As I sit here at almost nine o’clock at night, putting my feet up for the first time today, I automatically focus on my throbbing calves, the utter sense of exhaustion and the impending question, “Am I a good mommy?” My mind begins to wonder… Ever since I have been blessed with the title of “mommy,” I, unlike many others, have experienced three different realms.
The Full-Time Working Mom
Yep, I did it. I worked early, late, weekends and holidays immediately following maternity leave, and I even worked while my husband was away for weeks at a time. My pep talks usually consisted of:
“You are a healthcare professional; this is what you signed up for.”
“When you met your husband, you knew what you were getting yourself into.”
How dare I grumble and carp to anyone. These were our careers, and it was “what we signed up for.” Nevertheless, these talks to myself never made my trivial daily struggles any easier. Actually, it seemed to make it more difficult. Instead of venting in fear of sounding like I was complaining, I swallowed all of my troubles and continued my days going through the motions. Soon, our second bundle of joy proclaimed his arrival into this mysterious world, and I found myself counting down the days of my maternity leave, dreading the day that I would reach zero. My husband could sense the distress this was causing me, so we sat down to reevaluate our lives. He said, “We make more, so we spend more. So let’s make less.” I think that’s what I needed, to hear it from him. Which leads me to my next life experience…
The Part-Time Working Mom
A day off mid-week? No late nights? No weekends? This has to be a dream! So many people would tell me,
“Do you know how lucky you are?”
“I wish I could afford to work part-time.”
I wouldn’t dare tell them that even though I loved my career, I still loathed the mornings I had to pry my screaming babies off of me so I wasn’t late to work. I knew the expectations were even higher for me because I was part-time. I mean, it’s way easier to fire the mommy who only works part-time and is late all the time because her babies “didn’t want her to leave.” So in some ways, my anxiety was just as intense as it was when I was working full-time. I felt myself feeling even guiltier when I wasn’t capable of doing something even as trivial as finishing the dishes or shaving my legs before my husband returned home from work. I mean really, I only work three days a week!
Our second little bambino brought about an earthly shift, but our move cross-country brought about earth-shattering changes…
The Stay-at-Home Mom
Wait…wait, what?!? “You mean you went to how many years of college, and you’re staying home?” Okay, okay, so maybe no one in particular said that to me, other than myself. But seriously this is everything I dreamed about, and at the same time, it scared the bejesus out of me. Would we be able to budget our money well enough? Is it true if you don’t use it, you lose it? I sure didn’t want to lose six years of college education. Would I be the mom I thought I could be if I just didn’t have to work? Would I lose myself in the days centered around being a mom? If you haven’t noticed, my insecurities exponentially increased once I really started to process my new title: stay-at-home mom. Well, three months into my new career and I’d have to tell you, it’s one of the most emotionally challenging experiences I’ve had thus far in my life. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t question myself. I mean, how is it possible that I take fewer showers and eat fewer warm meals now than I ever have? Those moments that you catch, the snuggles that you squeeze in, being able to be inconvenienced by carpool lines and not having to pry them off, but instead holding on for just a few extra minutes until they are ready to say goodbye, makes it all worth it.