But I decided I really wanted to write this post and I was hoping I could write it in a way that didn't offend anyone or helped explain why it is so important to me that I am a working mom. If someone would like to write a counter post to this about why it was important to them to be a stay at home mom, absolutely please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). I of course cannot get inside your brain and would love to have the other side of the coin posted about as well. I have always been so thankful for the honesty that these "Family Friday" posts have allowed for me, as well as the support and dialogue that some of the posts have started.
Tone can absolutely never be understood in blog posts (or emails for that matter), so please understand that I mean no offense to anyone who is a stay at home mom, this is merely what has been going on in my own head about what kind of role as a mother that I want to create. There are many women in my own family that are stay at home moms and there are many women who are working moms, so I have seen both roles from a very young age
First, let me start everything off by saying Chris and I live in an area that is horrendously expensive, which requires both of us to work. Neither of us make enough money on our own to allow one of us to be a stay at home parent. That being said, these are my thoughts if I was able to be in that position...
When I get right down to it, I think a lot of why I wanted to be a working mom comes down to being made fun of when I was a kid, which I talked about when I posted about why I was scared to have a girl. Ever since I was little I have been constantly observant of what people view as "girl" and "boy" activities and it has been a nearly every day goal to absolutely try not to let those terms define me. That made sound silly or ridiculous, but I hate when people make assumptions that I can't do something because I'm a girl or because someone else can't do something because they're a boy. And it's amazing how much that comes up in our every day lives that people just sort of don't pay attention to.
And you may wonder if I'm being incredibly closed minded and associating those ideas with the old fashioned ideals that men are supposed to go out and work and women are supposed to be at home once you have kids - and I guess I am in a way. I think it is fairly common when a couple becomes pregnant for people to wonder if the woman will leave her job to take care of her new, growing family. But I can almost guarantee that the amount of time that is thought about a man leaving his job to take care of his family is ZERO
I remember a couple years ago John at Young House Love wrote about how it was a strange transition to leave his conventional 9-5 job when their daughter Clara was born and be a working from home dad. He said sometimes he felt awkward being at the grocery store in the middle of the day and wondered if the people around him thought he wasn't working or thought it was strange that there was a man doing this during the middle of the day with his daughter (and I'm totally paraphrasing him and don't want to misquote him at all, but that's how I interpreted what he was saying). And hey, I go to the grocery store in the middle of the day on a Tuesday, and well, there aren't a lot of men there.
But him expressing those observations and feelings really made me realize how kind of crappy we are for thinking those things - and I admit, I'm guilty of it as well.
I think it's hard for both men and women to try and fit themselves into roles and jobs that we feel like we "should" be doing. I know there is an innate sense in men that they must "take care of their family financially" and from women that they must "take care of their family emotionally" and I think we sort of continue those roles a little bit without maybe realizing it and realizing how much it burdens both men and women
|I promise I'm not smothering Zoe, but this picture is kind of hilarious|
People have told me many times throughout my life how "lucky" I was that my dad and step dad were so involved in my life throughout my entire life - going to my games, taking time off of work to support me, being my coach, etc. And I felt so proud and angry by that statement. I felt proud because I liked that people thought my dads were awesome (because they are), but also angry that that behavior was something out of the ordinary - I don't think people think moms are any more awesome because they're a room parent, go to your games, recitals, etc., and be there to support what you do - that's something that's just sort of "expected" of them.
So how does this all tie into being a working mom? I promise, I promise, I'm getting there...
It has always been important to me for my actions to never be determined by something people would assume should happen. That might sound confusing or silly or even stupid. And I get that. But when I played baseball when I was little with the boys in another league it was because I really liked baseball. There was a softball league where girls played - but I hated softball. Sure, 99.5% of girls in my town joined the softball league because somehow we had determined that softball was "for girls" and baseball was "for boys" - but I wanted to play baseball, so why shouldn't I?
|slides are obviously meant to go down head first|
I always associated that feeling of being able to learn, do and experience the things that I wanted - even at a very young age - with being independent. And I loved that feeling. Don't get me wrong, I am actually less independent than you may think and I really do lean on Chris, my parents, my family and my friends for a TON of support and affirmation - but I want to create an environment of making my own decisions and doing what I feel is best for me. The bottom line is that in order to support other people and be happy, I need to have my own shit going on.
I knew from the second I got pregnant that in order for me to be a good mom, I had to continue the life I had created for myself before I was a mom with the new balance of being a mom. That meant continuing to work, still working out, spending time with Chris or my friends, and also devoting my life to Zoe. I love working, I love making money, I love contributing to the financial health of my family. That makes me feel really good. I also love to make dinner for my family at night and feeling like I support both Chris and Zoe emotionally. I love getting to have a mom's night out from time to time and talking freely with my friends and family about life
I need that balance of everything to not resent something. That might sound really insensitive, and I don't mean it to, but I know that for me to be the best mom I hope to become, I also need a life outside of being a mom. I need to have aspects of my own life that don't include being a mom. There has to be a balance. I am so happy in all the ways I contribute to my family, and I feel like that makes me a more efficient worker and a more present mom. I know that while Zoe is napping or being looked after I only have 30 minutes or maybe 6 hours to get everything on my working to do list done. I value that time immensely and have become incredibly efficient. I know that the money I'm making contributes to my family and I try to make the most of the time I have to earn money.
I get help during the "working week" for a couple hours here and there and a full day once or twice a week, but a lot of the time I take Zoe on appointments with me. She has probably been to HD more times than some adults and met many clients. She's already a very hard worker :) We have a rough schedule to her day (she likes her morning nap within about a 40 minute time period and her afternoon nap within a similar range of time) and I try incredibly hard to stick to that schedule, but she is also very happy to go out and about and see new places and meet new people. In fact, if she's being fussy, the quickest way to put her in a good mood is to go on an adventure
But evening time is my family time. I love when we're all together and we play, giggle, talk and just hang out. That time is precious to me. I love watching the silly things Zoe does and getting to experience all the ways that she has grown. And I love having those moments with Chris. I feel like, for me, that time is incredibly valuable and those are the memories I will look back on and have amazing, fond memories of. I love bringing Zoe into our bedroom, putting away laundry or just hanging out on the bed, playing music and having her crawl all around, dance and get into mischief. Those times always make me laugh and smile.
I love having a balance to my life - that is truly what it all comes down to. I need a little me, I need a little us. I know there are moments that I am missing out on when Zoe is being looked after by someone else, but I also love that she is being looked after by people that I love so much - my family, Chris's family and Elizabeth. When I am not there, Zoe has people who love and adore her so much and support her, and that is an amazingly wonderful feeling to have a group of wonderful people I love and trust to watch our crazy girl while both mom and dad are contributing to taking care of her in different ways
And I end the day always thinking the same thing - it might have been a tough day with Zoe or work or it might have been an easy day with Zoe or work, but every day I am happy and lucky and fortunate to have a life and family that I love so much and love working hard to maintain. Life, my job, our partnership and parenthood are all hard work, but there is balance, love and appreciation and I am so lucky for all of that.