Being a loving, dedicated mother who's also just as passionate about her career usually comes with a lot of criticism and unsolicited opinions. Whether it's a jab about women trying to "have it all," or snide remarks asking how any of us could possibly have time for our children after putting in so many outside-the-home-working hours, I'm over all of it. Of the things ever working mom should say to the haters, the first is to kindly water your own grass instead of insulting mine. Please and thank you, of course.
From the very beginning of my first pregnancy, I knew I wanted to stay home with my children. I also knew I wanted to invest in my career, at some point, at least. After arriving home from the hospital, I became a dedicated stay-at-home mom, taking on random and infrequent freelance work as I found it but essentially putting off anything resembling a career. Then, after a grueling battle with postpartum depression (PPD), I knew I needed to fulfill other desires — such as pursuing my passion — outside of parenthood so that I could become a better mother.
At the time, I heard every side of the argument. I had people remark on how great it was I could be home with my babies, and I answered questions about why I didn't go straight to work after both my children were born. Now that I've been both a stay-at-home mom and a working mom, I see how beneficial being both a mom and a career woman is, for me, and in regards to how I fit and interact with my family. This isn't to say those who only stay at home to care for kids aren't doing just as much work, because they are. Trust me, I know how much work it takes to keep your entire family's life afloat.
For me, though, accomplishing parenting goal feels just as wonderful as the feeling I get when I accomplish something work-related. Being both a mom and a career woman, and experiencing both and striving to be the best I can be at both and working hard to maintain both, drives me. With that, here's some things all working moms should say to the haters, because nobody has time for that.
We Love Spending Time With Our Kids...
Just because some moms choose to work, doesn't mean we don't appreciate the time we get with our children. If anything, after a long day of mental exercise that doesn't involve diaper changes and timed feedings, I look forward to letting loose with my babies. They remind me of the simplistic joys in life I might otherwise gloss over, whether it's taking the time to pick a dandelion from the yard, or telling a story that always ends in laughter. Time with my kids means my work day is over and I can give them all of my attention, as opposed to the days I didn't work and took those moments for granted.
...But We Also Love Pursuing Passions
The beauty of being a working mother is getting to experience two different lives — one that fulfills me intellectually, and one that fulfills me emotionally. My kids know how much writing fuels me. It brings me so much joy that, without it, I don't think I'd be the mom they deserve. They've come to accept that — yes — their mom works and has other interests, but she also loves them just as fiercely and would drop everything to be there for them.
Balance Is Tricky...
I'm the first to admit, finding time to accomplish everything in a day is tough. As great as I am at time management, I still have difficulty making the schedules work some days. Luckily, my kids understand when I have a deadline, just I have amazing editors who are flexible if something comes up that only a mom can handle.
When I was only a stay-at-home mom, I still struggled with balancing everything, so really the only difference is that now I'm fulfilled creatively, too.
...But We're Making It Work
There's days when finding balance isn't possible and, honestly, I think that's part of the process of actually achieving it. I might spend all afternoon with my family one day, and all morning working the next. There's no right answer when it comes to splitting your time in a way that works for you and those around you. However, to those who swear it's not possible to do both, I assure you it is. I'm living it.
We Applaud Those Who Choose One Or The Other...
While I've heard from plenty of haters about my choice to either work or stay home, I applaud every mom and regardless of whatever personal choice she's made. None of us go into motherhood with the assumption any decision will be easy or obvious, and it's made painfully obvious just how difficult our choices are when we choose the things we've anguished over.
In this case, I did wrestle with fully dedicating myself to be the stay-at-home mom, instead taking time away from my kids to do something that makes me happy and helps pay bills. There's no easy answer, only the right answer for each of us individually.
...Because We're Allowed To Make Our Own Life Choices, Too
Just because one mom loves being home with her kids all the time, doesn't mean I did. It did, however, mean that when I felt guilty for not feeling exactly the way way she did. It was as if something was wrong with me for not wanting to be with my kids every second of every day.
Eventually I realized that every mom is entitled to not only her choice, but her own feelings regarding that choice. I'm allowed to make the choice to be a stay-at-home mom, realize I don't fit well in that role, and switch it up by pursuing my career.
We Hope To Inspire Our Kids
Since taking on work full-time, I knew it'd initially be hard on the kids. To go from a mom who's able to get whatever, whenever, to the mom who's on a set schedule with deadlines and daily tasks to finish, was a hard adjustment. Even now, we have conversations about my "working" hours (since I work from home) and my "available" hours (though, of course I'm always available if they really and truly need something).
What I've seen over the years isn't resentment, though. It's inspiration. My kids talk about what I do to their friends. They're proud of me for juggling everything. Most importantly they remind me, even on the hard days, that I'm doing a good job.
We're Not Trying To Downplay Motherhood
In being a working mom, my sole goal isn't to only fulfill my needs and ignore that of my children. It's the opposite. I'm a believer in dedicated parenting, while also encouraging independence. I want to be there, and to be present, and I'm capable of doing all of the above by pursuing something other than motherhood.
However, being a mom is really important to me, too. Without my kids, I don't think my drive or determination would be what it is. I want them to look at me and see a great mother, but also a great person.
We Believed We Could, So We Did
I get that it's hard to defend choosing a decision that is highly ridiculed, because there isn't a right answer for all moms and we're, honestly, all just trying to do our best. When I chose to stay home with my first baby, I had no idea how challenging that role would be. But I believed I could, so I did. Now that I'm a working mom, I see how important balance is so that I can still be the mother I aim to be. But I believed I could, so I did.
In fact, I still do.