To Work or Not to Work

Week 17


I remember before Julia was born, I couldn't wait to become a stay-at-home mom. Sure, I would work a few hours from home every week, but my real job would be motherhood. I couldn't wait for the job to begin. And the first few months were blissful. I'd had some kind of job since I was fifteen, so staying home with a true purpose felt like a guilty indulgence. But I loved it. At first. Then Julia got a little older and the boredom and tedium of raising a baby set in. Suddenly it seemed so ironic. I was bored from pitter-patting around to the rhythm of Julia's day, and yet, I got absolutely nothing accomplished. Life was chaotic and slow paced at the same time.

When Elise arrived, I was convinced that adding a sibling for Julia would make it easier for me to start working from home a little bit more. The girls would have each other, and I could focus on my career while remaining a stay-at-home mom.

In a way, I was able to focus on my career a little bit more; but not without sacrifices. There's not a lot of pitter-patting around anymore. Sometimes I become so intent on getting work accomplished that I realize I've ignored the girls for hours. By the end of the day, it's clear that they would have been better off in preschool than listening to me shoo them out of the office all day long.

The problem is this. I don't love staying at home. I love my girls madly, but I don't love being with them all the time. It's hard to write those words. But it's the truth. And since I've realized this, I think I've become a better mother.

I understand how lucky I am to have choices. Without choices, motherhood would be so much more difficult than it already is. Instead I get to choose if I work or not. Either way, my choice is not without its pitfalls. If I work, I miss out on more of the pitter-patting around, that although tedious at times, is also full of wonderful moments. Like watching the girls make mud pies for an hour the other day or taking a stroll on the beach whenever we want.

At the same time, if I don't work there's a personal sacrifice. I feel unfulfilled. I don't want my girls to grow up experiencing this. I want them to see a mother who is happy and confident. But whatever my choice, I will always struggle with the cons of each side. I will feel some guilt, some regret over lost moments, and some frustration over trying to find the right balance. But as I get ready to bring another baby into this world, I'm sure of one thing. Doing what's best for your children, means being true to yourself. As my career grows, I'm sure I'll have even less time for pitter-patting around with the new baby, but you can be sure I'll cherish those moments all the more because I've been given the choice.

Shelley Abreu is a stay-at-home mom who tries to squeeze in work whenever possible.