Every time I read a mommy wars blog post I promise myself I’m not going to ever participate. It’s been done; I’m tired of it; so let’s talk about something more fun…like… food.
And yet, here I am, writing about what’s harder: working in an office or staying-at-home with children?
I have an excuse and the excuse is this: a year ago I quit my desk job which means I’ve been at this stay-at-home mom gig for over 12 months which clearly means I’m an expert.
Obviously I’m joking.
But I do think I’ve been at this long enough to form an opinion on what’s harder for me-staying at home with Anna full time, or working full time without kiddos-and I figure I owe it to you to share some of my conclusions. (One thing I can’t speak to? Working full time with kids, which I’d imagine is probably the hardest job ever. Hats off to those who do so!)
Rather than just tell you what I think, I’ll let you read a day in-the-life of “Professional Lesley” versus “Mom Lesley”:
Alarm goes off. Snooze. Snooze again. Drag self out of bed to go for a run. Note: Professional Lesley and Mom Lesley both follow(ed) this routine. It’s the only part of my day that is the same post baby versus pre baby.
Professional Lesley showers, primps, gets dressed, makes bed, makes breakfast, makes lunch. She thinks and stresses about work the whole time. She runs out the door late everyday, screeching into the parking lot at 8:40am. She tells herself that if she were a mom she’d be able to be watching The Today Show while eating a deliciously huge omelette and bacon. And she’d have time to empty the dishwasher and read her bible.
Mom Lesley returns home from a run at 7:30 and makes a smoothie for herself, feeds Anna breakfast, and occasionally makes Jonathan a lunch. She does not rush to get out of my pajamas. Sometimes she’ll turn on The Today show and then feel incredibly guilty that it’s killing Anna’s brain waves so she turns it off and they go for a walk. She tries to check e-mail or Facebook as Anna whines for attention. Lesley is not usually stressed, but having a child hanging on her leg does cause her eye to occasionally start twitching. She find herself thankful to start the day somewhat at her own pace but she also longs for some privacy and space.
Professional Lesley reads through 8 million e-mails, scans the paper, follows up with journalists, hops into meetings, answers questions, worries she’s making the wrong decisions, feels confident in her abilities, then makes a mistake and feels like an idiot. She’s dressed and groomed and looks capable but sometimes doesn’t feel capable.
Mom Lesley debates if she should shower while the baby is awake (and risk having baby end up in the shower with her) or wait for a nap. She empties the dishwasher, and thinks to herself, “I’m always emptying the dishwasher.” The baby goes down for a nap. She thinks through what’s most important to complete in the next 90 minutes: cleaning up the house? Showering? Reading the bible? Writing? Checking Twitter? Returning some of the 2 million e-mails in her inbox? She’s not dressed and groomed, but when Anna is napping she feels like a million bucks.
Professional Lesley usually works straight through lunch and barely gets up for a Lean Cuisine, but sometimes she meets a friend at a fun spot like Crepeville.
Mom Lesley fixes Anna and herself a meal, and they eat together at home. Lesley asks Anna about her morning. Anna smiles. Then, they run errands or go to the park or read books or go to the library for music time.
Professional Lesley’s afternoon either flies by in a fit of anxiety and deadlines, OR, it drags by at the pace of a Siberian snail. When she gives successful trainings or places a big story in the Bee, she feels like life couldn’t get any better. But on sunny days she wishes she could be outside playing, and on rainy days she wishes she could be at home curled up by a fire. There are moments of sweet, sweet victory. There are moments she feels defeated and tired.
Mom Lesley sneaks in mid-afternoon writing, a load of laundry and, on Fridays, a drink on the front porch. She’s giddy about being home and soaking up the sunshine. Most days, as they sit in the backyard and watch the butterflies or chase bubbles, she’s really happy. But sometimes there are moments when Anna is a total brat, and Lesley feels defeated and tired.
Professional Lesley’s work day never ends at the same time. Somedays she’s still at work at 6:30pm, but somedays she’s at happy hour with friends or riding her bike home in the late afternoon heat. She’s always very tired by this point in the day and sometimes wishes she could be home on the couch.
Mom Lesley’s work day never really ends at the same time. It’s often over when Anna goes to bed between 6:30pm and 7:00pm. But, when she’s teething, or sick, or just plain cranky–the day can take much longer to end. Anna might wake up at 8pm and need cuddling, or 2am for some milk. Lesley is always very tired by this point in the day but sometimes wishes she had a sitter so she could go out on a date, hang out with girlfriends, or write at a coffees shop.
Professional Lesley and Mom Lesley both go to bed. It’s been a really long day. There are people counting on them all day, everyday. There are meals to make and deadlines to meet and challenges to rise above. They understand that being a woman is hard work, no matter how you slice it.
Does that settle the debate?
photo found here