Talking About Work, Motherhood, and Marriage

by Ginger on April 12, 2011

in Marriage, Mom Thoughts, The 9-5, Working Mom

Yesterday, there was a post on Mom-101 that I thought about all day long. In The unspoken truths of mothers on top, Liz wrote about the challenges of being a mom who is the primary breadwinner married to the stay at home dad trying to work, explore your passion, and feed your family. Uh…sounds familiar.

While a lot of her post was about being an entrepreneur in that situation, what resonated with me was when she talked about how we don’t TALK about this, in blogland in particular. Some of that is because a lot of the mommy blogging community is made up of stay at home moms. Some of that is because lots and lots of bloggers (male & female) don’t/won’t talk about their jobs. Some of it is because it’s one of the conversations you have, as Liz said, behind closed doors with someone in your similar situation  “and in hushed whispers, describe the fears and the burdens and the exhaustion and the secret, horrible anxiety of what ifs.”

I know that sometimes part of my stress is the inability to talk about it with someone who understands. Oh, I can talk to my husband, but he’s the other side of the equation. I’ve spoken on a rare occasion with my boss–who is in a strikingly similar situation to mine (minus the blogging)–but, well, she’s my boss. And while I will gladly discuss it with anyone who is interested, there is that level of UNDERSTANDING, of been-there-ness, that I yearn for. I find myself following bloggers who are in similar shoes so I can feel a little less alone. But I’ll be honest, even those I find rarely talk about it. I know I talk about it some, but I’m more likely to talk about my job than I am the ins and outs of the multiple hats I wear.

One of the reasons that everyone says mommy blogging has become so popular is that it was and is an outlet to connect mothers–that group that typically isn’t pronouncing their day from the rooftops–who felt isolated by the work of mothering. It created groups of communities where you could talk about shared struggles, milestones, stresses and joys. Mommy blogging lets you celebrate and commiserate about motherhood.

But that tribe of us that works, and mining that even further into those of us that work while our significant other stays home, we stay silent on a lot. We continue to connect about the mothering part of our lives, but it seems like the other areas, well those don’t bring in the traffic the same way. It’s easier to talk about the toddler who is teething than it is to talk about how, just once, you wish you could make it to a library story time. It’s easier to talk about the newest wordpress plugin you’re in love with than it is to talk about how you make time to blog while working full time with a family. It’s easier to talk about how awesome a dad your husband is than it is to talk about the challenges of living with gender role reversals. It’s easier to talk about the highs and lows of being a mom than it is to talk about the highs and lows of being an employee, breadwinner, career woman, who is also a wife, who is also a mom.

And let’s be honest. It’s easier to daydream about winning the lottery/starting your own business/making it big as a blogger.

I struggle, a lot, with my work/mom/life balance. It’s hard not to–my job is completely insane, my little boy is the light of my life, and I am surrounded both online and off by people who have freedoms that I can only dream about. But I also know that I’ve worked hard for my career. I think occasionally about leaving publishing if only for the financial advancement opportunities, and it makes me sad every time I do. And I know that I have things others long for: grown up conversation, a place to pee in private, a sense of accomplishment that is only about me and my success. I also know that my job–infuriating though it can be–provides me with the means to take care of my family, to let our little boy grow up in the way that we think best, and to give my husband the time and space he needs to build his art career (though he gets decidedly less done with a toddler around. Let’s be honest.). Do I wish I were the one at home sometimes? I do. But I also know that life is a series of choices–and mine brought me to this place where I get some of what I want and have to compromise on the rest.

I just wish we talked about it more. I wish it were easier to find this tribe. I love having the MOM tribe to poll, commiserate and laugh with. I would love to have that same feedback on that OTHER part of my life. We’re out there, I know we are–I just wish we talked more.

Nina April 12, 2011 at 5:30 am

I WAS YOU… till November. I made twice as much as my hubs, worked/commuted at least 50 hours per week, and only saw my kid for about 1.5-2 hours every day before bedtime. Hubs worked nights and took care of the kid all day and he would go to sleep the moment I walked in the door-so I NEVER saw him. It was insane and stressful. We did not want to use daycare (or pay for it). We often talked about hubs just quitting, but he was not willing to be the ‘homemaker’ (he sucks at keeping things clean- which added to my stress level -every day when I came home it looked like a bomb went off). So we did a MAJOR LIFE OVERHAUL. Tried to sell my townhouse with no luck and let it go into foreclosure. Used our meager life savings to buy an old house in a teeny tiny town. I quit my job, we moved, and now hubs commutes. With his salary we are getting by, but there aren’t many frills (like that trip to the salon I used to enjoy every 6-8 weeks? not anymore).

I’m not proud of the foreclosure, but now we literally have NO debt, not even a mortgage or rent payment (boy is that a load of my shoulders). And I take Jack to the library for story time. Do I wonder if I tanked my career? Well, I probably did. I’ll cross that road when (and if) I’m ready to go back to work a few years from now.

