Tuesday, January 15, 2008

"You're mean. Super, SUPER mean!"

And those were the words yelled at me by my five year old son. And he was right. I'm not gonna lie to you. This parenting gig is really, really hard. SUPER hard. And, I'm an older (not necessarily wiser) mom who is just plain tired. Sometimes I lose my cool and don't handle things the way I probably should.

I have struggled with a lot of Mother Guilt since Logan was born. A big portion of it comes from the fact that I suffered from post-partum depression. But guilt is guilt is guilt and you can try to talk yourself into being reasonable about it, but it's still there.

Another chunk of guilt is brought on by the fact that I'm a working mom. And I like to work. It's a big part of who I am and have always been.

I have friends and relatives who like to tell me that they were "willing to sacrifice for their family" and that is why they chose to give up their career. They try to explain to me that my family really doesn't need the money I earn and would benefit from my being home more. I just need "to re-adjust my finances". During these times, I am often trying to tune them out with the old "la-la-la I can't hear you" in my head. But the words and meanings get into my brain and stick there.

My family does need my income. But I also need to work. It makes me a better person. A happier person. A more fulfilled person. Frankly, the times in my parenting life when I was not working, I was a crabby, bored, lazy person. I get more done when I am employed than when I was not. You know the old adage "the more you do, the more you can do".

I hate that there is often the stupid Mommy Wars. Working Mom vs. Stay at Home Mom. Whatever choice your family makes, it will have its own set of benefits and consequences. You don't get to see your kids as much as you would like to. You are unable to volunteer at school because it interferes with your job. Your finances are so tight you are forced to live paycheck to paycheck. In order to make ends meet your husband has to take on extra work and comes home in time to climb into bed and go to sleep. The important thing is that in the name of Sisterhood we support each other and the choices we make. (Can I hear an "amen"?)

My personal goal is to find the right balance. I want to be an excellent mom. I want to be a successful career woman. I want to be a supporting and loving wife. I want to make a difference in my community. I want to be a fun and sensitive aunt/sister/friend/daughter. The trick is realizing that I can't be all these things at the same time. I can't spread myself too thin. I need to make some changes.

I recently stepped down from a leadership role at my church. It was causing me stress because it required too much of my time, which pulled me away from my job and my family. I can still help on the committee, but I will not lead it.

I also accepted a new management position that requires me to only work 36 hours a week. I can be a room mom for a couple hours on Thursday mornings at Logan's school. The rest of the day is for me and Tom (who also has that day off). This gives us some much needed playtime without our boy.

I do my best to make my time with Logan count. I also do my best to recharge my emotional batteries by spending time with my sisters and girlfriends. And by myself.
I do my best not to be a total crab ass to my husband and give him the good stuff too.

It's a daily commitment to strive toward a simple, balanced and fulfilling life. Little by little. Day by day. Chipping away the guilt and resentment and replacing it with love for my family and friends. And hopefully I will never again have to hear how super duper mean I am.


Elizabeth Hill said...


And if working makes you a better Mom.....why feel the guilt? You seem to be the kind of Mom who is completely THERE with your child when you're home, interacting with your boy. That's the important thing.

I've done it all - full time, stay at home and part time. Full time work and stay at home work are both equally hard in their own ways.


Suzanne Eller (Suzie) said...

When my children were school age I found a job that would allow me to work when my children were in school. That allowed me the best of both worlds. I was able to work and create, and still have time as a mom, and time for me. It sounds like you are trying very hard to be a great mom. : )

Suzanne Eller

Nicole said...

I think you hit the nail on the head. :) We were talking about that last night, for when we have kids - he says, "You can't stop working. You'd get too bored." And he's right.

Sister Sassy said...

AMEN! I experimented as a SAHM and I was just plain bad at it. Ideally I would love what Suzanne found and my goal is to eventually move my current position into a 7-3position.

Say goodbye to the guilt sister!

Ashlee said...

