I was a stay-at-home mom for years, working different online jobs from the comfort of my laptop. Then, when the work-well dried up (seemingly all at once), long before I'd sold books or received good pay from other verticals, I decided to get a part-time job at a running store. Leaving my laptop (and kids!) behind meant a whole other string of worries I hadn't considered. Even now, as I'm back to full-time writing from home, I've realized there are weird things all working moms worry about, regardless of location or job description.
When I was away from home, the hardest parts were, a) finding childcare and, b) dealing with the guilt of leaving my children in any capacity. While I don't have the exact same concerns now that I'm working from my laptop in the same room as my kids, there are other concerns people might consider weird. In the end, I've realized it's a tricky balance no matter where I am or what I'm doing.
I've also realized there's guilt in almost every decision I make, whether it's for the greater good or not. I'm essentially just closing my eyes, hoping I don't stumble into traffic — that's what I compare being a working mother to — because regardless of being a stay-at-home-mom, a working mom, or even a mom at all, we will find something to worry about. With that, here's what goes on in my weird brain when trying to do the work/mom thing (warning: it's not always pretty in there).
I Don't Hear The Talking
You know the feeling. If you work outside the home and you're finally in for the night and one of your children is talking, talking, talking. It's not until they've finished you realize you didn't hear any of it. This happens to me all the time. When I worked at the running store, I was so drained from providing "exceptional" customer service, I wanted to shut-off at home.
Likewise, in working from home, I'm often trying to concentrate but it doesn't register with my kids I'm doing work so, even still, they're talking, talking, talking. I'm constantly thinking, "Is she talking to me?" even when they're not home. Because, you know, motherhood.
Am I Balancing Work/Life Or Failing Completely?
Usually, I'm failing on a massive level. This is probably because I have no "off" switch. When I'm working from home, it's everyday and during most daytime (and night time) hours. I've tried to set "office hours" and for the most part, stick to them. But then jobs come up, and, well, I have to take them. My career is important to me.
However, I don't mean to diminish the importance of my babies, either. Working away meant leaving the job there, but again, I was bad at decompressing so that I could be present. It was/is a continuous loop of worry and guilt.
My Child Will Be Mad
One of the benefits of being a stay-at-home working mom has always been the flexibility to be at school and sporting events for my kids. When I couldn't, for whatever reason, my fear wasn't that I'd miss something spectacular, but that my child might hold a grudge. I don't want to let anyone down and, honestly, I'm doing the best I can. But, like, do they get that? Never mind. I'll be there next time. Promise.
Am I Supposed To Volunteer?
When I worked away, I didn't want to volunteer at the next school event but had a convenient excuse. Working at home, I don't want to volunteer but don't have a believable excuse. See the dilemma?
My Child Will Forget Me
This is a legitimate fear I had when I took that sales position. I'd never left my kids for work before and, when I did, that first day was rough. I wanted to cry through the whole shift from the paranoia I'd get home and they'd be like "who are you?" As if having a sitter sometimes would force them to bond with another person, completely forgetting about everything I'd been to them.
To be honest, my son is in the next room right now and I still fear he'll forget about me. I'm starting to see I have a problem here.
Is My Child Safe? Eating? Sleeping?
When you leave your baby in the care of another, it means letting go. Unfortunately, I'm unable to actually let go. I will, through my entire shift, wonder what is happening at every moment. While not exactly "weird," it does affect productivity. Now that I'm home and the curiosity is quelled by being the caregiver, the worries have shifted to wondering if my kids are eating enough, sleeping enough, doing their homework, or even, who put the marker on the cat's tail.
It doesn't matter if you're home or not, as a mother it's ingrained in us to worry about our children. If things are fine while I'm gone, I'll find something to worry about. If things are fine when I'm home, same story. Everyday as I work, no doubt, there's something new, and weird, to keep me on my toes and I'm starting to realize, it's all just part of parenting — to worry forever and ever, the end.