I Regret Not Working When My Kids Were Little

Messy-Baby

I made my mistake seven years ago.

Today, when I talk to friends who are in the process of planning to have children, many of them later in life, I tell them to hold onto to their jobs after the baby is born and not to make any hasty decisions about leaving their full-time jobs.

My own decision was hasty.

I loved the job that I had when my first child was born. I worked in a publishing house with supportive co-workers and a job that got more and more interesting every day. The few years before the birth of my child were great professionally and when my company was acquired by a larger one, it only got better. Benefits, raises, opportunities, business trips – they all rose. I used to tell my husband and friends that I would grow old with that company. I truly believed that. I never thought I would leave my job after the baby was born.

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We were only married a year before I got pregnant at age 32. Everything happened so quickly. We got married and were living in NYC. Then we got pregnant within six weeks of trying. Shortly after that, we moved to the suburbs and the baby came a few months later. I took a few months off to be with her. While I was out on maternity leave, my office moved out of the city, much further away to where we had chosen to buy a house. Boom, boom, boom. Everything changed, with the blink of an eye.

Suddenly I faced a long commute, breast milk seeping through my shirt during meetings, the exhaustion of juggling work and home life, a tumultuous relationship with a babysitter who I felt was stealing my role as mother to my own child. The emotional roller coaster of trying to balance both worlds was driving me bonkers.

It didn’t help that right after I went back to work, the tri-state black-out struck just after I was leaving work to catch the bus to go home via Grand Central. I got stuck in NYC for a night and cried as I pumped milk for my three-month-old who was home alone with a babysitter who was struggling to find candles and flashlights (that was our fault for not preparing her, I realized later, but who knew this would happen two days after my return to the workforce?). The two of them survived the night, but in my mind, after that my working days were numbered.

When I first returned to work after completing maternity leave, my managers allowed me to work in the office three days a week, two days at home to help ease the transition. It did help, but my mind was still rattling with fear that I was missing out on my daughter’s development. She was learning to walk without me. She began to call my babysitter “mommy” and wouldn’t come to me when I got home from work. When I tried to go to the park with her at the end of the day, I undoubtedly got called on the phone by the office and had to run back for conference calls. I kept getting sick from running back and forth with one sinus infection after another. The late nights with a newborn didn’t help either. I was run down.

In addition, I am sure that my work performance fell. I was lugging my pump to work, closing my office door for privacy so I could continue breastfeeding. I would work through lunch so I could leave work early enough to make it time to spend time with the baby. When the day came to resign, I don’t think anyone was terribly surprised, although I did manage to leave the company on good terms.

I wish I could tell you that I never looked back, but I can’t. For the first six months, I actually continued to work for that company on a part-time basis which I realize now was a savior. It was hard for me to stop checking my email when I left; I missed my colleagues; I missed the brand I had been working so hard to promote. I continued to pine for the company and my job for years after that.

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I got pregnant again rather quickly, within weeks after leaving my job, and my home life got really busy. After my son was born, I had two babies at home – they were only 19 months apart. And it was hell. One could cry, then the other would cry. One would go to sleep, the other would wake up. I couldn’t get a handle on being a mom to two so close in age.

So, I realized very quickly that staying home with them wasn’t for me and I grew extremely depressed. During a trip to England that summer, I met many women who had amazing part-time jobs and I became determined to return to the U.S. and find one of my own. I was fortunate to have a contact from my old job that led to a part-time job in publishing a few months later. That job lasted nearly three years and spiraled into a consulting career. But the problem with consulting and part-time work is that it is not reliable and quite often my skills aren’t fully utilized. I have somehow taken a detour, yet I am not quite qualified for the positions I feel are my true “dream jobs.”

I am glad, in my own way that I got to experience my children’s early years. Working part-time, I have been there for everything – ballet lessons, school events, piano lessons, concerts. I’ve also made sure that they have never missed anything and have been the best mom I have known how to be.

But sometimes I wonder what if I had hired a babysitter all those years ago who didn’t make me feel jealous? What if I had given my job more time? Unfortunately, I’ve wondered that more times than I’d like to admit. The honest answer is that my kids would have been fine – and great – either way.

The truth is, and this is hard to admit, but I’ve never really liked going to the playground. I don’t always love being at school for drop-off and pick-up. I have never liked dealing with some of the mothers at school who have insisted staying for play dates even after the kids were old enough to be dropped off. I don’t love making lunches.

The truth is that I don’t love being responsible for the kids all day, every day. It’s hard to admit and I sometimes feel like a bad mom, particularly when other moms answer the doors wearing aprons, just having baked cookies with their children and my own child and I feel like I’m dealing with Barbara Cleaver. And I’m Courtney Love in the kitchen. My kids would love to bake cupcakes and cookies all day, but I’m not that kind of mom. I wasn’t meant to be a stay-at-home mom. Only I had no idea when I made that drastic decision early on about leaving my job.

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I’m not saying that I think it’s easy to work full time and raise children; it’s not. But personally I like the satisfaction of working, of making my own money, of handing over some of the childcare to someone else. I’ve noticed that my own children are often better with new blood in the house. Not only do I do better as a mother after spending time away, but they in turn benefit from being with someone who is not as burnt out as myself after spending so much time at home as their sole caretaker.

So, if you are a new mom and are thinking of giving up your full-time job, don’t come to me for advice. If you have a chance to work part-time, and it’s in a job that offers the same type of responsibilities as a full-time job, then that sounds like a good idea but weigh your options carefully. Life balance is everything and do what is right for you. But if you love the job that you have before your children born, and you don’t want to worry about your options later on, stick it out. The longer you are in a position and give your best to a company, they will respect your life balance and it will be easier to go to the odd dance recital or doctor’s appointment during the week when something comes up. You will get in the groove of working and raising a family and it will work itself out.

About the writer

Holly’s career spans the worlds of television and publishing, including positions at MTV, Lifetime Television and John Wiley & Sons. She is now founder of Maxo Social Media, SoMediaNY and is the editor of The Culture Mom. She has two children and lives in Larchmont, NY.

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have3boys 5 months ago

I have been a SAHM for 5 years and I TOTALLY get the insanity that sets in at regular intervals. That said, I struggle with parts of this piece because I have to ask: what’s the point of having kids if we want someone else (be it a hired caregiver or granny) to practically rear them? If it’s a financially possibility for a mom to stay at home, why wouldn’t we make the choice to do so?

Isabel 5 months ago

I would just like to say thank you. Not only thank you for this post, but also Thank you “dysfunctional mom” for your reply. I’m a Mum of 2 (ages 4 and 3) and was able to go down to work 4 days a week after my 1st was born. I had 6 months maternity leave with both, and I knew that I could never be a SAHM. I realise that (somewhat selfishly) as much as I love being a Mum, I also want to still be Me! The negative comments I’ve had from some Mums that I chose to go back to work were more heartbreaking than having to leave my kids. I’m lucky that my partner works unsocial hours, so in actual fact the time that our kids are with CM or grandparents is the same as when they’re at home with us – 3 and a half days each. I like to think we’ve got a balance that works for us – but I do sometimes feel guilty and selfish. But I know that going to work for 4 days means that I’m a much better Mum the 3 full days I’m with them. And their Dad then gets time alone with them as well. Thank you so much for recognising that working parents aren’t always bad people because they leave their children with someone else…..you have no idea how refreshing and appreciative it is!

Mel 11 months ago

Similar with me as well when I separated from the Air Force, didn’t want to but knew the kids needed one of us home, we both deployed constantly. 4 kids and 12 years later, the real world is scary!! I did my degrees while I was home with the kids, while he was deployed and during PCS’s, never easy but did it. Now I have a full time job not related to any of my degrees and am still kinda scared of this civilian stuff because it is so different from the military. Adapt and overcome, right? You got this.