My son is 8 and still tells me that I'm mean. And I am a SAHM. I don't think working is the difference. It's the quality of the time you spend with your family that's important, not always the quantity. I've been a working mom and a SAHM. Both of my kids are great kids (for the most part). You need to do what is best for you! Actually, when I told my in-laws that I was going to quit when I had baby #2 they gasped and thought I was crazy for giving up such a good job. What do you do? Let go of the guilt and just do your best...your kids will always think you are mean at times. :0)

Sister Honey Bunch said...

Yeah, but are you super SUPER mean? LOL! Thanks Ashlee.

Sister Sassy said...

just so no one misunderstands I have total respect for people who are SAHMs, I was just very bad at it. Except for Honey all my sisters stayed home but I've always worked since I was 14. And truthfully, being a SAHM is really hard. especially if you're a mom in a city full of strangers with no transportation and a baby with collic. ACK! But really, we're all sisters aren't we?

Beck said...

Being a SAHM is nice for me, but it's not for everyone. I don't see why some people have trouble with this idea - I'm forever running into people who have trouble believing the opposite.

Holly Schwendiman said...

Well, here's to super mean moms and I hope my kids think I'm that good a one! :)


Shalee said...

When my kids tell me I'm mean, I respond with, "That's my job. I'm the mom."

I've learned to settle with myself about what I can and what I can't do as a full-time working mom. I know I'm missing some time with them, but when I am at home with them, I'm with them.

I just pray that God takes care of all of us and that helps to relieve the guilt the world wants me to feel. I know that I'm where God wants me to be when it's all said and done.

mom of 2 said...

Yes, sister, you get an amen from me!

I believe to each his own and what works for one family doesn't work for another. I'm sorry that people tried to make you feel guilty for working...that sucks! Some people just think their way is the best.

Sounds to me like you are doing an amazing job! And I think all of our kids think we are super, super mean at some point regardless of if we work or stay home!

Jenny from Chicago said...

Great post.

First. "Mean Mommies" are the only ones who are doing it right.

Second. The biggest gift you give your children is that you want to be a great Mom. That desire will go a long way toward making it happen.

Third. Good for you.

Oh, and AMEN!!

Anonymous said...

A the kid playing the guilt card, you super mean momma ;) He is a smart boy. Did he remember to ask for a puppy after?

There is guilt no matter which road you choose to travel. Thus all any of can do is choose the one we like to travel the most.

Try not to sweat it too much.

saintseester said...

Honest to God, if I didn't know better I would say that I wrote some of this. I had PPD, too.

Maybe I have another personality I am unaware of...

Anonymous said...

I have had the best of both worlds. I have had the option not to work when my kids were younger, and forgive me, but I felt bored and went out of my mind. When I worked, I wanted to be home. I'm happier, healthier, more organized and a much better person when I have a commitment outside of my home. If I'm happier, everyone in my family is too, and they have benefited from the great jobs I've held as well. My family always comes first. Job or no job. Don't listen to those friends of yours who give you a hard time about working. When their kids are grown, they won't know what to do with themselves and getting a job then will be harder than you know what!

Jim said...

You ARE an excellent mom, sister! You do a great job balancing all the things in your life and don't let that little devil on your shoulder tell you otherwise, ever!
I really hope that when my boys are older that they are times they tell me that. I've seen way too many parents try to be best friends. My job as a dad is to turn those two little boys into great men, who have respect, courage, integerity, and boundries!
Keep up the good work sister, I love you!

P.S. And kick that devil right in the junk next time he starts talking in your ear!

Traci said...

Honey Bunch,

I am glad you are a working mom because we never would have met if you weren't....think about that!

I am envious of all working moms! Being a mom is hard as it is, but working too, I don't know how you all do it! You guys are all fantastic!

soccer mom in denial said...

Thanks for finding me! Nice to meet another working mom. One of my 7-year-old twins has taken to yelling "I Hate YOU!" with much venom. Sigh.

I wish we moms could just all get along.