the “do I work” or “do I stay home” inner conflict

I can only speak from experience.

I find myself completely divided between being mom and being employee.

I enjoy my work.  I throw myself into each task with all my heart.  I love everything I’m learning.  I’m proud of what I’m producing.  I’m excited about the future.  When I am working, I don’t want to stop.  I don’t want to do anything else but be in the moment and work.

I enjoy staying home with my kids.  I lose myself in moments of picking flowers and spinning round and round and chasing my daughter and drawing chalk figures on the driveway.  I love every nuance of my daughters’ personalities.  I’m proud to be their mom.  I’m excited about their developments.  When I am with my daughters, I don’t want to stop.  I don’t want to do anything else but be in the moment and stay with them.

I do realize that not everyone has to answer the question, “Do I stay home with the kids?”  For most people, the answer is obvious: “You can’t.”  You must work to pay for your basic needs.  To be quite honest, we are very nearly in that boat too.  We can barely survive on one income alone.  We “make do,” but it’s hard.  So for now, I work — sometimes full time, sometimes part time, depending on the month.  But in reality, we should probably both be working full time.  (Although with the cost of daycare, “Is it really worth it?” becomes the next question — and most of the time, the answer is, “No.”)

I find it confusing to juggle the mom-persona and work-persona.  I know I’m not two different people; I know I never stop being a mom.  But there are conflicting desires inside me.  On the one hand, I would love to work full time doing a job I am passionate about.  On the other hand, I don’t want to miss the younger years and have to answer the question, “What if I had just stayed home?” later in life.

Yesterday I was telling this to someone and she offered some great advice.  For now, things are good.  “Maybe there’s something else you’ll be working towards each day — maybe it won’t be exactly like this forever, but it’s sort of working right now..”  

Yeah.  I guess whatever it is that we’re doing  — it’s sort of working right now.

I tend to get lost in the, “What ifs” of life and miss out on the “nows.”  So I have to embrace the now.

For now, I do get both: working and babies.  Maybe in a year or two, that might not be the case.

But for now, it’s sort of working.

If you’re a working mom, I’d love to hear from you.  I just want to hear your story.  Do you wrestle with this inner conflict as well?

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4 thoughts on “the “do I work” or “do I stay home” inner conflict

  1. It’s working right now – that is such a comforting thought. The fact that it’s working now doesn’t mean i have to make sure things never change. What works now may not work later, and what works well later might be disastrous if I attempted it now.

    Thanks for the freeing insight, Rachel. You’re awesome. (Elliot and the kids are awesome too!)

  2. For us, working was not really a choice; I was the first one to get a job when we needed income for our family, and the job came as quite a blessing. 20 months or so later, I find it wearing on me a bit… I didn’t expect to be in this situation this long. I thought working was going to be a temporary solution and I would soon be back at home. Because of this I think I am more sad as I see my children passing through phases and experiencing things that I am not really there for. I think of all the art projects and the park trips and the play dates that I could be doing (or would I?). This is on the days that I am discontent. Other times I find myself very thankful for the “freedom” that going to work gives me to think my own thoughts, etc.

    I do find it very difficult to be both an engaged employee and an engaged mom. My work tends to be very intense, and I find I do not cope well when both work and family life are very intense. I tend to need to ease off in one or the other. Sometimes it can be challenging to transition to home and to be as involved as I want to be after a demanding day at work.

  3. Haha I’m not a mom or wife or even really have any sort of substantial social life — all I’ve really got going on right now is work and work-like hobbies — and I still feel like I couldn’t possibly find enough hours in the day or mental dedication/concentration to give any one project the focus it deserves! So, I think its fair to say you’re always going to feel somewhat divided and distracted by whatever aspect of your life you aren’t presently engaged in, but you’ll manage. 🙂 You’ll divide your time as best as circumstances allow, adjust when circumstances or your desires change, and generally continue to be awesome!

  4. I don’t know if I told you, but I recently was so upset that people weren’t hiring me to photograph them throughout the full year (had offers in PA, but couldn’t travel there so easily) that it really hurt in a way. I told Rob that maybe I should look for a night job, but he let me know that our marriage was important to him and that he needed me at night. . .and it is true. I hate being away with him and believe my marriage is more important than working all night once he is home. I know most people would think that sounds ridiculous, but it is what we both agreed to when we were even dating that once I got however far along with pregnancy, I would watch the boys and be one who works at home. I would like to work from home on the computer or doing ministry WITH ROB throughout the day instead, but we are where we are at the moment. :: sigh ::

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