Friday, May 4, 2007

All in a day's work -- Part I

J & L,

I was going to write a post about something pretty dear to my heart, but then this morning -- still groggy from working on writing projects until midnight and it's now 6 a.m. -- I decided I would comment a little on something I found this morning on Mother Talkers.

When I first became a mother, and really for many months after that up until recently, I was shocked to learn how hard mothers work, period -- whether they stay home, work inside the home or work out of the home -- and I've done all three, so I know. And, of course, I realize that with two who have the same needs at the same time at the very same second of every day, it makes the job a little more difficult for me.

To learn that a stay-at-home mother's salary would be $138,000 if she were paid for all of her jobs in the home is not too surprising. In a 12-hour day, which is the time your Da is away, I easily fill my time with tasks that, if I'm lucky, includes a shower and a bite to eat. Most of the day involves a lot of playing and interacting with you. I don't think any of that counts as work, but it sure does feel like it at the end of the day!

But, since I'm now working during every minute of both of your naps as well as getting up early and staying up late to get my writing projects done, I think the Mommy Wars debate can end here.

Working from home while also being the primary caregiver of children is the most difficult job any parent can do, but it is the most rewarding. It puts both sides of the Mommy Wars to rest, yet it is a side that is often overlooked in the gazillions of discussions. Moms who stay home complain -- and often -- that they feel like they've lost their identity as a woman. Moms who work outside the home feel guilty for not being with their children more.

I have never felt I lost my identity and perhaps it's because I just always wanted to be a writer. The day I quit my job that's when I finally could say that. Besides raising you, I've been raising a writing career as well.

I have found the perfect option. Really.

And, I'm not alone. Many other women are doing the same from around the world. If they aren't writing, they are doing something -- or they are starting their own businesses to provide a more flexible option for their family. Working for the Man -- and living in a country only ever run by men -- has put us here, in this debate.

The real conversation, which is being left out of the mainstream media, is the discussion of what needs to change in the workplace to help both moms and dads be home with their children so that they can raise them.

Who's with me?


Anonymous said...

Amen Sister! It's great that you have found the balance. Good Luck!

Anonymous said...

Check out Oprah's series called Earth's Mothers, especially the part about Oslo, Norway the Best Place in the World to be a Mom. They hhave great programs to help both parents handle work and family.

Momma Bean said...

I work part-time out of the house and was recently offered the opportunity to work from home. At first, I leaped at the chance, but I wonder if I could really handle it? Of course, my days at work are spent looking at the clock, waiting to get home to my girls, and my afternoons at home are spent in constant motion, trying to provide the girls with stimulating interaction, maintain the house and squeeze in a little me and husband time. Somewhere along the way, something gets lost. But at the end of the day, I wouldn't have it any other way.

Shawn said...

Momma Bean: I totally understand how you feel. It is definitely a fine line of productivity and time management. I find that when I"m not as productive and organized, I'm not as effective in either mothering or working. But, it's still nice knowing that I am primary caregiver ... plus, the money I'm making freelancing is purely extra so I don't have any pressure to accept or solicit more work. In fact, right now, my hope is to actually take the whole month of June off, if possible. I have a real problem saying no, though. Working from home definitely has unique challenges. Some days I'm ready to pull my hair out ... but that's a different post.

Stacie said...

Congratulations on finding a balance. I think that is hard to do for everyone. One thing in your post that really struck a chord with me was the identification of what I consider the real issue: for all the pretty talk we, as a society, do not make it easy for people to have kids. There are child care problems, pumping at work problems, problems of being seen as "less committed" to your job if you (G-d forbid) also are committed to raising your kids. At the same time, SAHM's are pressured to be this kind of Martha Stewart-esqu super mommy with every toy and art supply known to mankind. Sigh. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

Pann said...

I, too, work from home, and try to find that perfect balance between working and raising kids.

I find that I err in favor of the kids - which is to say, I leave a pile of work sitting and waiting rather than miss a field trip, or parent/teacher conference or stay home to tend to a barfing child.

Some days, though, it's really tough and I feel exhausted, and even feel like I'm always letting someone down - either my clients when I tell them the project is delayed... or my children when I beg them to leave me work for an hour or two.

Nevertheless, I feel extremely lucky to be able to work at all; I gain personal growth and enjoyment from having projects to complete. Meanwhile, I get to go on field trips, and hang out with my two favorite young people in the world.

Motherhood is a tricky aspect of my life; and I stand by this motto:
All mothers work. Period.

Thanks for the thought provoking post.