If I’m going to be a mom, I’m better as a working mom

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For me, I'm better as a working mom. Do what works for your family.

There’s a whole internet full of “mommy war” missives. This post is not intended to be one of those. If it helps some other mother in some way, that’s fantastic. If it makes another angry, then please reconsider. Nothing on this post is written with an ounce of judgment intended. Well… except maybe judgment against myself, which could be a topic for another post.

If you’ve read my site for a while or if you’ve known me for a while, you probably know that I did not intend to get pregnant. My daughter was a complete surprise. My body had not menstruated in YEARS due to my eating disorder, and I honestly didn’t care if I never had children. In fact, it felt like a burden taken off of me. I know everybody expected me to pop out some chitlins and having my body malfunctioning in that way gave me “an out” or something. But then one day, I was pregnant. Surprise!

I was not a happy camper throughout pregnancy either… I dreaded every minute of it. I feel a little bad sometimes when I hear about couples who try to get pregnant, who ecstatically chronicle every minute of pregnancy, who find the whole process exciting because I didn’t see my experience as anything good. It was a horrible constant reminder that my life was changing in a way I didn’t ask for.

But now, my daughter is the most wonderful thing in my life. She’s so cute and it’s fascinating to see how she can grow and change. I truly love her more than I ever knew it was possible to love someone. And loving her so hard makes me feel like my capacity to love other things is diminished. I give her my heart, my soul, my energy, my all.

She’s also the hardest thing in my life. When she has a meltdown (as kids her age are prone to do) I feel like my insides are dying a little. I can tell she is frustrated/upset with something, and I can’t make it go away. Disciplining is hard, and I want to go sit in a closet and cry if I have to make her sad or mad. And while I am never upset at her, I am upset at the situation of not having freedom or flexibility in my life and having to deal with a miniature version of myself screaming at me.

One of the things that I feel makes me a good mother is the fact that I work a full-time job. As a working mom, I miss her all day while I work and I actually quit work at a reasonable time (something I hadn’t done since I began telecommuting until I had her) so I can go pick her up from her school. I hate that I have to cook dinner each night because it seems like a stupid responsibility that is eating into time when I could play with her.

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But this week… her one-week summer vacation between summer camp ending and the new school year starting… has been the hardest week ever. I hate feeling internally obligated to fill every minute of the day with activities. Sometimes I don’t want to do puzzles or blow bubbles or color. But then I feel like a crappy parent when I just hand her the iPad (the one thing I can count on her to do independently) and let her play, so instead of even feeling like I’ve been given a reprieve and have a moment to do something I want, I feel guilty that I’m not being a good mother.

And there are all the things she’s exposed to by going to school that she wouldn’t have had if I stayed at home with her all the time. There is absolutely ZERO chance I would have painted with her as a baby, but her school did that. I wouldn’t have taken a 1.5-year-old to see a fire truck/meet a fireman because I would assume they’re too little to care, but her school introduced them to safety professionals and it made an impression on her. She knows all kinds of things due to school activities, from academia to pirate vocabulary. (The first times she said “Shiver me timbers” and “Ahoy matey” I about died laughing.)

Honestly, stay-at-home moms… I don’t know how you do it but I’ll give you full kudos! Because I feel myself turning into a little more of a walking corpse each day. They could just lead me over to the set of The Walking Dead, give me a shove and I’d fit right in. I don’t exercise as much, I don’t eat as well, I feel (more) stressed/anxious and I get angry, but instead of letting it out I just fume inside. I judge all of my own parenting actions far more harshly than any of those awful judgmental stories you read about on the internet when I’m at home all day.

Maybe if I had a kid when I first got married… when I was younger, dumber, poorer and didn’t have all this social media garbage to tell me the countless ways you are supposed to parent. But then I wouldn’t have a career and, for the most part, I get a lot of satisfaction from working. I like working on a project and seeing it successfully launched or that I have people who send me IM’s and say, “Hey Boss, how should we…” or when I’m recognized as the outstanding employee for the entire year. (yeah, that happened this year!) Those are good for my self-esteem. And it helps me identify myself. Because I’ve never identified “mom” as who I am. Yes, I am a mother, but that’s just another facet of Jill.

So sweet child of mine, I love you the mostest… but I’m really glad you’re going back to school tomorrow.

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