Living to Work, or Working to Live

I can’t decide if I work to live or live to work.

That should be a pretty easy decision, right? It’s either that you love your job so much that you can’t wait to get to it every day, or that you dread it but need the paycheck so off you trudge. But…is it that black and white? I don’t think so.

The job I’m doing is not near my dream job…but I do really like it. I don’t ever dread going in to work. I hate hearing the alarm in the morning only because I hate to wake up. Once I’m jamming to some tunes while I pretty myself up for the office? I pick up my pace and happily stroll into my cubicle to start the day. Some work days are pure torture, true. But most days are quite lovely and I feel incredibly accomplished and fulfilled at the end of them.  My job definitely pays my bills, but by no means are we makin it rain in the Higgison house.

I have struggled with the guilt of working parenthood. Not the guilt of actually going to work but the guilt of wanting to go to work. The guilt of the choice to leave my children and be selfish from 8:30am- 5:00pm then rush home to those precious few hours with my babies. I come from the unique situation of having basically worked part time from home for the first years of being a mother. Until just before Bella turned 5 years old, I was virtually a stay-at-home mom. I worked 16 hours a week, right across the street from our house. There were some undeniable positives to that life. I love the whole bus routine: I love to put my kids on the bus and welcome them home. I got to do that with Bella every single day for two years. It was glorious. I witnessed those incredible “firsts”: Isabella’s first steps, Annika’s first words, first use of a spoon, first time blowing kisses, first time in a pool…everything. Except with Maelle.

I pursued a full-time position when Maelle was only 4 months old. In Canada, we get one year of parental leave. I chose to defer it to my husband and Ryan took 8 months off with our youngest daughter. We both loved it. Ryan is a terrific stay-at-home Dad and, given utter financial freedom it is well understood that Ryan would quit his job and stay home while I happily drove off with my coffee mug and packed lunch in the morning.

I miss my kids when I’m not with them. That is a maternal imperative for me. My babies are literally a part of me and being without them drains my soul of part of its lifeblood. Part. For I understand something about myself that I was, in those 5 years of SAHMotherhood, afraid to admit. I like to work. I work for the money, it’s true. I would not show up at my desk if they did not pay me for it. But I like to be there. The feeling of accomplishment I require for my personal emotional stability begs to be challenged by something more than the temper of a 4 year old.

I need my job to pay my bills. I need to earn a certain amount of money to maintain our lifestyle. We could make it work if one of us lost employment (but please no, don’t make us) but I don’t want to. I may have to solemnly explain to Bella that I can’t attend every field trip because I work, but I hope to one day also explain the reasons I made this choice. Or better yet- I hope the smile on my face and the happiness in our home is enough explanation for them all.

8 Comments

  • I feel the same way. If I won the lottery, I would quit my job. But I would find another (probably part time). I like working. I have a lot to offer, not just to my daughter, and I want her to feel that she has multiple outlets as well.

    And if she chooses someday to stay home with her own children, then I hope she finds that as fulfilling as I find my choice.
    Twitter: tragicsandwich

    • mrshiggison says:

      This is what I keep thinking. Like if I won the lottery what would I do?
      And I’m with you- I would still work. I’d just find the most kick ace job ever, and do it part time. But work would still be in my nature.
      And I totally agree- if any of my daughters choose SAHMotherhood, I’m glad they’re able to at least make that choice, and know that it’s perfect for them. Here, here!
      mrshiggison recently posted..Living to Work vs. Working to LiveMy Profile
      Twitter: mrshiggison

  • Mary Beth says:

    I always say, if I was a stay at home mom, I would never be home… volunteering, running for office, spending money we didn’t have enrolling kids in classes, going to museums, taking trips. I would be fulfilled doing that, but I’m fulfilled in full-time job and we don’t go into bankrupsy. So I work!
    Mary Beth recently posted..Clip Clop Mama Rides AgainMy Profile
    Twitter: bloombing

  • Tabitha says:

    I have struggled with the guilt of working parenthood. Not the guilt of actually going to work but the guilt of wanting to go to work.

    ….MUCH agreed. My mother watches my girls during the day. It’s such a blessing but, if I’m honest, it’s such a guilt trip too. Some days I feel horrible that she’s raising my children when she already worked so hard to make sure I didn’t turn out a serial killer or crazy cat lady.
    Tabitha recently posted..Tea timeMy Profile

  • Cheree says:

    Great post. I very much feel the same way. I really enjoy my time at work and I really enjoy my time at home. As for the lottery question? A great opportunity to daydream.
    Cheree recently posted..Working Through Mommy BrainMy Profile
    Twitter: MaternityLeave

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