Working Moms: Where Are You?

Here’s something I’ve been wondering for a while: Where are all the working moms? Regular readers know that I am a full-time working mom of a toddler. Other than a 3-month maternity leave, I’ve worked since my son was born. Statistics say that I am one of many, many working moms of young children in America: 64 percent of women with children under age 6 work or are actively looking for work, and 70 percent of those work full time.

picjumbo.com_HNCK8984.jpg

Since this is the case, why do I only know a handful of other full-time working moms, either in real life or virtually? Most moms I know either stay home or work part-time. Maybe this has something to do with my immediate context in the South, where “traditional” families are perhaps more common than in other parts of the country. And I read a lot of mommy blogs, which tend to be written by SAHMs. Maybe most full-time working moms don’t have time to blog.

Perhaps this is a leftover element from my younger years, but there is something about being different from most people around me that makes me feel like I’m doing something wrong, or that I’m not privy to some secret that others share. I find it annoying that staying home still seems to be what is considered normal for moms of young children, even though, as the statistic I discussed above indicates, working is now actually more common. You wouldn’t know it. I would like to take Jonah to a toddler storytime at the library, but when do you think they are? Weekday mornings. I joined a toddler playgroup Meetup, but when do they always want to meet? Weekday mornings. Moms’ bible studies? You guessed it: Weekday mornings. I. AM. A. BIT. OVER. IT.

Me working full time is what works for my family at this point–it’s not really optional. However, it’s what makes me happy, too, though I won’t lie and say I haven’t occasionally felt envious of those who get to stay home. Overall though, I get a strong sense of satisfaction from my job. I like making my own money. I’m proud of myself and what I do, both at work and at home. I like the example that I’m giving my son of a strong, accomplished woman. Another reason to be glad that I work: Recent studies show strong, long-term benefits for adult children of working mothers.

But really: Where are the working moms? Let’s be friends!

Advertisements

The Real Reason Parents Are Always So Tired

A question for the ages: Why am I always exhausted?

Seriously. Every night if I don’t have an extra cup of coffee/can of diet coke after Jonah is asleep, I’m nodding off on the couch by 9 pm (usually in full makeup/contacts/without brushing my teeth). I don’t really want to admit the amount of caffeine I am currently consuming in a day, lest you warn me that I’m permanently damaging my body.

Now granted, I do wake up early in the morning. Jonah is normally up around 6:00 am. But this doesn’t really explain anything, because 9 pm to 6 am is plenty of sleep. Jonathan and I are actually fortunate because Jonah is a great sleeper who hasn’t woken up in the night on a regular basis for over a year now.

So there’s no obvious reason for it. I’m just…exhausted. Like this guy.

man-person-relaxation-steps
public domain image via pexels.com

I know I’m not the only one. It’s something of a badge of honor among parents of young children to talk about how tired we are. But barring extraordinary circumstances, like a child up in the night, why is this, exactly?

I think I’ve figured it out. By the time I get to the end of the day, I’ve juggled the following responsibilities: feeding Jonah. playing with him. getting him dressed for the day. feeding the dogs. working (and all of the mental energy that entails). coming home. feeding Jonah again. feeding myself. playing with Jonah. giving him a bath. reading to him. putting him to bed. cleaning up. playing with the dogs. feeding the dogs.

No wonder I’m tired!

(In case you’re wondering, Jonathan has an equally long, different, list.)

I think as parents of young children, we have so much on our plates on any given day that by the time we get to the end of the day, we’ve just about reached our limit and have to shut down. Even if we did get enough sleep the night before. Really. Do not pass go, do not collect $200–your energy for the day stops here, whether you want it to or not.

I figure that as our child(ren) get older, my daily limit will keep inching back, little by little. Maybe someday I will consume less caffeine and go to bed a little later. I think by the time Jonah is 18 I may only be drinking two cups of coffee a day, and I may even go to bed at 10:30 with no problems. A girl can dream, right?

admin-ajax

 

Are you tired? Why?

Which Kind of Fish Would You Rather Be?

I did a phone interview for a new job a couple of weeks ago. (Shh!) If my boss happens to be reading this, I didn’t get advanced to the second round of interviews, which is actually alright with me. The job was with a national nonprofit, which I feel may be the next step in my career trajectory, so I thought I might as well interview for the position for the experience, if nothing else.

Even if they had advanced me to the second round of interviews, I wasn’t completely sold on taking the job because it was a lower-level position with less responsibility than my current job. However, it paid quite a bit more than my current position and had better benefits. As a national nonprofit with a large endowment, they could afford higher salaries. In my current position with a local nonprofit, I have a lot of decision-making power and responsibility. I actually love my current job, but I feel like I deserve to be making more money.

So this begs the question: career-wise, is it better to be a big fish in a small pond or a small fish in a big pond? Is it better to take an entry-level position with a big organization/company with more money and room to grow, or a senior management position with a smaller organization but less money?

