Do what works for you today. You can always reassess tomorrow.
As mamas, whether we work at an office or stay at home, we are ALWAYS working. When we work away from home, our thoughts and hearts remain indebted to our kids that we separated from. When we are at home, our thoughts, hearts and bodies are toiling each and every moment to meet our kid’s needs. Clearly, the decisions we make about whether to work or stay at home is not an easy one, and definitely more complex than picking Huggies versus Pampers.
Some of us have the choice to stay at home and some of us do not. Some of us want to work from home, but because of the type of job we hold, we cannot. And then there are some of us who want a mixture of work and staying at home, but that choice seems hardly feasible.
Usually, but not always, no choice is ideal because our reality wins. This reality is what we are faced with daily through the everyday reminders of lifestyle, finances and external support—among other things. Regardless, it’s not a decision we simply make over a cup of coffee or glass of wine. (Seriously, wouldn’t we wish.)
With the decision about work, we sometimes find ourselves wishing we had something better going on. It’s at this point that the stories we tell ourselves about others appear so appealing that we feel partly envious. Like when we search Pinterest for family photography, and all we see are those happy families paired with perfectly placed hair and smiles. Or when we need a distraction from our lives and switch on to Facebook or Instagram, only to be inundated with a “friend’s” post showcasing their beautiful family with endless comments and likes.
Yet, despite the stories we tell ourselves about other mamas, they are most likely having their prick of the double edge work sword from time to time. It just goes to show, when it comes to a mama and her work, whichever way we go it’s not simple.
Instead, we ponder, question and secretly pick at our nails or pull out our hair, strand by strand as we figure out what makes sense. We may go back and forth about the choices we make about work that affects our families, maybe a couple times a month—sometimes more. Any choice we make has its pros and cons. There will be good days and bad days, good thoughts and bad thoughts and always good and bad feelings that accompany it.
Sometimes when we aren’t with our kids, we may think about the other person who’s spending time with OUR kids enjoying their coos, laughter and jiggly thighs. At times, we may feel slightly sick or maybe jealous, and can’t wait to quit what we’re stuck doing to steal them back from the imposter. Hello, you! I AM the only MAMA in their life and yes those chubby thighs are mine. So back off. (OK, OK, it's not always like that. We appreciate our daycare, nannies and parents for helping out.)
Or sometimes we may feel bad about not wanting to be with our kids. You know when you have that “you’re about to lose it but try to hide it” look and your body feels so hot that you’re certain your blood temp has hit an all-time high? Then suddenly this leaves us looking for the nearest punching bag or the urge to sprint so far away from the incessant sounds of the ridiculous pleading requests of our children. You know those cries that conveniently occur when we are all alone with no one to save us or when we’re out in public? Gosh, talk about losing our identity that moment. And who, those kids? No, they aren’t mine, I swear. So please lady at the counter, stop judging me.
And then there are the times we can’t afford to think about our decisions—because maybe if we did, we may feel that guilt. Those times, regardless if we are at home or at the office, when we zone out of whatever we are doing because we are feeling vulnerable and confused. Then we notice the accompanying sensation of pins and needles in our nose and suddenly we find ourselves full of unbearable emotion that we quickly wipe off any evidence of it, gasp for some air and slap on a smile to continue with our day. THAT guilt.
Wow, we love our kids—did I say that yet? And that’s a huge part of the reason our decisions around work aren’t simple. It involves matters of the heart and the mind. It involves our “wants” and our “shoulds.” I think I’m also ready for that glass of wine, who’s with me?
The important thing is, our decisions about work do not have to be absolute, even if it appears that way.
They do not have to function seamlessly and they definitely do not have to be perfect. We are going to have tough moments and that’s OK. We are also going to be submerged in beautiful moments like when they look at us with those innocent eyes reminding us that we are their world. Together, these moments in some unique way put faith in our decision.
It is then we have to honor what’s best for us. Trust ourselves in our decisions while being honest with the feelings and thoughts it brings, and adjust our decisions when we need to. Decisions do not always have to be final during a lifetime, let alone a year, even when they seem that way. Our families change and grow, and so do we.
Now give yourself a generous compression-like hug because you are doing the best you can. You are an amazing mama and are doing just what you are meant to be doing right this moment, regardless of where you are—at home, at work, or somewhere in between.