When You Are a Mom and You Choose To Work Outside of the Home
Guest post by Lynn Little:
In June of 2014 I was promoted at work. At 27, I was the youngest group home manager at my agency and I was super proud that I was able to work my butt off and prove that I could handle the responsibility of the 4 women who are under my care.
I was nailing this whole being a working mom thing!
After about 4 months of being on call 24/7 and having to drag my kids out with me on evenings to handle some emergency, we decided that my husband would quit work to be home with them.
In November of 2014, my husband became a full time stay at home dad. It was awesome! If I had to work late, I didn’t feel guilty about a babysitter raising my kids. They were with a parent, so what was there to feel guilty about? Sure there was a bit of an adjustment period. We had to find a system of calendars and scheduling that worked for us, but once we did, honest to God it was smooth sailing.
Until it wasn’t…
One night my husband and I were getting ready to go out and I was talking to the babysitter while my husband was finishing getting ready. I was telling her how the oldest ate ketchup on his hotdogs, the middle had them naked and the little one needed his cut up with ketchup on the side for dipping. That’s when my husband poked his head out of the bathroom with the toothbrush hanging out of his mouth and shook his head. He finished brushing his teeth and them came out to clarify: the oldest liked mustard and ketchup, the middle one liked ketchup and the little one now ate them whole and plain, no bun. In shock, I said, “since when?” He replied, “For a few months now.”
I was stunned! When had my kids shifted their preference in hot dog toppings? Why didn’t I know? Then the reality of the answer hit me like a ton of bricks. I hadn’t had to make hot dogs for them in over a year because I was at work. I personally despise those mystery meat missiles and so my husband would make them sometimes on nights that I was working late so I wouldn’t even have to smell them.
The first wave of guilt ensued with that realization. I spent most of our date night quizzing him about what else had changed with the little humans that I made!
I went to bed that night feeling like the worst mom on the planet. I couldn’t get it out of my head that moms are supposed to know how their kids like their hot dogs!!
When I’d recovered from the hotdog incident, there is another moment I recall quite clearly where I decided I was going to head out from work a little earlier than usual. I came home and greeted my husband as my kids were still in their rooms having quiet time/nap time. My husband and I were talking about our respective days when suddenly we hear *THUMP* *SCREAM. * I was closer to the bedroom door so I got there first. My littlest man had fallen off his bed and had waken himself up on the fall.
Since I got to him first, I picked him up and cuddled him while checking him over for injury. When he saw that his father had followed me into the room he began trying to crawl over me to get to him. I passed him off even though I was seething on the inside! Not at my husband or even at my child but I was mad at myself for putting myself in the situation where my kids don’t even want me to comfort them!
Why would I ever allow this to happen? I was so jealous of his relationship with our kids!
For a few more weeks I continued to feel sorry for myself but then my youngest, who has not really known anything other than Daddy being home 24/7, got sick. He has asthma and when things go bad, they tend to go very bad. So, that night we ended up at the ER at 3am. He laid on my chest for hours and only took medicine from me and not the nurse. He would only take the breathing treatments if I was holding the wand. And that’s when my heart began to swell just a little. We went home and I tried to pass him off to his father but he did not want to go. As tired as I was, I actually reveled in his clinging to me. I was the comforter again! My kids wanted me more! Woohoo! It sounds silly as I am not in competition with my husband but in that moment, my brain said “Neener!”
When it was time for me to head back to work the following day he easily transitioned back to his father for comfort. I realized that while I will always want my kids to come to me for comfort, I should be overjoyed that they are just as comfortable, or even more so, with their father! If I had to drop him off to a babysitter to go back to work, it would’ve been so much more difficult that day. Instead he just snuggled in with his father and I did not feel guilty leaving. I knew he had exactly what he needed.
I am not saying I am perfect about this arrangement we have yet. Just a couple of weeks ago, this same little man walked right past me to his father when he got hurt on the playground. Sure, it still stings sometimes. But I take comfort in knowing that even when I am not around, there is someone who comforts him and who loves him just as much as I do. And at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want as mothers? And when the jealousy is strong, I make sure I take a little extra time to do something with just me and the kids to keep our relationship strong even if it is just board games while Daddy takes some time to himself.
As mothers, we have critics everywhere. We need to cut ourselves some slack and remember that we are all doing our best. We strive for perfection and regularly fall short of our own perception of what perfection is. There is always some random stranger on the internet (or let’s be honest, some family member) willing and ready to tell us how we are wrong. We need to be able to say to ourselves, “Hey! You tried and even if it didn’t work the way you planned, you are doing ok!”
Lynn is a mother to three crazy boys. She runs a group home for intellectually disabled adults and helps run a homeschool co-op. In her free time, she enjoys camping, reading, and making memories with her boys.
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