Conflicting feelings of a working mom

28 Nov

I am a working mom. But I’m not like most typical working moms. I say that is because I work from home. So my days are filled with press releases and marketing meetings, soothing a crying baby and walking my dog, lunch meetings and dinner prep. And I’m sure many of you “true” working moms hate me right now.

My company is based in a town about an hour and a half away from where I live. I used to live closer, and when I did I went in to the office every day and worked some crazy hours. I put in a lot of good, hard work and made a name for myself in a year and a half. Then I got married and my husband and I bought a house out of driving distance for a daily commute. So my superiors said “We love you,” and “Don’t quit.” And I said, “Can I work from home and come in one day a week?” And they said “Yes!”

So for the past two years that is what I’ve done.

There are pros and cons to working from home. The pros are more personal and less professional: no commute time; flexibility with my schedule. I can start work at six in the morning and quit at two, or all night into the wee hours of the morning; I can go to the gym on my lunch break; I don’t have to get dressed (I literally sit at my desk naked…just kidding…maybe); I can start dinner while on a conference call, etc.

The cons are more professional than personal: I miss out on the day-to-day interaction with my colleagues and superiors; I miss impromptu brainstorm sessions;  I can be almost forgotten about when spur of the moment assignments come up; I have no adult interaction for days;  I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to go any further in my career  or advance within the company while working from home.

But when my son came along, the setup became even more perfect and the cons started to matter less and less to me. I get to be with my kid all day long. I get to watch him laugh and sleep and play. I get to feed him and burp him and rock him. I don’t have to let a stranger take care of him. I can watch him grow up day in and day out.

I can pump out breast milk and a press release in the same half-hour. I can balance a layout  and balance the checkbook without batting an eyelash. I can manage a client’s social medial page while posting humorous quips about motherhood on my own page.

“I CAN DO IT ALL!” My inner voice screamed. I can be a super-mom /slash/ super-wife /slash/super employee all at once.

But four months into it, those cons started creeping back into the light from the glow of my stay-at-home euphoria trip that I was on. While they were gone, they made some new friends and brought them to light with them.  One of the new ones said, “What did you go to school for if you’re just going to be stagnant in your career?” Others said “Don’t you want to get out of the house and work with people again?” And then there was the little fashionista bitch that said “Don’t you want to stop wearing sweats and spit-up stained shirts every day and instead put on a real clothes and look presentable?”

 “YES! YES!! YES!!!” my inner voice screamed to all of them.  

So I started looking for jobs closer to where I lived. And I applied to them. And I got a call from one of them, which led to an interview.

The morning of interview numero uno went how a typical day for a working mom goes: Up at 5 a.m. to get myself ready, Parker up and fed and dressed, and be at the sitter’s (AKA my aunt) in time for my 9 o’clock interview.

 I gave my baby a smooch as I left and he gave me the biggest smile…and I felt a little tug on my heart. 

But I went to the interview focused on my career, not on being a stay-at-home anything. And, I totally rocked it. There was passion and excitement in my voice. I got to talk about what I do and how I do it with other adults. In a business setting! Not the gym. Not the salon. But a work environment.  I was clicking with the interviewer. We were on the same page. Boom, boom, boom…I was firing on all cylinders.

I came home that afternoon feeling refreshed and rejuvenated, and with some work to do for them. I spent much of my afternoon and evening reading up on the company more and working on that assignment, getting the tone and pitch perfect. I was so consumed with it that I didn’t have time make time to eat dinner with my family or play with my son.

That really sucked, I thought as I went to bed that night. So the next day, I played with him twice as much as I usually did. And that was awesome.

A week later, I got a call back for a second interview. Sa-weet! I was on my way to new things. Bigger things. Better things.

The morning of interview numero dos was Halloween. As I was getting ready, something felt like dress up to me. It didn’t feel real.  I wasn’t nervous or excited for what lay ahead of me that day, I just…was. I didn’t feel bigger or better.

I kissed my son and my husband goodbye, and felt really crappy doing it. See, it was my hubby’s day off. And thanks my current work situation, I work extra the day before and the day after so that I can have a pretty open day with him and we can do whatever we want together. But today, I had to leave.  And if I got the job, I’d have to leave every day, including his days off. That bothered me.

The second interview went well, but not as well as the first. I talked a little bit more about my family this time around. I couldn’t articulate why I wanted the job as well as I did the first time. (Maybe because I didn’t want the job as much this time around?)

I got home that cold, rainy afternoon and just felt off. Bundled up on the couch with my boys, I started to feel right again. My hubby and I started discussing the possibility of my being offered the job. He asked me what my focus is, furthering my career or furthering my family. He said he wants to see me happy and right now, I don’t seem happy.

And I wasn’t.

And then I started to cry.

I thought about the blessing that was being given to me in that I can work and provide for my family while also being present for them. I don’t have to pay someone a mortgage payment a month to watch my son grow up. My bosses have such confidence in me and the work I do from home is so good that they don’t feel the need to micromanage me. I have a secure job, with no worry that I could lose it anytime soon…and that in and of itself if a blessing.  Furthering my family meant much more to me than furthering my career.

I have a whole lifetime to work, but I only have a few short years with my son before he’s not in front of me every day.

Sometimes the things you think you need aren’t what you need at all. And it takes getting them—or, in my case, almost getting them (in the end I wasn’t offered the job) – to realize that you already have everything that you need right in front of you.

It’s good to try to pursue new paths for your life, but be smart enough to realize that when something doesn’t feel right it’s usually because it isn’t. Sure, there are times I look back on my career and think I should’ve done this or that differently, or taken that job, or moved to that city. But if I’d done any of those things, I wouldn’t be here today.

 I know that where I am is exactly where I’m supposed to be.

Seriously, how could I leave this face every day? Ain’t happenin….

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