Why working makes me a better mama
As a mom of three young children, I am learning that the only constant in parenting, is constant change! Today I wanted to share with you the changes I have experienced over the past 5 years and how I came to realize that being a working mom, makes me a better mom.
my how things have changed
If you would have asked me in my twenties where I saw my self in my early 30’s I think I would have told you married with children. What I wouldn’t have predicted was having three kids so close in age, working part time and starting an entrepreneurship. When I left for college immediately following highschool, I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to do when I graduated, but didn’t necessarily know the job title. Somehow I wanted a job that helped people, that challenged me everyday and brought me joy. I landed on Occupational Therapy and have been a practicing therapist for the past 8 years now.
my first career as an occupational therapist
It took me 6 years to complete my graduate degree and ever since I graduated, I have been working at the University Hospital in acute care serving a wide range of individuals. My role as an occupational therapist consists of daily interaction with individuals with varying conditions. In the hospital setting they are all in need of rehabilitation primarily focusing on strength and regaining independence following an illness, injury or surgery. The job itself has been so rewarding. I have met some of the most incredible human beings, been around some of the most unbelievable miracles, and I have grown so much. With that being said, the job it’s hard, mentally, emotionally and physically.
things change over time
My husband and I decided to start our family shortly after getting married and ended up having three children in three years. With each birth of our babies, new demands and responsibilities came. The constant struggle and strive for balance in the working world and being a parent continue to weigh on my heart. Although I had worked so incredibly hard to get to where I was in my career, things changed as time went on and our family grew.
and change again
After I became a mother in 2014, I went back to work part time. I had one day off a week and spent that day with our daughter Penelope. This felt like the perfect balance at the time. We found ourselves with the biggest shock of our lives 9 months later, pregnant again with our second daughter. I had been working and it felt good to help financially, but I won’t lie that my heart started to feel like it was being pulled to a greater calling and need…being a more present mama.
and change again…
My husband was finishing his graduate degree and transitioning into a new position, and we realized we had outgrew our first house. With a move to a new home, came an increase in mortgage and need for me to continue working. To be honest, at this time I still loved going to work. It was fulfilling. Sure, it felt like ages before we fell into a routine after Eleanor was born and I had two tiny humans to get ready in the morning instead of just one, but eventually we made it. Since we were already in this crazy stage of life we decided to complete our family with our last baby 18 months after Eleanor was born.
the constant struggle to find balance…
While pregnant with our son I was working at the hospital full time, had a full time student and my pregnancy was challenging. Between constant heart burn, fatigue, and difficulty finding balance of being a working mom and caring for two children 2.5 and 1, I became burnt out. My job felt so daunting each day and that left me feeling so tired. I had no balance in life. I was short fused, tired, and felt like I had nothing left to give in my career and also as a mother and wife.
My pregnancy ended in preeclampsia and developing severe post partum anxiety and depression and I needed a change. I decided to leave my job at the hospital at this time and bring my babies home from daycare to care for them myself. At the time my heart was pulling me in this direction, and I had always wanted to try the SAHM life. I spent the next 9-12 months focusing on self-care, doing a lot of therapy to get over my post partum anxiety, and finally trying the home stay at home mom gig.
trying the stay at home mom gig
The first few months of staying home, were actually quite nice. I loved the fact that I was the one raising my babies, that whatever went on during the day was because I was there and all around loved that I was getting that precious time with him children. Unfortunately the fall and winter came on shortly after I made this transition and winters in Wisconsin are tough. I had three kids ages 3, 1.5 and a newborn. Flu season hit and it became almost physically impossible to get three kids in their carseats and out of the house for the day.
the shift and realization that SAHM is not for me…
I slowly found myself feeling more and more isolated as the time went on. I became jealous of my husbands everyday work experiences and the interactions he had with adults. Sometimes my successes would only be how many times a child actually pooped in the potty, and who actually took a nap. Although he would listen, I wanted more. I wanted something more to share.
Now don’t get me wrong, we had some incredible memories together and I watched them do some of the sweetest, most darling things, but I also was starting to feel very isolated. I had worked really hard to get my graduate degree and really missed using my skills in the working world. Managing a household with three kids ages 3, 1.5 and newborn caused for incredibly challenging and demanding days that I often felt went unnoticed. I missed my career. But dare I say that?
