Wednesday, December 16, 2009

on being a working mom

a few weeks ago, someone left a comment asking, "how is it going being a working mom?" i've been meaning to reply/post because i love this question, but i am way behind on life (btw, thank you all for all of your comments and messages! i love reading them and hope to catch up soon).

so...the simple answer is that i would prefer to be at home full-time, but i am enjoying working and our life.

i never thought i would want to stay at home. i'm not exactly mrs. domestic, and i feared i would be bored, lonely, need adult interaction & intellectual stimulation. however, in my 3 months at home, none of my fears came to fruition. perhaps if i stayed home longer they would've, but i doubt it. staying at home for me was like summer vacation--incredibly awesome/peaceful/relaxing/enjoyable. every day i would wake up and solely think about parker--how i could love on him, how he was doing, how i could help him learn & develop, how i could preserve & share memories through pictures and the blog. i read all the time and loved learning more about infants. i cooked more, got together with friends every day, took daily walks and trips to the pool, etc. life was balanced for the first time in a long time.

however...when i was pregnant and was sure i would want to go back to work, james and i made some decisions. one of those decisions was for james to leave camp war eagle and take a lower paying job as a firefighter. i still think this was a good decision for james and our family, and if we really wanted to we could make things work on his salary, but there is so much freedom in having 2 incomes. instead of worrying about finances every month, we are able to go on vacations, pay off our home faster, buy things for parker, give gifts for friends' birthdays, weddings, etc., host parties at our house, save to buy a bigger car when we have 3 kids (what?!? am i really thinking that far ahead?), save for our kids' college, invest in our 401k, support missionaries and so many other things with little stress.

not only that, but there are other important factors in our decision:

*james works 24 hr. shifts at the firestation and is home 3-4 days in the work week, so the most time we spend away from parker during the week is 2 days, and usually less.

*with company holidays, vacations, personal time, sick days, etc. i calculated that i only work 18% of the time. i rarely have to take work home with me or stay late at the office, so this is another big plus. being with parker 82% of the time isn't bad, especially for all of the freedom my salary provides.

*right now, parker is sleeping 4 hours while i am at work anyway and i come home and see him for an hour on my lunch break. also, the 18% doesn't include 3 months of maternity leave i plan to take every other year if we have more children (no we are not trying).

*i enjoy my job (the challenge it provides & relationships with coworkers). after i went back to work, i felt more like my old self and was forced to shower every day (or at least every other ;)).

*i have some awesome SAHM neighbors (like 5 in our subdivision). while james was in rookie school, we took parker to daycare (which actually i really liked), but now that james is working a normal schedule again, the other moms rotate watching him. we pay them, but i honestly believe they would do it for free because parker is that awesome, ha. seriously, one of them is trying to have a baby and goes to stroller fitness class with an empty stroller every week, so parker fills that void when he is with her! the moms are like second moms to parker and love on him so much, and it helps me get to know them better as well.

anyway, all that to say is that i know this is a very personal and sensitive topic...i just wanted to share my experience. spending conscious quality time together is the most important thing whether parents are working or not.

side note: i hate it when SAHMs make it a point to say that they "work" at home when people ask whether they work or stay at home with the kids. everyone knows that taking care of children is a lot of work and that is not the question posed. it seems self-righteous and almost pompous to respond in such a manner. the other day someone asked me whether i was a "mom" or i worked. i did not take offense to the question even though the wording made it seem like i could not be a mom and work...i recognized the intent of the question and simply answered that i work full-time. c'mon people!

side note #2: mom magazines often add to the pride of SAHMs. one article i read in parents declared that SAHMs do the work equivalent to a $870,000 salary or something ridiculous like that. the article said that SAHMs deserve the salary of a psychiatrist, psychologist, nurse, teacher, etc. equaling $870,000. while the article was semi in jest, and i know that all moms need encouragement, let's be a little more realistic (and while i do not think you can put a price tag on the emotional, social, intellectual bonds built between a stay at home parent and a child, computing the opportunity cost of hiring a nanny would be a little closer than adding the salaries of several high paying professions).

anyway, love yall! sorry this is so long. i was just going to share photos of my new high chair cover and look what happened :)


wendy said...

1. So glad to see a post from you!

2. Parker is adorable in that pic!

3. I'm with you. I work full time (but ask John and he'll say parttime because I'm off Thursdays), and I'd just rather up and quit if we were financially able to if that meant getting to be with Jonas each day. While it's not easy work, being able to be with your child each day at length? Um, that sounds pretty awesome.

I've always hated when they do the "salary" add ups. I mean, really? Ugh.

Anonymous said...

haha, I love reading your blog, Silvy. Parker is so cute in his santa pictures. I totally respect you for working and "moming". I wish there was a job available here that I could do both...maybe one day. Have an amazing holiday!!

Katie said...

This was great, Silvy! I loved reading about your life right now! I found it very interesting, especially since I stay at home. Your comment about how it bugs you when moms who stay home say they "work" at home made me laugh. I can understand why they say it, though--despite all of the new support out there for stay-at-home Moms, the reality is that there are still a lot of people out there who think all we do is sit around and eat bon-bons and watch soap operas. Gah. But, I'm not in the camp who insist we "work" from home. To me, working is a job and I don't view taking care of Caleb as a job. So, I guess it all has to do with perspective, maybe?? And probably some pride!!

I still get surprised reactions from people when I tell them I stay home, like they think that I'm too young and I should be working. Sometimes I even have to defend our choice! I stay home right now, but things could always change and we know that! I might need to go back to work sometime and I'm perfectly fine with that. It wouldn't be my first preference, but you do what you have to do to take care of your family (and yourself). And God blesses that! I think you're doing a great job and I'm so glad you finally posted again!! :)

kristina said...

hey! yea, a post!! first, parker is adroable in that picture.

and second, i totally agree with your sidenotes. i am a stay a home mom and its fantastic. but its not like having a job at all. i worked right up until about 5 days before i had the little one. that was work. being at home with the little babe? that is awesome! and more like play than a job will ever be. true, you cant put a price tag on the time spent teaching baby at home, but its NOT like a 'real' job in the work place. i really like your opinions on things.

Erin said...

~opportunity cost~
Thanks for the Econ shout out! :)