The Return of the Working Mom

First of all, this blog title is an obvious misnomer. For all of my motherhood career, I have been a “working mom.” For the first seven years of parenting I worked full-time out of the home. But for the last five years, I have vacillated between working part-time for another company, freelancing, and building my own business. During those years, I also spent much of my time at home taking care of my kids. I was the primary parent, volunteering at school and with the PTA, serving as a kid-taxi to practices and events, and leading the charge for every doctor’s appointment, parent-teacher conference or kid-centered meeting. I loved it.

A few months ago, I started thinking about when I wanted to go back to work full-time. I always knew that I would go back eventually, I was just never sure what exactly that would look like for our family. I could take a full-time position with another company. I could invest in my own business and take it full-time. I could continue freelancing. I could cobble together a combo of several different options. While I loved the flexibility I had with my own business, I found myself exhausted by the grind of it all. I loved photography, working with clients and creating fun projects, but I wasn’t a huge fan of accounting, taxes, and the day-to-day of running a business. The part-time aspect was a struggle as well. I had enough work to take my business full-time, but not enough childcare to give myself the hours to get it all done. I was constantly working in bursts, having to take frequent breaks for my parenting duties, and I found that really difficult.

Also, as I learned soon after I left my last full-time job, a lot of my self-worth and confidence were tied to being a “working mom.” I found it challenging to be home more, especially as my kids got older and the duties shifted to a more “housewife” type role instead of a caretaking role. For me, it wasn’t fulfilling, and I found myself bored, tired and unmotivated. I have a strong pull to be financially independent, and knowing if something happened to my husband’s income, I couldn’t support the family, really stressed me out.

So a few months ago I started tentatively putting my name out into the universe when I’d see jobs that might be a good fit. Very soon after, the perfect job sort of just….appeared. I know that sounds incredibly annoying, especially if you’ve been in search of the perfect job for a long time. But keep in mind, I’ve been on a journey to find a job that fits with my life for years. It’s part of why I left my last full-time position and why I’ve spent the last few years happy, but still feeling like something was missing. In the words of a wise friend, “Isn’t it wonderful that you found a job that’s the best fit for your life RIGHT NOW?”

There have been some surprises since I began my new career adventure (I’m coordinating social media and website content for the cancer center that saved my dad’s life when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 lung cancer), and oddly, most of them have been positive. I was prepared to be overwhelmed, anxious, and constantly searching for the elusive “working mom balance” that highlighted the years in my former career. However, so far, I’ve been incredibly fulfilled and I’m so happy going into work every day. I thought I would really miss not being able to be as flexible with the kids and not getting to hang at the pool during the summer. Instead, it’s been such a gift to be supported by other people in my life who have stepped up to help out. The kids are really happy too, and I think they are enjoying their newfound independence and time with their super-fun babysitter and family. I thought the commute would be a bummer, but I actually like having that buffer time between work and home, something that was sorely missed when I was working for myself. I would work right up to the minute the kids got into the car at school pickup, and I struggled a lot to turn off my work stress in front of them. Now, by the time I get home, I’ve usually had enough time to decompress and jump into parenting with a good attitude. I also have been really focusing on having as much quality time with my kids as possible, where as before I certainly felt like I was never fully in one place or another.

Granted, I am only six weeks into this new adventure, and I may TOTALLY eat my words once school starts for the kids and my busy season begins at work in the fall, but for now, I’m enjoying the change. It’s so important that we all give ourselves permission to change as our lives change. While a few years ago I never could have imagined wanting to work for anyone other than myself, I am finding it was the best choice for me right now. I’m sure things will continue to evolve, but for today, I’m just going to enjoy the ride.

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