What If…

In the year that I’ve been blogging on here, I’ve written about the term “working mom” versus the phrase a friend of mine coined, “mom who works.” I’ve written about sick days I’ve taken to escape work and spend quality time with my son. I’ve lamented over the rough days when I couldn’t wait to get back to work. I’ve whined about how I really hoped for change in my career. In truth, I’ve found that being a mother who works outside the home is a paradox of all kinds. Many times, we think the grass is greener. If only I worked at home, then I would be able to do everything. If only I worked part time, then I would have more time for my house and family. If only, if only.

This week, I listened to the demon on the left shoulder instead of the angel on the right as he asked me, “What if?” What if I was a stay-at-home mom? What if I had the financial stability to choose between working and not working? What if I didn’t work out every evening and spent those extra hours with my son? What if I didn’t blog and Facebook and tweet while my son watched some television?

What if.

Every time I ask this question, and I picture myself with copious amounts of time to spend with my son, doing all those arts and crafts and playtime activities I find on Pinterest and then leave there for another day, washing all the dishes that sit and sit for days, I find more questions arise…

If I were a SAHM, a WAHM, or if I worked part-time, would I be more attentive? Would I be happy? Would I feel stifled? Would my son experience more stability and routine? Would he already know how to say “please” and “thank you?” Would he be more coordinated because I’d be doing one-on-one activities and crafts with him? Would he learn to speak and read and write at a quicker pace?

But then I slap myself in the face (not really, because ow) and remind myself what works for my family at this point in time, and it’s what I’m doing. And I answer myself: Maybe. Maybe I would be happier. Maybe my son would have more consistency and learn more. Or maybe not. Right now, I’m a working mom, I’m happy with my teaching job, and my son is content spending the day with his Abuela. He is healthy and well cared for, and right now, it works for us. So why ask questions? Why lament? Why allow social media and Pinterest to make me feel like less of a mom because my kid isn’t with me 24/7?

Do you ever second-guess your working mom status or ask yourself What if?

 

13 Comments

  • Cheryl says:

    Every day feels like a giant “if only” and I’ve been a mom for nearly nine years already. For me at least, the severity of it has gone down over time, as I’ve seen my kids (both in full time daycare since they were 12 weeks old) grow and flourish and become these amazing little people. I know they’re proud of me and that I work, too. But does it mean my heart doesn’t ache a bit that I can’t volunteer for the class Halloween party *and* leave work early to take them trick-or-treating too? Of course I wish I could do both. But I also know that if I did the morning party, I’d be more tired by the time the evening came around and more likely to snap at them than if I’d gone to work that morning. It’s an elusive balance, for sure, but the fact that you’re always questioning it means you’re concerned about doing what’s best for your family, and if you need to make a change, you will.
    Cheryl recently posted..Health Insurance With A Side of CondescensionMy Profile
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    • Shannon says:

      Thank you for your perspective and for saying that although you still think “if only,” that the intensity wanes over time. I appreciate knowing that from a veteran momma :)

  • Observacious says:

    Sigh. Yes, so many “what ifs.” I think everyone has them (or at least I hope so). All we can do is keep doing what is working for us right now. No life is perfect.

    This morning after I dropped my daughter of at daycare she ran to the window to wave goodbye to me and gave me a huge smile when I waved back. When I dropped my son off at school he was holding up the line by turning around to wave and shout, “Bye, mama!” while still holding on to the hand of his new best friend. Their loving smiles and waves let me know that they are perfectly happy with our life even though we don’t spend our days together. I try to focus on that.
    Observacious recently posted..The Government Does Make Jobs and I Wish Everyone Could Take OneMy Profile
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  • Mary Beth says:

    Sounds like we’ve had similar weeks, with similar ‘what if’ stuff. Mine is – what if we had another baby? Would life go to hell in a handbasket? What if…? Here’s where I land: “Settled” is only a state people aspire to, not an actual place. At least in my world. I’ll always wonder ‘what if.’ ALWAYS. I don’t need to change my life…. until I do. And part of that is to stop asking “What if”! :)
    Mary Beth recently posted..Yes it’s me dancing to Lady Gaga.My Profile
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  • Madonna says:

    I have known I could never successfully be a SAHM, but I have dreamed of working a four day week to have an extra day home with the kids and maybe get something accomplished from the to-do list during their nap time. But as I sit home on my second week of maternity leave, I have validated that I am a better mom because I work. I feel that I give more quality time, even though it is significantly less time, when I work. I agree with Mary Beth about not asking the “what if” question; I don’t think my answer is going to change any time soon.

  • Kris-Ann says:

    I ask myself this question every single day. I still don’t know what the right answer is though.

  • Tracy says:

    Maybe it’s because I’ve been a working momma longer, but I’ve stopped asking myself “What if…” I’ve been able to have stints as a WAHM doing online summer school without the support of childcare, and I now know the answer to that “What if…” It’s not a good situation ;) I try really hard to live in the present. I’ve tortured myself over thinking about the what if’s…what if i worked closer to home…what if i had a job that didn’t make me take stuff home…and I spend so much time focusing on the what if’s, that I’m not able to live in the present. And step away from the computer. don’t let the appearances of others affect how you view your life. They are just appearances, and if you looked more closely, you’d see that every mom feels this way at times.
    Twitter: wa_tracy

  • mel says:

    This past week, the boy that I watch once a week (and whose mom watches my son once a week) pushed my son, Miles, over twice. He does this often, although I try not to let it happen. I just can’t be within arm’s reach of Miles or the other boy all the time. In any case, I started feeling guilty that Miles was getting bowled over by the other boy, who really means to be playful, not malicious. If I didn’t work part-time and need to do this childcare swap, then Miles wouldn’t be in the position of getting pushed over by the other boy. But if I didn’t work at all, I would not be as happy (I know this because I tried it for five months). I’ve been reminding myself that I can’t and will never always be around Miles to protect him from the bullies of the world, and he will be a better boy for being able to defend himself. But still…the guilt always sets in. Like many of you have already said, better to not ask what if… :(
    mel recently posted..painting overMy Profile

  • I really need to internalize the message in this post. Frankly, I work because I have to BUT my husband has always maintained that when I haven’t had to, I’ve invented more projects for myself than I ever get at work. They say that the amount of quality time various parents spend with their kids is about the same and I believe it. The SAHMs I know do not spend every waking moment doing Pinterest projects in cute vintage aprons – they run a lot of errands, look at the computer, and so on, just like real people.
    Christa the BabbyMama recently posted..Thoughts on Packing a Hospital BagMy Profile
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  • Jamie says:

    Absolutely. I feel like I am constantly doing this — as I evolve as a person, employee, and a mother. There are always questions — always “what ifs” and wonders of if I’m doing the right thing or if there is some way I could be doing it all better.

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