Mothers who work outside of the house are constantly scrutinized for their choices, and a signifiant amount of that scrutiny is internal. When I had to go back to work I was constantly torn between my responsibility to my employer and to my family. I would, and still do, panic about all sorts of normal things all working moms panic about. I worried about my kids' safety, if they'd get to school on time, if they will eat a nutritious breakfast, and if they'll do their homework after school without my supervision. I worried about so much, I found myself worrying about worrying. Yay motherhood, right?
The thing is, I enjoy working. I like being challenged and I love what I do. I like feeling I am making a difference somehow. Mostly, I like leaving the house to go to work and having somewhere to be. Working gives me a sense of self that staying at home never did. I was lucky enough to stay at home with both kids for a little over a year. My long maternity leaves weren't by choice, mind you, but they were definitely needed and were a welcomed life circumstance. Once my kids were more independent, though, I no longer really knew how to entertain them. Before I knew it, I felt stuck in the world of playdates and parks.
I went back to work as soon as I found a job, which wasn't really a choice as much as a necessity for my family. We couldn't survive on one income. Still, and although I felt ready to go back and am glad to go to work, I wish my work life was more flexible. Basically, I want the best of both worlds, even if that's not at all realistic or feasible. I love what I do, but I still miss my kids all of the time and some days wish I didn't have to work, no matter how happy it makes me.
Not Spending Enough Time With The Family
Working full-time means missing out on mornings and afternoons. It means not being there when your kids wake up and when they get home from school. It means you spend your evenings and weekends catching up on all of the errands and responsibilities you can't take care of during the week. So, yeah, moms who work outside of the house panic over that lack of time and the fleeting childhoods of their children.
Not Enough Time To Cook
Cooking a well-rounded, healthy meals for the family after coming home around 6:30 p.m. is, in my experience, nearly impossible. On any given day our dinners consist of quick 30-minute meals, sometimes using the same "meal plans" every week. There is hardly a variety during the week and I'm not trying to figure out how to cook gourmet meals after spending all day at work. That doesn't mean I don't constantly feel bad about the fact that my kids eat the same thing over and over again, though.
Forgetting Appointments & Activities
These last few months alone I've forgotten at least three appointments for my kids. I panic any time I get held up at work and I know I will be late to whatever activity my kid has that afternoon after school. I feel bad that I can't sign up my kids to any more extra-curricular activities because our family is already so thinly spread.
Missing Out On School Events
I would love to come to the holiday parties at my daughter's school. Or to be involved in event planning, or volunteering any chance I get. I would love to come in and read to her class or help the teacher with a lesson. I can't do any of those things, though, because my job does not allow for such flexibility.
When Your Kid Is Sick
It's Wednesday night and your kid spikes a fever. Boom. A wrench has now been sufficiently thrown into your day (or the next few days, depending on how "lucky" you are).
If you can afford it, perhaps you have a sitter you can rely on last minute. Still, you panic over the fact that you have to leave your sick child without you all day. If you don't have a sitter, you have to either take a day off or try to work from home (if your company has that kind of flexibility). Either way, it's panic mode for a mom who works outside of the house because there is nothing more I want to do than to stay home and comfort my kid.
Not Being Able To Chaperone Field Trips
As a teacher, I know what it's like to chaperone a bunch of kids on a field trip. Honestly, the act is synonymous with herding sheep without a German Shepherd. It's hard work. That's why we always ask for parent volunteers to help.
A lot of those volunteers, however well-meaning, usually can't help but focus solely on their own children. So, I'm in panic mode each time my kid goes on a field trip and I am unable to chaperone because I work. It's nerve-wracking, knowing my child is climbing inside caves or riding a roller coaster under minimal supervision.
I used to pack my daughter an amazing lunch every day. Then I started working full-time. Now she either packs her own lunch or I put money in her account and she buys lunch.
As we all know, school lunches are less than nutritious and an 8 year old isn't going to make the best food choices without a parent around. So, I stress over the fact that my daughter is eating complete crap for lunch every single day. I try to make up for it in the summer, but it doesn't always work out.
Having No Control In The Mornings
I have no control over my kids in the morning. My children are left with their grandfather (my dad) who feeds them and takes them to school. I am not around to know what they ate or how they are dressed. I've picked up my son from school and he was dressed in pajamas because my dad thought they were regular clothes. I've received phone calls from the school because my daughter was wearing transparent stockings as leggings and she didn't realize everyone could see her underwear (and neither did my dad). So, you know, that was great.
I panic every time my phone rings during my work day because I always think it's the school or the daycare calling me about my kids.
When You Don't Have Enough Energy To Play
It's sad when I lack energy to play with my kids after work. But after working all day, running home and cooking something that resembles a meal, and dealing with any unforeseen circumstances that are bound to arise, I'm done. I hardly have enough energy to climb into bed, let alone play pretend with my daughter or get down on the floor and play with trucks and cars with my son.
Trusting Strangers To Take Care Of Your Child
Sure, I went to check out my sons daycare prior to sending him there. Still, how much do you really learn from a walk-through and a couple of miniature conversations with the teachers? Essentially, I was leaving my 1 year old with a group of strangers; forced to trust people I didn't really know with the safety of my baby-turned-toddler. That's, you know, horrifying.
Leaving Work At Work
I often have to work in the evenings, even and already after a full day of work. Unfortunately, my kids already know my routine and it makes me really sad. Some evenings they actually ask if I have to work and when I say "yes," I receive a sigh and an "of course you do." It breaks my heart every time, but I don't have much of a choice.
Your Kids Missing You
Yeah, my kids miss me. They are disappointed when I have to work at night and they are sad when I tell them I can't make them breakfast in the morning. And I miss them. I miss them all the time. I miss them in the mornings when I drink my coffee at my desk and I know they are at home waking up and rubbing their sleepy little eyes. I miss them when I'm eating lunch at work and I picture them during recess, having a blast with their friends and getting all sweaty running around the playground. I miss them in the late afternoon when I know they are getting home from school and are getting picked up by someone other than me. I miss them in the evenings when I'm making dinner and they are playing on their own.
Then I miss them when they are asleep, because I know tomorrow I'll miss them, too.