Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Its hard to be a working mama...

If you have been reading along here at Good and Lovely for any time at all you may have read my post about the struggles of being Mama as I stay at home with our busy guy. It started as an outlet about a sort of silly but very real situation. It was intended to be funny, but the truth resonated with a lot of mamas. I also shared how hard I know it is for my husband to be Daddy and miss out on the day-to-day stuff five days a week. I have really enjoyed the connections I have made through blogging, specifically these posts, and I love hearing how different things work for different families. Not only that, but I think it is important to acknowledge that there isn't just one way. What is right for me and my family will be far from the best solution for another. We all have our own struggles. That is why I asked Lindsey to weigh-in on being a working mama. I have known Lindsey for a million years. We have shared inside jokes, clothes, and I am pretty sure a boyfriend or two back in 5th grade. I did her nails for Prom, I remember her wedding like it was yesterday, and I took her maternity photos when she was expecting her first born. I have watched her beautiful family grow, and I admire her involvement and commitment to her people all while being awesome at her job and running marathons and stuff. If you are a working mama, her take will empower you. If you are stay at home mom, you will be inspired. Thank you, Lindsey, for pouring your mama heart out to us.

Being a mom that works full-time is probably exactly the struggle it sounds like. I have an immense amount of respect for moms that stay at home everyday with their babies with no real break from the chaos that is parenthood. I have thought about this a great deal since I have become a mother; work or don’t work, which is best? In my household there’s not exactly an opportunity to make that choice, so I’ve always worked. Hayes was just 6 weeks old when I returned to my job as a dental hygienist. I do know that if being a stay-at-home mom was best for my family we would find a way to make it work. That being said, it does bring about an interesting concept that being a working mom is actually better for my family. For each curve ball I try my best to take a positive spin, reassuring myself that the moments I miss in my children’s lives are not in vain. When it comes down to it, my struggles are the same struggles of a stay-at-home mom, time is the only difference. I have less daylight, less opportunities for quality time, and less day-to-day interaction with my kids than SAHMs. Even writing them down stings. Looking at them in the face makes you realize the things you sacrifice every single morning that you go to work. So why do it? I’ll go through the gamut of all the ugly things that come about from not being present as much as a SAHM, but I have actually learned that being a working mom is not all losses.

It is hard to be a working mama when there are no sick days for sick days.
For me, sick days are rarely the ibuprofen administering, doctor visit and fever snuggles type of routine. As a hygienist, most of my days are filled with scheduled patients that have been on the books for 6 months. Rescheduling is an option, just not the best one. With 2 retired/1 semi-retired grandparent(s) and a husband that has 30+ sick days piled up, I get kicked out of the picture pretty quick. In my heart, they need their mama, but in reality and practicality I’m not the most readily available option. I text and call all day long from work, checking on temperatures, scheduling doctor visits and coordinating prescription pick-ups. I ask for picture and symptom updates as my heart aches to just be at home, cooking soup, pushing fluids and binging Disney movies.

It’s hard to be a working mama when I would love to pick them up from school.
My kids are blessed with an extremely involved father. He drops off and picks up every day. He claims this is taxing, as I’m sure it is. They’re slow, cranky, hungry and unaware of what it means to be in a hurry. What I picture are all the sweet conversations I miss while school is fresh on their minds. How was it? Who did you play with? What did you learn? By the time ol’ mom gets home they are OVER IT. I rely on my husband or whichever grandparent has picked them up to relay pertinent information from the teacher or stories from the playground. I miss classroom parties, field trips and interactions with their school friends.

It’s hard to be a working mama when every evening fees like a race to finish line.
From the time I get home until bedtime it is a dead sprint. I start barking orders as soon as I walk through the door; “pick up your shoes, have you made your beds, pick up this mess…” It’s not exactly the “honey, I’m home,” anyone hopes for. I’ve used my lunch break that day to either exercise or buy groceries. Combine that with a busy work schedule, no break, a long commute, and I may be cranky, to say the least. There’s time for hugs and I’ve missed yous, but that quickly moves into dinnertime, bath time and bedtime. I live in a constant battle of letting them stay up later to squeeze in more down-time together, or giving them a bedtime that allows for more of that brain developing sleep. I feel guilty when I crave the me time that feels so necessary, but also selfish when I haven’t even seen my kids all day. Oftentimes, I stay up past an hour that allows for adequate sleep to squeeze in the time to wind down that I’ve been craving all evening. This fuels the caffeine habit necessary to remedy my self inflicted sleep deprivation, and it all starts again tomorrow.

