Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Finding your balance...

Working mother VS stay home mother....

I’ve always known that I wanted children just as much as I wanted a career. From the time I was old enough to work (well… maybe a little later, for the sake of not sounding too dramatic. I wouldn't want you to think that at 15 years old, I was already on the grind earning my dollars!), I've been working.

Then I had my beautiful children… 
Did the prospect of being a stay home mom, to focus on my children, husband and be the household manager ever present itself as a serious thought for me? NO. I could never be a stay home mom, not only because our household requires 2 incomes to function properly, but also because I need the stimulation, the daily change from home to the working environment. At home, I challenge myself to be the best mom and wife I can, and the rewards are instant (loving, devoted me + clean house = happy home), however for me, I know it would have been an overwhelming situation if that was my day-in and day-out life. At work, I earn an identity other than “mom”. I get a certain stimulus from interacting with adults, a joy from knowing that  I’m a positive contributor to the workplace, and a satisfaction with knowing that I’m a role model to my kids (in this particular aspect of life). But mostly, I get the reward of bringing home that additional pay check, which allows our family to have a better financial structure.

Just as much as I know for a fact that I wasn’t meant to be a stay home mom, 2 months ago, something happened that made me question myself as a mother. It made me question my priorities and whether or not I’ve had it all wrong for the past 12 years…

I have two beautiful children; my son is 12 and my daughter is 9. When Jayson was born, it was an easy adjustment. I used to call him my handbag, because everywhere I went, he was there right along with me. Quiet and easy going, he was a joy to have around and even for anyone to baby-sit. Having a child wasn’t as daunting a task as I’ve heard it could be. Between my husband and I, I was able to go back to work full time after 2 ½ months of maternity leave, and we were able to keep him out of day care until he turned 2.
3 years later, my little princess Jazzmine came along and that’s when I truly felt that I had a family, because things weren’t as stress-free anymore. Who carries 2 handbags?  It’s not as easy to ask someone for help when you have to watch 2 instead of 1. With the support of family and great friends, we made it work. As I spent the last decade of my life building a career for myself, while maintaining what I believe to be a good family structure, I didn’t notice that my priorities (or the way I managed them) were skewed towards work. From time to time, I would have an inclination that I needed to spend more time with my kids. It became obvious when I would come home and hear the fun stories of what they did with daddy. It became more obvious when we realized that all the scheduled activities Jazzy wanted to be involved in, were all catered to stay-home moms (and their open schedules). Unfortunately, she never got to be involved them, whereas Jayson was luckier.

I have been looking at my kids lately and thinking; they are well adjusted, well behaved, happy kids but more and more, the guilt in the pit of my stomach was making my days away from home and them really unsettling. Was it guilt or was it just being exhausted and needing a break from the 100 MPH lifestyle I was living, trying to be “Wonder Woman”. I was starting to realize that, what I thought may have been a work of art in juggling all my responsibilities, wasn’t as perfect as I thought…

Two months ago, I came home and on our kitchen calendar there was a permission slip for a volunteer chaperon on a school activity for Jazzmine’s class; she had filled in my name, her name, her grade and on the part that asked what time the parent would be available she wrote in capital letters, “NEVER”.
I was standing in front of my calendar, reading those 5 letters over and over, with my coat still on, my bag in one hand and groceries in the other and I felt deflated. The kids were upstairs with their dad and at this point, no one had realized that I was home. I went into my room and while tears were falling down my cheeks, I was making the decision that my children were more important than any career and things had to change. Quickly, my mind was going, and while getting dinner ready, I decided that I needed to quit my job. I had to find a 9 to 5, anything that would allow me to be a chaperon, carpool mom, soccer mom, or cheerleader mom… all those things that I now knew   I needed to do, in order to be the perfect mom.
My daughter came downstairs with her joyous self and gave me a hug. I showed her the slip and asked her if that’s how she really saw things and very matter-of-factly she said, “Well mommy, you always work so I know you’ll never do it but that’s okay, I don’t care”. The fact that she meant what she wrote and tried to make me feel good about it by saying she didn’t care, pained me even more. The fact that my 9 year old cared more about protecting my feelings, than declaring what she wanted most, just emphasizes how wrong I had been.

