Yes, I am a “working mom.” To complicate matters, I am a lawyer who works full-time and additionally offers freelance legal consultancy services. This involves very long hours, early mornings, late evenings, local and international travel, etc.
Do I enjoy the work? Undoubtedly! I enjoy the work; it keeps my brain sharp, utilizes the education and the expertise I have built up over the past few years, and it makes me appreciate the time I spend with my family all the more. Do I feel guilty occasionally? Absolutely! The hardest part about being a working mom (at least, for me – it probably differs for all working moms) was not the physical work, but the constant, nagging internal conflict. Guilt that I was not balancing work, spouse, and my son’s needs, the stress of that attempt at the balancing act, and more guilt that I wasn’t giving my son the advantages that the kids of Stay at Home Moms (SAHM’s) are getting.
I found myself comparing myself to others: I know that it’s wrong to compare myself to others, we all know that … but it happens. I was surrounded by the unspoken message that the best place for a mother is in the home with her young child, not at work, and I felt selfish for working.
About 2 months after J was born, I was already back to work full time (minus an hour). By the time he was 5 months old, I was doing a minimum of 9 hours of work a day, and had travelled with him at least 5 times (both locally and internationally). At work I often felt guilty that I wasn’t doing my best due to my choice to become a mother. Since I had decided to co-sleep for the first 6 months and my son never did sleep through the night, I was basically functioning through the day on several 2-3 hour chunks of sleep per night. This made the job stressful but even more stressful was dealing with the emotional and mental difficulties caused by the balancing act and the constant fight not to feel guilty.
From personal experience, the most important aspect of being able to function as a “working mom” is having dependable childcare. Because of my husband’s and my long work days and travel schedules and the absence of local family support, daycare is not a viable childcare option for us. Neither my husband nor I are consistently done with our workday in time for a 5 or 6 p.m. daycare pickup. Daycare seems to be organized assuming that one parent has a lot of flexibility, and that just doesn’t seem realistic these days. So we settled on having a nanny.
Nonetheless, if there are no other responsible, qualified adults who are available to take care of J, I am the default. If my son wakes up with a fever, I am the default. If his nanny has a day off, I am the default. Work comes to a grinding halt until there is a childcare resolution. My husband helps when he can and is absolutely fantastic at it but being an entrepreneur I can’t count on him to be available unplanned.
Also, prioritization is absolutely important! Prioritizing isn’t a luxury; it is a priority for working mothers. Without priorities and guardrails for how and with whom we invest our time and energy, it becomes very difficult to create any sort of harmony between work and home.
So, this is my life, yes I’m a working mom, yes I have a toddler, and yes I ABSOLUTELY Love it!!!
Love and Light,