Uyenchi 11 months ago

I have 2 kids (4 and 2.5 years old), and I knew from day one that I cannot be a SAHM. I love my 2 kids more than life itself, but I know staying at home is not for me. Even if I have a third, I will still keep my full-time job. Every day when I come home from work, I would be so excited to see my babies – and they are excited to see me – as if we haven’t seen each other for a month. I feel this way every single day. Yes, it broke my heart when I missed my son’s first crawl, first step, first time he said, “Mom” because I was at work, but the moments that I am with them, it’s so much more special and I appreciate those moments so much more.

Every week I look forward to Monday because that’s my “break” – it’s where I feel organized, in control, sane, my professional identity. And every week I look forward to the weekend, because that’s my uninterrupted time with the most important people in my life who bring me the greatest happiness… where everything is unorganized, out of control, and absolutely insane. So it’s a great balance because I always have something to look forward to.

Rebeca 11 months ago

This article spoke to me. I am a sahm to 3. And I hate it. I love my kids. But I hate being home all day with no adults around! It’s just not for me. The reason why I stay home is to be able to help my husband (who runs his own business) with paperwork 2-6 hours a week from home. Also, we did the math and it actually saves us money if I stay home vs. going out to work. I love being with my kids. But I get bored with myself, stressed and just down. Some days are better than others. If I only had 1 or 2 kids (in school) id be working. I love this article, it speaks the truth, no matter how hard that may be to admit.

Tina tietz 11 months ago

I worked through all 3 of my children. Although I did find lots of joy and purpose in what I was doing I always felt it was a struggle to be mom. I decided not to miss things and I have for the majority of life I have not. The opportunity recently came for me to work from home. Now that I am working at home I look back and wonder if this would have been better. If someone is struggling there are lots of opportunities, just talk about the pros and cons and give things a try. Kids are only young one time, we don’t get do overs. The goal should be to enjoy what ever your choice is.

dingdang 3 years ago

I have a 4 year old and a 1 year old. I had the chance to stay at home for almost two years when I had a part-time job for a year and got pregnant with my second a year later. Unfortunately, we got ourselves our own home, so we had to pay for the monthly amortization, I had to chip in with the monthly expenses, and I had to leave the kids with a nanny Mon-Fri. Now that my eldest goes to school, I can’t help but be sorry for the decision I made to go back to work. I love bringing her to school. I love talking to other moms while they boast of their kids’ achievements. I love making breakfasts, snacks, lunches and dinners. Even if my job promotes work life balance, somehow, I feel that I’m shortchanging my kids. Well, that’s for me of course. I know some colleagues in the office who can’t stand being at home 24/7, and that’s normal too (well, at least for them).

Eleni 5 years ago

I truly admire your honesty with this post. Working or not working is definitely a choice that needs to be made by each individual mom and family. Raising kids is not easy, working or staying at home, it just isn’t and never will be. I opted to stay home, and for the past several years home schooled my kids. This year they are back in school, and so am I – pursuing my dream degree while writing on the side from home. I have been a sahm for ten years now, and while it has been a challenge in many ways, it has suited our family quite well.

Sara at Saving For Someday 5 years ago

The proverbial elephant in the room. I had a friend who went back to work 6 weeks after she had her baby b/c she couldn’t take one more day of maternity leave. Her thought was to see how maternity leave went and then transition to SAHM. She didn’t like being at home. She loved her job and the people and all the things you mentioned.

I worked from home before I got pregnant. And never stopped. I did decrease my work load significantly. Being a WAHM or SAHM isn’t for everyone. And I hate that there is this huge divide and negativity toward women either way. I get annoyed that it becomes a socioeconomic issue, that it’s OK for women to leave their kids if they ‘have’ to work but not if they choose to work.

I’m sure this wasn’t easy to write, but I hope that by writing it and sharing it you feel support from the sisterhood of women who share your same or similar thoughts/feelings. You don’t need us to validate your decision, but you need us to hold you up when you feel you’re being pushed down by women who don’t get it.

Success always!
Sara

Ilana @ mommyshorts 5 years ago

I agree with everything you wrote. I have only been a mom for a year but I know that I am not meant to be a stay-at-home mom. I do no want to be a stay-at-home mom. I’m not good at being a stay-at-home mom. Unfortunately, I did not get to make that decision. My company made it for me. I worked there for twelve years before I had my first child and I was “a star on the leadership track”. I was told this two months into my pregnancy before I had told anyone the news. Then I was laid off three short months after I got back from maternity leave. I never had any intention of taking a step back from work. They made that assumption for me.

The only thing that can explain their actions is that I spent much of my pregnancy very sick. I was not working at 100% although I was trying my hardest. I would throw up in the bathroom and then give presentations. Work late through complete exhaustion. I turned down working on a new business pitch two weeks before my due date because of the stress of working late nights and weekends so close to having the baby. Maybe people assumed that was the way I was going to conduct myself from that point forward as opposed to being a temporary side effect of pregnancy.

There needs to be a corporate system in place that leaves a little bit of leeway for pregnant women. But it is a tricky thing because women do not want to admit weakness. I know I didn’t. I don’t know the answer but I know that working freelance from home while getting to spend more time with the baby is not what I want. I want to work full-time and be back on the leadership track.

Holly 5 years ago

I remember the boobs leaking in meetings. Why didn’t I just give up breastfeeding?!

Holly 5 years ago

Best of luck – I have multiple projects, too. Sounds like something will come soon.

Holly 5 years ago

Thank you so much for saying that. I have gotten some slack for writing this from family members, but I am so glad I did write this on Scary Mommy where I could get such positive feedback. I know I am not crazy, as well as you do.

Rockstarmomlv 5 years ago

Thank you! This couldn’t have been more timely! Everything you just said just rang so true for me as well. I am actually considering taking another full time position at a company I think I will love but I regret everyday leaving the company I worked at before my twins were born. Everyone said I wouldn’t be able to handle twins and my older kids and working full time so I left. Now I can’t wait to go back. I have been so torn with raising my family or working again. You make some very real and relatable points. I’m so glad I read this!!

Melissa 5 years ago

I agree Andrea! It is just different. I found that I couldn’t do the job I expected of myself at part-time, and if I was a FT working mother, I didn’t feel like I was being a good mom. I came to the conclusion that I have to choose one or the other (thank God I have a choice!), and sacrifice my professional goals for now. Actually, the job of SAHM has changed me in ways I hadn’t anticipated, I have learned a lot about myself; it too has challenged me in ways that were not natural to me. Living the life I have has been more rewarding that trying to find the “ideal life.”

Andrea @ Savings Lifestyle 5 years ago

Ditto to everything you said… While we did make the choice to have me stay home with our boys nearly 5 years ago. I was able to work part-time before my departure and realized it was all or nothing in the fast-paced Corporate world. Luckily I have been blogging/consulting for 3 years. I have that to stimulate my mind and build the relationships I crave.

Be an at home parent is much harder since I am challenged in different ways that aren’t natural for me. I do love my family and thank God for each of our smelly and healthy boys. It’s different, not full of rewards and performance reviews…just different.

Great post.