PS- as a working Mom, there was NO time for me to read or write blogs. And work blocked every interesting internet site. LOL

Ginger April 12, 2011 at 10:31 pm

Working different schedules? And never seeing each other? Talk about the worst of all worlds (IMO). If that was our situation, you can bet I’d be doing any and everything I could to make a change!

For us, my husband worked from home long before our son was in the picture, so it’s not like I can claim that our situation is a surprise. I may wish sometimes that I could take Jackson to storytime, but for that to happen we’d have to end both my husband’s career and mine. And that’s not in the realm of what we’re willing to sacrifice.

Plus, I have to keep on top of some of the blogging community for my job, so it does have perks to keeping it around 😉

Amy (Frugan) April 12, 2011 at 5:42 am

I’m ready to talk! I talk about this all the time, and try to touch on it on my blog when it really comes to a head. But you’re right, there is resistance to talking about it too much.

I think the thing that makes me feel alienated as a working mom is the assumption I often see in blog comments, that moms who work are of two types: 1) People who have to work and/or aren’t resourceful enough to make do with less. 2) “Career women” who are all about work, work, work. I’m neither. I do have to work, but I don’t work because I have to. I like my career, yes, but I like my daughter more. I’m trying to make the balance work but it is HARD.

My husband doesn’t stay at home, but because of a sucky commute for me, he has been the one doing most of the leaving, picking up, cooking during the week. That is hard too, and makes me feeling guilty. One of the many reasons I’ve just decided to switch jobs.

Work-life balance is tough (the biggest question in my life). Work-life-blog balance? Even harder, which is why I am impressed with people like you who post fairly often. I manage about once a week at best.

Ginger April 12, 2011 at 10:50 pm

I hate those assumptions too. Oh man, do I ever. And I think that’s part of why we don’t talk about it. Who wants to feel alienated–particularly in something like blogging that is perhaps their hobby or entertainment–about something that is already hard?

Frelle April 12, 2011 at 6:31 am

Thank you for pouring your heart out here. Getting inside your head, getting a descriptive look at your life, how you feel about your career, your blogging, other mom bloggers, how you long to connect with your niche of moms who really understand what your life is like. It’s a great post to share and try to locate those other moms. I hope you do find them. I will be keeping you in mind as I get to know other bloggers and try to help connect you, too.

Ginger April 12, 2011 at 11:02 pm

That’s what’s awesome about blogging–you can pour your heart out and make those connections!

Cherie Beyond April 12, 2011 at 7:03 am

I used to talk about this occasionally on the old blog before I tanked it and switched focus. Now it doesn’t fit with what I’m trying to do. Besides, I found that, for me, so much of it came down to “I’m tired. I’m really, really tired.” And I couldn’t find a way to make that interesting.

But it’s real and it’s hard. I’ve found that, as a working mother, the hardest part IS connecting with other working mothers, online or in real life. When I was on maternity leave I was stunned at how many opportunities there were to meet other mothers at the playground, at the library, at family pool time, at baby group. There were tons of mothers (and some fathers) out there! But they only met during the working week. During the weekend they spend time as a family. And working mothers are so busy on the weekends trying to catch-up on cleaning, cooking, laundry, playtime, that social time is out of the picture.

Finding that connection, finding a group of families that my children can grow alongside, seems impossible. Just impossible.

Ginger April 12, 2011 at 11:27 pm

It is hard, it’s really hard. For example: I have been trying to find a meetup group of moms in my area. There are probably over 50 of them in the San Diego area–and probably less than 5 of them are for working moms. And the ones that are for working moms are maybe once a month or two, as opposed to the other groups that meet at least weekly. It’s hard.

Christa the BabbyMama January 19, 2012 at 7:13 am

“There were tons of mothers (and some fathers) out there! But they only met during the working week.”

So true… I used to have a great circle of mom friends and a jumping social life… I worked from home, so I was working, but making it to coffee time or swim class was no problem. Now? Not so much. I wish I knew more working moms.

clara April 12, 2011 at 7:33 am

It is so important to have your tribe around you. I hope you find that, and I hope Mom101’s post – which seemed to draw out a lot of people saying the same thing as you – and your post – will start a groundswell so you can find each other and commiserate. Strength in numbers!

Cherie Beyond April 12, 2011 at 8:13 am

I came back because I had more to say.

As to why working mom bloggers don’t talk about this much, I think it’s because there is still a lot of external AND internal criticism of working mothers. There’s still the myth, especially among mommybloggers who tend to be middle- to upper-class, that any mother could stay home, if only she really, really wanted to. Those of us who do work must not care about our children as much. That feeling is still out there, and I do think that I,at least (I can’t speak for everyone), have definitely internalized that. My kids are fine and healthy and extremely happy at daycare. Yet, still, every night, I worry that I am somehow hurting them by working. (Please note: I am not hurting them by working. Feelings do not make reality.)

Of course, if someone in my family were to stay home, it would have to be my husband, since my job is the one that comes with benefits. So I’d still be in the same working mother conundrum.

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 1:32 am

Every single thing you said in that second paragraph. Every single thing.

