I have the week off this week, but I’m thinking about work. Because being a working mother — what to do, how to do it, how to make it work, why I’m doing it — is one of those topics that rattles pointlessly, constantly around in my head like a silver ball in a pinball game.
For me, going back to work after John’s birth was a deliberate choice. Probably been one of the defining decisions of my life so far, and certainly of his. In many ways, I’m energized by my working relationships and the creative and mental energy that I put into my job. I’ve chosen to work at a company that’s largely focused on education, so I hope I’m doing something that’s a job for good, as well as doing a good job. I usually get a lot of personal satisfaction from my work, and I hope I bring this positive energy to my family at the end of the day. I think that I’m a happier person and a better mom for working. I really mean it, and if I didn’t, I couldn’t keep this up.
BUT. I’m constantly second guessing myself, and I have lots of other friends who do as well. Is it really possible to be everything we want to be as mothers and still work full time? Are we stretched too thin, and do our children pay the price? Can we really do this for another 15 years and if not, which ball are we going to drop?
At the same time, I’ve got a lot of friends who stay home with their kids, and they’re questioning their choices as well. Are they still the well-informed, articulate women that they were before they spent their days chatting with toddlers? Was that graduate degree a good idea? What will they do when the kids leave?
This can be a very touchy and divisive issue, even among friends, and I don’t think there’s a right answer. There are some very difficult and very rewarding things about working and being a mom, and I’m sure the same can be said about staying home with your kids. We all have good days and bad days. My hope is that years from now, when my own bundle of joy is bundled off to college and to a life of his own, I won’t have any regrets. And I hope none of the women I know will regret anything either. Let’s remember that in many ways, we’re each making it up as we go. And certainly doing the very best we can.
(P.S. Pam Quinn took the picture on this post. She’s amazing.)