For the last 15 weeks, I had a temporary part time job. It just ended last Friday. It was the first time I have worked since I had the girls. Prior to the girls, I worked for 15 years. I loved working and I worked hard. Working before kids and after kids is a WORLD of difference.
This isn't a post of mommy wars. This is my thoughts on why I think ALL moms are awesome and need encouraging. I learned a lot over the last few months and I just want to share some thoughts after experiencing a little of both sides.
I didn't work full time. That is a whole different thing. I admire working moms so much, especially after dabbling in it. It is TOUGH to balance home life and work life. You can't really ever leave either one. It is SO much pressure to do well at work and to get everything done at home. And then you have occasional sick kids or doctor appointments or school performances and it's hard to do it all. It's also hard to have friendships and be involved in things when so much goes on during the day - like play groups or Bible Studies or MOPS groups. Whether you really want to work or need to work for your family or are a single mom and don't really have a choice, it's just a very hard balance. My prayer is all of you working moms have support at home and a cleaning lady. :-) Or fellow working moms who understand. Or a supportive group of friends who you can do lunch breaks with. (And I was reminded in a comment to mention how thankful I am for all of the working moms who are teachers, speech therapists, nurses, etc ....... all of things that affect my life so much. Where would we be without you?)
I can tell you that I honestly absolutely LOVED working part time. I actually found that it made me more organized. I knew I only had certain times that I could clean the house or grocery shop or work out and I just had to get creative and learn to use my time wisely. I think it gave me kind of a great outlet to be able to go to work and do something I love (a lot of excel spreadsheets and analyzation!) and participate in work meetings and even go to a work dinner but still be able to be with my girls and take them to speech therapy or to play. I prayed and prayed that I would get to stay home with my girls and I honestly loved the last 5 years but I feel like I got a little bit of sparkle back to be able to work too. I loved having co-workers again and I got lucky with my temporary ones - they were so nice.
But it wasn't just unicorns and roses. The work was usually always in the forefront of my mind and it was hard to work at home with the girls there. I felt guilty to tell them to go play so I could work (even thought honestly it forced them to learn to play together and do more imagination play.) And I felt like I missed out on things with friends sometimes because I needed to work. I didn't do Bible Study this last semester because it didn't fit into my schedule and I really missed it. But I learned to get up even earlier to spend more time reading my Bible. Even part time work can be a balance.
As fun as it sounds, working from home can be more difficult than working in an office. I did a little of both and it was WAY easier when I was in the office. At home, I would work 10 minutes and then it was "MOOOOOOMMMMMM, I need you".
I realized more than anything how EXTREMELY blessed I was to stay at home and how I really took it for granted. It was nice to never have the stress of work hanging over my head. I loved getting to be with my girls all the time. It was nice not to feel guilty to stay in my pajamas and have movie days when I had sick kids. It was nice to know I could drive my girls to any doctor appointment or activity. It was nice to pack up and head out of town anytime I wanted to. I will probably work part time again soon and for the rest of my days. There will probably always be a part of me that looks back on how great these years at home have been.
BUT........ unless it seems like I'm saying that stay at home moms have easy, fluff lives - I need to give a HUGE standing ovation to them as well. As much as I will miss the days of being home with my girls, they were HARD HARD days. (Clearly not hard as in someone who has cancer or is homeless or lives in poverty - I'm not joking myself.) But being home with small children for 12 hours a day and never having time to sit down and eat or take a shower or have a complete thought is not exactly the bon bon eating life some people might think it is. I enjoy it a million times more now that my girls are older but about a year and a half ago - I really struggled. I would hide in the bathroom sometimes. I would FANTASIZE about going to work and sitting at a desk and being able to work in peace and drink a coke without little people needing to touch you or have you do things for them every single second of every day. And it can be VERY isolating. I would talk Scott's ears off at night because I missed having someone to talk to about adult things.
We all have different circumstances and I think after experiencing a tiny bit of the different ways to mother, that instead of pointing fingers and judging, it would be so much better if we would instead give a knowing smile, a word of encouragement and extend a hand out to cheer on one another.