The struggle of being a working mom vs. a stay-at-home mom is a never-ending battle that often leaves both sides wanting more. I know, I’ve been there; I’ve been both. I was a stay-at-home mom, unfulfilled in a professional sense while slowly losing my mind, but happy to be a part of every milestone in my babies’ lives. I was a full-time working mom struggling to get ahead in my career because my childcare ended at 5pm, while making meal plans and searching for child-friendly activities during work breaks. I was also a part-time working mom, with the seemingly perfect balance of both, unable to dedicate the proper time and resources to either piece of my life, leaving me completely overwhelmed.
At the end of the day, I felt like no matter what I did and what I chose, I couldn’t win. I was a mom with the responsibility of breastfeeding my newborn, while making healthy meal options for my toddler and being expected to enrich both of their minds with educational activities. I was a mom trying to establish my professional identity in my home office, while hearing little hands knocking on my door wanting to catch a glimpse of my face. I felt guilty that I was trying to do something for myself, to reach the goals I set for myself before I ever held their tiny bodies in my arms. I felt guilty that I wasn’t being the best employee I could be because my mind was elsewhere. I felt guilty that my children wanted me and needed me, the way no one else ever has, and I couldn’t dedicate my full attention to them. I began to feel guilty with every decision that I made; every time I raised my voice at my children and husband out of pure fatigue, every time I flaked out on previously scheduled plans, and every time I couldn’t muster enough energy to get myself ready for a zoom call, resulting in the hot-mess express look.
I woke up one day and said, screw it. Screw the guilt. I realized that I needed to focus on things that I could control, things that I wanted to do and needed to do so I wouldn’t burn out. I needed to focus on happiness. Some days happiness looks like a clean sink, washed and folded clothes, and clean bedsheets. Other days it looks like completing a challenging continuing education class for my license or a 10-page marketing plan for momcrated. Other days, it means spontaneously signing up for an eight-week improv class just because I’ve always wanted to do it. I started eating that donut, and drinking the extra cup of coffee. I took the opportunity to go on a spontaneous happy hour with my husband while the children were with their grandparents. I stopped over-calculating and planning my life because I was making myself miserable; I had no one else to blame.
I decided that the kids will eat terribly every once in a while and the house will be messy, and that’s life. I will still probably lash out when I reach my breaking point, but I will keep my cool most days. My healthcare career may take a backseat at the moment, but it will bounce back, or maybe I will be happier with other pursuits. I will develop my healthcare staffing career, learning skills I never knew I needed in life, and dedicate my free time and energy to momcrated to help other moms like myself. Most importantly, I will spend time with my kids, getting to know them from the inside out, before they get too big to fit in my arms.