As I prowled the wilds of the Internet looking for an expert response to this question, I unsurprisingly couldn’t find much one way or the other. Maybe it is a matter of opinion.

So what do you think? Small fish or big fish, and why?

The Great Housekeeping Slide, 2010-2015

When I was growing up, my family’s house was spotless. Maybe not really, especially when my siblings and I were young, but that’s how it always seemed to me. That has been the standard to which I’ve compared myself since the beginning of my adult life. However, it’s occurred to me recently that my cleaning and housekeeping habits have…shall we say…evolved over the years. For me, the beginning of marriage and of my adult life occurred at the same time–2010–so this is where I’ll begin to describe what I’ve started to think of as the great housekeeping slide.

Year 1 of Marriage: 2010-2011

  • apartment
  • full time job
  • no dogs
  • no kids

The first year that we were married, Jonathan and I lived in your classic one-bedroom, one-bath, nondescript beige apartment with wall-to-wall carpet. Jonathan vacuumed and I cleaned the bathroom once a week on Sundays, and I cleaned the kitchen every night. This was super simple because we cooked probably less than 20 times the whole time that we lived there.grelot apartment

cleaning-lady

I’m so happy to be cleaning my beige apartment!

Year 2 of Marriage: 2011-2012

  • small rental house
  • full time job
  • one dog
  • no kids

Marriage year two began with our move to North Carolina. We moved into a charming but grungy 1920s bungalow in the student area of town. This house was very not clean when we moved in. Our landlord had no policy regarding the condition of the house upon tenants vacating, so when we moved in the house required some very serious scrubbing, the kitchen in particular. While we lived here we got a puppy, Zelda, who was (and is) sweet as can be. With the dog came dog hair, but luckily this house had one of those very old, very weathered wood floors that show almost no dirt. I vacuumed and cleaned the bathroom in this house every two to four weeks. I don’t remember Jonathan really cleaning at all while we lived here.

Bruce St. Bruce St. kitchen

Years 3 and 4 of Marriage: 2012-2014

  • small-medium house of our own
  • full time job
  • 2 dogs
  • pregnancy and delivery (2014)

In May 2012, Jonathan and I moved into our own first little house. It was a split level that ended up being not entirely practical for our family, though we weren’t thinking about that at the beginning. We redid the floors and I loved them. Shortly after we moved in, we added Juno the dog to our family. Juno’s a long-haired pup, so that upped the dog hair level in the house considerably. I tried to clean pretty frequently, until…I got pregnant.

hill n dale

In 2014, I was teaching 2nd grade, pregnant and constantly tired. I just couldn’t bring myself to care too much about the state of the house when I could be doing much more urgent things like sleeping.

10478693_10202119895627975_1095742937698967676_n

Jonah was born in December 2014, a week early due to my preeclampsia. Someday I’ll write his birth story. The first month of motherhood passed in a happy haze of diapers, breastfeeding and sleep deprivation. Obviously no cleaning happened during this time. After I started to get back on my feet I tried my best to get things under control, but I found it very difficult to manage work, motherhood, marriage and taking care of the house.

Year 5 of Marriage: 2015-2016

  • medium-large house
  • full time job
  • 2 dogs
  • Jonah, sweet baby boy

At the end of July we moved into our current house, the “old girl”–so named because of the exterior color scheme, and because it was previously owned by an elderly lady.

audubon house

I love this house so much. I love everything about it–the size (roughly double the size of our old house), the backyard, the neighborhood, the layout, the colors, the quirky details of a house built in the early 50s. It’s a great fit for our family. I can’t see myself wanting to move ever again.

My priorities have changed as a result of motherhood, and I have learned that that’s okay. Where I used to feel guilt if I didn’t get around to housekeeping, now I tend to give myself more of a break, and realize that I’m just doing the best I can. Because honestly, when do I have time to clean? I’m either at work, taking care of Jonah, spending time with Jonathan or sleeping, essentially. During my stolen moments to myself, do I really want to spend time cleaning? No. I’ve leaned that an important part of being a good mom and wife is taking care of yourself, and if that sometimes (often?) means that things don’t get cleaned, that is alright. It’s more important to me that I am a good mom and wife, and someone who has time for my own interests and hobbies, than that I have a Pinterest-worthy house.

(I do know what I’m requesting for Christmas and my birthday, however!)

cleaning-service

I’d love to hear from other working moms: When do you clean? How do you find time for it in your busy schedule? How in the world do you ever have time to get it all done?

Envy

I’m not proud of something that I felt today.

I was in a conversation with someone I am directly connected to. I obviously won’t say who it is. I see this person about once a week and will for the indefinite future. She is a newlywed married to a young guy who got an awesome, high-paying job straight out of college. He is five years younger than me and makes roughly double my income. Let’s call her husband Mike. Today this girl and I were talking about her job search. She was trying to get a certain kind of job to get hours to apply to a graduate school program.

