Thoughts on Working Motherhood

by jessicaturner on March 23, 2009

A reader asked me to provide an update on working motherhood now that I have been back to work full time for more than six months… Can you believe it has been that long? Check out my post from when I first went back.

I am blessed to work at a company that supports me as a mother. Lovell has been amazing – from flexibility with my schedule and the confines of Elias’s day care schedule/requirements, to respecting my decision to breastfeed Elias and letting me shut my office door and pump several times a day (I don’t miss pumping anymore!), to simply loving on me and my family. That has made a huge difference. I have heard horror stories from other moms who didn’t work in such a loving environment. I can’t imagine.

Balancing working and motherhood hasn’t been as hard as I would have imagined. I think this has a lot to do with:

  • Getting to see Elias several times a week in the middle of my day (I go visit him on my lunch break whenever I can)
  • Having great relationships with Elias’s caregivers – because of my frequent visits, I have really gotten to know the ladies that love on my son during the day.
  • Loving my job.
  • Having Matthew’s support in taking care of Elias at night, cooking dinner, etc.

Now, let me be honest. Of course there are times when I wish I was a stay-at-home mom or only worked part time. (ie: this past week when Matthew got to be with Elias all week because day care was closed for spring break. I would have loved being the one at home with him.) But, at the end of the day, I am a mom that needs to work. I love my job, and I believe working makes me a better mom. And I am glad that I know that about myself.

I also really feel that day care has been a positive influence on Elias. I think it has helped him be more social and okay around strangers.

Being away from Elias during the work day also helps me really appreciate all the time we do spend together. There’s nothing like seeing his face light up when he sees me every day at 5:30.

So, that’s an update on where things are at with me… if you are a working mom, did you find that you were able to easily adjust when you went back to work?
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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

VanderbiltWife March 23, 2009 at 12:37 pm

I’ve been back at work about 2 1/2 months. While I am kind of on the other end of things–I would like to be a SAHM but my DH is a student so it’s not possible–I do enjoy working, and pretty much for the same reason you’ve listed! I am still BFing, and I pump twice a day (which I loathe) and then visit her at lunchtime pretty much every day. Everyone has been great and supportive and just love her to pieces. If I did have the opportunity to not work, I would still want to freelance and do more writing and such.

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Anonymous March 23, 2009 at 1:01 pm

I am glad to see your post on being a working mom. I too work full time & always have, through the birth of both my girls and after. I have to work to help our family out financially. I have struggled a million times with the guilt of being a working mom and feeling like I was not as good of a mom because I worked. Now that my girls are older I do feel like I am a better mom because I work than what I would have been if I had not worked. I just had to let go of the fact I can not be supermom & do it all. I have to rely on my husband to help me out.

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Kelley March 23, 2009 at 1:51 pm

My daughter has gone to daycare since she was an infant. Her caregivers love her and she loves them. She is now in the preschool part of her daycare (she is 3) and loves it. I enjoy working. I think it makes me a better mom, too. Of course I would rather be a SAHM, but it didn’t work out that way. She has gotten sooooo many positive things out of daycare. Socialization, sharing, taking turns, patience, learning and much more….

I am so glad you did a post on this! :-)

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Becca March 23, 2009 at 2:08 pm

My job sounds very similar to yours– very accommodating to me as a working mother! That is great that you get to visit Elias during lunch, etc! I too have times where I wish I was a SAHM (I actually was until my son was 18 months old), but like you– I have to work right now. Thanks for posting about this, I have to admit that sometimes I feel like the odd one out! :)

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Mary @ Giving Up On Perfect March 23, 2009 at 2:11 pm

I work full-time, and my daughter spends mornings with my husband and afternoons with an amazing babysitter. I don’t love my job at all, but I do enjoy working. (Plus, at this point, I have to for financial reasons.)

A few weeks ago, my daughter started throwing a FIT when I would pick her up at night – and it just broke my heart! Intellectually, I can tell myself that she DOES love me and we are SO blessed that she enjoys her babysitter so much. But it hurts! I know it’s just a stage, and we have lots of fun once I get her home. But being a working mom can be a struggle!

