Be Careful How You Judge

When I used to read of other women’s desires to return to work–even though they loved their children–I would shake my head knowingly:  They just don’t understand motherhood.

Even though I would wake up, terrified, knowing I would be home with my kids, I told myself to remain faithful and eventually things would get better.  I mean, I was doing what was right for my kids and fulfilling the role I agreed to take on when I became pregnant–that of being a stay-at-home mom.

Gradually, I saw my life swinging out of control.  No amount of happy pills can make someone enjoy something that is chinking away at their sanity.

So when I saw our money dwindling away, and realized that I would need to find a job ASAP, I jumped at the chance.

I don’t have a job, yet, but will be interviewing in the next few weeks.  Anxiety is creeping in as I realize this is really happening.  But, for once, it isn’t negative anxiety, it is eager anticipation as I think about leaving the house and everything that entails: no more cleaning up after messes all day long; no longer will I hide behind the gate in the kitchen, trying to seek some moment of peace; and I will finally have company–besides my own thoughts–for at least 7 hours of the day.

Here’s the clincher: I feel horribly guilty for my excitement. I thought, for sure, I would be a stay-at-home mom and I would love it.  I guess I did not foresee that my husband would be in medical school, I would have two very active toddlers at once, and that I would be solo parenting for 16 + hours a day.

And yet I find myself wondering, am I giving up too soon?  Will I regret this decision?

I do have one necessity: survival (if I don’t get a job we will be in a dire situation soon); however, it is more than that.  My emotions are crumbling.  I can feel myself sinking into a place that will soon leave me alone, angry, and unapproachable.

Coming from my very judgmental past (personal experience only), I find myself rolling my eyes at the excuses I give for embarking on this new adventure.  Excuses that I once flippantly ignored or arrogantly berated–in my head–when I heard them from other women and chalked up to their obvious weakness.

But now I understand where they are coming from and I will soon be joining the ranks of working moms.  Guess what? I’ve never felt surer of a decision in my life.

Yet my past is coming back to haunt me.  Excited though I am, the guilt for wanting to leave my children at a daycare or babysitter’s house, is slightly overwhelming.  I worry over being condemned and/or looked down upon by friends and relatives.  I am also worried that my kids will resent me. And, to top it off, I feel that I am giving up on a dream I had for so long, which makes me feel like a huge loser and clearly incapable of setting any type of goals.

Clearly I am conflicted and it is painful.  Even though I am much more assertive now than I once was, and I will not be backing down from my decision, I am still worried about what other’s will think of me and wondering if I am a failure after all.  However, I will continue forward, even if it means angst for a little while, because I know I will be better off–mentally–when I get a job.

For you working moms out there, my kids will be fine, right? Did you experience the same angst? And how do I go about finding daycare? 

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15 Comments

Filed under Feminism

15 responses to “Be Careful How You Judge

  1. Nicki

    Your kids will be fine. You will all be fine. I know there are plenty out there that will disagree with me but I sometimes think working when my children were little was the best move I made. Once they get older – teenagers – if you are not there when they get off the bus, you will never know what is going on. I think that stay-at-home moms are best for older kids while most people think otherwise.

  2. Carisa

    I've had a lot of the same feelings of going back to work that you are currently having. While I really think I would prefer to stay home with my little guy all day, I work with an entire office of women who are much better moms BECAUSE they work. Everyone is different – and some women need a job, a career, something outside the home to give them something more. I honestly believe that for these women (and it sounds like you are one of them) that working outside the home makes them better moms. They, in turn, can return home to their kids and feel good about themselves. While it is hard for me to leave my little guy each day I don't really ever worry about him. No one remembers every moment of every day – we remember specific events or a moment here and there. That's why I try to make the most of the time I do spend with him – make that time full of love and fun activites that your children will never forget. Good luck with the job hunt!! If finding a job outside the home makes you a happier person overall, then you'll be an even happier/better mother – so your children can feel no resentment towards that!

