There are plenty of think pieces and lengthy articles that outline just how difficult it is being a working mother. Whether they have jobs out of preference or out of necessity, working mothers are bombarded with questions and judgements, consistently at the mercy of other people's fictitious assumptions or different parenting choices. Honestly, moms get heaped with judgment and unfair assumptions no matter what they do: If you're a stay-at-home mom, you're lazy; If you are a working mom, you're a cold, neglectful, and selfish beast-woman who will raise terrible children. There's no winning when it comes to stereotypes cast upon mothers, which is — unfortunately — something we're used to dealing with. But when it comes to our professional choices, things can get especially heated.
And for working mothers, like myself, it is easy to get defensive. It's easy to completely shut down and turn the volume knob off and be so steadfast in our decision to work and parent simultaneously that we overlook opportunities to be completely honest with ourselves and our situations. (No? Just me? Well, OK then.) I spend way too much of my time defending my choice or fending off the guilt associated with it, that I completely overlook the actual pros and cons of being a working mother. And like anything else in life, it is important to take a step back every once in a while and evaluate not only the choices we make, but the consequences of those choices.
Because when it comes to being a working mother, I lose as much as I gain, and I gain as much as I lose.
I Lose Sleep
Of course, this could be said of all parents, but when I decide to work and parent, that means time that I could spend napping or sleeping, is time spent meeting a deadline or joining a conference call. Being a good worker and a good mother is all about prioritizing what is important and what isn't and, well, sleep just doesn't climb too high on that list.
I Gain Time For Myself
Granted, it is time working, but when your work is something you love, time spent working is time for yourself. It's great to have moments where I'm needed by someone who isn't a toddler.
I Lose Time At The Park
It's hard to sit inside in front of a computer and work, knowing that I could be outside with my son at the park, letting him run around and play and do toddler things. Sometimes, I think it is really unfair that I ask him to behave indoors more than I would have to if I wasn't working. Hello, guilt.
I Gain A Sense Of Accomplishment
There's no better feeling than creating something, and knowing that what was created couldn't have been completed if it wasn't for my work. I think it's important (for me) to find a sense of accomplishment outside of my ability to reproduce.
I Lose The Ability To Do Fun Projects
I don't have the ability to pull up Pinterest and try the latest absolutely adorable-but-ultimately-messy arts and crafts. I don't spend time finger painting and cutting out cardboard and letting my son glue macaroni noodles together, and that makes me feel like I'm failing. I would love to sit down and spend that time, creating with him, but there's no time.
I Gain More Financial Freedom
I can't lie, having the extra money that comes with working is nice. It allows us the ability to take family vacations, purchase my son the things he needs (because wow, kids grow super fast) and indulge on (some) of the things he wants. Not having to stress about bills is, well, it's kind of completely awesome.
I Lose A Constantly Clean House
Let's face it, sometimes the dishes and the laundry and the vacuuming fall by the wayside. Of course, these house chores are not just my responsibility, and my partner definitely pulls his weight, but because we both work full-time and fulfill our parenting responsibilities, by the end of the day when our son is sleeping, we would rather sit down, relax and zone-out to with some good old fashioned Netflix binging instead of cleaning.
I Gain A Sense Of Pride
I like being able to say that I am successful, regardless of how minuscule that success is. I like contributing financially to my family. I like working towards something on a daily basis, and seeing the fruits of that constant work.
I Lose Time With Friends
With work responsibilities and parenting responsibilities and family responsibilities and house responsibilities, it's harder and harder to carve out time for friends. Like I said before, being a good worker and a good mother is all about prioritizing, and sometimes life gets in the way of happy hours and girl's nights out. (Thankfully, there's texting.)
I Gain Time With Coworkers
I relish the opportunity to speak with other adults, usually about common interests (even if that interest is a report or spreadsheet). It's nice to be understood by other individuals — some who have children, and some who do not — when the majority of my conversations are with a toddler who can say a grand total of 10 words.
I Lose My Confidence
There are times when I am completely convinced I am doing it all wrong. Sometimes I feel like I can't be a good worker because I am a mother, and I can't be a good mother because I have decided to have a job. Sometimes I feel like I'm making the wrong choices and the worst decisions and my son will be the one negatively effected. This self-doubt and guilt and constant internal questioning (I hear) is normal. That doesn't really make it easier to deal with, like when everyone in your office has the flu and you're like, "OK, cool, but that doesn't make my flu suck any less, although I guess it does ease my doubt about the relative weakness of my particular immune system."
I Gain Self-Esteem
And then, of course, there are days when I feel like I can do it all. I am Superwoman incarnate, capable of making breakfast and meeting a deadline and cleaning the house and making dinner and getting a raise, all in a single bound. Sure, these days are few and far between (if we're being honest) but when I take a step back and look at all I've accomplished, I realize that I am stronger than I think I am.