All your kids care about is you, and to them you are already perfect. No matter what your struggles may be, I can guarantee that your kids think you are an amazing SuperMom, and honestly nobody else’s opinion matters but theirs.