A day in the life of a working woman

by Lesley on September 12, 2012 · 8 comments

in motherhood

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”:

6:00am

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. 

7:15-8:15am

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.

8:30-12:00pm

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.

12:00pm

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.

1:oopm- 5:00pm

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.

6:30pm

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.

10:30pm

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

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8 comments
Tim
Tim

"what’s harder ... staying at home with [a child] full time, or working full time without kiddos" I always answer "yes" to this type of question when I consider how people are able to handle whatever responsibilities they have, Lesley. None of us know what we can do - or how hard it will be - until we're called on to do it, do we? It sounds like you are handling things just fine, by the way. Nice snapshot of your day! Tim P.S. I take it a Siberian snail moves rather slowly? P.P.S. The original Crepeville is here in my town. Great place to meet people for lunch. Too bad I don't work in the same town I live in! P.P.S. I put Barefoot on 45th on the blogroll hoping it helps more people discover your site.

kelsey
kelsey

It KIND OF settles the debate. :) I am a full-time working mom, hoping to be a part-time working mom soon. It seems ideal, but who knows. There are still SO MANY demands that pull us and require us to give of ourselves when we don't know if we have anything else to give. I'm realizing that this is just life as a mom. Oh, how I wish I could be in two places at the same time. I honestly didn't ENJOY my maternity leave with my daughter the way I thought I would. Before, I thought I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. Because it sounded luxurious! Ha! I had no idea I even liked my job until I realized that it gives me a reason to get dressed and do what I am good at (writing). I think that I SHOULD have enjoyed staying at home (I feel guilty that I didn't - although I think it would definitely be better now than when she was a newborn). Because of my faith I think it is my duty in life to LEARN to enjoy it - to learn to be a servant to her and to do it with joy. I think that if you enjoy them the same amount (professional Lesley and mom Lesley), then you will never regret spending all that time with your child, right? I have convinced myself that there is nothing more important I will do with my life than raise my children - it just sucks that I sit in a cubicle all day instead.

Claire
Claire

I love this so very much. Please know, that as time goes on (aka once you are sure we aren't crazy people), you can always leave Anna with us.

Lesley
Lesley

Britty-- I wanted to add a few stars at the end, and didn't, to say this: if you love what you're doing, the hard stuff really doesn't matter. So, I'm saying it now... Professional Britty and Mom Britty are going to coexist perfectly. Promise.

Britty
Britty

Woah. Are you telling me that Professional Lesley used to go for a run every morning and then ride (her) bike in the afternoon, too?! Also, this just ever so slightly adds to my fear of the Professional Britty and Mom Britty attempting to find a way to coexist soon. Gagh. If I'm not running now... Ya. You're super woman. That is all I have to say about that.

Lesley
Lesley

Alyssa- I would agree with you- I feel really lucky to be able to stay at home with Anna because I know that a lot of women don't have a choice (which is why I think work-outside-the-home moms have the toughest jobs of all because they do it all!) Also, I really enjoy what I do even though it's hard sometimes. PC- I think you need to write a post about balancing work and being a dad! Or, maybe you already have? Men have a hard job too--one isn't more difficult than the other, I think.

PC
PC

Your first question made me say the hardest is being a has-to-work-in-an-office-MOM who then comes home to be MOM. But then I'd say your final line makes the most sense. Being a woman IS hard. I have no shame stating that fact.

Alyssa
Alyssa

I appreciate this Lesley! I don't have kids yet, so I always think "Gosh, those lucky Stay-At-Home/Work-From-Home moms!" But I realize that life is full of ups and downs, positives and negatives, challenges and triumphs no matter where or how you spend your days.