This post first appeared on TDG on June 28, 2011 and was originally published at The Parenting Connection on June 25, 2011. But I really, really like it. And you will too.
About a year ago, I made the leap from being a work-at-home-mom who blogged, maintained my webstore, and freelanced, to going back to work outside of my house in an actual office. For the preceding three years, most of my work had happened within the confines of my home office, with the exception of events and the occasional meeting. Often, it happened with a small child in my lap.
I was the quintessential work-at-home-mom.
Going back to work didn’t happen overnight. For months I was restless. Don’t get me wrong – my schedule was a dream. I had the privilege of doing drop-off and pick-up, carpooling between play-dates, attending mommy and me classes, and I had my own thing on the side. It was any mom’s dream job.
Except it wasn’t my dream job.
During my down time between shuttling back and forth from ballet and music class, I came to the conclusion that I was – dare I say it – bored. I was enjoying my days, but I wanted more. And in order to achieve my personal goals, I knew I had to get out of my yoga pants, and back into my work clothes.
I needed to be clever. I had been out of the work force for a while, but it hadn’t been all diapers and wipes. In that time, I had become a member of the blogger community and I’d also learned a little HTML code by way of my webstore. But what’s more is that I had been paying attention. I knew social media was becoming less of a sub-culture and more of a force to be reckoned with. I was intrigued by this new platform and I had the unique experience of being both a blogger and a former PR person. And I’d been to journalism school. This combination, I quickly learned, made me marketable. So I forged ahead and landed a gig that suited my goals and my Mom needs. Flexibility was paramount since I wasn’t interested in being that mom who introduced herself to the other parents at graduation. I wanted to attend pediatrician appointments yet still be included in business development meetings at work. I wanted a lot, but luckily, I was able to find it.
Finally, I was back. Doing a job, getting paid by someone else. Talking with other human beings (over three feet tall), attending meetings, eating lunch without tiny voices making demands and without little bodies who wouldn’t sit still even after being warned one, two, three times that a time-out is imminent if they didn’t stay in their seats.
Here’s the part where you’re expecting me to admit how much I missed the tiny voices, the little bodies, the counting. But the thing is, I didn’t. And still, most days, I don’t. I don’t because I know that my absence during the day makes me a better mom the rest of the time. I’ve learned the alchemy of quality over quantity. My working outside of the house brings me a sense of accomplishment that I was missing before. It fills the intellectual void that is crucial to my, and therefore my family’s well-being.
Working moms vs. stay-at-home moms. The debate endures with interesting points of view for both teams. But for this Mama the choice is clear, and one year later I’m more sure than ever.