My memory fails me. A lot. While puttering around on the Book of Face, I saw a post that said, "Stay at home mom vs. working mom, which is more difficult?" Now, for the life of me when I want to find it again, I can't find it anywhere. I think I could anticipate some of the responses, but I sure was hoping to actually view them to see if there were any surprises or little golden nuggets of wisdom in there.
See, because I'm a mom. I work full-time and always have worked full-time. I have lived this struggle of stay-at-home-mom vs. working-mom scenario. I'm one of those people who actually enjoy working away from the home. I need adult interaction. Adult conversation. I need to feel as though I am contributing my skills to the world, even if those skills are merely typing and organization.
When I was 23 years old, I had my first baby. I was given six weeks of paid leave from my job. It sounded like a long time back then, but six weeks goes by super fast. About a week before I was due to return to work, I remember cradling my tiny little baby girl in my arms, wracking my brain trying to come up with a way I could stay home with her. I would cry and apologize and pray and pray to see a way. There was just no way we could afford it. I had to work. I'm sure I came up with every single hair-brained idea of how to make money at home or how to work from home. I truly did not want to leave her. I did not want her big brown eyes staring up at anyone but me.
It could have been so much worse, really. I was lucky in that Dale's mother had always provided daycare services in her home. She was a licensed day care provider and was the baby's grandmother. The baby would be with other kids all day and would be watched, cared for and loved by her grandma. We were paying her a fraction of what it would have cost us to take the baby anywhere else. I knew she would be safe. I knew I didn't have to worry about her while I was at work.
But turning that little baby over to someone else to care for her and to create memories with her, and to trust that her every need and want was being provided for was one of the hardest things I've ever done. I was so afraid that she would just forget me while I was gone. Or worse, that she would cry when I picked her up at the end of the day, not wanting to go home with me but wanting to stay with grandma instead. Slowly we fell into our routine and even though I thought about her all through the day, I knew she was just fine. There were definitely times of feeling guilty when I couldn't be with her. There were days when she just wanted her mommy, and I couldn't just drop everything. As a working mom, you may not always have the luxury of flexibility with your schedule. That's just the way it is sometimes.
Over the years and a couple more kids later, I can say that everything has gotten easier. The kids have gotten older and don't need daycare. We are thisclose to being out of babysitter age range too. Not that I've ever had to hire a sitter. Family and friends have always kept my kids whenever I needed them to. Plus since I have been with the same employer ever since I had my first baby (20 years now), my schedule has grown more flexible, my vacation time has increased, and the job is not quite as demanding on my time. I can make it to those class parties. I can make it to early outs, parent breakfasts or awards assemblies. I can just take a day off in the summer and take everyone swimming if I want to.
There have been days, though, where I am certain I would not have made a very good stay-at-home mom. I just don't have the patience or the energy for it day in and day out. I give a lot of mad props to SAHM's and even more mad props to home-schooling moms. I think they do an amazing thing! And I truly don't understand how they (and day care providers) are not certifiably insane at the end of every single day!
I think being able to get out of the house and do my own thing actually makes me a better mother when I come home to them. I am more excited to see them. I want to hear about their day. True, some days you've worked so hard that all you want to do is fall on the bed and pass out for a couple of days when you get home, but you still appreciate those times that you do get to be home with everyone. Yes there are nights when we have frozen pizza for dinner or I tell everyone they are on their own. Fix whatever they want. I'm too tired to cook. But I don't think I'm working any harder than the ones staying home every day with their kids. I imagine that there are nights when SAHM's are too tired to cook, too.
I guess my point is that whatever works for you, whether it's being a SAHM or a working mom, just do it. Give it your all and make the best out of whatever your situation is. Either way you go, there are difficulties. In every situation, there's something unique to consider that may make it different for you than it is for anyone else. If you choose to stay at home with the kids, then don't let anyone make you feel like you don't work or that you have it easy. Be sure to take some time out just for you every now and then. If you choose to work, then don't let anyone make you feel guilty or as though you are choosing money over your children. Maximize the time you do have with the kids. Take heart in your decision and make it work ... for you. A happy mom means happy kids, and I believe that's all that really matters in the big picture.