I’ve internalized that a lot. I’ve tried to explain it to my husband, that internalization–it’s almost impossible to explain how that happens and how I “let” that happen. But that criticism, it’s hard not to take to heart.

Tara April 12, 2011 at 8:47 am

My husband and I both work full-time flex schedules, which allows each of us one day a week home with the kid, while my mother-in-law takes her three days a week. On my days at home, the house gets straightened up, the dishwasher is run, a couple of loads of laundry are washed/dried/folded…things get done. On the days when my husband is home…they don’t. He spends his time with our daughter, while I’m trying to multi-task my way through what should be my time with our daughter. So, even beyond working-mother guilt, I have guilt about using my stay-at-home time to keep the house in working order, which is something I don’t have time to do the rest of the week.

Work-life balance?

Not even close. Although last week, I did take B shopping, and because I was enjoying her company so much (seriously…why did nobody ever tell me that an 18-month old could actually be fun to hang out with from time to time??), I ended up springing for lunch out, as well. Maybe that working order house could wait sometimes?

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 1:36 am

That is one place where I AM successful about balancing–I am more than willing to let the house slide to spend time with the kiddo. Of course, I’m lucky because my husband is the one who does 80% of the cleaning, so it’s easy for me to say that.

But that’s part of the thing too, about this mythical work-life balance–it’s never, ever, ever going to look the same in every family. You know?

shasta April 12, 2011 at 8:49 am

Seriously! Weird that you wrote this post because I just got an FB invite from a friend who just quit her job Monday: “Me, my sister, my friend, and the babies are going to the park at noon. Would love to have you join us!” Um, no. I WORK, which she knows. But still, it pissed me off because I can’t join them like all the other carefree non-working moms. And yet, I’m not pissed because I choose to work, sort of. If I quit my job, I’m forced to move 100 miles away to a cheaper area of So Cal and live without things like my cell phone and name-brand foods. I choose to stay here, and deal with the consequences.

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 1:40 am

I’ve gotten a few of those kinds of lunch date requests. Which, yeah, I can’t help but get a little pissed off about.

I like what you said about consequences–that’s something I’ve been trying to get at myself. Every decision, good and bad, has consequences, good and bad. Part of the balance thing is about figuring out how to deal with ALL those consequences.

Nina April 12, 2011 at 9:01 am

I’ve been following the commenting avidly all morning. And I wanted to clarify what I said earlier: I was a miserable stressed out mess trying to balance everything. I was horrible at it. And I was taking it out on my husband and family. So for me, quitting was how I kept my sanity and I feel like I have my life back. And now we are probably lower-middle class, or upper poor (if there is such a thing).

Any my BFF is the complete opposite of me. She works to KEEP her sanity. She would go bonkers staying home.

I just think that there is no right or wrong here. Some people will be a SAHM because they need or want to and will find a way. Some will continue working for the exact same reasons.

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 1:44 am

I absolutely agree that there’s no right and wrong. I think every family, every couple, every mom has their own right and their own wrong, their own set of options, and their own decision point.

Which is part of what I wish we would acknowledge more. It’s not even as simple as SAHM/WAHM/WOHM. Because the number of variables to every person’s life and decisions makes the choices, and the struggles, different.

Cheryl April 13, 2011 at 9:22 am

That’s what really resonates with me from this conversation, the different experience for every family. You’re right, it isn’t just about SAHM/WAHM/ WOHM. I don’t understand all the struggles of WOHM but I know my own and both have merit.

Mom101 April 12, 2011 at 9:26 am

Here’s a secret: I don’t want to read about the next Wordpress plug-in. Anyone can write about that. This, THIS is what makes blogs so compelling. This honesty. These lovely words. Thank you so much for this, as hard as it might have been.

I think you just found your tribe after all.

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 1:47 am

Well, your post obviously inspired me to open up, which I wish we all would do a little more! I love knowing that I’m not alone, that I’m not feeling these stresses and questions and pressures (and highs and lows) in a vacuum.

Jen G April 12, 2011 at 10:26 am

I struggle with this too. It is so much easier to write about the little things that bother us, like the laundry pile, than the how-am-I-going-to-do-it-all-without-a-staff questions that eat away at our soul.

There are a lot of us out here. Tribal knowledge should be shared and occaisionally, we just need someone to commiserate with over a cup of coffee.

I will get better. I will post my inner fears and whispers. I have added you to my “good reads” folder and will post back.

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 1:50 am

“Tribal knowledge should be shared and occasionally, we just need someone to commiserate with over a cup of coffee.” EXACTLY! I was trying to explain to my husband tonight that it’s not about trying to change or fix our situation–it’s actually the right situation for our family–but about needing to talk about it, work through it in words, to have someone go “I know, right???”

becky April 12, 2011 at 11:22 am

I feel caught in the middle. I work full time from home (actually more than that because I still have some freelancing as well). I don’t use day care. My husband works way fewer hours than I do, so he can help a little. But it’s never enough. Because he goes in to work super-early and is tired when he gets home. So he naps when the kids nap. While I continue to work. So the house still doesn’t get done, I’m still stressed, and I just don’t know how to make it better. So yes, I get it, even though I don’t have a commute to throw in the mix. But the guilt, the not being able to get it all done, the frustration at not being able to do things during the day… it’s ALL there.

