“YAY!” followed by the pitter-patter of little feet, arms stretched out reaching up to hug me. The perfect ending to a long day!
I often wrestle with the decision to work full-time outside of my home vs. working part-time or working within the home only (also known as “stay-at-home-mom”). I write that as if I had a choice. Yes, one always has a choice, but right now, economically speaking, out of necessity, I chose to work full-time outside of my home. And my hubby is thankful for that. I often wish for a flexible FMLA plan that lasts until your child goes to college or at least until he begins kindergarten.
I console myself in many ways: it’s good for our son to see mommy working (even though he’s currently too young to grasp the meaning); I enjoy my work (most days); I’m good at what I do (some days); overall I’m happy (true).
The problem of course is the age-old issue of being able to balance home life with work life with social life (what’s that?). Often when I’m at work I’m wondering how our son’s day is going at daycare or I’m thinking about the laundry that needs washing. When I’m home, resisting the temptation to multi-task, I’m thinking about the grading I need to do, the literature review for the research project, or the lecture prep I should have done yesterday. We’ve chosen to not hire outside help. We have no nanny or housekeeper. We are hearty DIY New Englanders (via Cameroon and California) who work hard to make it all work.
And by “make it all work” I truly mean doing enough to keep our heads above water. I drop many balls (especially at work); my house is rarely as clean as the house I grew up in; I feel stretched & stressed; I am sleep deprived; I know there are not enough hours in the day, and I wonder how other working moms do it “all.”
I decided a few months back that I did not really want to do it all. I’ve resorted to joking at work that if I don’t get tenure then I’ll just work at Target and Starbucks, and I really mean it. I am working on putting and keeping it all in perspective. What matters most is the love of my hubby, the phone call to check in with my family in Georgia, and the pitter-patter of little feet followed the big hug from little arms at the end of a long day of not really doing it all.