Kimberl 5 years ago

Love this post. I adore and applaud your honesty. And I love that you don’t make either SAHM or working outside the home mothers into bad people or bad mothers. As another commenter suggested, the best mother is the woman who is happy with herself and her life. So if we have choices (and in many cases we do, though they may take sacrifices) we should choose what makes us feel best about ourselves. I went back to work when my daughter was 4 months old and I sensed from before my pregnancy that I would always work outside the home. Then, 6 years later, I lost my job in September. I have applied for a million positions and am now thinking seriously about starting my own business, and saving the $ we spend on before and after school care as well as summer care/camps. But I am frightened because I am me first and a mother second. I love my daughter madly, but I fear going mad in the summer with nothing but hours of the two of us every day. My intention at the point is to have PLANS – some days big plans (zoo or museum) some days small plans (community pool or back) some days at-home plans (specific craft or project we can do together) and injecting many others (playmates, my friends, new friends, family, etc.) into the equation as often as possible. We’ll see what happens in the next few months but for now, that’s where I’m headed. Wish me luck!

Leigh Ann 5 years ago

Thank you, thank you, thank you for this article.

I have three kids under the age of four. I went back to work after just six weeks of maternity leave with each of the first two. I loved my job and knew that I didn’t want to be a stay-at-home mom. Nevertheless, I wept every day strapping a tiny baby into a carseat to be loved on by someone else. My boobs leaked in meetings, and I was often itching to get out the door to be with them. I thought it was so, so hard leaving my babies in the hands of someone else all day.

I was wrong.

About a year ago, my husband (the breadwinner) lost his job, and in this awful economy, could only find another one two states away. I had to give up my dream job and move to the middle of the country where there is literally nothing for me to do. I cheerfully reasoned that I’d spend a few years watching the kids grow up (there were three now) and savor every moment. I thought working full time with kids was so hard.

I was so wrong.

I’m good at being a SAHM – I do all the crafts, Preschool workbooks, outings, snapping photos and baby blogging, baking, you name it – but OH, do I hate it. I hate wearing sweats and sneakers every day and never doing my hair, because you know it’ll just get vomit or food in it. I hate not having adult conversations, unless they’re with other parents from preschool who chose to stay home. They don’t understand. I hate having a graduate degree that I used for two years and then abandoned, with no hope of using it again. I hate hearing my husband complain about his secretary. Because at least his secretary is a grownup. That he gets to talk to. I am dying, here.

I read these blog posts with a pit in my stomach. Not because I disagree, but because I know their truth firsthand, and my choices for getting out are limited.

Melissa 5 years ago

Reading all of these comments shows that I am not alone in the feeling that being a SAHM is not always rewarding, sought after, or satisfying. For me, especially after my first, it was definitely not any of these. Actually, I was a grad student for the majority of his first 2 years. Then, as a military family, we moved overseas after I finished my Masters to find there were no “masters” level jobs to speak of in our new home in Europe. So I stayed home. I was stifled, so I volunteered and I found a great place, Navy Marine Corps Relief Society. I was able to do high level work (still am after 6 years), and they paid for childcare. Granted, it wasn’t the same as I would be making at a FT job, but it made volunteering easier, and I could be me, instead of mommy all the time. I felt better about myself and I believe everyone in my house benefited. So I am now still volunteering as a “consultant” as such, in a different location another half way round the world from Europe, and for the same organization. NMCRS was a life saver, I am able to keep my skills, and resume bullets, and still have the flexibility to be with my kids. I am really busy given the fact that I am working pretty much FT between volunteering and mothering, sometimes feeling like I am not doing all things well, but on the whole satisfied and happy with my choice.

My mom worked FT as a professional, while I admired her profoundly, now that I am a mother, I understand the choices she made and how they affected us as a family, not always for the better. I can’t say whether her route or mine is better, but I know from her experience, that you can’t work FT and always be there when your family needs you, there are choices to be made, and consequences as a result.

I know I am sacrificing my long term goals for my kids, and it took a long time to reconcile that. But I have made peace with this choice and have been much happier since.

hatton 5 years ago

I love the honesty of this post. My mom worked full-time and had a great career – and we are extremely close. I think it’s just about the balance – and it’s different for every mom. I work full-time and have an amazing support system that allows me to be successful without sacrificing time with my baby. And – stay at home moms – those Saturdays I have him all by myself all day are much more exhausting that being at work all day!!!

Beth 5 years ago

I have three kids ages 10, 5, and 15 months. I have been very lucky to have the most amazing and supportive boss for the last 14 years. I followed her from one state to another because I love working with her and she is so supportive of work-life balance. I have been able to take my kids to work with me and currently my 15 month old comes to work with me three days a week and I flex the rest of my time from home. It’s the best of both worlds even if it hard at times to keep everything balanced.

The most difficult thing is keeping a line between work and family and trying to prioritize both. Some days at work I don’t get as much done because my 15-month-old needs some extra attention, and then some evenings or weekends I have to focus on work instead of spending time with my family.

But I get to volunteer at the school, attend daytime classroom events, easily schedule doctor and dentist appointments, and much more. Of course it helps that I have a fabulous husband who is very hands-on. He’s a teacher so is home when the kids get home from school plus able to be with them all summer.

My in-laws also live here and are very involved as well. My mother-in-law enjoys taking the kids to their after school activities some days. She also helps with the baby when I want to volunteer at the school.

I know I am extremely lucky and of course that makes me very loyal to my job. I don’t think I could ever go back to a five-day-a-week in the office job. Nor could I stay home full-time either.

I wish there were more options for women to work and balance family. While part-time work is a great option, unless you have free childcare then most times you are working just to cover the child-care. When I did put my now 5 year old in daycare/preschool, it was almost $800 a month for 3 days a week! And we are currently paying for private kindergarten because the public school is only half-day and I can’t work that out with commuting into the city three days a week for my job.

I try very hard never to judge other moms for their choices. As I said, I couldn’t stay home full-time and I couldn’t be away full-time either. And I count my blessings each and every day for the path in my life that brought me to where I am today.

Andi 5 years ago

Robyn wrote: “For me, mothering makes me feel completely inadequate, more aware of failures than of successes. But having a career allows for some personal pride.” Great insight! I think that is one of the big reasons I feel the need to have a job (or at least something serious to accomplish outside the home) whilst mothering.

Andi 5 years ago

You know, if all of us took to full-time child-rearing like ducks to water, we’d probably all have gone into childcare as a profession. There’s a reason why many of us don’t choose that job! We’re not all perfectly suited for it anymore than we’re all perfectly suited to be teachers, or surgeons, or truck drivers, or psychologists. It’s time we put aside the guilt we feel when the full-time mom thing just isn’t our groove. We’re happier people and thus better moms when we do find what fits us. Cheers for the great post!!

Nick 5 years ago

Great post! While I’m not a SAHM, I am a SAH Dad. This came about more by circumstance than by choice. I honestly can say I never envisioned that I would be a stay at home parent but I also knew the importance of having a parent at home if possible. When we adopted our boys, who were 2 and 4 at the time, they needed a lot of structure and consistency and we thought it was best if one of us could be at home with them for at least the first year. At the time that they came to us I was working from home on my own business and my wife had a secure job with benefits so it seemed natural that I would be the one staying at home. I thought it would be easy to juggle working on my business and taking care of them, boy, was I ever wrong! Needless to say, the business tanked due partly to my lack of time and attention and partly to the economy. Now 3 years and one more child later I’m still a SAHD and I’m struggling to keep my sense of self. This is by far the most difficult job I have ever had and it is very hard to find time for myself. While I love my children and enjoy being an active part of their lives I think sometimes if I were able to have my own thing and time away from them each day I would probably appreciate them and the time we have together more. It’s also very hard being a SAHD when there aren’t many other SAHD around. I’m usually not welcome to playgroups because they are for moms only and there is a real lack of support for dads around here. I wish our society would stop judging parents so much in their decisions to stay at home or work, be it a mom or a dad, and just be supportive of families knowing they are making the right decision for “their” family.

