There’s been quite a lot of talk recently on the worth of stay-at-home-moms. I thought I would do a post on the worth of a working mom, since this topic has been on my mind quite a lot of late.
I’ve worked almost continuously since I graduated from university in 2001. The only two breaks that I took were when I was pregnant with Alison and Zoe. Both times, I worked from home as a freelance writer, and returned to work when the girls were a few months old. The first break was about 10 months long; the second, longer because of Zoe’s surgeries.
Apart from these breaks, I’ve always had a full-time job, although I’ve not always needed to work. In fact, I used to be quite proud of the fact that I could stop work whenever I wanted, because K’s income then would have enabled us to live more than comfortably on a single salary.
Now, the situation is different. Advertising is no longer as lucrative as it used to be and K has almost completed the transition from doing design to running Bike School full-time. As a fledgling company in a climate that currently provides very little support for what we are trying to do, Bike School is getting to where we want it to be, slowly. So my working has become all the more important for our family’s financial stability.
I don’t feel guilty about working. I enjoy my job – it is challenging, satisfying and of course, it puts food on the table. I’ve tried staying at home before, and both times, I nearly went crazy from the humdrum-ness of it all. Perhaps I’m spoilt – I don’t do housework, cannot cook and don’t have a lot of patience. But I definitely cannot stand being at home all day, every day.
K, on the other hand, has worked from home for almost 10 years now, and he loves this arrangement. Between the two of us, he’s the one who derives more joy from looking after the kids on a day to day basis than I do. Having K work at home doesn’t mean I’m free from mothering duties, though. Every evening, when I walk through the front door, I am greeted by two girls clamouring for my attention, from school circulars that I have to read and test papers that I have to review and sign, to gripes about naughty friends and nasty teachers. Sometimes, it’s really difficult to listen to them natter on when all I want to do is eat my dinner and zone out, or curl up quietly with a book after a draining day at work. On weekends, while K is coaching, I drive them to and from class or find things to do with them on my own. The only time I have to myself is when I’m commuting to and from work, or the couple of hours between the kids going to bed and my own bedtime. Even then, those hours are spent on schoolwork or Bike School admin work.
Clearly, my life as a working mom isn’t the carefree, self-indulgent one that some make it out to be.
I don’t think I’m superior to stay-at-home-moms because I work; neither do I think stay-at-home-moms are more noble for giving up their careers to raise kids. The worth of a working mom is exactly the same as that of a stay-at-home-mom simply because we all face and overcome the daily challenge of putting the needs of our children before our own, regardless of how we contribute to the family.
We all do what we need to do, and make the best of it. That’s the beauty (and pain) of being a mother.