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Hrastich March 23, 2009 at 2:31 pm

I’m a working mom of a 21 month old with another on the way. I would prefer to stay at home, but I’m working to put my husband through school to get his masters. Thankfully my mom is able to watch him a few days a week and that makes me feel a lot better, but it still doesn’t make up for the time I’m away from him. It’s definitely not easy! Thankfully my employer is very supportive, we even get an hour and a half lunch if we work out. It’s hard to balance work and family. I went home everyday for the first six months to nurse, then I decided it was time for me to start working out and taking that time for myself to loose all that baby weight that was still clinging on. I felt guilty spending that time away from my baby, but I had to remind myself that it’s what I had to do. I enjoy working out, feel so much better afterwards and have more energy the rest of the day. Happy mom= happy baby. I also struggle during “our” time (5:00 till his bedtime) because I’m trying to spend quality time with him and also get dinner started and other stuff done around the house. It’s hard being a mom, but even harder being a working mom! It’s just what you have to do whether to support your family or keep your sanity!

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ev102007 March 23, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Jessica- I am so glad you took the time to post on this and update us on how it’s working for you. I am a working mom also and have been back at work for about a month and 1/2. My daughter is 14wks old and going back to work was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I have gained a lot of strength and encouragement from you-believe it or not. I am BF and pump 2-3 times a day, it’s something I dislike at times, but I know that it’s what I need to do to ensure my daughter is getting the best right now. Being back at work has gotten easier and it does, like you said, make me enjoy and cherish my time with my little girl more. While I would love to be a stay at home mom- I think I would go nuts being home all day! I am the type of person who needs to be doing something and gets easily bored and borderline depressed when I am just stuck at home. I think being in daycare so far has helped make Kaitlyn more social and it has helped make her more easy going too I think. My work has also been very good to me as a new mom- I work with mostly men in my department, but a few of them are fathers so they have been very good to me and supportive in regards to pumping.
Thanks again for posting on this!
Elizabeth

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Jessica Miller Kelley March 23, 2009 at 3:10 pm

Thank you, Jessica! I hope I’ll be able to focus on the positive aspects and not on the time I feel I’ll be missing with her.

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Stephanie Click March 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm

I, too, have found that I’m a better mom when I’m working. I cherish the time we spend together at night and on the weekends. It certainly makes me much more appreciative. We also have an amazing daycare and I have a great teacher relationship. It makes all the difference in the world.

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Sarah Taylor March 23, 2009 at 5:57 pm

The best advise I got when I became a mother was this:

In order to take care of your child, you must first take care of yourself.

I went back to work when Olivia was 8 weeks old. For me, it was the right choice. That said, I have the utmost respect for women who make the choice to not work outside the home. My sister-in-law has a college degree and left her full time job to raise her three small children at home. She is intelligent, savvy and selfless. Her husband works two jobs to make up the financial difference.

So glad you posted on this topic. Its such a hot-button issue (ever see the Oprah episode where she talked about working moms vs stay-at-home moms? I thought those women were going to claw each others eyes out!)

I love hearing both sides, and respect them equally. After all, we’re all just trying to do what we think is best for our families!

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Rebecca (Sam's wife) March 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm

thanks for posting on this. i work FT and pretty much loathe it right now. while it makes me cherish the time i have with her. i feel like it makes me not the best at other things…(like getting groceries conistently, preparing meals, doing lunadry, finding time to scrapbook and time for myself etc.)i would prefer to work PT and am hoping we can get to that point.

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Sandra March 23, 2009 at 6:15 pm

I’m so glad you posted this! I was blessed with my (now almost 8 year old) daughter after going through In-vitro. Because IVF is not covered by insurance (in TN) I knew I’d always have to work. I believe I’m a better mom because of it, but there are still days where I wish things could be different. I trust that God knows what’s best for me and my family and until He directs me otherwise, I’ll continue to work!

Sandra

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Julia March 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm

It was tough to go back to work when I had my daughter 2 years ago (she was 3.5 months when I went back). I wanted to be around her every moment and not miss a single milestone. But like you, I had to work. Hubby is a stay at home Dad, so at times I get jealous that he is home all the time.

