Do you know about Podcasts?
I ask, because a year ago I didn't (Insert shocked face emoji). I mean, I knew that they existed, and I knew that my husband listened to them, but I didn't know I had an app on my phone to listen to them myself.
I know, I know.
So I'm now all about Podcasts and have found tons that I look forward to every week. One is Note to Self.
For the past few weeks Manoush (the host) has been exploring the dynamic of being a working mom, the challenges that come with working outside the home while being the primary parent of your children, which most women are.
Obviously, this story line is intriguing to me. I am a working mom, and the primary parent. (That's not to say my husband doesn't parent. Frankly, I think he parents more than a lot of Fathers who struggle with involved parenting.) The reality is that when my children are young, they "need" me more. I also do more of the "homemaker" activities. Because I enjoy many of them, because I'm controlling and want them done my way, and because, well, I'm a woman and society puts that role on me and I comply. There's not getting around that reality, and I'm here to be real with you.
But that isn't what I'm here to write about today, although I'm sure we will get in to it eventually.
I want to write about the phrase working mom. Manoush mentioned a listener wrote in saying that the phrase doesn't even make sense, because all Mom's work. And that listener is right. I often refer to myself as a mother who works outside the home. I say it that way, I extend the energy to say it more clearly because I recognize that being a mother who doesn't work outside the house is still very much work. There are also women who work at home for jobs outside the house. Sometimes they're home alone working, sometimes they're fitting in their own entrepreneurial work while being home with their children.
My point is, there are many many ways that mothers work and raise their children. And they are all working, whether a company is paying them, they're paying themselves or they get no monetary compensation at all.
I often find this is a controversial topic.
Here is what I hear and read, here is what I've experienced and what I've heard my friends experience.
Women who work outside the home, like myself, feel guilty for not being home raising their children.
Women who do not work outside the home feel guilty for wanting a break from their children.
Women who work outside the home feel pressure to make the moments when they're with their children to count even deeper.
Women who don't work outside the home feel pressure to do it all and present a perfect life since they don't "have a job to attend to"
Women who work outside the home feel like they have to showcase this ability to do it all.
Women who don't work outside the home feel like they get no appreciation for all they do and achieve.
Women who work outside the home struggle to connect with their children when they've spent all day apart.
Women who don't work outside the home feel like they're losing a piece of themselves in the raising of their children.
I could go on, you, my readers could go on, and I encourage you to!
This isn't a "can't we all get along" post. And it is also not a "Let's all support each other" post.
I simply want to share and recognize all the differences that exists in personal experiences as a parent, a mother, in a world where people have more choice in how and when and where they work.
Two weeks ago, after my stressful weekend away I looked forward to coming back to work and not having the needs of my children to attend to.
Today, after a fun but busy weekend together I looked forward to my time on the train to drink a coffee and listen to a podcast.
But now, I want to leave early and run home to snuggle my children and I'm ready for it to be the weekend again.
Every day is different.
I'm thankful I have a job I look forward to coming to, and a job that allows me flexibility to balance my world as a mother who works outside the home.
When I was home with Ava during my maternity leave I felt immensely fulfilled. My world, my days, were all about taking care of her, planning and cooking dinner, picking up my Son and being in my home. I was shocked by how happy I was. I felt peaceful, in control and just completely full.
I was surprised, but also not, by that feeling. Surprised because I know that I'm someone who needs the balance of being in the workforce to feel whole. But not surprised, because I love spending energy on taking care of my home, my family, my children.
I was also okay with coming back to work after 4 months. Because my work in the company I work for also fulfills me. And I know that's a privilege. And I don't take it for granted.
Every day is different.
And every day I'm a working Mom. Some days I work for a company that pays me a salary, and every day I work for my children. I work at being the best parent I can through research, discussion, reading and mindful parenting practices.
And I write. I write about this experience so others can relate, in hopes others relate. I write because that is how I best express myself. I write because I want to talk about this topic. I write because it is hard, and we need to be open and talk to each other about the hard and the easy and the in between.
Thank you for reading, thank you for engaging, and please comment below and share your experience on this journey of mother or fatherhood.