There Is No Such Thing As Easy
At least not when you’re a mom. This goes for moms who work full time, moms who stay home full time, and moms who stay home part time and work outside the home part time. None of it is easy, but for some reason, I feel like a lot of moms always think the grass is greener on the other side. That maybe they wouldn’t be as tired if they stayed home with the kids, or that they would feel better if they had a “real” job. (Please note that I do consider staying home with kids a real job!)
Well, I’m here to tell you that it isn’t always greener on the other side. Sometimes it might be, but a lot of times it isn’t.
When my daughter was born, I worked about 30 to 35 hours a week and was finishing my Masters degree at the same time. In fact, I wrote my thesis during the first year of her life. It was tough. My daughter went to daycare every day, and I worked 4 to 5 days of the week. This meant I pumped milk the majority of the time rather than nursed. I saw her in the evenings and on the weekends, but I worked some Saturdays, so I didn’t always even see her that much on the weekends. It was certainly a case of distance making the heart grow fonder. I looked forward to seeing her at the end of the day because I hadn’t been with her, but even though it was tough being away from her, I did enjoy my work and it was nice to have something for myself.
Fast forward to about a year and a half ago when things changed at one of my part time jobs. I now only work 2 to 3 days a week and stay home with my kids the other days of the week. I pump milk a lot less than last time and get more time to spend with my kids. Unfortunately, my time with them isn’t as “quality” as I would like but it is difficult to always be “present” when I’m around them so much and there is so much to be done around the house.
In some ways, working part time and being home with my kids part time is the ideal situation, but it isn’t without its challenges. It isn’t as easy as I thought it would be to switch from staying home to working every other day. It makes it difficult to get motivated and just when I get going, I have to change roles again. Because I don’t work as much, I don’t make as much either. When I was working full time, I felt like I could use some of the extra money we had to hire someone to clean our house twice a month, but now that my pay has decreased and I am home, I feel like I need to be doing it to save money. But have you ever tried to clean your house with two kids in tow? It takes twice as long and things typically become “unclean” exactly 20 seconds after you have cleaned it. If I was home every day, I could spread out the cleaning even more, but since I am only home a couple days a week, I have less time to do this. I do try to take the kids to programs at the library and when Felix is asleep, I try to do something with Anya so that she gets some one-on-one time. So between fixing meals and cleaning up from meals, cleaning the house, changing diapers, nursing the baby, helping Anya go to the bathroom, picking up after everyone, etc., I don’t get to spend as much quality time with the kids as I would like. I’m sure I’m not alone in this!
I have never stayed home full time other than during my maternity leaves, and I don’t really count that. I can only imagine that it can be more isolating if you allow it to be and that it requires even more patience than only being home part time. Maybe a full time SAHM would be able to comment on this….
I guess in a way this is another “let’s-all-support-each-other post” but it’s also a “grass-isn’t-always-greener” post, too. I cringe when moms criticize other moms for their choices or just assume that all moms want to stay home or work. Personally, I think it’s a very individual and personal choice. Some moms are perfectly fine being home with the kids all day and they have the patience for it, but other moms need to feel like they are contributing to society by having a career. Either one of those options (or something in between) is perfectly acceptable, and no mom should be made to feel otherwise.
Another thing that makes me cringe is when people think that moms who work have it easy or that moms who stay home have it easy. I don’t think any of us really have it easy. Life itself is rarely easy, even if you aren’t a mom. After experiencing 2 of the 3 “types” of motherhood, neither one was really any easier. They are just different in that they require different skills.
So I think it’s time we stop judging other moms. After all, none of us is lying around on the couch eating chocolates while our perfect children are doing what we tell them to do! We are all still exhausted at the end of the day, no matter what we spent our day doing. We all still probably wish we had more quality time with our kids. And we all probably still beat ourselves up about something, whether that is being away from the kids too much, not contributing financially to our families, or even just that the house isn’t clean. In the end, we all just want what’s best for our babies, whether that is to stay home with them or to send them to daycare so that we can work. It all depends on what your family needs and what you need as a mom.