I’ve been struggling a lot with my circle of moms. I know a lot of really wonderful ones who are raising wonderful human beings and I am so glad they are in my life. I am very fortunate to have such a good group of people in our lives.
But very few of my mom friends work outside the home. The ones who do work part time or jobs that have full time hours but in long shifts a few days. They can do daytime activities and their instagram feeds show daytime hikes, classes and lessons, and nap time snuggles. I struggle with the fact I will never be able to do those things and there are days that makes me so sad.
Beyond the pictures and knowledge about what folks do during the day I feel like my friend group has a belief that it is best to have a stay at home parent (always mom though). One friend recently told me that she thought she and her husband were so fortunate to not have to use childcare (they both work but they work intense long schedules a few days a week so that one of them is home with the kids all the time). A conversation today turned to our lack of good parental leave in the US and how getting just 12 weeks is not enough (and rarely something people get).
I agree that we need better parental leave and I agree that 12 weeks is not always enough but you know what? It was for me. I work because I want to work and around the time Gus was 2 months old I NEEDED to go back to work. I struggled to be home with him and still get a little frantic around 5 o’clock on Sunday. I want to work and Lesley and I feel fortunate that we can afford having Gus in full time childcare.
I’m not saying that my way is best or for everyone. Our childcare works for us, our both working works for us. If we could change anything it would be that Lesley work 32 hours a week and you know what we’d do? We’d keep Gus in full time childcare and she’d have a day to get stuff done at home. I feel like I am a better parent because I work and I think he gets things at childcare that I could never give him. He is happy, well adjusted, and thriving in every single way.
Yes, there are days that I am sad I can’t be with him. Of course that is true and it will always be true. Even if I know we are making the best choice for our family it is still hard. Yes, I struggle with feeling that I don’t really belong with stay at home moms (or two kid moms but that is another post). But what’s larger than that is that I feel that people think I shouldn’t want the life I have. I should want to stay home with Gus. I should have wanted a year of maternity leave. I should be siting at work crunching numbers trying to figure out how I can quit my job. None of those things are my reality and the realization that people assume it is sucks. When we discuss paid family leave and economic stability we need to remember that not everyone is a prisoner here – some of us thrive with this life.