When I was pregnant with my first child, I remember being asked if I was going to return to work. I remember thinking it was an odd question. I never second guessed anything about being a working mom. I looked at the person, sort of baffled, and said “of course.” Never did I think I would struggle to return to a career I loved or have any more difficulty than my husband would, being a working dad (no one asked him this question by the way).
The first week returning to work after maternity leave was hard, really hard. Each day got a little better and I battled the pull to be home full-time. My husband knew me well enough (thankfully) to know I wouldn’t be happy. He would always ask me if I was sure that was what I really wanted. When I would hum and haw over the answer, he would insist I give it more time until I was sure. I had worked hard to get where I was in my career and giving it up was not a decision I should make lightly.
It wasn’t until 2 years after I had my daughter that I realized I needed my career. My son was born and I was home on maternity leave with two children (2 years old and an infant). This was when I realized staying at home was not for me. I am in no way trying to offend anyone. I am just not cut out for it. I literally had a count down for the date I would be returning to work.
Did I struggle going back to work after having my first child? Yes. Did I worry on a regular basis that I would miss first words, first steps, first everything? You bet. Are there days when I wish I could do more play dates, more fun lunches, just have more time with my kids? Definitely. But, did I think that staying at home and foregoing this career I worked so hard for, just to appease these fleeting feelings, and force myself into a job that I didn’t imagine myself in full-time, nor did I think I was cut out for was a good idea? Nope.
I’ve had the benefit of being in the sweet spot of working moms. When I’m at work, my kids are with family. My income is essential to our family but does not make or break us. We did not have to have the “kids or career” conversation. I was able to return to work because I choose to go back to work, not because I had to in order to survive.
However, now looking back, staying a working mom has helped me survive. There are definitely days where I feel like I’m always holding my breath. There are also days where I feel like everyone is only getting a 75% version of me. But, there is a small part in everyday where I realize that I’m happier in this place. I’m happier with this balance.
I guess that is the goal of this post. I see so many arguments for one or the other – working mom or stay at home mom. Who works harder? Who does more? Who is more tired? And God forbid, who is the better mom? I hate this comparison. All moms, no matter what they choose to do after they have children, work hard. Why do they work hard?
Well, because they put their bodies through hell and back to bring that child/children into the world. They felt that spark of a connection the first time they saw their baby. They were ready to enforce their inner Momma bear whenever necessary to defend that baby in any way necessary.
Moms are tough. Moms are strong. Moms are super. Whether they choose to show those characteristics by staying at home or staying in a career, they are amazing.
Do you have a story you would like to share? Feel free to comment below and share yours!