I always knew that I wanted to be a stay-at-home mom. I didn’t want to look back at my child’s first years of life and wonder if I witnessed every monumental moment or if missed what was important from being too consumed by everything else. I knew that staying home with my son was the right route for me, but I also knew that being a working mom was important to my womanhood and my sense of self. So I decided to work a remote job while staying home with my little one. 

My mother was a SAHM for over a decade, tending to and raising nine kids. From the outside in, the work she did looked seamless and inspiring and extraordinary. She was my role model, my power woman. That she would sacrifice the minutes of her days to give us her attention was selfless. Younger me would have wanted to be that woman, but who I am now wishes I would have seen how hard it was for her. I can only imagine how many of those minutes she spent losing herself, struggling with her identity or wishing for some time with her friends. 

I lost myself—in my work and in mothering—and creating a balance seemed impossible.

Because that’s where I found myself after the birth of my son and upon my return to working a remote job. I lost myself—in my work and in mothering—and creating a balance seemed impossible. I wanted to be the best employee. But I also wanted to be the best mother. Two sides of my identity were constantly grappling for my undivided attention, and I felt defeated.

Working gives me something of my own while mothering gives me something of everyone else. 

Yet to everyone around me, I had it easy. I realized how often I heard things like just be grateful you get to stay home or wow, you’re living the life.

Every corner I turned, my experience of being a working SAHM felt invalid. My struggle of juggling my career in one arm and my baby in the other felt unsupported. And my mom-guilt got the best of me. Was I making the right decision to continue working amidst trying to care for my little one?  Where was my village? What if I still missed my son’s monumental moments by trying to juggle it all?

But I had to silence the slandering thoughts of negativity. I came to the conclusion that working was important to me, and so was mothering. Working gives me something of my own while mothering gives me something of everyone else. And I wanted to enjoy the benefits of both, of feeling accomplished after completing an assignment and being there for my child’s first steps.

I remember one evening my husband came home from work and asked how my day had gone. I exhaustingly told him how tired I was and he jokingly stated: You’re tired? It’s not like you’ve done anything all day. And in that moment, though I laughed at his senseless (and sometimes terrible) humor, I instantly became aware of just how much I actually had done.

Because the load of motherhood is often never-ending. And the demands of being a working SAHM are often unseen. But to the mothers who want to work while still being the primary caretaker for their child, it is possible and I do feel and validate your struggle. So here’s the advice that I have to offer: Make the decision that feels right for you, whether that’s working part-time or full-time from home or not working at all. It isn’t the same for everyone, and that’s the beauty of motherhood. It comes in all shapes and sizes.

At the end of the day, we don’t want our children to say that mama did it all. We want them to know that mama did what she could, and that was more than enough.