Marie 5 years ago

Thank you for this. It is SO true and I wish I’d had your insight when I decided to stay at home with my now four year old twins. I love being a SAHM and I hate it. And I worry about going back to work and juggling those additional responsibilities when my plate as a SAHM already seems so full. My husband has no idea how hard I work at my present role and it’s hard not to receive the appreciation I think I deserve. And of course being a SAHM has set my retirement saving back years. That said, I’ve been with my children for so many wonderful moments that I would have missed otherwise and there are many reasons that I’m glad that I took the SAHM leap. But with kindergarten next year, it’s back to work for me. No question.

Tracey 5 years ago

You really hit the nail on the head with this one. I posted it to our FB page. Thanks for putting it out there.

Betty 5 years ago

Many people make choices that they later regret. Decisions based on instant gratification are rarely good for the long term. Perhaps your children regret you staying home with them as well.

The Baby Mama 5 years ago

I think it is so important to do what is right for you – I love Baby Girl with all my heart and soul, but I can’t be at home with her 24/7. I am a much better mommy for her when I have a job to go to, and I’m feeling productive and good about myself. She benefits more – I do wish I had more time to spend with her though, but letting her know how much I love her and doing those things that only her and I share together will one day make all the difference to her.

Bee 5 years ago

Great post! Every parent is different and needs to find what works for them and their family.
I worked a salaried position until my youngest was 27 months. I wished that I could’ve been a stay at home mom at that point. I missed a lot of the big milestones and my mom (whom I love) spent way more time with them then me. Plus, my mom is not the same “type” of mom as me. I was finally able to step down to an hourly position and became much happier since I could be there more. In Oct 2009 I became unemployed. I’d love to continue to stay home but financially I need to find a part time job. I’m praying to find something while the kids are in school. I definitely need to find a healthy balance between work and home. It’s nice to have a bit more adult interaction then I’ve had in the last 15 months. Here’s hoping I find it.

Life with Kaishon 5 years ago

I love this post. Really great advice for new moms! Love it!

Steph – 3 of Mine 5 years ago

I always want to be a stay at home mom…BUT the kids still going to daycare and school. I might volunteer, I might get a PT job, I might just NOT do anything other than keep a house with 3 little boys organized (at which I’m failing miserably right now).

Kristen 5 years ago

I love this post. I am a full time out of the house working Mom of three and this made me feel better about making that decision. I do feel bad about missing out on certain things, but as the kids get older I realize it’s more important that they see me as an independent person and not just attached to the house and them only. I know we stil get looked down on by other Mom’s but there are some very good benefits to having a career away from the kids.

Julia’s Child 5 years ago

Oh buddy!

My novel is actually about this very struggle. And it found a really wonderful publisher, but not before another editor turned it down with: “I loved your book, and I read it in one sitting because I wanted to know whether she’d make it. But the book got shot down by our marketing department because we’re just not sure there are enough women out there with as much entrepreneurial spirit as your main character.”
Ha!
I salute your bravery for writing this. When I was a working mom, I felt like it wasn’t okay for me to admit out loud that I didn’t want to drop everything and stay home. “I’m under contract for another two years,” I’d sigh. But the truth was that my professional life was going great, and wanted to stay in the story. It wasn’t over for me yet. But if I’d had the same miserable commute as you did… the same thing could have happened to me.
And by the way– our first children must be nearly the same age! I was on maternity leave during the blackout.

Suzanne Shaffer 5 years ago

The sad thing is if you’re not meant to be a SAHM and you do it, not only are YOU miserable but so is your kid. My daughter recently had her first and was honest enough to admit she would go insane if she stayed at home. One of her friends reminds her every day that she is going to miss out on so much. That’s not to say that it broke her heart to leave that baby the first time, but for her mental health, and for her family’s, I think she made the right choice.

Mariah 5 years ago

“The truth is, and this is hard to admit, but I’ve never really liked going to the playground. I don’t always love being at school for drop-off and pick-up. I have never liked dealing with some of the mothers at school who have insisted staying for play dates even after the kids were old enough to be dropped off. I don’t love making lunches.”

I love you! I really do. I quit working when I had kids but even then, I was gone all day with them. I was never a stay at home mom. I was more of the let’s get out of the house and spend money mom:)

But I also know moms who work full time and come home and still bake the darn cookies. They make crafts and frame their kids art on the wall etc. Blech! I cannot do it.

Maybe I should stop before I reveal more of my horrible momness…

Erika – In Erika’s Kitchen 5 years ago

To those of you who have stayed home for a while and now think there is no way to regain your former status/responsibility/job level – I’m here to tell you that you can. I took off 8 years for full-time parenting and went back to work full-time almost two years ago. My industry had changed completely while I was out and more than one headhunter laughed at me and told me they could never send out my resume with such a big break on it.

I took a deep breath and resurrected my professional network using Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc. I reached out to everyone I could find with whom I had ever worked and asked for help. I spent a few months doing unpaid work in my field to get back up to speed and to have something current to put on my resume (no one needs to know you weren’t making money at it). And I addressed my 8-year gap proactively and with a bit of humor in my cover letters:

“You may notice a gap from 2001 to 2009. After my company was acquired, I took an intentional break to be a full-time parent. I’m ready to re-enter the working world and look forward to finding new uses for the ‘Mommy voice’ I’ve spent the past few years perfecting.”

Within three months I found a great job through a former colleague that put me right back where I would have been if I’d never retired. And now, having just changed jobs again, I’ve moved up to a level I might not have been ready for without the break.

The point is, don’t sell yourself short. Your brain hasn’t atrophied and your skill set is just as valid. Use your personal contacts and sell yourself.

Robyn 5 years ago

While I’ve had a remarkably similar experience, I can’t say I completely sympathize. I love being a mother to two toddlers, 20 months apart. But it is extremely difficult! I’ve managed to hold on to a career, despite sacrifices on the home-front, because it keeps me sane. Some women need outside stimulation. For me, mothering makes me feel completely inadequate, more aware of failures than of successes. But having a career allows for some personal pride.

Chantelle 5 years ago

I’m so lucky to live in Canada. We get a year of mat leave (55% of normal pay, but I’ll take it). I took eight months for both my girls. I never had to make that choice. I am not meant to be a SAHM either. 8 months is enough for me!!

Arlene 5 years ago

Seriously! It is just a season of life thing…work, raise little ones, work again, retire, die….

Laura 5 years ago

Very true! Some women are meant to stay home and sadly it is viewed as if they left part of themself behind by becoming a SAHM.

alex 5 years ago

I completely understand you. I had a similar experience. I would rather work tem hours ina company than be at home taking care of my kids. I love them, but it is so damn difficult!

Brie 5 years ago

I was a Mental Health Therapist before I had children and I continued to work p/t (2 evenings per week) after my first daughter was born. When she turned one I found a new job, still p/t, but working more evenings and some weekends. She was never in daycare, my husband and I just took turns caring for her. When I unexpectedly found out I was pregnant with my 2nd daughter I knew that our schedules were just not going to work in the beginning with a 2.5 year-old and a newborn, so I made the decision to be a f/t SAHM. It was nice in the beginning and I didn’t miss work; however, now that I have been home for almost 2 years, I do sometimes miss having a professional self. I didn’t realize just how much being a therapist was part of my identity until it was no longer there. I am sure at some point I will go back to work, most likely p/t, I just don’t think it will be anytime soon. While some days are very hard, boring, mind-numbing, I wouldn’t change my decision to stay home. I figure that work will always be there, especially in the mental health field, but my girls are only little once. So, even though I don’t love my job everyday, it is still good for me. I am contemplating going back to school to get a post-Masters certificate in school counseling, that way once both girls are in school f/t I can work as a School Counselor and still have the same holidays and breaks off as the girls and summers, too. I think that would be great!

