Making It Work

Five year olds like Will always make lunch breaks more exciting.

There’s nothing I love more than being a mom, but there’s nothing I loathe more than the guilt of being a working mom. It’s not the expectations or opinions of others that bother me, it’s my own. I often feel guilty and put too much pressure on myself.

The silly thing is that I love what I do. I love being a writer and a mom – I should be happy! Yet, I feel bad when I can’t drop my son off at preschool or that I don’t go to swim classes with my daughter. More often than not, I’m frustrated by the disaster I call a laundry room or the lack of time my husband Bill and I have together.

Most of the time I deal with it, but sometimes I dream of life as a stay-at-home mom. (Cue butterflies and rainbows) We’d go to all sorts of fun places, I would work on my novel at naptimes, and my house would sparkle! But, let’s face it, the fingerprints on my front door would still be there, I’d probably be snuggling with the kids instead of writing, and we already do a lot of fun things.

That’s why I loved what Kate recently had to say about being a mom, “Whether you stay at home or work, cut yourself some damn slack.”

My husband Bill, a sportswriter, and I have been dealing with crazy schedules for as long as we’ve been together. If there were ever a silver lining, it would be that when we had kids, one of us would always be home. I could keep my job and know that my kids were safe, sound, and having fun with their dad. This all sounded good until my son was born and I had to go back to work.

The realities of being a mom, especially a mom making “alternative” choices, weighed me down. I didn’t want to pump; I wanted to nurse at home. I wanted time to make baby food, I wanted to teach him to sign…I just wanted more time with my baby. Bring on the guilt!

Postpartum emotions and unexpected changes in schedule threw me for a loop. It made me seriously evaluate what would be best for our family and me. Bill offered to work two jobs so I could stay home, but I knew our solution had to be for all of us and not just me.

From there, we wholeheartedly approached parenting as a team. Going back to work was tough, but text messages, family lunch dates, and support from other working moms made it easier. Five years and another beautiful baby later, they still do.

I’m sure I’ll always set high expectations for myself, but I think it’s time to let go of the guilt and cheer on what works! Will it always work? We’re not sure, but we’re glad it has so far.

How do you make it work? Are you your own worst enemy, or do you cheer yourself on?

Kristen cherishes Sundays when her entire family has the day off. She loves cheering on her husband Bill and all his adventures with Will and Joy. You can read about them at DaytimeDad.com.

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