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 1:54 am

Not having a commute is not a get out of jail free card (although I would admit I might be a smidge less grouchy at 9am if I didn’t have to deal with the 5). I think anytime you’re trying to answer to so many masters, the strain and struggle starts to build. Something always, eventually, has to give. Unfortunately for a lot of us, I think it’s…well, US, that give. We try so hard to be all things to all people at all times, and it can’t happen that way. And yet we try…

Cheryl April 13, 2011 at 9:23 am

Yes, yes, yes and yes!

Cloud April 12, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I found you via Mom-101. I guess I’m in the closely related tribe of working moms whose husbands also work, but whose income is totally not optional in their families. I make a fair amount more than my husband, so if we decided to have a stay at home partner, from a financial stand point, it would be him.

There was a point after my first baby was born when I could have made different choices. I actually had all three options in front of me and accessible without a major life overhaul (well, other than the overhaul my baby was doing on my life): SAHM, WAHM, or WOHM. I chose WOHM, and maybe because I am so clear on the reasons for that choice (and because I have enough money to buy things like a housekeeping service), I’m actually a pretty happy WOHM. I wrote an entire post about that and I will shamelessly link to it here:

But even as a basically happy working mom, who knows that there is no other way I’d want my life to be… I get so tired. I wonder how my life became such a hard slog and how I can get the fun back in. And there are some choices you make that are hard to go back on. So there are career changes I think I’d like to make (not due to the kids, actually, due to my thinking about my retirement… which is an entire post I haven’t found the time to write….) but I can’t just make them, because now we’ve bought a house and we need my income to stay where it is.

So I guess I’m saying YES. I understand. I’m going to bookmark your blog and come back later to read more!

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 2:08 am

Your post is really compelling, because you bring up a few really key things: Choice, Money & Support. The trifecta of…well all motherhood, but in this specific instance WOHM. How many of the decisions, both in the SAHM/WAHM/WOHM realm and in the mundane kid-is-sick-who-stays-home-with-him type realm, do we make end up coming down to one (or all) of those things?

And your point about things like career changes, retirement, and those sorts of life decisions that are sort of on this set path, because of the choices you’ve made–that’s part of it too. Even if you’re happy, there are ramifications for every decision. Good and bad.

Coreen April 12, 2011 at 2:10 pm

Well said and I agree that it would be nice to hear more from working moms.

I strongly feel that if you work, then you need to *own* the fact that you work. Maybe you work because you have to or maybe you work because you want to but you can’t straddle the line. You can struggle and have bad days but I don’t want to hear from someone who complains about it all the time. I want to hear from someone who has issues with finding the balance, but still works hard to find that balance, like I do. That is what I can identify with. I want time-saving tricks and I want to know I am not alone when I feel like I’m not doing either job (motherhood or career) well.

I work with a gal that wants to be a SAHM so bad but they can’t afford it so all she does is bitch and moan. I listen but really just want to shake her and tell her to be thankful she has a good job and instead of being negative all the time, try to find the postive in it. The only reason I haven’t done that is because I know it won’t change anything.

I’m the main bread-winner too. My husband doesn’t stay home but he wants to. But two incomes is nice and I know he won’t do laundry, so he has to work. 🙂 But since he is a firefighter, he’s gone 24-72 hrs in a row some weeks so those days it all falls on me…kids, chores, work. Most days I am exhausted but I love my kids and I love my job and I am thankful I work for someone who is flexible so when I need to be with my kids, I can.

I work on balance and scheduling every day. It’s not easy to be in more than one place at a time, but I try!

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 2:19 am

I’ll admit that I’ve struggled some with owning the fact that I work. For a while, that was related to the really stressful time I was having AT work–it’s really hard to deal with the emotion of leaving a 3-4-5 month old baby (who you really just want to snuggle), when your job is nothing but stress and drama. You know?

As the work thing has evened out a little (and, let’s be honest, as my post-postpartum hormones have dissipated), I find that it’s more the logistics that cause me stress. I work. I don’t have guilt about working because, hey, my family needs a roof and food. And yes, I do enjoy lots of my job. But I stress over things like PTO, and the daycare drop off dance, and doctor’s appointments, etc. Some days I’m a better mom than employee. Some days I’m a better employee than mom. Some days I’m not great at either though, and those are the days I really wish I had more people to talk to about it.

Cherie Beyond April 13, 2011 at 3:49 am

This is an excellent point. When I really feel stress over working and wish I were at home, it’s mostly because two of us out of the house makes every day a marathon. Making breakfast, packing lunches, getting everyone dressed and out of the house, drop-off, commute, work all day (Oh no! Someone’s sick! Who’s gonna take it?), commute home, pick-up, make dinner, eat dinner, meltdowns, play, bath time, bedtime, clean the house to a tolerable level, attempt to keep up on individual projects (blog! freelance!), pay bills, talk for five minutes, go to bed. Rinse, repeat.