Ally 5 years ago

Great post. There’s no one “right way”. I was able to work part time – 3 days a week, giving me 2 days to be a SAHM. It seemed the best of both worlds, except what I found was that I was trying to cram two full time jobs into part-time hours. Would I change it? No. I liked having “adult” time a few days a week. And when my son got old enough in elementary school, my husband started working from home and he got to come home after school. We made our situation work for us. That is what it boils down to – doing what’s right for you and your family.

dusty earth mother 5 years ago

Excellent post, Holly. Since I know you personally and know what a kind and generous spirit you are, I realize that this must not have been easy for you to write. I stayed at home with my kids and don’t regret a minute of it (even though it made me close to insane :-), because I knew what an important job it was. And the minute they were in school, I shot back to work and am so happy to have both worlds. All I can say is, this is a big decision and it’s a very individual one. I continue to hope that, as moms, we can support each other in whatever is best for each person and and each family. Love you, girl.

Laura 5 years ago

A happy mom is a great mom. I am a nurse and thankfully I am able to work perdiem ~ only 24 hours per month. When I had my twin girls six years ago, it just did not make sense for me to pay day care for what I was earning. I love that I can work when I want to work and still keep my clinical skills.

I also love that I have been there for my now three girls. Yes, at times it is monotonous and somewhat draining! But they are mine and I want to raise them. My days are not full of cookie baking and being Susie Homemaker but my days are full. And to me I feel like mothering is the most important job I will ever have.

angela 5 years ago

This is a wonderfully honest post. There are days when I question my decision to stay home (like today LOL), but I always feel like I made the right decision for myself when I really think about it outside of the current state of frustration. I know, though, that it’s not for everyone, and I think it’s important that women support each other no matter what childcare/workforce decisions we make. I feel like there are stigmas attached to each decision, depending on the circle of friends I am spending time with, and I think it’s unfortunate that people don’t look at being a SAHM just like any other career. Some people have an aptitude for working in medicine or public relations or plumbing or staying at home with their kids or taking care of other people’s kids!

Candice 5 years ago

My four month maternity leave was, without a doubt, one of the hardest spans of time in my entire life. Four months later, I still shiver just thinking about how miserable I was all day, every day. We can’t afford for either of us to be a full-time stay at home parent, but I know I never could be. I would utterly lose my mind (because I nearly did those first four months). However, now that my son is 8 1/2 mths old, he’s easier and a pure joy to be with so I truly treasure every minute I have with him, every day, even when he’s fussing, and I feel guilty about not having that urge to be home all day, every day. But we all have to do what’s best for us and for our little ones.

Thank you for the brave, amazing post.

Kristina 5 years ago

THANK YOU for this. THANK YOU. Sometimes I spend every second of everyday that I’m at work hating myself for not being with my kids. Sometimes I forget that being a SAHM is not perfect either. My kids are healthy and happy and that’s really all that matters but sometimes I worry that I will look back on this time and loathe my decision to work, so thank you for reminding me that being a working mom does not make me a bad mom.

HerMelness Speaks 5 years ago

That is the age-old, double bind of working and raising children. You feel damned whatever you do. I found though it became easier when I stopped thinking about what would be good for everyone else (including the children) and focussed on what would be right for me. I knew it was only from this platform that I would be able to give of my best to both family and corporate. In the end, the decision was made for me. I call it my ‘mid-life epiphany’ and it happened on a Monday morning. I was getting ready to chair a board meeting but, instead, for some out-of-body reason went back to my office and quietly and unemotionally typed a resignation letter. I left that afternoon. My life changed for the better and I am so grateful I got to take over from my husband to do some of the in trenches parenting. I look at my teenagers now preparing for flight in the next few years and I am glad of it.

Nina 5 years ago

This is brilliant! I’ve often said I wish career counselors in college could be honest about telling women who want families to find careers that will allow for part-time at certain points in life. (So maybe things that allow you to control your own hours and work two or three days instead of five . . . therapist, etc.) Of course that would be completely NOT politically correct and would never happen. Then some women are left with these black/white choices . . . one or the other . . . when something part-time could be perfect.

Lori Druskin Ryan 5 years ago

I have 2 boys who are 16 months apart. I worked full time in TV news from the time they were born to when they were 5 and 6 years old. I remember one day when the boys were both babies and home sick, I stayed home with them and it was the longest, most challenging day of my life. I kept thinking to myself “SAHMs are my heroes. I don’t know how they do it.”

Bobbie 5 years ago

I am lucky enough I get to do what I love which is have my own business from home as a Cake and Pastry designer and decorator. I have 2 older children and I worked fulltime with them. I was lucky enough that for the most part I had my family’s help in taking care of them so stranger would not have to, for the most part. Now with my Youngest who is 21 months old and has Downs I am glad to be home with him and still be able to work. The first year after I had him I couldn’t really do anything because I went into heart failure, lost my job and so forth. I am fine now and I have a great business. I also give scrap booking classes too to supplement and am considering a part time job in a bakery…. We shall see. I do miss that co-worker interaction, but that is what social media and groups are for especially if you work from home, it’s keeps you connected to adults and gets you out. I am glad with my choices both ways.

amber 5 years ago

For almost the first year of my daughter’s life, I railed against the necessity of having to work. She was being watched by a friend of mine, and like you, I was incredibly jealous. But for me, quitting isn’t an option, and honestly? It’s probably a good thing.

I’ve switched daycare situations – she’s now in a center – and she’s learning so much, and seems so happy that I can’t feel too guilty about taking that route.

I don’t think I’d be all that great as a SAHM either, but I gotta tell you, there are plenty of days where I wish I could try. I’m thinking part-time would be the best of both worlds. Or maybe working at home?

I don’t know. I’m still trying to get my balance.

Guru Mama Mel 5 years ago

I have never been happy with one or the other. I am a former cop. My hours were hell on the home. I loved my job….but I always missed birthdays, holidays, weekends, events at school, etc. Now that I work from home as a photographer, I wish I was still kickin’ in doors and putting bad guys in jail. Sometimes I just need a break from all “this” and I get jealous when I see my husband having fun at work. It’s also hard to have friends when you don’t have a job to go to. So…that being said…I never really found a happy medium…but I am glad I don’t have to direct traffic in the rain anymore and in 20 years, my kids will be able to say I was always there for them.

Brittany at Mommy Words 5 years ago

Thank you for this post. I finally left my job in investment banking after I found out I was pregnant with my 2nd child and realized that as my 1st was trying to stand up in the evenings she was gripping my legs as I typed away on my bloomberg. I tried part time but it still ended up being 60 hours a week and I could not do the travel anymore so I did not get the promotion I deserved. I was failing at both motherhood and bankerlady.

Now I have 3 kids and I am trying to start a company and get some real childcare because what I really want is part time childcare to the tune of about 25 hours a week./ Between that and nights I could get my business started without missing everything.

Like you, I miss my job, I miss my colleagues, I miss the success I was having. But I don’t want to miss my kids.

Great post! So thoughtful.

“Cookie” 5 years ago

Balance…. and to each her (and her family)’s own. Women should support each other whether they chose to work or stay at home. You are honest and open so my hat’s off to you!

I have the best of both worlds. My mom keeps my boys and I work. So I know they’re being well cared for and no worries or regrets on my part. I am blessed w/ being able to work from home if need be and work around my boys schedules. I really do enjoy being home w/ my boys several days a week… just not day in and day out. Unlike you (and there’s NOTHING wrong with it), I LOVE going to the park with them and playing outside.

Someone else said it…. you are a mother someone can come to and ask. #1. you’ve done both. #2. you’re honest. #3. From this post, I get that you don’t judge either.

