To Work or Not to Work
By Briana D’Andrea
To work or not to work? That is the question most moms ponder. Really, there’s no right answer. It’s what works best for you and your family. I vividly remember as a young girl thinking that I would most definitely, (if afforded the chance), stay home to raise our children the way my husband and I saw fit. Then as I grew older, I decided that I needed to establish myself, my career, after all I worked my butt off to get a degree and was still paying off student loans! I was the prodigal latchkey kid, while my mom went off to work during the women’s equal rights movement, to afford us the life we so deserved.
So, when the time came for us to conceive, I thought to myself, well I can’t very well give up everything I’ve worked so tirelessly for. So, I worked day in and day out all throughout my nine months of pregnancy, waddling my way to the bathroom from my desk, working out schedules between our families. The plan was for me to go back to work part-time (that way I still had my identity, LOL), working weekends, so that my mom and mother-in-law and husband would fill in for me on their days off. Everyone was on board, yet when the day finally came where I locked eyes with my blue-eyed baby boy, I thought to myself how in the world could I leave? How could I burden my family to take care of this baby on their days off, after working a full-time job? Daycare wouldn’t work, because my paycheck would have gone straight to the people watching after him.
I remember the day my husband and I made the decision for me to stay home. I was partially relieved, partially worried, partially petrified. Would I ever be able to get back to my passion? Back to writing? Back to reporting? Producing? Back to being ME. I didn’t have an answer at the time. The only thing I knew was certain was that I had this little tiny human being who needed me more than anyone. He needed me more than I needed to fulfill my dreams. More than my place of employment needed me…they would surely find someone to fill my shoes, right? Several people had said if I had the chance to stay home then to take it. It’s just a moment in your life and you have the rest of it to work.
I have a very dear friend, whom I remember called me in near tears while she was on maternity leave. Literally wondering what on earth I did all day long? How isolated she felt. How she couldn’t wait to get back into the swing of things and get back to working. Here’s where it gets tricky. Momming is HARD! It is full of GUILT, no matter how you slice it. When I first had my son, I too felt alone, isolated, completely intimidated by the idea of having to make sure to keep another human being alive! What happened to all of those cute Instagram pictures of babies all dressed up in their monthly onesies? I felt robbed and I felt guilty.
Heck, I feel guilty every single time I make a purchase outside of groceries. I feel guilty that my husband bears the burden of having to work to support our family. I feel guilty when I yell at my kids, because we’re in each other’s face all day long. After speaking to several moms who work, their guilt stems from not spending enough time with their kids, not making enough “mom friends,” not having enough patience…feeling judged. Truth is no matter what, we are judged. That’s life. So what it boils down to is to DO YOU!
We’ve had to make some serious adjustments to our lifestyle since I’ve become a stay at home mom. Going out to fancy lunches and dinners regularly? Gone. Buying something cute at the mall just because? Gone. Spontaneous vacations just to get away? Gone. See my point? Where my working moms feel like although they have to work all day, they come back to a clean home, that hasn’t been ravaged by toddlers all day, they have quality over quantity time with their little ones, they’re able to get dressed for the day, eat lunch with adults, have adult conversations that don’t involve potty training or weaning. They pee solo and have time to listen to their music on their way to work. They may even sneak in a quick trip to the gym or the nail salon. They don’t spend their days feeling like a short order cook, chauffer and maid, who has to change diaper after diaper.
Finally, I tried the part-time work thing. It was nice at first, but what I found was that I wasn’t able to give enough energy into one thing versus the other. I’m the type who devotes 150% to everything I do and for whatever reason juggling the two wasn’t my forte. I made the decision to be 150% mom, when we got pregnant with our second. I have my days when I wonder if I’m cut out to be the stay at home type. Am I fulfilling the kids’ days? Are they better off at school? Am I enough? I’ve learned not to be so hard on myself and that yes, I AM ENOUGH. I tell my husband all the time that I used to be somebody! That my lowest point was the day I had to clean up after our son who had pooped his pants in public, followed by my daughter’s tantrum in the middle of Whole Foods and topped off with our dog that decided to poop, eat it and throw up. TMI? Those are the days that working doesn’t seem so bad after all. Hearing my mom say how she used to hug her desk when she got to work.
However, I now know that I AM somebody. I am this single most important somebody to our beautiful babies and husband, that this is my highest point in life. To be able to raise our children and see them grow in front of our very eyes. I’m convinced that after a long day of Legos and laundry and cleaning up toys and the throw up, that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be and that I have made the ultimate sacrifice for my family and hopefully someday they will thank me for it. That I am so thankful and forever grateful to my husband to even have the choice. So no matter if you sacrifice yourself and your lifestyle to stay home or you sacrifice your time to give your family the life they truly deserve by going to work, you’re ultimately doing the right thing.