So, now I know for sure: there is truly no perfect situation for working moms (and dads). Not for me, anyway. I think I’ve found to closest thing to balance that I will ever find, so this blog post is really not meant to be a complaint. But no matter what you do, you are sacrificing something. If you stay home full-time, you are sacrificing the income and work experience that you could be getting. If you work full-time outside the home, you’re missing a lot of your kids’ lives, especially when they are very young and not yet in school (but in some ways, so I hear, they need you even more as they get older); your kids might also be missing the benefit of having one-on-one attention from a devoted caregiver with them at home (although this is certainly not always the case, nor is it necessarily important for every kid). So many moms think “if only I could work part-time”or “I would love to be able to telework.” But I’m doing that now, and there are still sacrifices involved. My kids, having gotten used to me not working, are a bit mad at me right now. My career is not going places like it was when I was a full-time regular employee. I am juggling more now than I was when I worked full-time because I have two kids instead of one, but also because our household is not currently set up for two full-time working parents. Dan and I had made a gradual switch from splitting all of the chores and child care 50/50, to a situation where I was the main child care provider, get-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night parent, cook, chauffeur, etc. When I decided to leave my job and start consulting last month, we thought it would be a few hours a day of work. I have more business than I expected, which is a REALLY GOOD thing. But we need to find a new balance at home. I understand how my stay-at-home parent (SAHP) friends get comfortable with the division of labor in their households. It’s much easier to run a household when the roles are clearly defined and there are separate spheres for both parents to manage. The SAHP gets better and better at child care and it is no longer so overwhelming. For me, it felt downright easy at times. The working parent gets to put more energy into his career, and the whole family presumably benefits from that. It’s really a sensible solution. But as I said above: you’re BOTH giving something up, and the kids are missing one of you a lot.
Dan is getting so much more time with the girls these days. Willa used to cry whenever I left the room, but now she is fine as long as he’s there. That’s a huge benefit for everyone. The income I’m earning will go towards the girls’ college funds and our retirement, so I am extremely proud of that. For me, this is the balance I was seeking.
I could not do any of this without our nanny. She loves these girls so much; last weekend, she called us on Easter because she hadn’t seen the girls in a few days and she said she missed them. It makes me so happy to know that they have someone around all the time who cares about them. She is no substitute for me, and they let me know that all the time. But she makes it possible for me to have this balance, and for that I will always be grateful.