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The New Working Mother

2013 July 9


Little D prompted this post.

A good friend of mine who has been a stay-at-home mom for six years or so since having her first baby is in talks to get back into the work force with an exciting opportunity in her field. She didn’t really seem to struggle with the decision to go back to work, but she did give it (and all the changes that will come along with it) a lot of thought and ultimately, it was something she needed to do not just financially, but creatively and on a personal level. She felt that she had invested six amazing years into her kids and her family but she was missing her days as a sought-after career gal and felt her creative drive drying up.

As my husband and I discussed her new opportunity at dinner the other night, talking about how cool it was for her, Little D chimed in:

“But if she goes back to work, how is she going to be a mom?”

Don’t you love it when a six-year-old can bring a conversation to a screeching halt with a seemingly innocent but brilliantly thoughtful comment?

My husband and I exchanged glances.

“She still needs to love J and B (her kids) and take care of them!” she exclaimed, a look of concern planted firmly on her little face.

Now, as a reminder, Little D has the benefits of having a skewed impression of working parents. My husband and I both work from home, so while she understands that we work full-time – there are offices set up and conference calls behind closed doors – we can also pick her up from school every day, take her to doctor’s appointments when needed, plan last-minute outings, etc. But we both thought she had a good sense of what it meant for me to work and balance motherhood.

“Well I work and I am a mom,” I replied to her. “Aren’t I?”

She paused.

“She will do the same thing I do, she will just go and do it in an office. And she will still love J and B and she will still work very hard at being their mom. At being the best mom they could ever have. Just like I do.”

I went on to explain how my mom worked and was still the best mom I could ever have. And how my husband’s mom did the same.

She moved onto her dessert at that point, far more consumed with that than our conversation.

I wish I could have done the same.

It left me feeling like maybe she doesn’t really see the balance we are working so hard to maintain. She doesn’t sense the juggle and the planning and the worries about work and deadlines and generating income. When I drop her off at school in the morning and head back home to my computer and emails, she probably thinks I am sitting there waiting for her, ready to love her and take care of her once again at the end of the day. She doesn’t think about me working, because she is too busy thinking about me being her mom.

And then I realized that’s clearly the result of a job very well done.

*image above via Andry “Shango” Rajoelina*

21 Responses leave one →
  1. July 9, 2013

    Interesting post. I think children are very sensitive to things that are not what they perceive as normal (i.e., a mommy who goes into the office vs a mommy who works in the home.). When I was growing up my mother was different than the others who worked from home because she went into the office every day and she couldn’t pick me up from school or do the afternoon activities that all the other moms did. All my friends felt bad for me and I thought it was so weird that their moms weren’t in the office making money! It didn’t bother me at all, it actually made me very proud to have the mom that I did.

    As an aside, I love the graphic. Do you know the source?

  2. Karsha permalink
    July 9, 2013

    Warning – don’t read this if you’re sitting at work or a client’s office like I am right now. You’ll need to touch-up your mascara. =) Ouch. I’m sure my R and your D are in cohoots or something. Another beautiful post, Raluca. PS – Made your no-bake energy bites last night. R gobbled them up this morning. Thanks for the tip!

    • WWGD permalink*
      July 10, 2013

      I swear I am not here to make you cry! Life just seems to have a way of doing that to us 😉 Aren’t those energy bites amaze?! My kids renamed them “cocoa bites” because apparently energy wasn’t delicious enough for them.

  3. July 9, 2013

    This is so incredibly on-target. Both H and I have been struggling with my not being home more, whether working from home or full-time at home. We have wonderful help, but we all miss each other. We don’t quite know what to do about it except stay aware and keep talking about it.

    AND Little D is one snark dessert-eating cookie.

    • WWGD permalink*
      July 10, 2013

      Yes, I think that’s so important. Being open and honest about how it’s working (or not) so that if and when there is a time for change, you’re all on the same page. Thanks, as always, for reading mama!

    • July 11, 2013

      um, that’s “smart.” apparently there was some sort of autocorrect going on.

