“Well you wouldn’t understand because you work.”
“I wish I could stay at home all day and do whatever I want too, but I have to work.”
“No one gets what an insane balancing act it takes to work from home.”
I’ve heard every single one of these statements. Every single one of them have actually been uttered to me, and about me. You see, I’ve done it all. I’ve been a working mom. I’ve been a work-from-home mom. I’ve been a stay at home mom. In my just over 3 years of parenthood, I have spent at least a year in each of these arenas. Every single one has been HARD work. Every single one has been EXHAUSTING. Every single one has been a BALANCING ACT.
When I was a working mom, I never felt like I was doing enough and I never felt truly successful in any arena of my life. I either wasn’t giving enough to my career or I wasn’t giving enough to my son and husband. I constantly felt pulled in 10 different directions and I struggled to find balance, in career achievements, motherhood and personal health. I was constantly overwhelmed and found it hard to take care of myself (inside and out). Often, I was the last one to get cared for, if at all. There was never any free time.
When I was a work at home mom, the balancing act felt even more futile. I felt guilty for being at home, but not being with my kid. I had 40 to 50 hours of work per week and I couldn’t achieve those with my toddler around, so he went off to the nanny. I was distracted by the home environment and struggled in my career to market my value to the company, because I wasn’t in the office to show them my value, skills and talents. I didn’t achieve growth in my career because of those limitations and still felt as if I wasn’t accomplishing much in my home, despite being there all day, every day. It was also a very lonely and very isolating existence. I was an island. And there was very little free time.
When I became a stay at home mom to the toddler and a newborn baby, the feelings of loneliness and isolation were overwhelming. I was consumed by motherhood and felt that I was losing my identity. I felt that I had no value besides “caretaker of children” because often, the only things I accomplished were keeping them alive, a few loads of laundry and dishes. Alone and lonely, and slowly unraveling from the inside out. Besides being both anxious and depressed, I started dealing with bouts of anger that I had never experienced before. And again, there was zero free time.
Before you think, “well you are just never happy, are you?” I want to hammer down the point of all of this. The battle of stay at home mom vs. working mom just needs to stop. Because honestly, no one wins. We all do what we do because we have to, or because it’s the best choice for us and for our families. There are no awards or accolades on either side. No one is better than anyone else. Employee of the Year awards mean very little to your home and your kids. Mother of the Year awards do not exist and even if they did, shouldn’t mean anything to anyone other than your family. So lets just keep doing what we are doing. Lets do it to the best of our abilities. Lets lift each other up and encourage each other. Lets cut each other a little slack! No one wins unless we all do.