It’s been some time now since I have had my second baby. I am taking 10 months off to stay home with my second child. I did this with my first child as well. I have been on both sides of the fence, per se, and can attest that neither is better, neither is worse, it just is what it is. My train of thought changes when my role so to speak changes. I am still a mom. I am still a teacher. I am both. It is how I choose my time. I could not do any of it without the love and support of my friends and family. Without them, none of what I do is possible.
The working mom:
When I work full time as a teacher, as I have done so for the last eight years, my train of thought looks like survival mode in that I am focused on being the best teacher while at work, and being the best mom when I get home. I call being a mom my first job, and being a teacher my second job. My first job starts at 6:00 in the morning when I get myself ready and the rest of my family ready. Lunches and clothes are set out the night before, but teeth need to be brushed, hair combed, and there is sometimes a tantrum or two. Drop off at my amazing best friend’s house/daycare is next. I usually eat breakfast at work, because, hey, it’s quiet there. It also usually consists of instant oatmeal. Then my second job begins. At work, it is a whirlwind and the day passes quickly. I have about 45 minutes after work (if there are no IEP’s or meetings that day) to grade, call parents, respond to emails, oh and prepare for the next day/week. I rush to pick up from daycare, and then my first job resumes. Usually my kid is a little cranky because he is tired and needs a snack, or to go pee, or whatever. I love on him, because I have missed him so. I will be honest, while I am at work, I am so busy I do not think about daycare too much. Initially, yes, when he was very young I would worry/think about what he was doing more, but he loves it, and I love that. If I have had a hard day at work, then sometimes I am short with my family. It happens. I do love to cook (it’s like therapy), but on weekdays, we keep a schedule for sanity. Someimes that is organic chicken fingers and french fries. Continuing with the schedule 4:30 snack/show while I cook, 5:30 dinner, 6:30 bath, 7:30-8 book and bed. I usually go to bed with my kids. It repeats itself and time passes so quickly. I rely on family and friends to fill the gaps and to help out. Thank god for them! When do I clean? Saturday and Sunday. When do I call PG&E about my mistake on my bill? Who knows? When I can get to it (teachers get a 30 min. lunch sometimes 45 min. Just enough to go to the bathroom and scarf down a lunch and sometimes discipline a child, or make a copy). When do I buy a birthday present, or make a cake, or whatever? The truth is, I don’t usually. I Amazon Prime my life during work. I am in survival mode. I worry about spending time with my kids (Do you they see me enough? Do they eat healthy food when I am not around? Do they know I love them? Do they get enough rest?) So many worries…I am fulfilled with purpose and enjoy adult conversations, and getting ready everyday…But it comes at a cost or worry when I am not around.
The stay at home mom:
I have had this role twice now. For 10 months I stayed home with my son, and for 10 more I will stay home with my son and daughter. As a stay at home mom my days are like Ground Hog’s day sometimes. The routine is there, just much different 7:00 breakfast, dishwasher, laundry , 8:00 dress and brush teeth, 9:00 activity/outside, 10:00 snack inside and then activity, 11:30 lunch, 12:00 show, 12:30 nap, 2:00 outside, 3:00 check on husband to see when he will be home, 3:30 snack, 4:00 show, 5:00 dinner, 6:00 bath, 7:00 book, 7:30-8 bed. I usually go to bed with my kids, because I am T.I.R.E.D. Time passes slowly. I am in survival mode. I need a break every now and again. I talk about animals, and poop a lot. I only talk to a four year old and a baby all day. I shower every other day. I am covered in spit-up. I get to see milestones like riding a bike or rolling over. I can think of a meaningful gift for a birthday and bake a cake. I worry about my kids. Do they get enough social interaction? I am I allowing too much screen time? Will a hot dog for dinner hurt him in the long run? Did I tell him I loved him enough? Does he feel loved? Are they getting outside enough? I worry when I am with them.
Comparing the two:
I worry whether I am with them or not. The worries just change. My house stays cleaner when I am working, because no one is there to mess it up every 5 minutes. My food bill is less, because my kids daycare feeds them, and I am only responsible for dinners during the week, and all meals on the weekends. My daycare bill is high when I am working, and low when I am not. My paycheck is high when I am working and non-existent when I am not. I can buy convenience like Amazon Prime when I am working. I can coupon when I am not working. I see my children all day when I am with them. I can also get annoyed with them more easily when staying at home. Oh, and I am tired no matter what.
My point is, the grass is not greener on the other side. Each way of life comes with its pro’s and con’s. Don’t be jealous of the stay at home mom, for she has all the stresses and worries too. Don’t be jealous of the working mom, she has all the stresses and worries too. The hardest part is finding out what works best for you! I think this is why we, as moms, fret so much about doing the right thing for our families. There is no correct answer. Everyone is in a different situation and has to do what’s best for them.
Something I am trying to work on is discovering what is best for our family. For the last five years, I looked at my position as either all or non. I saw it as either be a stay at home mom full time, or work as a teacher full time. I am coming to realize that it’s not so black and white. There may be some wiggle room as to how I structure those positions. It takes creativity, planning, hard work, and trying new things to find what works best for you. You have to have the courage to try it as well. If you always think about it, and never try, time will pass you by. It can only not work, and you can always go back to what you were doing before. I encourage you to think of what would work best for you and your family, and work towards it.