  3. Your kids will be more then fine. The key to being a good mom is being the best you, however you can, while providing the necessities. About daycare- trust your gut. You'll know what you think of the space and the people. Check with them about tv and snacks and discipline. You know all that. Make sure it's okay just to drop by (and do somedays). It's been years, but I used to work in childcare. Good places exist.
    Don't let that judgment through. You're doing what's best for your family and for yourself. I hope you land a great job (and find great childcare nearby)!

  4. Your kids will be fine Amber. I have worked outside of my home from the day I could return to work following the birth of my first child. I didn't really want to, but like you we needed to survive. I have 3 kids now, and have just recently cut my time back enough to only be gone during the hours that they are at school. It was very difficult to leave them. I think that's completely normal, but it did make me appreciate every single second I got to spend with them when I did have time because really I didn't have much of it. As for daycare, my kids have always gone to grandma's so that was one less thing I had to stress out about. Coming home to them now after school has been such a blessing. My kids have new challenges in their lives and I fell like I need to be here for them during these times. You need to make the decisions that are best for you regardless of what anyone else thinks. You deserve happiness, and your family will be fine with this change. Good luck on the interviews. You will be awesome!

  5. Honestly, I think that whatever you need to do to survive, to make your life easier, do it. What works for one family might not work for another, and that is just fine. Every mother is different, and if what you need to be a happy mom when you come home at the end of the day is to work, then work. Good luck with daycare, and let us know how the job search goes!

  6. Every job has its trade-offs, and staying at home certainly has its downsides. (I'm glad I'm not the only one who hides behind the baby gate for a little much-needed break!) You'll be such an asset to the working world, and your kids will do just fine because you'll be more fulfilled and at peace. Good luck with interviews!!

  7. Leaving them is hard and staying home with them is hard too. There is no easy answer.

    As for childcare, start by asking the working moms you know what they do. You will know in your gut when you find the right answer.

  8. Elastamom

    First, your kids will be totally fine. Second, a happy mom is a better mom. That's all. XOXO

  9. Amber, my love, if anyone condemns you, lock them in your house with your small children, 3 loads of stinky laundry, 5 stinky diapers, a sinkful of dirty dishes, and 7 games of CandyLand at the ready. Fly, my sweet friend. Fly. You will soar.

  10. Your kids will be completely fine. And whatever you do when they are at this age & stage (as you are at this age & stage), remember that things CHANGE.

    And you, and your situation, and your kids, can initiate those changes and also roll with the ones that come unexpectedly.

    All much easier when you're young, believe me – and that's one of the advantages of having your kids young!

    Go for it Amber. And whatever you try, remember that you can tweak it.

  11. Elizabeth

    It sounds like working will be a good solution for you and your family. Your kids will still love you and they'll love the time they get to spend with you. I'm sure there willl be a transition period for all of you, but you will all make it out ok! Good luck with the job hunt! And don't be so afraid of other's opinions!

  12. Lindsey

    My mom worked full time growing up, and while it would have been nice for her to attend more field trips, school concerts, etc. with me, I would like to think we all turned out okay :> I now work full time too to help support our family while Trevor and I both go to school. While I miss my little guy SOO much while I'm away, I know that I am doing something now that will help our family out later. And I think it really does make me a better mom. It makes me enjoy that much more the time I do have with him.

  13. ShannonL

    Ditto to all of the great and positive comments above! I’m so excited for you, Amber! I think it will be a wonderful experience for everyone! Good luck, I can’t wait to hear more! xo

  14. I flip flop on this issue (for myself personally, not for others). Everyone is different, and our circumstances are different. Your children will not be adversely affected by you working outside of the house. Sometimes it can be a good thing! Wish you the best in your search! 🙂 xoxoxoxoxo

  15. I echo what the others have said. Your kids will do fine. And you will do fine. Over half of what we worry about never comes true. Good luck my friend! xoxo