  4. Britta permalink
    July 9, 2013

    Thanks for this, it’s just what I (and I’m sure some of my friends whom I’m about to share this with) needed. I work full time away from home and for now, it works. My child is just 4 months and doesn’t notice but I worry the day he’ll wonder why he only gets 2-3 hours a night and weekends with mommy while others kids spend much more time with their parents. I grew up with 2 hard working parents who often worked overtime and as a result I do not have a very close relationship with either. I work hard to make sure I optimize the time I’m at work so I can optimize the time I’m with my son and have no problem taking advantage of PTO and vacation time to do so. Just hope he realizes that when he’s older it might take 2 hard working people to create the life you want/need and that women can do it just as well as men. I want him to know that women are strong and he should only date/marry the strong ones 🙂

    • WWGD permalink*
      July 10, 2013

      I know your struggle. I went back to work full time for a year after my daughter was born and ultimately decided to go out on my own to enjoy more flexibility and time with her. It was the greatest choice I ever made, but the truth is, once she and my son are both back in school full-time, I will likely venture back into a full-time gig. There is a security and “ease” in that that is also very beneficial to your family, in my opinion. Thanks for reading — would love to hear more from you about how you juggle it all!

  5. July 9, 2013

    Love this, Raluca. You’re a great writer. This is on my mind, since I’m leaving a full time job where I work at home (but with tons of overnight travel) and moving to one where I’ll be home every night but will lose some of the flexibility for the school events, etc. I have already found myself reaching out to friends and family to fill in as needed- so I guess the whole “it takes a village” thing is really true.

    • WWGD permalink*
      July 10, 2013

      Ah, thank you mama. So excited to see how your transition goes…xx

  6. July 9, 2013

    Wow. They can really punch us in the gut with their comments, sometimes, can’t they? So tricky, so fraught with emotion. I work and my husband often says he’s grateful for the role model I am for our daughter. I always respond that I think it’s equally as important to model working motherhood for our son. I love that image, by the way!

    • WWGD permalink*
      July 10, 2013

      Yes, punched in the gut. That’s the perfect way to describe it! And totally agree that what my son sees is just as important. Though at 2.5, he doesn’t see much beyond who is filling his milk cup these days 😉 Thanks for reading, Lindsey!

  7. Jennifer permalink
    July 10, 2013

    Ironically I am actually working from home this week as the nanny is sick (first time ever so I can’t be mad but it has really thrown a wrench into things). Trying to do my job from the kitchen table while managing a 10 month old looks like a circus act. I thought working from home might be easier than commuting to the office but after this week I am not so sure. I guess if the nanny was here it would be more manageable but I am drowning so maybe this is God’s way of making the office look more appealing. Anyways, great post. P.S.- If only we could win the lottery 😉

  8. July 10, 2013

    Oh have I been there … my children have certainly made some statements that took my breath away. You have to love their honesty, right?! I think you’re right – your daughter’s statement is a testament to how seamless you are making the juggle look. What a gift to be able to have that schedule, but I’m sure there is so much that goes into keeping all the balls in the air. Having read some of the comments above, I kind of agree that the home environment and schedules we create for our kids tend to become their normal. Perhaps as they get older, they start to make more comparisons, but as long as they feel loved and listened too, I think whatever work arrangement you have can work. Thanks for sharing this little story. 🙂

  9. July 10, 2013

    You brought it full circle with the last line. I think it is absolutely a job well done when your daughter thinks you sit and wait for her to come home every day. So sweet.

    This post really resonated with me since I too have decided to head back into the workforce after four years of being at home:)

    • WWGD permalink*
      July 11, 2013

      Exciting! Let me know what you venture back into! xx

  10. July 10, 2013

    It’s so great that you can find a balance and even greater that your daughter can’t sense your stress! This was an awesome post.

    xo Megan,

    • WWGD permalink*
      July 11, 2013

      Thank you, Megan! Thanks for stopping by!

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