As a child, when I imagined what my future looked like, it included me at home with my kids (or as a princess or prima ballerina, depending on the day). My mom didn’t work regularly outside the home until I was in junior high, and I wanted that life for myself, too. Even as I grew up and began my career, I always thought, “well, once I have kids I’ll stay home.” While dating, my husband and I even talked about that as a goal.
Yet here I am, one of the millions of moms who work outside the home…and I’m not upset about it.
I didn’t become a working mom because I changed my philosophy, purposefully eschewed the stereotype of the stay-at-home-mom, or consciously decided I needed an identity outside of being “mom.” I didn’t find my dream job. I became a working mom for the simple, uncomplicated reason that me working works for my family. We want a certain lifestyle, which includes things like owning a house, visiting my family out of state, and enjoying family vacations. To attain those goals, our family needs two incomes. Thus, I am a working mom.
I love my daughter fiercely. She was only two months old when I returned to work, and I cried during my commute on that first day back.
I was one of those moms that didn’t want daycare to tell me when she rolled over or walked until I had seen it myself. Occasionally, I take an hour off in the afternoon just to pick her up early from daycare to spend some more time with her before her 6:00 bedtime. There are days when I only see her for twenty minutes after she wakes up and twenty minutes before she goes to bed…I hate those days.
At the same time, I enjoy having to dress up every day. When my daughter was in the grab-the-dangly-things stage, it was nice being able to wear necklaces unmolested at work. While motherhood has me feeling like I don’t know what in the world I’m doing at some point during every day, I feel that way at work only occasionally. I enjoy being around people who understand my sarcasm (toddlers are not known for this trait). And that first day back at work, when I cried during my commute? I was also very aware that I did not have to change poopy diapers during those nine and a half hours.
I live in the tension between being “momma” and a working professional; as with many things in adult life, there are days when that tension is more difficult to bear.
However, when I look at my almost two years as a working mom, I can honestly say I am happy with the choices my family has made that led me to claiming that title.