Monday, August 2, 2010

Successful Working Moms

Working Moms- that seems to be a given, right? If you’re at home, you’re working. And if you go to work, you’re working. But what’s the difference between a Stay at Home Mom and a Stay At Work Mom? In a word: Guilt. Or at least it used to be that way. More and more women are now embracing being a “stay at work” working mom, and more “stay at home” moms are also embracing their roles. The guilt factor is slowly subsiding. Think about it this way- do you call a dad a “stay at work dad?” Not really. But we do call dads who stay home a “stay at home dad.” Why the need for labels?

Perhaps this is one of the few silver linings in the recent economic crisis. Going back to work is not an option for most women; it’s just a necessity. I struggled with this when I had my son almost 2 years ago. If you follow my articles, you see I went from a full time job with my 4 month old son in full time day care, to a part time job when he was 6 months old, to being laid off when he was 7 months old and being unemployed, to now running my own business out of a home office.

It’s been a whirlwind two years! And the one thing I can tell you is, none of it is easy- but it is all rewarding. When I was working, I had mommy guilt. When I was with my son, I had work guilt. I’ve shed all of that now but it took some time. I now see some of my new mommy or soon-to-be mommy friends dealing with the same anxieties of sending a child to day care as soon as he or she pops out of the womb, and I am doing my best to ease their minds.

But the other side is not always greener. When I was unemployed, I felt I had lost control of my life- so I threw myself into my job search and parenthood. If I was to be a statistic of the economic crisis, I was going to be the best mom ever! In the history of moms! I signed up for gymnastics, I went to play dates, I joined a co-op and a mommy support group. As I sat there trying to control my son and battle toddler fights, screams of crying babies, and “mine!” I realized, this was hard work! This was way harder than sitting in my cubicle, sipping coffee, making deals, negotiating contracts, putting together marketing plans and budgets…well, maybe the budgeting part was harder than this…but in a different way!

This all made me realize, we are way too hard on each other and ourselves. As working moms, no matter what the work is or entails, we are the best support system for one another. Expensive gym classes and swimming lessons, rushing and running from this play group to the next; it’s all unnecessary.

My favorite days are now the ones I spend with my son doing, basically, nothing. He sits at his little desk next to me while I work and he types on his pretend computer, he goes to day care two days per week now and I cherish that time to get my mind centered and be a business woman. There is no perfect balance. You are not a bad mom because your child is in day care eight hours per day five days per week. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. And we are all successful working moms.

Read this story on my Examiner column, Portland Working Moms Examiner.

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