Nancy Davis Kho 5 years ago

I have been so encouraged, first by reading Katy’s post on Salon, and then reading all the honest and (mostly) respectful reactions to it. Like you, I had a shudder of recognition…full time was too hard to manage when my kids were small (my job at the time required a great deal of travel,) and I thought I was so smart finding p-t work which I’ve sustained throughout their childhoods (the oldest is now 13.) But it all hangs by a thread. What if, god forbid, something happens to my husband the breadwinner? Have I served my kids’ best interests if I’m unable to support them in that situation? The flipside is that in my experience, someone has to be the parent with flexibility to get the kids to lessons, stay home with a sick child, take them to the dentist. My hat is off to the families with two working parents who by choice or by circumstance have to make it work.

I have no idea what the answer is – I ended up interviewing for a f-t job yesterday, probably for no other reason than than that Salon post scared me. But I appreciate that we’re having this discussion out in the open instead of just inside our own panicky heads.

tracey 5 years ago

Great honesty. But I feel the need to point out that had you continued to work with the struggles and heartache you had been experiencing back then, you might just be on the other side of the fence, explaining to moms to be just why they SHOULD take that time off because you feel like you missed something.

Not saying you WOULD, just that you COULD be saying the opposite of what you feel today. The grass is always greener, right? Well, it’s not. Life is tough. We all make sacrifices. Either we sacrifice our careers to stay at home or we sacrifice the amount of time with our kids to climb a corporate ladder. It’s all sacrifice, though. Anyone who doesn’t understand that motherhood means putting yourself behind your kids hasn’t had the situation properly explained to them. I think that THAT is the best advice to give to moms to be!

Jennifer 5 years ago

Wow. This really resonates with me. I was in a very similar situation when I had my daughter. I loved my job and the work I did, but the travel made it impossible to be a mother (in my opinion) so I resigned. I found another job so that I could be home more (no full time staying home for me, just no), but it is a JOB, not a CAREER. Sometimes I feel really sad that I let that part of me go. I see people that I trained moving on to bigger and better positions and I’m envious. I think “that would have been me.” But then I have to remind myself of what I would have given up and weigh it against what I’ve got. For me, there just really is no comparison when it comes down to it.

Amanda 5 years ago

I have my first baby due on March 16th and I am struggling. I love my full time job and everyone I work with. Its not a career by any means but I do like my job. I unfortunately do have to quit. I don’t make enough so that we can afford day care and every other thing around the house. I would be working for a dollar, if that, after daycare/taxes, etc. I am reading the comments and feel good that we had already talked about me getting a part time job after she is here. I mean we need the extra income but I think it will be good for me to get a break and some adult interaction! I am only 23 years old and I am happy where my life is BUT I am very social and don’t know what I would do with myself if the only people I talked to were the baby and my boyfriend.

Jennifer 5 years ago

Exactly. Thank you.

Lib 5 years ago

I realized years ago, when I our financial need demanded I work part time, I am a better mother with some time away from them. I can get hopelessly depressed pretty quick like being a sahm. Work equals a sane mamma for our household.

Melissa 5 years ago

I was working a job I enjoyed when I had my son. I took a 1yr Mat leave and returned to work at a different location (closer to my new home)… it was hell. I kept wishing I had never left my previous position. I was absolutely miserable. With the support of my husband I took the leap and quit. It was scary and VERY tight… but I ended up finding the job of my dreams. “Yah Bags” was born and I haven’t looked back. I get to have my own identity doing what I love… and I get to be with my son. I do LOVE being home with him, but also need my own “thing”. It just happened to work out for the very best in my situation. Mom’s shouldn’t feel guilty about whether they work or stay home… it’s a personal preference. I truly try to support the woman around me with whichever decision best suits them and their families. There’s no right or wrong answer.

angelica 5 years ago

if I had to choose between full time mom or full time work, I’d go with the second, in a heart beat, but I don’t (lucky), I work part time as freelancer. and I like to think that when I’m ready I will be able to go back to full time as the part time allows me to continue getting experience in my field. But I NEED THAT PART TIME, I need to be away from them. My work requires that I travel every so often for a couple of weeks at a time, and I come back renewed, looking forward to spending time with them. In between projects I get my fix of baking and after school pick up, so that when the next job comes I can walk away happily.
it took me a while to get here though…. and, each to their own, you just need to be honest with yourself and know what you want, not what you think you should want, no?

Mary 5 years ago

Beautiful post. It is so nice to know I’m not alone. Mine are still very young (3 and 2) and there are days I hide in the bathroom and cry because I feel like I am failing miserably. I always wanted to be a mom but now that I’m here all day it is stifling. I crave structure and with two toddlers it is nearly impossible to achieve any. The worst part by far though is the guilt for feeling that way. I love my kids so much, and I DO love taking care of them. But I will never be the mom that looks forward to doing art projects, sitting on the floor playing dolls or mediating disputes. I worry they are getting the short end of the stick because of my lack of enthusiasm. My boy is eating the crayons again, looks like my time is up! :)

Jen 5 years ago

I’ve worked part time and been home full time about 50/50 since my oldest son was born 14 years ago.

I’ve been back to part time for about 4.5 months after a move and almost 2 years at home. I hated that last two years at home. I was depressed, angry at my husband for having a job to go to and totally resentful.

Being given a shot at a part-time position with a new company after that time “at home with my kids who were in school all day” was the BEST thing for me. I don’t plan to ever go back to being home full time. Ever.

Megan (Best of Fates) 5 years ago

I’ve never really thought about what I’d do, career-wise, after having kids, but this post certainly has me thinking!

liz 5 years ago

I think this is a great post and something more women need to hear. I am not afraid to say that I am better as a mom and just in general if I have something else to do besides being with my kids all day, every day. I was able to consult on a part-time basis after my first child was born, and I felt more alive and more productive when I had work coming in.

I do know some women who returned to work full-time and say that’s the only way they can be happy and be a good mom. And I totally believe that. Some people just aren’t “wired” to stay at home full-time and be OK with that.

I also have a friend who works part-time, up to 30 hours a week, and she swears she has the best of both worlds. She earns her own money, uses her brain, feels productive, keeps current with her career YET she has flexibility to be there for her boys.

Kameron 5 years ago

It’s nice to hear a post from this perspective. I am a full time working mother of 2 (ages 3.5 and 14 months). I am in the biotech field and I feel like I didn’t get 2 degrees just to give it all up. I enjoy working. I love the challenge and stimulation my job gives me. It is an important part of me, just as being a mother is. I think it is a very individual decision. I think I would be more stressed by staying home with them 24/7 than I am balancing work and home. I love my kids, but I love me too and I know what I need to be a good mother!

Sue @ Laundry for Six 5 years ago

I had a similar experience as you. I was run down and exhausted trying to keep up with my more-than full-time hours with a baby at home and another on the way. I was my boss’s right arm, which I loved but the pressure was too much. I missed the biggest presentation of my career because my baby was dehydrated and horribly sick with rotovirus. That was the breaking point for me.

And while, yes, I feel like I am largely not marketable right now having “opted out” for 10 years, as my youngest is heading to kindergarten next year, I am very much looking forward to going back to work. I know I’ll never regain the status I had before in my career, but for me, the tradeoff was completely worth it. If there had been better part time options and more affordable child care, I would love to have found a balance between career and parenting. But for me, those options just weren’t there.

Momlissa 5 years ago

I loved the honesty of your post. Staying home with the kids is HARD. That said, I am a full time, outside the home, working mom with three small children (a 5 year old and 3 year old twins).

