To Work or Not to Work? The Mom Question
~By Justine Tan, Writer, HereWhereIHaveLanded.com
As a mom of a 1- and 3-year-old, my career path – or lack thereof – has become quite the roller coaster ride. From SAHM to WAHM, I’ve run the gamut of acronyms created for moms and their unstable professional lives. Sometimes I’ve chosen a direction simply because I wanted to, while other times I’ve forged a path solely for financial reasons.
Within the past year, I’ve gone from a full-time salaried position outside my home to a full-time contract position, with only half my time spent in the office. Once I decided to leave the corporate world altogether, I eased into part-time freelancing, mostly working in my PJs. At home, in case you were wondering. Then this past summer I became a full-time stay-at-home mom, or SAHM. Now that my older daughter is back in preschool, I’m freelancing again, working 10 hours a week.
Whew! Did you get all that? Because I can barely keep it straight myself.
I spent this entire past summer with my girls. And even though I was genuinely happy and grateful for our time together, occasionally a sigh of relief would escape after I’d sung the last lullaby for the night and closed their bedroom door. At the same time, I dreaded the start of school, because that meant the end of such an amazing summer.
More to the point, the end of summer also spelled the end of my full-time stay-at-home gig. But a part of me was also looking forward to using my faculties for more than just child-rearing. For the most part, I enjoy what I do, copywriting and creating marketing and brand strategies, so when I’m not working (well, at least for money), I miss it. But then when I’m with my girls, I can’t imagine wanting to be anywhere else. Except when they’re being a colossal pain in my rear. That’s when I miss even the most insipid conference calls and the hellacious commute on the red line, which is saying something.
It seems that no matter what shape my career takes, I will always miss something about my other life. When I’m folding laundry, my thoughts drift back to the last compelling strategy that I presented to a client. And when I’m writing the most banal ad copy, I’d rather be matching socks from six loads of laundry.
Perhaps part of being a mom means accepting that my feet may never be firmly rooted in one life or the other anymore. That I love my girls there is no doubt. But sometimes I want to shine in what I do best and impress people who did not come out of my womb. When we don’t get promotions and raises for a job well done at home, we tend to dream about the places that offer more concrete recognition.
Yet when the evening is still except for the humming from the monitor telling me my two girls are asleep, I realize that impressing someone with a clever brand strategy is one thing. But making my girls happy by just being myself? That’s quite another.
[Photo credit: HealingDream /FreeDigitalPhotos.net]