It took a-lot of self reflection, discussions with my counselor, and mommy guilt to identify what I was so scared to admit. Being a full time stay at home mom was not everything I had hoped it would be. It broke my heart to admit it but I knew I was not the best version of myself. The time I was supposed to be enjoying and embracing felt sad and isolated. I had no balance. What I needed was a change. I decided to go back to work part time, and I can honestly tell you it was the best decision I could have made for my own personal wellness and for my family.
the dreaded mom guilt…
Mom guilt is real. It’s so real that you literally have to fight against it as hard as you can. I struggle with the best of them, always wondering if I am making the wrong choices or should be doing something differently. Over the past few years, especially during my transitions from working mom to stay at home mom, to working mom again, is that the only constant we will experience as parents is change.
Our lives and our demands as parents are ever evolving and changing as our children grow. As they grow, we have to grow with them. What made you a great mom one year ago may be what hinders your ability to thrive this year. What works for one woman, may not work for another. We are all faced with circumstances that are unique to ourselves, and sometimes it takes a greater strength to listen to what our minds and hearts are telling us.
you do you mama
There will always be people that judge you, that challenge your decisions, that is a reality. Deciding to own your choices and to remember you are doing the best you can with what you have at all times, is all that really matters. What life looks like right now will most likely not be how it looks 6 months from now and so on. Parenthood is a constant rollercoaster full of ups and downs and need for constant re-evaluation.
I think I knew deep down before I even admitted it that being home was not the job for me. I was not the best version of myself. Although I loved my time with my kiddos I knew it was not the best time I could be spending with them. Feeling as isolated as I did, led me to resent my time with them, rather than look forward to it.
acknowledging I needed a change
I have to be honest though, it was scary saying this out loud. Was I bad mother for wanting to go back to work? How could I manage going to work with three kids? So many opinions by so many people and it became so overwhelming. Eventually I found myself in a deep hole filled with constant fear of trying to please so many people. After some tough moments, I finally acknowledged and realized I needed to make a change. I had to stop feeling guilty about wanting to do something for myself. I had to start thinking that it was okay to realize what I needed to try in order to be the best mama, and the best version of Kayla.
be kind to yourself…
The entire reason I am writing this blog post is to help anyone else that may be in a trying season of life. The season where it seems like there is no balance and too much pull in one direction or the other. Maybe you are a working mom and hating every single minute of your day time job. Or maybe your feeling that heavy weight on your heart, knowing you are meant to be home with your babies this season but not sure how to make it work. You might be somewhere in the middle, feeling like something is missing. It is okay to acknowledge you still have dreams of your own. Maybe you just need life to slow down a little so you can actually think of what you want.
In this season of motherhood, the strive for balance is a constant. My plea for all of you reading this is, be kind to yourself. Allow yourself the grace to feel different emotions at different stages in this season. Just because being a full time stay at home mom is not for me, does not mean I do not applaud and praise the mamas who are home rocking it. Some of my very best friends are at home and incredible. I seriously could not be prouder of the work they are doing. What works for one woman, one mom, may not work for the other.
we are all doing the best we can
Mom guilt will get the best of you at some point in your life. You will likely feel guilty at some point in motherhood for feeling like you should be doing something better. Society will make you feel that you need to raise them different. If you are like me you will google one opinion only to find it refuted if you scroll down a little. Everywhere you turn there are strong opinions from all moms trying to do the best by their babies.
The thing I have realized is that with those opinions and experiences, is the beauty of motherhood. It took 5 years for me to achieve a balance that I know will not stay. Currently I feel like I have great balance in my career and in mommy-hood. I am even trying to get better at dating my husband 🙂 When my kids are home I am fully invested, involved. I am slowly learning that it’s still okay for me to have my own dreams. Showing my children the beauty of working hard for something is a gift. I am learning to own my decisions as a parent and trying so hard to let go of the mom guilt.
listen to your heart, and be okay with what it tells you
If going to work makes you better at all of your titles, then by the grace of God – DO THAT. If you are meant to stay home, then find a way! Follow your heart and don’t be afraid to change it. If you feel one way this year but a complete different way next year, that is OKAY TOO. Trust me. Life is not meant to be riding the same ferris wheel over and over in the same circle. It is a roller coaster, you have to move with the curves, move with the ups and downs and adapt.
I am with you mama. You are rocking it!