Hurt Feelings

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.

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Posted on March 7, 2017, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. We are a two working parent household. Our son, Z goes to after school until I can pick him up. It is so not easy, even though our kids are older. We joke about me becoming a SAHM for nice Erin makes more money, but I’m not sure I could handle it.

    I think I would get super bored and/or super overwhelmed. Having a SAHP is not for everyone. Don’t feel bad about not being one or wanting to be one. You know what is best for you and your family. Keep at it! You’re doing a great job.

  2. Some days, I feel like I’d go insane if I didn’t work. Other days, I think I’ll go insane because I work. This morning, I cried on my way into the office because I hate my job and I miss my kid. In my personal dream world, there’d be a happy medium–maybe a job I like so I’m not resentful of being away or just 3-4 days at work instead of 5. I would have loved a longer maternity leave because I felt like I had to go back to work right as I was a) getting the hang of having a baby and b) snapping out of the worst of the postpartum anxiety that made me afraid to leave the house for 3 months. I think the important thing with parental leave is choice. We should all be able to make the decisions that are healthiest for our families. Whether it’s 8 weeks at home or 8 months at home.

    • I totally agree that we need better options and a happy medium sounds nice. For us it is hard when Gus is out of daycare. He really thrives with structure and if he is out more than two days you can tell. But if we had more flexible time we could get done some of the stuff that takes away from him when we all spent time together.

      • I so agree. I keep telling Catch that what we need is one kid-free day to do the errands/cleaning/cooking and then we can have two days to do family things. For us, I think that would be just right.I’m really looking forward to getting her into daycare in Sept because it means I’ll be able to do that on occasion. (After I force my boss to give me more vacation time. He laughed at me when I suggested it and said that no one uses all of their vacation time anyway. I came THIS close to punching him.)

  3. I have similar feels about being a stay-at-home parent – I feel like because of my class and educational background there is an expectation that I should be working, not being a stay-at-home parent. That I’m being a bad feminist, or a bad role model for my daughter by not working (well, working very part-time). Being chronically ill was a huge deciding factor in me staying home with J, and I wasn’t even working full-time before we had J, but I feel super awkward about admitting that to people. People make assumptions about how much money my wife must make for me to be able to stay at home (answer: not really enough) and the only other stay-at-home parents I know in person live vastly different lives.
    I think working vs. staying home seems like such a high stakes decision that even if you feel confident in what is right for your family, it is easy to feel insecure when you compare yourself – or feel compared – to others (and often that brings out the judge-y in people, unfortunately). What you said about how you “feel that people think I shouldn’t want the life I have” really resonates with me – but if we DO want the life that we have, why does it feel so terrible to think that other people don’t think we should?

    • It’s so interesting what people assume about your choices – especially financial! Most stay at home mom’s I know do not have partners who make a ton of money but daycare costs are high! It’s hard to think about what decisions would be made if money was not a factor.
      I’m not sure why it feels so terrible. I think in the way you worry people think you are a bad feminist I worry people think I am a bad mother even though there are many ways to be both a feminist and a mother. I think it also gets to me because I feel that other’s have some sort of sympathy for my life and it drives me mad that people don’t take the time to talk to me and know the truth. The last part is that I know there are mothers out there who feel like me and I feel for them for not having a lot of “it’s okay to want to work” messages.

  4. I wish there were more sort of middle of the road options for people. More options to work from home part of the time and more on site daycares where you can see your kid sometimes during the workday. Staying home all the time and being gone 45-50 hours are both extreme, and both kind of suck. Either way, I totally don’t judge you for both working full time. We are at the point where we wish we could afford to keep the kids in full time daycare!

  5. Friend, let me tell you! I effing love my kids, but if I had to be coupes in the house with 4 kids, 7 days a week with hardly any social time, I would, you know what, just, where’s my gun ok?! Because NO, NO, NO! Does Callie wish I could stay home? Oh yeah! All the time! And then she gets two consecutive we can do the home, and she’s like oh thank you Jesus that I have a freaking work tomorrow! So, I read with you wholeheartedly about being those people that just don’t fit in with the stay at home parent crowd. But it’s very different and very personal for everyone. There should be an option for four 10 hour days and 3 day weekends every week! That’s ideal, ain’t it? Sign me up!

    • And also, I used to work at a childcare center that did onsite care for MetLife and let me tell you, it was so awesome to be able to see the parents take their kids to lunch or come in to cuddle or nurse at nap time. I loved seeing that. I wish my company did that. I might suggest it!

  6. As a nanny, I worked with families in which both parents worked. And they liked their jobs and loved working! They also loved their kid/s. I felt part of my job was to make sure that when they came home they got to have quality time (as in, they didn’t walk into a house that was a mess and kids who were hungry or over tired). I saw how they balanced liking the work they did and what it represented with missing their kids. I also saw parents rearrange schedules and jobs so they could find the balance that worked for them and their kid/s. Meanwhile, though I’d love a night and a day on my own, I start to ache for my kid after a few hours out sourcing books. I couldn’t fathom having put him in childcare as an infant. I don’t begrudge those who have a partner, are straight, have more kids, do daycare, or whatever possibly divisive qualifier I could put on them. I am seeing how finding niche cliques damaging to our sense of self (though there are many benefits to them as well), and that I’d rather focus on the things we have in common. I used to fight so hard to find people just like me, who fit all my qualifiers, but I’m seeing the importance of just knowing who I am and being cool with that.

    As for parental leave, I like how some countries you can divy it up over years. So, you might have only taken two months off at the beginning and the last month of pregnancy, but then you could have gone back to work gradually and taken a month leave every summer for a big trip.

  7. Sometimes I feel like I’ve got the best of both worlds, and sometimes I feel like I’ve got the worst. Depends on the week (or the day). Overall, I really like our work/family situation and being able to avoid daycare – it’s a good fit for us. There are no hectic mornings, and that is great for me because I am so not a morning person. My job is flexible to the extreme, so I can work or not work whenever it suits me/us and the events we want to join. BUT I do very much envy the care system that many families who use daycare have in place. For example, how you can take the day off of work and enjoy the day doing whatever while your kid’s off at daycare. That is an AMAZING perk! I don’t feel comfortable hiring a random babysitter, so when we want to be childfree, we need to ask grandma & grandpa or a friend. Since none of the above are retired, we’re really limited until they’re in school. Then I envision glorious monthly whole-day-dates.

  8. A lot of people are very surprised to find that my wife loves to work and has no desire to be a dedicated stay-at-home parent. I think because her job is flexible and she’s very, very involved in the day to day care, that people assume she wishes she could be home permanently but it’s emphatically not true. She loves working. It’s a large part of her identity and it offers her challenges and growth and friendships and this all gels well with her personality.

    Come the last few weeks of her maternity leave, she’ll start looking longingly at her portable, wondering what emails await her. And you know what? I can’t do my stay-at-home job without her doing her not-stay-at-home job. All families work differently, and obviously our family has a stay-at-home-parent, but I wanted to lend my (her) support to the conversation because she is 100% happy to be working and wouldn’t change it. 🙂

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