On the bad days, I feel like some of this craziness would simply have to be easier if one of us were home. So it’s not that I hate working. I like my job. My husband loves his. My kids love their day care. What we hate is the marathon.

shasta April 14, 2011 at 10:04 am

YES – it’s like your reading my daily schedule.

shasta April 14, 2011 at 10:05 am

Ugh, that’s you’re, not your.

Erin April 12, 2011 at 4:55 pm

I often find myself feeling awkward as a working mom because, well, I like my job and I like working. Now, I’m not saying that I don’t miss my babies…I do. And I’m not saying that there aren’t days when all I want to do is stay home and snuggle their faces…there are. But overall, I like my job and it’s something that I care a lot about. I find that many moms I know that work do nothing but complain about being a working mom and how they would stay home if they could. Now, I have to work in order to help support our family, and I probably would have taken a longer maternity leave, but I don’t know that I’m stay-at-home mom material. So, I end up feeling like I’m in some odd sort of mom limbo. Like I’m not supposed to want to work, or that wanting to work makes me some sort of crazy workaholic mom.

Being a working mom is hard, and I struggle with the balance of it all. I do wish we would all talk more about this because it helps so much to hear from other moms who are experiencing the same thing.

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 2:23 am

You know, I really really think that a lot of my personal frustration would have been better if I could have had a little bit longer maternity leave. I was NOT ready to leave J at 10 weeks, and it took until a little after his first birthday for me to not feel the ache every day. I kind of wonder if I had had a little more time when he was littler if I would have gotten readjusted to working a little sooner.

That aside, I think there are more moms like you than let on. You’re not a workaholic just because you like your job. You can like your job and love your babies at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive identities.

Amy (frugan) April 14, 2011 at 2:04 am

This, to me, is the key. Longer maternity leaves. I live in Sweden and had a year off, then my husband had six months off, so we didn’t need to leave our daughter at daycare until 18-months. I think this makes a huge difference for women because you don’t have to choose between giving up a career or going back at ten weeks. That is such an unfair choice.

Of course, I also feel stuck in the middle of two worlds. Here in Sweden I don’t know anyone who stays home full-time. I know lots of women who work 80%, but not a single SAHM. And yet between friends and family in the USA and all the mom blogs I read, I still struggle with guilt for working at all.

I’m a strong believer in “whatever works for you” so I think being a SAHM is fine, I think going back to work after ten weeks is fine, but I think it’s important to remember that there are other more middle-of-the-road models that would be great to work towards, especially for those of us who really want to work but don’t identify with the “workaholic” identity. A task for our tribe, perhaps?

Lisa April 12, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I’m not real sure where to start. My husband and I make very close to the same salary, so either one of us could stay home and we’d be in the same financial position. We’ve talked about him being the stay at home person because he’s just better at it. He rocks it out and gets things *done* when he’s at home. I feel like I flail helplessly when it comes to the household stuff. But, work, I can kick ass at work (naturally, it’s not the perfect situation, it’s definitely less than challenging many times, but there are moments where I feel SO GOOD AT IT).

I’m scared to take that big step though and say “OK, you stay home with the baby” because I start to question what kind of mom that makes me. It’s sad really, that a woman’s “maternal instincts” are frequently judged by whether she works, especially in a situation where she stands up and says “I’m good at this and it’s how I best contribute to my family.”

And you know I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t get off in the weeds, get all weird, and talk about some reality TV… I’ve been obsessed with Sister Wives lately, and I think this is why. I swear, sometimes I watch it and think that whole sister wife thing doesn’t sound so bad, it’s the next best thing to being in two places at once or adding more hours to the day. But I don’t even know what it says about gender roles when women feel like it takes multiples to cover the wife/mom role, but a family only needs one husband? (I’m drunk on cold meds, just ignore me.)

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 2:32 am

As usual, there is just so much to love about your comment Lisa. I find it sad that we are still at a place where you question what kind of mom you are because you don’t do the stay at home thing as well. Working (or not) doesn’t really have anything at all to do with how good of a mom you are or aren’t (maybe, in my case, how good of a housekeeper ;-p).

Oh, and this comment about the sister wives thing “But I don’t even know what it says about gender roles when women feel like it takes multiples to cover the wife/mom role, but a family only needs one husband? ”

Doesn’t that just sum up the problem we have as wives and mothers? When we feel like we need multiples of us to do everything that’s expected?

OurLittleAshley April 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm

DUDE. I love how there is one sister wife who works and one who stays at home.

That is all.

Lemon Gloria April 12, 2011 at 6:39 pm

The working mom gig is very hard. I am not in your situation, and I work less than you, but I still find it hard. My husband is the primary breadwinner, and while we need my job, it pays a fraction of the mortgage. I assume people don’t talk about this because they don’t talk about most real things. Marriage is hard, having children is hard, juggling work and a child is hard. Even your in-person friends don’t tell you this until you’re in it and you complain and then they commiserate.

