Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Work At Home Mama

I had a typical weekday morning today: got the kids up and ready with my husband, started breakfast together, said bye to daddy with a send-off kiss to work. Fed my daughter breakfast while our son played “kitchen” and made us cupcakes and oatmeal.  Once our nanny arrived, my son had a meltdown about going to preschool—a combination of wanting to watch more Elmo on my iPhone, to play with mama at home, and still feeling under the weather.  After about 10 minutes of tears, somehow we recovered, and I hauled him in the stroller to preschool, dropped him off, rushed home to nurse my daughter and put her down for her nap, pumped the next feeding, changed into my work clothes, gave our nanny instructions for the morning, and left for a work meeting. All before 930am.

This has been roughly my routine give or take for the last six months, a combination of the day-to-day caring for our children while juggling work meetings and projects from home. I have it pretty good, the right combination for me of being present for my children while still maintaining the most stimulating parts of my career. Having our nanny really helps me to take time to work, and also gives me a break from full-time parenting. 

Once someone told me, "You are so lucky that your career allows you to be able to work part-time." Well, it isn't always easy, nor was it simply luck.  Perhaps not all careers are amenable to part-time, but neither was mine initially. I carefully chose parts of my career that could translate to part-time, and put other parts on hold for now.  My husband and I discussed our family priorities and did some prudent financial planning; I negotiated my work terms with my boss. And when I sit down to work every day, I work hard.  What I do feel is gratitude that I can make this arrangement work for our family.

I jokingly said to someone recently that I was a “Work At Home Mom” without really thinking about it. In my usual three-steps behind fashion, I later googled the term out of curiosity, and found a whole WAHM community out there.  There was even a Wikipedia entry about it, and a magazine for WAHM.

Then I started thinking more about the idea of work, and realized, doesn’t this term miss the point?  Don’t all parents, all mamas work?  Those “SAHM,” they are working in the home. And those “Work Outside The Home” moms are also working in the home too. However joyful parenting is, let’s just lay it out there: it is also work. Hard work.  So really, aren’t we all WAHM?  But more importantly, don’t these designations miss the point?  Don’t they instead aid to heighten the “mommy wars” among those who have decided to spend their time differently, either inside or outside the home? 

There is so much judgment about motherhood these days.  What is best for your kids?  For you to stay at home? To work outside the home part-time? Full-time?  I have heard an earful from all sides in my relatively short time as a mama.  Oh the pressure, and oh, the guilt.  And it irritates me to hear the pointed, back-stabbing comments women make about each other’s choices.  

Shouldn't we be instead supportive of our fellow mothers, each forging their own paths to modern motherhood?  Sure, we each have our opinions about what is best—but the key here is, what is best for ourselves, and best for our individual families.  A very close friend of mine asked me the other day if I felt I had gotten it “right” somehow.  I told her I thought that, more than the nitty-gritty details of what I do on a given day, what I had “right” in my life was the freedom to choose those details.  Plenty of parents don’t have that choice, for a myriad of reasons.  

For me, having a choice--well, that is luxury. Because I truly believe that for our family, what works is having a contented mama. That ultimately translates into a contented family.

No comments:

Post a Comment