I see what you are saying, I do, but it is freaking hard. I am not there for every event, to volunteer in class. My children are constantly asking me to take them to school or pick them up from school, why I’m not here or there. My life is a series of mommy guilt moments. I have worked FT, PT and I have been home with the kids full time and if I had my choice, I’d work PT again. The recession and life circumstances have prevented this as an option for me at the moment. Are there days when I cannot wait to get to the quiet and order of work? Oh yes. Are there days when I’m in tears driving to work because my children were crying as I left? Oh yes. My husband does more than most, but I still come home to a house full of chores after a full work day, kids wanting and needing my attention,etc. The other day, a fellow mom saw my kids and asked if I had a “S” under my shirt. I told her no, I had a “T” for tired.

Obviously, my working is great professionally, but emotionally it can be rough, rough, rough. I’d give anything to be with my kids right now vs. working. But I agree, everyone needs to do what is best for their life situation at any given moment and right now, my working is putting food on the table.

Kimberly 5 years ago

I didn’t get have the option to stay home with my kids, but I think I knew early on that I wasn’t quite cut out to be Suzie Homemaker, Mother Extraordinaire. I am a far better mother to my children because I do go to work. The choice to continue in a career or to stay home is an intensely personal decision. I don’t believe one way is the right way for all women, all kids, all families. But it is refreshing to hear your perspective because it’s not the voice that is usually heard. Thanks for sharing!

Wendy 5 years ago

I always knew I would go back to work after my kids came. I’m too much of a home body to be a SAHM. I need the structure of the work day. I’m fortunate enough to work in a flexible environment so I’m not missing the field trips or school events and can work from home sometime if one of my girls is sick.

Recently though I have discovered that ALL of my college girlfriends are SAHM and I was starting to wonder if there is something wrong with me. I wouldn’t mind working part time, but financially it’s all or nothing for us right now. But my girls have yet to call someone else Mama or Daddy, so I think we’be made the right decision.

TANYA 5 years ago

I’m the opposite – I’d love love love to stay at home. But I made bad choices and now I’m a single mom so I don’t have a choice. I have to work.

With that said I fully believe that some mom’s are better moms if they aren’t SAHM. My sister, who I love dearly and hate greatly, worships the ground that Dr (gag) Laura walks on. So she, my sister, firmly believes that if one parent cannot stay home to raise the kids they shouldn’t have children. AND – you’re gonna love this – if they do get pregnant they should give up the kids for adoption to parents who “really want them all the time”. WTF. She thinks I’m a bad mom because I have to work. And in a way she’s right. I’m not the type of person who can go to work for 9 hours a day and come home happy to my kids and energetic on the weekend. I’d be much happier cleaning the house, wiping ass, making lunches and baking cookies all day. But I chose a douche bag to father my children and I’m owning up to it and making the best of our lives.

I appluade you coming out and speaking up for yourself and others! I wish we as monthers didn’t feel pressure form either group (because I do have friends who felt like they wanted to stay home but didn’t) and were left alone to make the choice that is best for us and our own individual families.

OHN 5 years ago

SAHM here….with mixed results.
I do not regret leaving my career, but that being said, nobody warned me that being home with Barney, Mr. Rogers, Sesame Street et.al, ALL DAY, EVERY DAY, would be so mind numbingly boring..or HARD. It is work people. Plain and simple. It drove me insane when husband came home and thought I had a picnic all day. Actually, he is quite lucky to still be alive.
On the other hand, I now have amazingly close friendships with my semi-adult children. They ask my opinions, and sometimes actually listen. They are self sufficient (probably from the days I locked myself in the bathroom and they had to fend for themselves), and intelligent young men.
The flip side…..obviously my “spot” at work was filled loonnnggg ago and getting back into it, well, it’s not that easy. While I have been CEO’ing the homefront, employers don’t really give a shit. They think that I was the one watching Barney, and not reading the WSJ. So, having to prove myself again is a pain.
If I had to do it all over again, I honestly wouldn’t change the way I did it. Those momentary times I resented the hell out of my friends that were lunching in corporate attire, they are a blur compared to the memories of raucous laughter of boys tearing the hell out of my beautiful home. Just my slant on MY life….everyone needs to do what is best for their own sanity.

Vinobaby 5 years ago

Loved it–thank you! Yes, this post would make you a pariah amongst many circles of die-hard SAHMs, but it is so honest, and so true. I had the “nerve” to call myself a recovering SAHM at a playdate yesterday and I was chastised for ever thinking that hanging at playgrounds and doing laundry was not enough. But my kid is now in school full-time. I have been out of the job market too long to get back in doing anything besides working the McD’s drive-thru. And I am struggling every day to recreate my self, to remember who I was, what I talked about, what I enjoyed before every conversation revolved around potty training.

I love my kid, but I’m over it. I want to be a grown up again.

Somewhere, hiding deep inside my World’s Greatest Mom t-shirt, is a woman who is more than just “kiddo’s” Mother.

Vicki Archer 5 years ago

Wow! Great read…I haven’t worked in 7 years now! Ever since my first pregnancy…three kids later I have transformed…is it good or do I sometimes miss “my” life, which in turn I have a “family” life?! It’s a hard choice to make!!

The Military Life 5 years ago

Well said!!!

Arlene 5 years ago

I loved my job as a middle school teacher but once I had my first and tried juggling it all I was MISERABLE! I couldn’t focus on my job when I was there and I couldn’t focus on my kids when I was home. Apparently I was a disastor multi-tasker! So, I quit my job to stay home. I like to think I made the right decision…I don’t miss anything, they can lounge in their jammies all day if they want, I don’t have to worry about taking days when they are sick, and the list continues. Now, I am no super mom, but I am making a sacrifice for them. I figure I will probably work for 20 more years once they are in school, so enjoy the time home with them now!

Lady Estrogen 5 years ago

Great read! I went back to work part-time when the twins were 8mths and then full time when they were 16mths. I love working; I love the glam of it. And you hit one very strong truth – I think I am also a better mom when I have had some time away from them. 24/7 of all things baby was not a gig I was ever going to sign up for.

The Military Life 5 years ago

I fought my husband, tooth and nail, after getting out of the Navy to stay at home and not work. On paper, the numbers just didn’t pay me to work. We actually made more with me staying at home. I did work briefly when my oldest was two, and guilt overtook me. I felt as if I were paying someone else to raise my child. With the hubster in and out to sea, I was the stable parent and thought it my job to provide stability the best way I knew how: staying at home. When I say stay at home, I mean, I’ve had a sitter once per year every year, with the exception of this one (I even drug them to the ER with me and begged the dr not to hospitalize me for pnuemonia during one deployment) and none of my three kiddos went to nursery or pre-school. They all started their school lives at Kindergarten at the age of five.
Twelve years later, my youngest teetered off to Kindergarten, and I planned to do all the things I had been putting off including finishing my degree, getting a job, and all the cool stuff I thought I couldn’t do with kids at home. Well life happened, and here I am, halfway through my daughter’s kindergarten year, still at home, doing the same stuff.
I regret not chasing my dreams down. In the midst of being a support military spouse and a mom to three, I’ve sacrificed everything for myself personally and professionally. I’m now almost 35, and I feel as if the only things I have accomplished is getting hitched and spitting out babies. To many, I’m still young, but I’m absolutely terrified of the real world now.
Hindsight is always 20/20.

Lynn MacDonald (All Fooked Up) 5 years ago

Today,my second child turns 20. For me, I had already been consulting and didn’t love my job so being a SAHM was just what I was going to do. Having said that, I WISH there had been a job that I loved so that there was something I could do for me.

My opinion is the BEST mom is the mom who is happy, whether that be from being with the kids, or having a job. The more fulfilled you are, the better off your kids are. I was home, but half the things we did bored me to tears. I’m all about honesty and my kids have always known how I felt.

Of course, I don’t believe in regrets either.

