Monday, April 23, 2012

I Do Struggle

Ok.  I'm ready to talk about it.

I've been hiding behind pictures of my insanely cute little guy for a week or so now.  The truth is that I've been having a rough time the past few weeks with the whole working mom gig.  So much so that I had a mental breakdown last week and found myself in a puddle of tears at the kitchen table.  I feel like I am failing at everything.  My son doesn't get enough of my time.  He says a new word every hour it seems and I'm missing it.  The teachers at daycare are there hearing him speak.  Not me.  Not his mom.  I'm worried I am going to look back on this time years from now and regret choosing to work rather than stay home and raise my son.  (Here I go again with the mom guilt.  I know.  I need to let it go, but I can't.  That's been the struggle.)  Why did I decide to have a child if I'm not the one with him 24/7? The guilt is slowly choking me to death.  I hate the mom guilt.  But I fear its real and the constant nagging feeling in my stomach is finally taking over.  I think I've made the wrong decision.

I've also been in a lawyer rut. That statement alone starts to go against my "don't blog about work policy", so I'll stop with saying this: I just don't love the law some days.  But there's that whole 12 years of schooling plus 4 years of college and then additional 3 years of law school.  And the diplomas sit on my wall staring at me.  And the student loans haunt my nightmares.  Should I really just throw away my career, my education and stick my husband with all MY student loan debt so I can stay home with Lukas and "raise" him, which let's be honest, I might hate. 

Then two weeks ago it finally hit me over the head.  It is time to quit.  It is time to sell my briefcase and pencil skirts and trade them in for jeans and an apron.  I was done.

I quickly looked at the numbers and realized that financially we could survive on Mr. Cob's income alone.  And by survive, I mean have about $750 every month for food, gas, diapers, haircuts, toiletries, the dog and cat and any additional "life" costs that arise.  Fine, whatever.  We can do it.  A lot of people make it work on a lot less. I can give up shopping completely.  I can give up going out to lunch or dinner with friends.  I don't need to drink coffee or get bikini waxes.  All that matters is that I am home with Lukas.  Mommy will be raising him and all will be right in the world.  All he needs is me and all I need is him.

So I took my budget in hand as ammo and told Mr. Cob, I need to quit my job.  Now.

I probably should've approached him with more of a plan, or more sobbing.  Let's just say I surprised him and his initial response was not "ok love, whatever you need".  And at that moment, I knew what I needed without a question or doubt in my mind.  I'm a mother who needs to be with her child.  At any cost.

Or so I thought.

Mr. Cob and I agreed that we'd need to try out this new budget for a while and see how it works in reality.

And then I let it all sink in and started imagining this "new life." 

This new life would have Mr. Cob as the sole breadwinner and his career would take the spotlight.  Right now, we share the spotlight.  We make career choices together, but if I stop working, then I started to worry that I'd lose a bargaining chip.  Hum, I realized I'm not sure I'm prepared for that.  My dad's job took us all across the country when I was growing up.  I know my mom wasn't happy about some of the moves over the years and I don't want that to be me.  I don't want to be stuck following my husband wherever his job my lead us.  And I'm not implying that Mr. Cob wouldn't consult with me or that we wouldn't make future decisions together.  It's just that if my job is still in play, then I'm assured a spot at the table.

Then we met some friends out for dinner.  And then we talked about how that'd have to stop if I quit working.

And the brunch out the next day would be a thing of the past as well.

And Lukas' excitement about going to school to see his little friends would go away too since school would be out of the budget.

And then I spent the day with a dear friend who works part time and spends two days a week home with her toddler.  And we talked honestly about how staying home with kids is hard and doing it day in and day out can be exhausting, especially if you no longer have the money to do the fun things you enjoy doing with them.  And then I read some more blogs from moms who stay home with their kids. (Interesting that there are many lawyer turned stay at home mommies out there...) One told me to get ready to embrace McDonalds and having your kids watching Sesame Street, Dora the Explorer and any other cartoon that will give you a break.  The blog also said to embrace drinking wine and ignoring your kids.  Because apparently that's what you have to do to make it through the day as a stay at home mom.

Maybe this is not what I want.  Maybe it's not even what's best for Lukas.

I realized if I quit working then there's no money left for vacations or flying to visit relatives who live a plane ride away.  That wouldn't be better for Lukas.  That wouldn't be better for me.

And Lukas, he is THRIVING right now.  He is a happy kid with an infectious laugh and huge smile.  All. The. Time.  Am I really going to risk screwing that up by changing his whole world so that I can stay home with him.  (Because of course, his staying at home with me is the best thing for him.  Period.  End of story.  I can teach him better than any school.  Right?  Maybe it's not).  He seems to be doing just awesome with the power combination we currently have going of school-mommy-daddy rearing. Why mess with something that is clearly working?

And then we went and spent thousands of dollars renovating our backyard and driveway.  Nope, we wouldn't be able to do any more house improvements if I stopped working. 

There was more to think about than just my emotions.

So after talking to Mr. Cob about the ins and outs of what this "new life" would look like and talking to my amazing working mom friends and my own mom, I've made the decision to continue on as a working mom.  I think it's best for Lukas.  I think it's best for me.  I just needed Mr. Cob to agree that if I need to be a stay at home mom, then we could make it work.  I think I needed to know it was an option if I really really wanted it.  And I needed to take some time to evaluate how life would change if I did stay at home and I don't think the grass would be greener.

But I also don't want to have the mom guilt for another 18 plus years.  So I'm letting it go.  I'm not going to allow myself to get bogged down in the guilt any more.

I'm a working mom.  I love my kiddo.  And it's OK that he's at daycare 8 hours a day.

I know this won't be the last time I go through this exercise.  I know there will be other days where I cry and question my decision.  And maybe in the future the outcome will be different.  But for now, I'm going to hold on to my high heels and keep going with this juggling act.

So now you know what's been on my mind lately.  Nothing big.  Just life.


  1. Oh Internet Stranger, I like this because I know how you feel, except I've never come to the simple conclusion of letting go of that son is 22 months old and I work full time. Every single day my heart hurts about it. In a guilty sort of way. And in a painful way too - I miss so many new words and silly faces, etc. BUT. Like you, I think in a strange effed up way, this is what is best for us.

    1. Hi Madge! Thanks for reading! I'm glad there is someone else out there who knows how I feel. Here's hoping that the mom guilt stays away!!

  2. Oh, I feel your pain... I really do. The best thing I ever did was drop down to four days a week at my job. Would your job (or a similar one) ever allow that? It never felt right having 5 days apart, 2 days together. The balance is a bit better at 4 and 3. But I totally agree with you that our kids are happy in daycare and that we appreciate them and cherish every second with them this way, in a way we never would/could if we were stay at home moms! I will send you a link to a blog post that always makes me feel better about being a working mom.

  3. Ryan, here's the blog post I mentioned above. Hope it means as much to you as it does to me every time I read it!

    1. Lara, thank you for sharing the link - I loved it! And have shared it with other working mom friends.

  4. I think it's ok that you struggle with this, maybe the mom guilt isn't a totally bad thing?? There are so many pros and cons to the mom life, whether you stay at home or work...Maybe the mom guilt is necessary for you to totally focus your energies on Lukas when you are home, and for me the mom guilt is an ever-present reminder to be a good steward of the money my husband brings home? I love that you shared this - thanks for the insight into your world! And PS I want to see that new backyard sometime this summer!! :)