I just had a baby 2 months ago and just returned to work last week. It was a little easier this time around, but I still want to be around my kids all the time. I also hate pumping, but I’m determined to make it to 1 year with this baby (with my daughter, we went 6 months).

Like you, I LOVE it when my daughter runs up to me to give me a hug when I get home. That almost brings a tear to my eye every day.

I also have a work that supports me being a mom. I can come and go as I need to and I have keys to a little room that allows me to pump whenever I want.

Thanks for talking about this. Most of my friends are SAHMs, so sometimes i feel left out.

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Anonymous March 23, 2009 at 7:09 pm

SO great to see other mummies in the same position. My little sweetie is almost 6 months, I’ve been back at work since she was 2 months. Right now my husband is home with her as he is working to get his business up and running to match and Lord-willing eclipse my income. I’m thrilled to see his relationship with our baby girl be such a special one, and have come to terms with my jealousy that he sees her more than I do – I’m constantly learning about letting go of control, hard but good. My goal would be to work part time while this one and (hopefully) the next one are little, but can resonate with other comments that working is an important fulfillment of me as a whole person.

I toast all of you!

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Rebecca Louise. March 23, 2009 at 7:17 pm

I LOVE that picture of you and Elias. I think you do brilliantly as a working Mom :) X.

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Patti March 23, 2009 at 7:50 pm

I went back to work when my daughter was 4 1/2 months but just part time. I often wish I was a stay at home mom because I do have the ability to pursue a working from home career (I have my real estate license) but in this economy, a job with a steady paycheck is a better option at this point. Balancing it all is very tricky and I find myself being very guarded with the time I have off, trying to soak in as much time with my daughter as I can. Her daddy watches her one day that I work and then she is with her Nana, (my MIL) the other two days. The other day I had a bit of a breakdown, wanting Emersyn to know that I am her mama, not just one of three caregivers. I think that is my own insecurity though, my MIL tends to be pretty involved, to the point where I think she feels she is co-parenting with us and that is something I need to learn to handle and deal with. Anyways, a whole other can of worms. :)
Ultimately, some women thrive outside the home and I think that I do in a part time sense. I never feel like I need “me” time. Since I enjoy my job so much, it is “me” time in a sense. I do strive to be home when we have another, juggling two kids sounds like another story. :)

Thanks for posting on this, the world seems so predominately SAHM focussed sometimes, good know I am not alone.

As always, Elias is a doll.

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gitz March 23, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Obviously not a working mom (I’m missing so many prerequisites!), but I do think there are some moms that are better moms because they work… they have more loving patience for their kids because they also feel fulfilled as a person as well. I like that women are becoming more supportive of each other’s choices… that what is right for one might not be right for all.

I just know that whatever you’re doing, it’s working. Cuz that’s one happy little boy.

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Angie Smith March 23, 2009 at 10:13 pm

who cares about working, who is your PHOTOGRAPHER?!?!?!?!?!

love you :)
a

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Diane March 24, 2009 at 1:44 am

I worked at a childcare center, at my church, until about a year ago. I think it is easier for me to leave my son in that perspective, because I know the people and I know he will be well taken care of. I also know that you must immediately walk out, even if they are crying because they will stop within a few minutes. I am not much of a homebody… I like doing things. Plus, we need the money [my husband and I are 26 and 23 and he’s still in college, while working part-time at Starbucks]. There are days I feel guilty, and I am hoping maybe one day I will be able to work part-time. But, like you, Jess, I believe that daycare is good for Dillon. The social interaction is good, he knows how to play around other children well, and he is learning a lot up there. :)

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mike@ahamoment.com October 26, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Hello. Great post! As a parent myself I think about this a lot. How parenthood has a huge impact on everything I do but feeling this NEED to do something in addition ….
Laura sent us a story, about how much creativity has always meant to her, and how it changed when she became a mom. She decided to channel her energy into starting a magazine.
You can check out her video at the link below. Hope you like it!
http://www.ahamoment.com/vote/laurag

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