“How’s your job search going?”-Me

“I have a lead on a job at _________. Oh by the way, Mike and I have decided I’m not going to try to go to (type of graduate school).”-Her

“Oh really, why not?”-Me

“Because Mike has such a good job, we decided that it wouldn’t be worth the money for me to go. It would be better to put that money toward his education. So I’m planning to just get a part-time job.”-Her

“Oh, why not full time? Because you don’t have to?”-Me

“Yeah, because I don’t have to. Since Mike makes so much money, there is no reason for me to work full-time. It makes sense to have one of us home to take care of the apartment, make dinner, stuff like that.”-Her

I felt physically ill when she said this. Even now, thinking about this conversation makes me feel queasy. It took everything I had not to say, “OH HOW NICE FOR YOU” in a really bitchy tone of voice. Instead, I bit my lip (literally), stood up and went outside to get some fresh air.

Important to know: This person has made comments like this before. “Mike and I are really comfortable… blah blah blah.” And she knows that my husband is unemployed right now and looking hard for a job.

Jonathan and I are so blessed in so many ways. In general we are pretty comfortable and have no reason to complain. Since he lost his job at the end of July, things have been tight, but we are making it. He’s been looking hard for a job and has had some interviews, but nothing has come of it so far. During our marriage to date, there has never been a time when I wasn’t the main breadwinner, for a variety of reasons. More on that saga another time. Recently I have been feeling a bit resentful about this, even though I like working, and I love my job. I’ve been wishing that I could spend more time with Jonah. I think I am tired of HAVING to work, of having to be the dependable, responsible one. Is it wrong to want to be taken care of for a change?

I’m a little scared of how honest this post is. Stuff from the deepest, darkest part of my heart is coming out.

So back to this conversation. Hearing this girl, who doesn’t have a child, who doesn’t even have pets, talk about how she doesn’t really have to work and needs lots of time to take care of things at home, made me feel sick to my stomach with envy. There–I said it. i am envious of how easy life is for her. I’m not proud of it. Obviously lots of people make more money than we do, but I’ve never felt before like I felt today. Today, it was personal. I can’t recall ever feeling as acute a sense of wishing I had what someone else has as I did today.

What’s funny is that I have never wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. As someone who thrives on a schedule, I’ve never thought I would be happy without one. I tend to get stir-crazy when I’m at home too long. On the other hand, I would love more time with my baby. Isn’t that the working mom’s dilemma? I do think a goal of mine might be to work part-time someday when we can afford it. And obviously it would be amazing if Jonathan made enough money that I didn’t have to work, even though I probably would anyway.

People, choose your words carefully. Think about other people’s situations in life before you speak. And clearly don’t spout off about how comfortable you are if you know someone else is struggling. As for me…I need to be content with what I have.

It Works and Me

About a year ago I started seeing posts on my Facebook news feed having to do with this:

Crazy-Wrap-Adindependent distributor logo

All of a sudden, It Works was everywhere. I saw multiple posts per day about various products and reasons to use them, as well as posts about reasons to become a distributor. I used to joke with Jonathan about those crazy wrap girls blowing up my Facebook wall. But then…I saw before and after pictures. “Hmm,” I thought, “Those look impressive. Maybe I’ll need to try something sometime and see if it really does work.” Then I found out that the products were all natural. “Yep, I’ll try something one of these days,” I thought. Then I saw people posting about how their commissions from selling It Works replaced the income from their regular job. “I don’t believe that, ” I said. “That just seems incredible.”

Things continued along in this state for a while, with It Works hovering on the edge of my subconscious. Then Jonathan lost his job–a week after we bought a new house. Want to know what sucks? That does. Our options were either for him to take the first job he could get, regardless of it was a good fit for him and fit his long-term goals, or to try to wait and hold out for something better. We decided that it would be better for him to wait, and that we would make ends meet in the meantime.

Enter It Works. “Jonathan,” I said, “You should think about selling It Works! The products are all-natural. I’ve seen the pictures…they really do work! You’re great at convincing people to try things. You would be awesome at this!” Not believing what I was doing, I messaged one of the “wrap girls” and told her that we were interested in becoming distributors. After talking to her, we decided that it would be better if I became the distributor for our family, at least at first. So I did.

That was 12 days ago. Other than the fact that I’m actually doing this at all, the biggest surprise to me about this whole thing is how much I’m enjoying it. I can chalk that up to three reasons:

  1. I have always been one for personal goals and projects. I am pretty self-directed.
  2. I have worked for someone else since I was 15 years old. It’s an amazing change to work, more or less, for myself.
  3. Being a distributor has already been a growing experience for me. I’ve talked to people that I wouldn’t otherwise have talked to, I’ve taken risks, and I’ve put myself out there in ways that are unusual for me.

So believe it or not, I’m having a lot of fun. Though it’s not much, I’m proud of myself for what I have accomplished so far. As mama to a little boy, I want my son to grow up believing in the power of women to accomplish great things, and having my own business is an example of that for him.

So talk to me about trying some products! Or don’t. Become a distributor and join my team! Or don’t. I’m having fun either way.