It’s hard to be a working mama and keep house.
Gah, where do I start? I know we ALL struggle in this department. I can attest to the difficulty of cleaning with your kids at home with you all day long, but cut that time into a fraction and I’m left with less energy than minutes to catch up on dishes and laundry. I’ve come to accept that my house is a hot mess express. We dig for clean clothes out of the dryer and eat on paper plates, because survival mode, y’all.

It’s hard to be a working mama, but working with people feeds my soul.
I’ve heard this from so many working moms, but I will repeat; getting out of the house and having an adult conversation is some serious sanity-saving business. I have a commute that allows for podcasts, audiobooks and prayer that I feel like I couldn’t do without. I have coworkers that will listen to recaps of my weekend, gawk at pictures of my kids and listen to all of my complaining. They even let me ramble about my never-ending podcast learning. My patients tell me stories of their travels and give me advice on parenting. I meet new people everyday, which is integral to my extroverted personality. We have coffee, and sometimes donuts, and that helps. Some days I come home drained, but some days I feel I’ve been poured into. People enrich my life. If you have something to offer; advice, information, a laugh, a story, I’ll take it. Working has offered me an opportunity to be out in the world every day, learning from God’s people.

It’s hard to be a working mama, but I am proud of the work ethic I am displaying for my children.
Some of my earliest memories are my mom dropping me off at daycare. I’m actually glad to remember these because it gives me hope that my children will have that same realization that working isn’t my #1 priority, but it is something I need to do. My parents never grumbled over having to go to work, it’s just something they had to do so there was no sense in having a bad attitude about it. They showed me from an early age that you can make the best of being a working parent and that nights and weekends can be all the more special due to your limited weekdays together. Growing up in a house where both parents worked definitely gave me an “it’s just what you do,” outlook on vocation. Stay at home parenting wasn’t even on my radar so I set my eyes on finding a career I loved from an early age. I hope my kids see my juggling act as more impressive than disastrous, because it is possible to have a fulfilling career and happy home life.

It’s hard to be a working mama, but luckily I don’t have to do it alone.
It takes a village. I wouldn’t use a cliché if I didn’t have to. I’ve used their dad and grandparents as substitutes in almost all of your stereotypical mom roles. Parent/teacher conferences, soccer practice, immunization visits, class parties, haircuts, you name it, I’ve had to relinquish that control. That’s all it is. I want to be there because I feel like I should be there. Not one time has my child looked at me and asked me why I wasn’t present for a moment in their life. To them it’s mundane; to me it’s innate. As moms we want to be there for it all because we are frighteningly aware of our finite time (there’s that word again) with our babies. Time. It’s what it all comes down to. I’ve ultimately let it boil down to the fact that I’m letting go of time with them. It hurts, but I have to realize the time that I’m giving to others. They get more time than most kids get with their dad and grandparents because of the things I’m willing to let go of. If I’m going to give up my time with my precious children, I will make the best of it. I won’t pity myself for “having” to work. I won’t berate myself for feeling like I only have one foot in on their day-to-day lives. I won’t resent my tribe for being present in the moments that I can’t be. I won’t loathe a job that offers me a space to have a sense of duty beyond my household.

It’s hard being a working mama, but I have realized that it allows us all a certain amount of freedom in one way or another.
I will make my commute productive through personal, therapeutic phone calls to friends; informative, stimulating podcasts; or KLOVE jamming and prayer with my Maker. I will use my lunch break as a time to exercise, buy groceries, pay bills, get an oil change, take a nap, whatever I can mark off my list that would take time away from my kids while not at work. I will use my family, when necessary, as surrogate parents, because they’re a better option than an exhausted mom. I will use what time I have with them contemplating the worth of frustration and impatience, as it is rarely constructive. Rushing through bath time and bedtime seems like the quickest way to my own bed, but when it’s all I have with them, I will relish it. I will delight in knowing that I go to a job that I love, because not every working mom gets to say that. If I had to leave my babies for a job that didn’t fulfill me, it would leave me desolate. I will let my house be a wreck and use my job as an excuse. I can’t do it all, people. I will continue to tell my kids that working is something I do to provide them with the lifestyle they love; camping, traveling, movie going, etc.

It’s hard to be a working mama, but my family worth working for.
I won’t lie, weekly they will beg for us to stay home in our pajamas and watch Netflix. While it’s tempting, I’m left with the same words over and over, “I have to go to work.” It’s somehow all worth it to know that when I get home that evening I know who I am beyond being their mother, and that regardless, they still know they are loved.


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