I’d love to claim credit for the catchy title, but I can’t.
It belonged to a now defunct blog which hosted a weekly “Working Mommy Blog Hop” I used to participate in back in 2010 when I blogged under a pen name.
If that blogger is still out there, please step forward and I’d be pleased to credit you and get re-acquainted.
While I took my old baby blog offline, I saved it and have recently been going through my old posts.
At the time that I was linking up to this hop, I was gearing up for, then just returning to, work full-time after having my first.
To say that I had “how to balance full-time work and family” and whether going back to work was the “right choice” on the mind, would be an understatement.
There have been a few things recently that have given me pause to think on the question again.
First? One of the blogs I follow, Kristina over at Family. Work. Life., asked the question of her readership, noting that you need a reason to do it beyond necessity.
While I’d argue necessity is a large reason for many working parents to be working (or working “anyone” for that matter), it doesn’t fully capture my reasons, so I reflected on the question and thought it was worthy of post, rather than comment, response.
Second? I recently joined Top Mommy Blogs and they ask you to pick a category to place your blog in.
I naturally gravitated to “Working Mom Blogs“, even though the label has never completely “worked” for me.
Because, really? Every parent works. No matter what choices we make. Whether you are a Stay at Home Parent. Or A Work from Home Parent. Or A Work Outside the Home Parent. We all work. And we all make the choices that are best for our families.
Which brings me back to me, and my choices.
And why I choose to work outside the home.
I think, like many, it stems from that combination of my nurture and nature.
My nurture? My mom was a stay at home mom.
Her nurture? Her mom worked outside the home. In Nairobi, Kenya and then Cape Town, South Africa in the 1950s no less. To say it was not the norm would be an understatement. My mother from time to time refers to her mother as “the original feminist”.
And my mom? Partially based on her experiences having a working mom, and partially based on her life situation and preferences, stayed home with her children.
In the late 1970s-early 1980s Canada, that was mostly the norm. My mom served on the PTA. She volunteered as the parent supervisor on class trips. She organized awesome birthday parties. She drove me to piano lessons; swim practice; tap lessons; jazz lessons; recorder lessons; Girl Guides… She hand-made my recital costumes.
She gave me advice I still follow today.
In short, she was involved. She asked questions. She listened. She paid attention. She was a good mom.
To this day she remains my confidant on most things, and one of the people whose opinions’ I value most.
When I remember growing up, mostly I remember feeling safe, and happy, and loved. That was certainly due to both my parents. Indeed, I am most like my father. And he, too, was there, for every important event. But it was mom who I remember being there for the day-to-day, and offering guidance on how to navigate the social stuff of life.
So I grew up. And in growing up, I was also taught to be career-oriented, and to strive for academic and professional excellence. There was never any question that I would go to university and then have a career. My mother advised me to “live for me” through my twenties. Pursue what I wanted. See the world. And I did. She’d done the same through her twenties before “settling down” to raise a family. She never seemed unhappy with her choice but, still, I couldn’t imagine doing as she had. I saw myself being a mother, but also having a career outside the home.
As I got older, I started to wonder about the practicalities of how that would work.
I read a number of books on the subject and I spoke to those who said you really had to choose.
On that point, I have two vivid memories from my late twenties.
The first? Eavesdropping on a conversation on a train where two women were talking about how they were allowed to take a year parental in their jobs, but if you were “serious” about your career, you didn’t have kids.
The second? An academic who’d told me he’d been excited to take parental leave when his wife got pregnant until colleagues at his university advised him that while yes, men could certainly take parental leave, if he was “serious” about his career, he shouldn’t.
Then, of course, I equally observed those who seemed to “make it work” with differing levels of personal and professional success.
While I’m excited to have been born into a generation of women and men that have a choice, the actual moments of decision can be pretty overwhelming.
My life had been geared towards career. Before even considering kids, I had two degrees and had established myself professionally. I’d invested a lot to get where I was. And I’d found a husband who was (and is) more than on board with sharing the day-to-day parental responsibilities. We partially split both parental leaves, so each of us had the time home with our kids to bond (and experience the …. tedium of endless feeding and laundry cycles).
So, as we were rounding out the first parental leave and I couldn’t imagine not having one of us home full-time with our child; not being there for every milestone; of us entrusting someone else to more than assist in the raising our child, I did what I’ve always done.
I asked my mom what I should do.
She told me she couldn’t see me not having a career. She thought I wouldn’t be happy, in the long-term, without one. She then also speculated that maybe our family’s female generations went in waves. That maybe she stayed at home because her mom didn’t. And I’d work because my mom stayed home. That maybe we, in childhood, had each seen things we thought were missing from the other role, and sought to fill it through the opposite choice.
Now two parental leaves completed and over a year back from my second leave, I still think about the choice. Before I had kids I always assumed I’d be “bored” if I stayed home with my kids. After my mat leaves, I suspect that, in a different life, I could have happily been a stay at home parent (at least for a good chunk of the younger years).
So I now find myself trying instead to find fulfillment on both fronts, searching for the best … mix to make my life work for me and mine.
As I work through that in real-time, I’m comforted again by my mother.
Who told me, during that same conversation, that neither choice is “wrong” and either choice will be okay. Her choice was right for her. She said she honestly hadn’t really enjoyed working. While she saw that I did. She knew that her mother enjoyed working. It was part of her, in the same way it’s part of me. And all three of us were, are, and will continue to be, good mothers.
So all that to say, here’s to my granny! My mom! Me! And every parent who works – in every capacity! We’ll more than muddle through, figure it out, and I’m going to believe (based on my two generational historical survey), that the kids will be just fine either way.
It’s Monday, so I’m linking up with Meredith’s Manic Monday Blog Hop over at Perfection Pending. Last week, I also discovered another Monday Parenting Hop, so I’m also giving that one a second go over at Mommy A to Z this week.
Do have some fun surfing about both of them.
Oh! And if you liked my post – or my blog – show a blogger a little love and give me a vote over at Top Mommy Blogs. While you are at it, while surfing around the hops, spread the bloggy love to other Top Mommy Bloggers given a number of the other blogs on these hops are members too (including both awesome hosts).