Excellent post!

charissa 5 years ago

It was the right decision for my family for me to stay home with the kids after our second was born. That said, I’m not really cut out for the stay at home mom gig and I’m looking forward to becoming a full-time grad student in the fall when they are all in school!

Beckytwogirls 5 years ago

I’m glad you wrote this. I have three – 5 1/2, 3 and 7 months. Love love love them to pieces, but being a SAHM is not for me. I need that time away for my sanity, my own well-being. And they have gained so much by being cared for by another provider who loves them every bit as much as I do (she doesn’t tell me if they accidentally call her mom). Not working is not a choice for me and some days I wish it were just part-time, but I would be insane if I were home 24/7.

Kim @ This Belle Rocks 5 years ago

I feel much the same way…I’ve never had the opportunity to really be a SAHM, but I know I wasn’t cut out for that anyway. I always felt a little bit guilty about that, but I knew there had to be others out there like me!

Christine 5 years ago

Oh how I could go on and on on this topic. But first let me say that I completely agree and how brave of you to be so honest about it. I have chosen to keep working while raising my boys (2 & 4). I live in Canada where we have a wonderful system that allows mothers to be in employment insurance for a year maternity leave while their jobs are protected. I’m not sure I could have worked during either of their first years – though I longed to, I was just too tired. With the second I had the good fortune to be able to do some work from home and it helped me feel connected, like I was holding on to a little bit of myself. The thing is, working and mothering is the right fit for me. It keeps me whole and DOES make me a better parent. It’s who I am. Like you I’ve struggled, I’ve felt guilt, I miss them (of course I do) and there are days when the commute is particularly difficult that I think I am totally crazy. But then I see them flourishing, being loved by many adults and I know they are okay. As long as I know they are okay, then I can do what I have to do. All this to say. Yes! I think some moms really do need to work. And it’s okay that we do. There is no right way, only different ways. I wish everyone could see that.

Savvy Mom Stylish Girls 5 years ago

All through college, grad school, and into my career no one ever told me that life is going to drastically change after children. That after children you will have to decide to work or not. (if you even have the choice). That balancing work and family is one of the hardest things to accomplish. Some of this advice would have been nice to have as I was working so hard to start my career. I had no idea.

So now I am a mom who works 40 hours a week out of the house. Yes I have an awesome job with a supportive boss, make great money, and I truly feel like my kids have thrived. However, if I could have quite I would have. Maybe I would have regretted it later on but I spent the first 5 years of my kids lives wanting so bad to be home. But we were never able to make that happen. Sometimes I think if I could quit now I would. But I know how lucky I am to have the type of job I have so I try to remember that.

I think if someone wants to be a SAHM they need to plan for it. They need to plan financially and emotionally with forward thinking. I totally agree it should not be a decision made hastily.

Sorry I could go on with this topic. I love the original article you mentioned. I applauded her for speaking her truth on the matter. I think woman need to hear both sides.

Thank you.

Krista 5 years ago

Oh, I loved this. My career had JUST started to take off when I got pregnant with my first child. I had a boss I respected, a job that challenged me and I was “being noticed.” I was scared to death that being on maternity leave and then coming back as a mom was going to throw everything off. So scared that I worked from home after about week 2 and went in for occassional meeting. Luckily, I have a great support system at home. So I haven’t run into too many problems where “the kid gets in the way.” (God, that sounds bad.)
I’m now pregnant with my second and this time I’m really looking forward to maternity leave. Mostly because my job has changed. Our company was acquired too, but instead of it meaning opportunity, my career growth has been stunted. When I talk about looking forward to being home, I think my husband thinks that I want it to be a full-time gig. I don’t. I want to have the baby, brush up my resume and start looking for something else. Something where I feel challenged again, something where I feel respected again.
You said it best when you said it’s a balance. It is. Some people are cut out to be at home baking cookies and doing crafts. I am not one of them. I think I can teach my daughter more by going to the office and having her go to daycare or preschool than I can by being at home with her, letting her play while I count down the hours to nap time.

Liza (@amusingfoodie) 5 years ago

Great, great post. I have always worked full-time while raising our two kids, but had no other option – I’m the bread winner. When they were tiny infants (particularly my first, and especially when I had to go back to work at 4 weeks with my second), the pang to stay home and the jealousy of my friends who were able to, grew exponentially. However, in the long run it ended up being right for me to work – and I’ve loved the time that the kids have had learning from other caregivers during the day. It’s crazy day-to-day, but we make it work.

Liza

Charlene Long 5 years ago

Wonderful and honest write. I loved it.

Erin 5 years ago

Thank you for your honesty and candor – I hope this was empowering for you. That is how this made me feel – empowered and in good company!!

I’d wager that the apron wearing moms may not feel as happy and fulfilled as you may think…I wear an apron sometimes and GOD KNOWS that I am NOT one of “those moms”

The whole stay at home parenting gig is REALLY hard and I only do it in the summer – I can admit that most days I feel a rush of relief after I drop my 3 kids off at daycare and head off to my job…does that make me a bad mom?
Hopefully not but I am running late now so I don’t have time to worry about it:)

GREAT POST!!! I’d expect nothing less of Scary and her pals:)

Grumpy Mum 5 years ago

Well, I started a reply and ended up going on with myself a bit on this subject so posted my random ramblings to my own blog instead.
In response to your post I find it refreshing that you can be so honest about how you feel on this subject. Everyone seems to expect mums to stay at home with their children if they possibly can, but not everyone wants to (and the apron-wearing mum’s don’t help) so it’s just about finding a balance that’s right for you and your children – financially, socially and emotionally. We as mums aren’t much use to them if we’re frazzled out and pining for adult company!

x

I’m So Fancy 5 years ago

Here here! I gave it up first though to be a SAHWife when we moved to England and I couldn’t work. Trying to find a new identity was a struggle and I’m still fighting for myself. And I love my girls more than anything but please, please let go of my leg. Have absolutely no shame in your perspective!

Shannon 5 years ago

I’ve been a SAHM for about 4 years now… I quit working when my girls were 6 and 4. I had wanted to stay home when my oldest was born, but we couldn’t afford it at the time. So when the opportunity for me to quit working presented itself, I jumped at it.

But…

I know the time for me to return to the workforce will come (and probably sooner than I would like), and this thought scares me. Because I have NO IDEA what job I will find when that time comes. So on one hand, I wish I had stuck with my job.

Christine 5 years ago

I try to work (and study) at home while being the main carer for my 2 kids (aged 3.5 years and 13 months).
My daughter started at creche last week, just 3 days a week, but when it’s combined with my son’s school hours, it means I have just 14 hours a week to try and pack a full working week in…
I need to do something with my time which is for me – in my case, working from home and studying. It keeps me sane and reminds me that I’m more than just a wife and mother – I actually have a role and a purpose outside the family.

dysfunctional mom 5 years ago

I think, if someone is debating staying home vs. working, they SHOULD come to you for advice. Because you represent another side of it, and you’re very open & honest about it. I loved being a SAHM and when I did work when my kids were small, I hated it. It ripped my heart out. But, I totally understand that others don’t feel that way. Some mothers very much enjoy working, and that is perfectly ok. Just as some of us are not cut out to be working moms, some of us are not cut out to be SAHMs, and nobody should feel guilty or inferior for her decision.

Amanda 5 years ago

I was fortunate enough after my children were born to be able to work part time. I’m a nurse, so I’ll never make a fortune simply from being a nurse, but I value my time away from my kids a great deal. I worked for about 9 months on a part time basis before taking a full time job and it did allow me to more easily transition into being a working mother.

And I can’t stand the peppy mothers. I really want to shake them to see if there’s really someone inside.