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 2:37 am

It is hard. My boss is actually in almost my exact situation (except, obviously, higher up the career ladder), and a few months ago we actually got in a conversation about ALL of it–really to the meat of it. And I remember saying to her “why didn’t you WARN me?”. Because you can’t warn someone about the earthquake…

Hilary April 12, 2011 at 8:36 pm

I’m ready to start our working mom tribe!! I love this post & we should talk more about it. 🙂

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 2:37 am

Who comes up with the tribal flag? 😉

Megan April 12, 2011 at 9:20 pm

Well, as you know, I’m a SAHM, and I’m not gonna lie. I love it.

However, sometimes I hate it. Sometimes I really envy my husband when he leaves for work to sit in a quiet room, talk to other adults, and just check out from the whole terrible two mess that we’re in right now. And I envy him because when he does see Charlotte, he is refreshed and ready to play with her because he got a break from her whereas I can be burned out and irritable with her.

Besides that, I am envious of him and of you for having a career that you care about. I’m happy to stay home, and it makes sense for me because I don’t have a career or even a plan for a career. So, as much as I love the freedom of my days, I spend some of them terrified of what will happen when it’s time for me to go back to work.

So, I guess I’m saying there is good and bad in both our situations. But, I guess you probably already knew that.

Ginger April 13, 2011 at 2:41 am

Oh, I know. I look at my husband some days and just don’t know how he does it sometimes. I’m not sure how either of them will survive the twos. And I can promise you that after the weekend at home, if nothing else I am grateful that I have 8 hours a day where I have access to a bathroom where no little people or furry four legged animals are accompanying me. I’m not sure I wouldn’t lose my mind at home.

I think, at the end of it, it’s just freaking hard to be a parent. You know?

kate April 13, 2011 at 9:06 am

Looks like you got a really good discussion going here. I love that you are coming at from a different perspective – instead of just the same old, same old stay at home mom.

It’s so hard to find that happy medium with parenthood. Somedays it’s like cutting off a limb to leave B behind and head to work, but other days it’s my lifesaver to have my adult sanity back for a bit – even if its only during the workday. Then there is the struggle to get all the “other stuff” done – housework, laundry, cooking, cleaning, time with the hubby, walking the dog, feeding the chickens, etc…, etc…, etc… Who knew that all these “adult decisions” would be so hard in life?!

Ginger April 14, 2011 at 1:36 pm

I think part of what it comes down to is ALL parenthood is a struggle. But in the specifics, there are different struggles for WOH parents from SAH parents from WAH parents. It’s not that one is better or worse, it’s just that they’re different. And sometimes it’s nice to talk to people about those things.

[another] Ginger April 13, 2011 at 2:07 pm

I don’t have anything to add that all these wonderful ladies above haven’t said. It’s hard, it sucks. Yet I don’t think I could be a SAHM. I worry too much about finances and my future, and the security of working is something I need. Do I want to be home more? Yes. I’m sure I’ll find that balance one day. In the meantime, I appreciate hearing from ladies like you and the ones here. Somehow I have missed connecting w/ any of them on twitter because a majority of the time I feel like I’m the only one in this boat. 🙂

Ginger April 14, 2011 at 1:39 pm

Oh, the finances and security thing is huge. It’s hard enough for my little heart to have my husband freelance (which he did long before we became parents). In my heart of hearts, I’m a big fan of a biweekly paycheck and the stability to know that when my insurance renews, when i’m going to get my paltry raise, and when, to the minute, I can expect that direct deposit to hit. So, yeah, that’s huge for me and my sanity.

And your last line is my biggest point of all–I feel like we feel like we’re alone in this, and THAT is probably what sucks the most sometimes!

OurLittleAshley April 13, 2011 at 2:10 pm

I love this discussion.


As you know, I sort of get both sides of the coin (is that even a saying?) – get to have a little bit of a career and adult interaction, but also spend 4 days a week with Gabe. It’s a nice balance, but sometimes I miss Gabe *so much* as I’m walking out the door. And other days, I go crazy staying at home all day. I suppose it’s the combination of the two that keeps me sane. Work is rewarding and interesting, and I’m appreciated and treated well…and home is so much time with Gabe (and no pumping. That’s also a HUGE perk of part-time work. I only pump 3 days a week. WIN.)

I went back to work (well, started a job at Starbucks) when Gabe was two months old. I wish I’d had a year. Lucky Canadians.

Ginger April 14, 2011 at 1:40 pm

Oh man, the pumping thing killed. That was, hands down, the most stressful part of working the first year (besides leaving in the beginning). HANDS DOWN.

Kathleen (amoment2think) April 13, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Wow. I totally missed this post. Probably because this week has been crazy trying to manage work/child/house/blog ect. Ha. The irony.

I remember when I first went back to work after mat leave… I remember all those people that said to me “you must be so sad. Wouldn’t you rather be at home?”. I love my kid and I love being a Mom, but I also love my work. It bothers me the assumptions that are made about Mom’s that work. That we are either miserable or we don’t care about our kids.

