If you'd told me, 10 years ago, that when I had a baby there would be something called "mommy wars" on the internet, I would have said two things: 1) you're a liar because I'm not going to have kids, duh and 2) that sounds seriously stupid.
Well, surprise 17-year-old Michelle, both those things are real.
One of the many, many mommy wars (ugh) is the working moms and the stay at home moms. Those who participate in the (totally ridiculous) battles believe that, ultimately, they have it the hardest. The truth is, both working moms and stay at home moms struggle, just in different ways.
I walk the line between being a stay at home mom and a working mom. When I go to work, I am at work: I have my work hat on, I try to dress in something other than sweatpants (a struggle), and I try not to think or talk about Forrest unless I'm asked.
It's easy to think that working moms just, you know, go back to work. They just get right back on the horse and work and go home and that's it, easy peasy. But it's just not so. Before I was one, I had a hard time conceptualizing why it was hard to be a working mom.
When you're a mom, the work doesn't really stop.
I get up everyday around 5am. I shower. I put on my makeup. I get dressed. By 6am, Forrest is starting to stir in his crib. I get him dressed, feed him a bottle if he hasn't had one for a while. I get him ready for the day before handing him off to Danny (if it's summer) or driving him to my mom's (if it's not). In the time I'm taking care of him, I get my coffee ready, put my breakfast and lunch in my lunch bag, and gather everything I need for the day. I go to work and when I get home, I keep working. I take care of Forrest, cook dinner, and feed him. I change diapers, play, and give him a bath. Once he is in bed, I clean the kitchen and living room and then do any freelance work I need to do. By 7 or 8pm, I might be able to sit down and watch a little TV, but I try to be in bed by 9pm at the latest.
Spending all day away from your baby is awful.
The first few days I went to work, I cried the entire drive there. Some mornings, I still do. When Forrest has slept good and is in a great mood... I can't help but want to stay home! It's difficult to know that someone else is having fun with your baby while you're working, cuddling them, making sure they eat and sleep. It's hard for me to let go of the responsibility of being the primary caregiver. Since Forrest was born, I did most of the feedings. I got him to sleep for naps. I played with him and took his picture. Stepping away from that, and relinquishing control of his care is difficult for me. But it makes getting home to him even better.
It's hard to feel like you're doing a good job at either thing.
I sometimes feel like I rush through my days. I rush through my morning routine to try to get to work earlier. I rush through work to try and get home to Forrest. I rush through the evening to get to cleaning and to have everything ready for the next morning. In the end, I wonder how effective I am at being both a mom and an employee. I think about Forrest when I'm at work and I think about work (and all the things I didn't get to) when I'm with Forrest. It's stressful to try and do everything.
Being a working mom is hard, it's true. But it can also be really fulfilling. I firmly believe that I need to work to remain happy in my life. I find fulfillment both in being a mom and in my career. I think it is absolutely possible to do both things--it just takes a little bit of sacrifice and finding what works. I'm getting better at balancing my work and my life. I'm getting better at reducing my stress outside (and inside) the office.
But to all the other working moms out there: you aren't alone. We're all trundling along, doing the best we can. This is for you, you hardworking, professional ladies.