That night, I went through the motions of our evening ritual. After the kids went to bed, I went into my bedroom and sat there for what seemed like hours, until my husband came to lie down. As soon as I told him we needed to talk, I started crying hysterically.  I had let down the most important people in my life by choosing not to see. Now confronted with my failure, I was lost. Through my tears, I told him something had to give. I was going to scale down and focus on my baby girl and all the things she had been missing out on. He listened to me, while rocking me and trying to calm me down.

My husband finally held my head in his hands and said, “Baby, what do you need from me? Whatever you want to do, I will support you but instead of wanting to take such extreme decisions, which truly are not necessary and wouldn’t make you happy, why don’t you look at the little things you could do that mean the world to her and will keep you doing what you love. On your day off, set up mommy/daughter day, where you pick her up from school, instead of her going to the afterschool program and let her choose what she wants to do. Go on date with her and you’ll see how you’ll make her day, how she will look forward to those special moments with you and this without you having to compromise your career…”

Stay-home mom VS working mom, for me, it has never been an option. I always envisioned myself working, although my priority has always been my children. I was willing to give up what I knew fulfilled me as a person (outside of motherhood), so I could be a better mom instead of finding the balance that would’ve allow me to be a better manager of my life.

Since that conversation with my husband, my daughter and I have lunch dates, spa days, cuddle time, and she signed herself up for the basketball league at her school. I have found time to go and be a cheerleader at her games, instead of telling her she couldn’t because my schedule doesn’t allow it. I’ll never have an 8 to 5 schedule but the schedule that I have will have to make place for my kids.

Again, we go back to “If I’m happy than you’ll be happy”, and finding that right balance for your life.

Love always,



  1. I’m not sure if you remember I posted a comment on Face Book last year on “working and stay home moms”. I was REALLY taken back with the response(s) I have to be careful about my opinion (yikes) …

    Like you, Rose, many moms are looking for that “perfect” balance between family, chores, work, “me time” and time with their partner and friends. But since there are only 24 hours in a day, how are we supposed to fit it all in? And especially when we work 40-hours or more a week? I don't think you can be a good parent or a good employee without feeling “guilty”. I feel guilty every day. Many people feel guilty every day. “Choices” require trade offs. Not that it's any fun having to make those decisions. Don’t get me wrong, I don't like going to work when my kids are sick at home, and I hate that I miss a play, game or school event and etc. All of which makes me appreciate the times I do have together with my family. I spend quality time with my kids, and that I cherish. It is not quantity but I truly believe in QUALITY. You also have to factor in "work–life balance" — a term many of us dislike. I try not to let the imperfect days drag me down. It helps to know that many other out there have “WTF” moments happen to them too, and to remember that if we're lucky, a WTF moment makes for a pretty good laugh later on-I know it does for me and Tony.

    My thoughts about working vs. stay home moms?? Sadly, there remains a lot of tension between stay home and working moms. I know Jealousy contribute to the great divide- stay home mom longs for what they thinks is a more stimulating environment while the working mom longs for more QUALITY time with their children. I love being a working mom, and QUALITY is what it’s all about for me. I believe no one should judge me but myself for my choices.

    DO I THINK THERE REALLY IS SUCH A THING AS A "WORK–LIFE BALANCE"? Yes, I do. Being a staying at home, work mom, staying married, getting divorced, we all make decisions. Its whether those decisions are the best choice for us that matter. Having the courage to be happy in life whatever that may be, is the best decision we can make.

    Well, I LOOK FORWARD to hearing your feedback and perhaps another great BLOG discussion.


    1. Hi Lou,

      I do clearly remember that conversation on Facebook, it was one of the most heated "exchange" I had for voicing my opinion...
      Truly a sensitive subject which I agree with you when you say jealousy -on both side- is the main source of the feud between WM and SHM.
      I envy the time SHM get to have with their children so I'm working hard on making my time with mine of the highest quality.
      Decision in your life have to be made for your life and the cohesiveness of it. The pursuit of achieving the right balance is long, unpredictable but so rewarding...


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