I also get really bothered by how many many activities for toddlers are only during the week. None of the pools near by have any open swim times for toddlers on the weekend… its all lessons, so we can’t go swimming. Many of the classes at Gymboree are designed for stay at home parents. Saturday morning Library story times are few and far between and the minute I went back to work I lost touch with the “Mommy group” I was a part of. I am not complaining, I am just trying to share that all situations have their pluses and minuses. Grass is always greener, you know.

I agree. We do need to talk about these things.

Ginger April 14, 2011 at 1:47 pm

The toddler activity thing just makes me so upset sometimes. I think that’s part of what I struggle with: it’s not so much that I’d like to be a SAHM, but sometimes I’d like to be able to take my kid to those things. All the local toddler story times are during the week. Almost all the Gymborees are during the week. There was a toddler music/dance class that I though J would love–Tuesday @ 10am. Mommy meet up groups are always during the week. And I get it, I do, but I just want to say sometimes: hey, just because we’re working doesn’t mean we want to miss out on all this stuff!

Peggy January 8, 2012 at 9:18 pm

I do think there is room for a vibrant conversation about the complexities of working moms, and I’ve written about it lots on my blog. However, it does seem that those posts are the ones that get the smallest responses. I don’t know how many of us are out there, but it would be worth connecting, talking, being honest about the joy and pain of working and being a mom. The two things — being a mom and working — mean we need to find ways to experience both almost simultaneously.
Thanks for this post.

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:09 pm

I think part of it is that those of us who work struggle a little more to find our tribe online–whether that’s because we don’t have time to build it, or because we just don’t have time to find it. I know that I come across more working mom blogs every week…but I have to go hunting for it.

But I’m always looking for more people to connect with, more people to share stories with. It’s a challenge!

Broot January 19, 2012 at 12:41 am

I remember reading this one when it was first posted. I still don’t have any answers for it! 🙂

Rose's Daughter January 19, 2012 at 1:30 am

Ok, Happy SITS Day first off. Awsome Blog!
Second of all, I UNDERSTAND! My husband and I work completely opposite schedules, I am a nurse who works at night 3-4 nights a week for 12 long hours each time. The balance and sleep deprivation and guilt is my life is HUGE. But I often feel like no one understands what is it to work full time, try to get sleep, play with your child, keep a clean house, maintain a marriage…I could go on and on! I’ll definately be returning to your blog!

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:13 pm

Oh my gosh, your schedule(s) sound insane! That must be SO tough. I’m lucky that my husband works at home, but even with that I feel like I’m drowning sometimes. It’s so hard to maintain everything that needs to be maintained-and to nourish those things and relationships that need to be nourished–when you only have a few hours every day to do them!

I rely on a lot less sleep than I used to, that’s for sure!

Tricia January 19, 2012 at 3:13 am

I wish we talked more too. While I’m not the sole breadwinner, I work full time and blog. It’s tough to talk about finding that balance and the details of my work life. But so important.

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:20 pm

It’s so tough to hold all the pieces together…and it’s tough to talk about it too. But we really, really should–I think there are a lot of us out there…

Maggie Terryn January 19, 2012 at 6:05 am

I work two days a week and don’t even want to do that. I know I have nothing to complain about. I have a fantastic situation. I always feel guilty when other moms who work full time say things to me like, “I wish I had time to blog, take my kids to the library, be involved in _______________________.” I know I have nothing to feel guilty about, I’m not doing anything wrong. But this tension of working vs.not working vs. working part time never seems to go away. You get from all sides no matter the situation. It’s definitely worth a conversation.

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:22 pm

I think that’s part of it though–no matter your situation, it’s hard. Even though yours may be “fantastic” to others, it doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have it’s challenges. You shouldn’t feel guilty for your situation! We should all just be able to talk about our situations!

Ashley January 19, 2012 at 6:40 am

I’m not at this point of my life yet – but I worry.

We are recently engaged, we’re totally restoring/renovating a century farmhouse (which I blog about 3x a week), we want several kids, and we both need (want?) to work. Plus, we have a very active social life with friends.

Sometimes I wish I could be a SAHM one day, but then I don’t want to throw away my benefits and pension, even though my husband-to-be’s salary will literally be 2x mine one day.

On the other hand, my situation is totally different. In Canada, working moms (most) are entitled to one year of maternity leave. Maybe one year for each kiddo will be enough for me!

Anyway, now that I’ve babbled….what a great post. I love real conversations!

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:30 pm

That one year would probably have helped me a lot, but I think it’s still tough to leave.

That being said, I also think that you never know exactly how you’re going to feel until you have the kid. I never EVER thought I’d want to be a SAHM…until my son was 2 months old and I was facing down my return date to work. That first year was ROUGH. As my son became a toddler though, I realized I really probably wasn’t cut out for a full time SAHM gig. Part of it is that it’s so individual–to you, to your kid, to your situation.

I mostly just wish we’d all talk about all of this more, to normalize the variety of options that there are, the variety of choices we make.

Jacki January 19, 2012 at 7:00 am

“you wish you could make it to a library story time”

I can’t even begin to tell you how often that statement has been a part of my life. Being a working mother often leaves me feeling like I am missing out on so much of my son’s childhood, and all those fun things like story time and play groups. My significant other doesn’t stay at home, but I am the “bread winner” in the family so financially speaking, I don’t really have a choice but to work outside the home.

