I struggled with my identity and role in this journey of motherhood. Influenced by decades of thinking I would be a ‘good stay-at-home-mom’ mashed with decades of ‘you can do anything you want like be a lawyer’ collided in front of me and I didn’t know what to do with it. It was a flaming pile of shit to weed through and figure out. Sprinkle a dose of generalized anxiety disorder, a long-standing history of mental health challenges, and two screaming children – the weeding took a while.
But, here I am, and things are getting better each and every day. And for that, I’m thankful for my job, my clients, and my hobbies.
I have been working part-time for 6 months, while my kids are in childcare. I managed to find 2 full time days, and 3 part time preschool days. They have a total of 28 hours of childcare during the week – give or take.
Being a working mom means I’m a better mom.
Instead of spending my days angry, frustrated, exhausted, and defeated, I feel excited, accomplished, and rested.
It’s not just that my children sleep through the night, but that I get a break from them to be the adult I want to be. I get to do things that I actually want to do, and have adult conversations, and feel like I’m making an impact in someone else’s lives. I get time to breathe, to eat, and to be not-touched. These are things that I never realized were so important to me.
I find myself with the time to make muffins. The time to take the kids to things and enjoy it – not feel like it’s some chore in my day. I find myself enjoying dinner time (a little bit). I find myself able to disconnect and reconnect.
When I was a stay at home mom, I always felt like I needed to escape. I always felt lonely and defeated. I always felt like I needed to be in my phone finding solace from the torment of my reality. But, when I’m back at work – the boundaries are easier to set and the need to escape feels less consuming.
But it can’t be perfect?
Every time I struggled with being a stay-at-home-mom, many of you would share how the grass isn’t greener and being a working parent has it’s struggles too. I haven’t found them yet. I don’t work full time – yet.
My children will transition to full time care in April – the downside the childcare costs ($2,000/month for 2 kids). But, the days are not long enough for all the things I want to do, need to do, and dream of doing. This is the option that became available when childcare lists are years long and spots are hard to find.
This feels pretty perfect.
My anxiety is less crippling.
My depression is less suicidal.
My brain is less foggy.
My mania – now that’s another story, but it doesn’t feel bad – not yet.
Returning to work has given me that sense of purpose in life that therapy and anti-depressants failed to achieve. It might not be the right answer for everyone, but it might be one to consider.
It’s the start of a new chapter – one that I desperately needed.
Not everyone is good at being a “home-mom”.
It should be okay to say that. We should tell the young folks.
Not every woman is going to love being home all-day with their children. Some will. Some will love it more than chocolate chip cookies, but that isn’t everyone’s story. The world is more grey than black and white.
It took me a long time to admit that being a home mom was not my best career-choice. It made me miserable and I was failing my kids and myself. Just because my mother was amazing, my grandmother’s incredible, didn’t mean that stay-at-home mom-ing would be my best legacy.
It’s easy to write about getting a job and feeling better after the fact – the reality being it took years of anxious thoughts to consider putting my kids in care, to consider that my resume would be worthy of an application, to consider that I could even get an interview. I returned to school shortly after my second was born because I felt I wasn’t qualified for any job out there. I still feel underqualified most days – but that’s a me-issue I ened to work on.
I have privilege that I could wait to find childcare that suited my needs and that I can pay the rate being charged. Not everyone can make that choice. Not everyone can choose to stay home, and not everyone can choose to go to work. It’s important that we acknowledge that. The grass is greenest when you make the choice without strings, compromises and guilt.
In Canada we have a lot of resources available to families for childcare.
But if your husband makes too much money these resources are not available. I’m lucky my husband is okay with that, and that me going to work is a debt on our family.
But I want to recognize for some families, women may not be able to return to work if childcare will consume all of their income or more. This is important because some women may want to escape, they may want to build retirement savings, and they may just need it for their mental health but the debt to the family might be seen as fiscally irresponsible and not permissible. We cannot apply blanket statements to any scenario. The world is gray.