Tara's Working Mom's Journal Journal

Entry One - March 14, 2007
~ Challenges and Rewards

So much has happened since my last "visit" as a writer on Storknet.com -- I spent just over three months enjoying my son, Cameron, while on maternity leave -- a leave that sadly went by way too fast. While I was on leave, I had the chance to peruse some of the journals on StorkNet, but I didn't see any from women who, like me, attempt to balance being a mother and working full time. I knew I wasn't the only one out there who was going through the same trials and tribulations, and felt that maybe a journal would be a good way to sort of "reach out" and connect with other moms -- all moms, that is.

About two weeks ago, my maternity leave ended and I had to go back to work. While heading back to the workforce was nothing new for me (I also went back after having my daughter, Cassie, in 1997), this time around it was a lot harder. When I had Cassie, I was going through a tumultuous time -- a pending divorce as well as healing up from a C-section. I didn't have a choice -- I didn't have much in the way of maternity time, due to the company I worked for at the time -- but also, I was the sole bread winner -- it was a matter of survival. I had to be the one to ensure that we were both taken care of. This time around, I have a very supportive husband and better benefits. I also had the chance to work part time for the first month back. Plus, with my husband working mornings and me working 9 to 5, Cameron would only need a few hours of day care -- care provided for a friend of mine who runs a day care out of her cozy home. Did all that make me feel better? To a degree, yes, but as the days ticked away and the infamous "D-Day" got closer, I became more and more anxious.

I think there's a misconception that many working moms can't wait to get back to work after having their babies. While I will admit there were things about my job that I missed, I think for most of us, we're torn -- we either love what we do and enjoy the comraderie of our co-workers (and a bit of a break from spit up and dirty diapers), or at least feel a sense of duty to help provide for our families. However, I feel many of us are torn -- because we have such a connection to these wonderful, God-given little ones who make our hearts and homes complete. I completely enjoyed having the time to bond with my little boy, as well as spend time with my daughter, from November to (almost) March, and to see it come to an end just broke my heart.

I see a lot of this as a "juggling" act -- wanting to ensure my children are provided and well cared for, but also having the flexibility to stay at home with them when they're sick, or be able to leave work at a moment's notice if something happens if either one of my children need me. I'm not saying that a stay at home mom's life is any easier than mine -- in many ways, I give them credit, because it's still a lot of work -- but when you have so much on your plate -- both at home and at work -- it can be very overwhelming at times. A day timer can only help so much!

Take for instance what's transpired just this week alone. My husband, who hardly *ever* gets sick, got sick a few days before Cameron's christening. That means I was left to not only do my normal daily stuff (get the kids ready, get myself ready, pack bottles, get breakfast and dinner set, make sure my daughter gets ready for school/bed, start and/or finish laundry), but also I had to rent a carper cleaner, clean the bathroom, shop for food and make the food, get an outfit for Cassie -- the list went on and on and on. I ended up completely stressing out (which included some yelling) on Friday night, which didn't earn me any brownie points with my husband and left me feeling pretty low about myself. He says a lot of times, I end up overloading myself, and then I get upset when things don't get done, for one reason or another. That may be true and is likely due to my never-ending battle to be a perfectionist -- my mom once told me I got that from her. I'm still trying to get rid of that drive, but it's not easy!

Earlier this week, my baby son hit a milestone -- he rolled over from his tummy onto his back! Luckily, his dad was able to see him do it at home (he was home sick, but it would have been during the time he would have been at home anyway, had he not been). While on the one hand I was really excited, I felt bad that I wasn't there to see it. I know a friend of mine who was a stay at home mom was in another room when her son took his first steps, so I know it can happen, but you better bet I made sure there was a re-enactment of Cam's milestone when I got home a few hours later!

It's certainly a juggling act, without a doubt, but it's one that I hope one day I can get better about managing (and not feel as guilty). As a working mom, you tend to feel pulled in all sorts of directions -- I feel that now as a married working mom, but also when I was divorced and everything was left to me to handle, which takes the game of juggling to a new dimension.

Thanks for taking the time to read my journal entry -- from one mom to another -- and feel free to drop me a line by email and let me know what you think, or if there's any topic I can delve into in the future.

Take care, and here's hoping for a (less) stressful time for all of us!

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