Great article. Here from SITS and can’t wait to nose around a bit more.

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:35 pm

I have this whole rant about WHY on earth there isn’t ONE single storytime during the weekend at my local library. Not one. Drives me insane. Because parents who work during the week don’t want to have their kid learn to love the library? GRRRR.

Rant aside, it’s tough to feel like we miss so much. Whether you have to work or want to work, or some combo of the two, it hurts to feel like you’re missing out on your child’s day…

Christa the BabbyMama January 19, 2012 at 7:10 am

I’ll admit to not blogging about most of my feelings about being a working mom, and a big part of it is embarrassment. It’s silly, but there’s a part of me that’s ashamed that I’m not able to stay home, and for a variety of silly, pointless societal perception reasons. I have trouble talking about it in person with my SAHM friends… like they’re judging me, even though I know that they to some extent think I’m judging them. Library story time… daytime weekday playdates… it feels like I no longer connect with other parents because after-work playdates are so hard to coordinate and most people are “in” for the day by then anyway 🙁

I just want to say how much your posts are resonating with me today! Thanks so much for writing your mind!

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Connecting with other parents in real life is so tough. I’ve looked for some playgroups, but they all seem to meet during the week, during the middle of the day. And I never seem to meet many of the parents at J’s daycare–we’re just doing the in and out thing. It’s tough, particularly when you feel surrounded by SAHM’s.

That’s part of why I started writing about it more. I figured there have to be more of ME out there, people who want to connect, and this was the easiest way for me to do it. I’m glad it’s resonating with you…I figure the more people I find who it resonates for, the more I can find like-minded people to share this stuff with! January 19, 2012 at 9:36 am

I’m a working mom of two toddlers in a dual income household and I blog and freelance write on the side. Yep, it’s hard, but I’ve been able to manage primarily with a great husband who picks up household duties, a mother-in-law willing to watch my girls, and a workplace that is flexible – allowing me to work two days a week from home. Even with that support structure, there are still days that I feel overwhelmed and achingly tired of trying to balance it all. I heard once that there is no such thing as work-life balance as a mom. You just have moments of harmony and you need to savor those moments as they come and go.

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:42 pm

I’m convinced work/life balance is a total myth, at least in the way it’s been presented to us so far. I think it’s impossible for everything to balance every day…instead I try to shoot for everything balancing out over the course of, say, a week, or maybe a month even. I figure some days I’m a better mom, some days I’m a better employee, some days I’m a better wife, some days I’m a better me. As long as, in the LONG RUN, those balance out to a semi-ok person all around, that’s kind of the best I can do, you know?

Teresa (Embracing the Spectrum) January 19, 2012 at 10:52 am

It’s a difficult balance…work, home, marriage, children…

Happy SITS Day!

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:51 pm

It’s definitely a challenge, but the rewards are pretty great!

Thanks for coming by!

Marie Cole January 19, 2012 at 12:21 pm

I usually don’t tell anyone my issues with having a hard time getting it all done and balance in my life with working from home (super busy clients, 2 companies) and keeping up on the house and all that entails and I don’t even have kids…So I can relate at a smaller level…

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I think, in general, it comes down to the fact that modern life is tough. It’s hard to “do it all” no matter what you’re doing!

Lisa @ The Splattered Apron January 19, 2012 at 6:27 pm

I am so glad I found your blog! I had my daughter 5.5 months ago and just went back to work, it’s nice to know there are other working mom bloggers out there too 🙂

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:53 pm

I’m glad you found me too, I love connecting with other working moms!

stephany @ home is...what you make it January 19, 2012 at 7:11 pm

I am a stay-at-home-mommy blogger who started blogging because I missed my career when I made the hardest decision of my life to stay at home with my kiddos. I don’t have to work, but I LOVED my work.

However, my sister is in your shoes. Supporting her family, being mom, occasionally blogging, and trying to find time for herself.

I shared this post with her. I hope she can relate to it.

Thank you for sharing.

Ginger January 22, 2012 at 10:54 pm

Thank you for sharing too! I hope your sister can relate!

Mom101 April 13, 2012 at 7:46 pm

What a beautiful post. Keep speaking your truth, mama. Judging from these comments, it seems like its brought your tribe right to you.

JessicaD August 31, 2012 at 8:03 am

I’m a year late to the party. I found the blog because of your To Everyone I Know During this Election post, which I saw on Facebook, loved, and re-shared. Then I found this post, and although my husband and I are still trying to start a family, our career choices are still very much up in the air, and my dearest hope is for the miraculous–that we could both work part-time or flexible hours–because I just don’t think it’s fair that any parent should have to choose between a rewarding vocation and substantial time with family. I suspect this is probably more attainable in Europe right now than in America, but I think it’s worth pursuing as a society–and as long as we’re chasing (as a society) dollars rather than quality of life, we’re very far from that ideal.

{ 3 trackbacks }

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: