Back when my partner and I were discussing whether or not I should continue working after the birth of our child, we talked through what felt like endless scenarios, including but not limited to: continuing my same job that I had before our son arrived, leaving the work force completely, finding a part-time job, freelancing, looking at "side hustle" options, and saying, "eff all of it!" and going on an epic road trip all over the country in an equally epic motorhome. OK, actually he didn't really want to consider that last one, but I'm still holding out hope that he'll be down for it one of these days.
After trying a number of scenarios and combinations of me working/not-working, and doing different kinds of work, we finally landed on something that is, so far, actually working out (pun always intended) really well. I don't want to assume that our situation is what would be best for every other family out there. But I do believe that, in addition to so many other benefits of being a working mom, me working has helped me stay grounded and become a better partner to my husband. I'm sure there a number of legitimate explanations and ways to apply feminist theory to why a wife and mom who's more fulfilled is a good thing for the entire family, but all I know is how it's played out in my family, and it's been awesome. Here's what I've experienced in terms of how being a working mother has made me not only a happier person and a better mom, but a dramatically better partner:
My Partner Isn't My Only Source Of Adult Interaction
I suppose that there are jobs out there that might require no human interaction, but I think we can all agree that the majority of jobs involve interacting with other adults. This means that the pressure is off my partner to respond to every single conversation I want to start, which I know he appreciates, especially when I'm dying to go over my plans to learn the choreography for Justin Bieber's "Sorry" video. (Yes, I'm still talking about that, but luckily for my husband, it's not always to him because coworkers.)
You're More Fulfilled, Which Will Always Markedly Improve Any Relationship, But Especially Your Primary One
Truth: If we feel unfulfilled within ourselves and our own lives, some of that negativity is going to inevitably spill over into our relationships. And with our significant other — someone we see every day — we are even more likely to put less effort into mitigating that icky spillover. Whether it's working or something else, doing things that make you feel content about how you're living is the single greatest investment you can make in the health of your relationships. And the more closely you're connected to someone, the more that relationship stands to benefit from a healthy, happy you (likewise, those are the relationships that can become the most damaged when you're unfulfilled).
Regardless of how you feel about your actual job, most of us can probably agree that working at all is fulfilling in a different way than parenting is. I mean, I love that feeling when my kiddo reaches a new milestone, but what about that feeling when you zero out your inbox? Nothing like it. And I'm bringing that self-satisfied confidence of a job well done all the way home to my main squeeze.
You Feel Like You're A Part Of Society
Not sure about you guys, but I like feeling like a part of society. As a self-declared homebody, even though I work from my house, I love feeling like I'm part of the bigger picture. I know that many people find it completely possible to build a community and feel actively a part of it while in the course of being a stay-at-home mom — but that's not me. Again, homebody. If my job doesn't mandate interaction with other people, I probably wouldn't proactively seek it out, and then I would eventually become a crazy person who only speaks in nursery rhymes. I'm guessing my husband wouldn't be psyched about that.
You're Contributing Financially
Regardless of how you and your partner breakdown your financial responsibilities, there is something to be said for watching your bank account grow and knowing your work has something to do with it. I'm not even saying that there's anything inherently "wrong" about letting your partner make all the money in your family (not that that's what the situation is over here; don't get it twisted, my job isn't just for ~funsies~). But for me, making money and always knowing that I have marketable skills give me a daily infusion of independence and confidence that probably allow me to not care about the exact breakdown of how much money my partner and I each bring in. I have a feeling that if I made no money, I would suddenly care about that a whole lot.
You're Better At Managing Time
One of these days I will show you guys the to-do list I use at home. It's insane...I'm talking multiple columns, color-coded, built in Excel. And I love every single box that I get to check off. Again, is this a skill shared by a great many women who don't work outside of being a parent? Yup. But I sure as hell wouldn't be one of them.
Your Hygiene Is On Point*
And who doesn't like a partner who doesn't literally smell bad? I'm always in awe of stay-at-home moms who look (and, I'm guessing, smell) amazing all the time. For the time when I wasn't working, it was all top knot, all the time, and occasionally I smelled like something died inside of it.
*Assuming you don't work from home, in which case, you're actually probably far more disgusting than most moms who don't work at all. Not that I would know anything about that... (Sorry, husband. I promise I'll shower today.)
Images: Greg Rakozy/Unsplash; Giphy(6)