A couple days ago, another IA mama had posted on Facebook that one of the talk shows (I think Anderson Cooper) had a discussion topic that day of working moms vs. stay at home moms. I didn't see the show -- because I fall into that category of working mom. And add to that working mom of 2 young children who somehow seem to dominate most of the TV viewing choices in the house. Needless to say, the original posting received a LOT of comments - a majority of them very positive.
That post stuck in my head. It's a topic very near and dear to my heart. Not specifically the stay at home mom VS the working mom topic, but more for me the working mom topic. I haven't had the ability to try out the stay at home mom job. During both adoptions I received 1 week "parental leave" and that's it. The rest of leave is to be covered by vacation or FMLA. Well, vacation had been used up with travel for trips 1 & 2 (and in Alex's case, #3 as well) and with the expense of adoption, FMLA just wasn't an option. My company sees maternity leave as medical leave -- and with an adoption you don't qualify for medical leave. I can't complain too much however, they are progressive enough to provide a $5K adoption grant - which is very nice. Some may choose to supplement FMLA with that $5K, but for me as a single, with the cost of adoption, again it wasn't an option. I am NOT complaining. This was all my choice. So, my stay at home mom life has been limited to about 1 week.
I personally believe that EITHER choice: stay at home or working mom, is HARD work. Let's face, parenting in general is the hardest, best job ever. This isn't a post on one choice being better than the other. This is however, a post on my own personal working mama's guilt. And I'll be straight up honest there is a LOT of it. Guilt that is.
My job is demanding and yet at the same time, I laugh posting that. I. Sell. Chocolate. Milk. How can it be so demanding? Working for the world's largest food company, it's all about more. Sell more, grow more. More than last year. Combine that with the fact that my territory is a whole state - demanding. I have 6 distributors - and a good part of my time is meant to be spent with those distributors: getting them to (you guessed it) sell more. Obviously that means windshield time -- travel. Many times day trips, sometimes over nights. Day trips are long days -- usually because I am pushing it to go home to see my kids vs. staying in a hotel some where. Weekdays are a blur: we're always in a hurry and I never feel like I get any quality time with Tati & Alex, because it's always rush, rush. Rush out the door in the am, rush in at night, hurry and eat and get a bath completed before bed. I always say mama is crabby Tuesday - Thursday nights.
I am unique in my region for work. On my sales team there are now 3 females -- myself and two others. Of the two others, 1 is younger and single (no kids); and the other is married and has no kids. The rest of the team is all men - all of which, minus one, have stay at home wives. And therefore most of them (including my boss) have NO clue what it entails to be a working mom in our environment. If I leave the house for 2 nights, I not only have to pack all my clothes and work items, but their clothes/school items. I have to remember - is gym day at school falling during this time? Did I pack the tennis shoes? Is it trash day? Who will haul my garbage to the curb? What happens if one of them gets sick? On and on and on...
As they get older, more and more of the guilt sets in. What do I do about the kids choir at church? (They practice after school on Wednesdays - a busy day for me usually - and are done by 4pm. Who picks Tati up?) What about softball or soccer? Practice and then games are many times @ 5:30pm. I can't always be home by then.
I am VERY lucky to have a wonderful support system with my mom. However, with the amount of travel I do, I am very conscious how much I have to lean on her. I personally don't think it's fair to ask her: "Hey, can you pick up my kids and schlep Tati out to T-ball practice, sit there and oh yeah make sure Alex sits patiently too". Because 2 year old are known for sitting patiently, you know. It's just not a fair request on ANY of them.
And as lucky as I am to have a great mom/support system, I will also admit that I KNOW that I am lucky, in this crazy economy, to have a job. A good job. I know it's a good job, even though I don't personally like it some days. I have a great salary and a lot a great benefits. And there lies the source of my guilt - lucky to have a good job, but missing my kids and wanting to provide something better for them. Sometimes I describe it as STUCK.
What does this have to do with that original Facebook posting I referenced? Simple -- stay at home mom or working mom: we all have our issues and guilt. The grass always seems greener on the other side...
7 hours ago