Do I Really Have the Best of Both Worlds?

My feministic ideals being what they are, I never envisioned myself as being a stay-at-home mom. I wanted to work. I thought women who stayed at home were sacrificing themselves, and I didn’t see the need to do so. I would not give up career for children. Boy did I have a lot to learn.

Two kids later, and I now realize that motherhood means making sacrifices and compromises, many of which are uncomfortable and inconvenient.

In my career as a mother, I have done it both ways. I stayed at home with my older daughter for the first year, and I envied the working moms. Later, circumstances pushed me into a full-time job that I hated, and I envied the stay-at-home moms.

Now, I am caught between worlds. With the birth of a premature daughter, I did not have much choice but to stay at home. Sending a baby on an apnea monitor to day care was absolutely out of the question. And, as we learned from our 10-week stay in the hospital, germs are not particularly friendly to the gestationally challenged.

So it was that circumstance slapped my pre-conceived notions of the stay-at-home mom right out of my head.

When it came time to bring baby home, I had already adjusted my teaching schedule so that I was only on campus one night a week. Thus, I did not have to sacrifice too much on that front. Yet, we were struggling financially, and I needed to find some other way to contribute to the household income. Thus began my career as a work-from-home mom.

Being somewhere between the two worlds seems a reasonable compromise, but it does not come without its own particular challenges. Dealing with diapers and deadlines sometimes makes me dizzy.

Here are some of the pros for working from home:

  1. I set my own hours.
  2. I don’t have to pay for child care.
  3. I can work in my pajamas.
  4. I have a title other than “mommy”.

Here are the cons:

  1. I have to work around the unpredictable schedules of two children.
  2. I can rarely do my work uninterrupted.
  3. Most of the time I don’t get a shower until late afternoon.
  4. I can’t just be one thing or the other.

From time to time, the debate between the workers and the at-homers flares up. Some new piece of research will “prove” that moms who work outside the home are a threat to society at the same time that another study will show that kids who stay home with mommy lack social skills.

I don’t like this debate. It ridiculously assumes that there is a right way to be a mom. As I have learned, moms at both ends of the spectrum face equally difficult challenges, and both deserve respect.

Reason #2 I don’t like the debate it that is gets nasty. I don’t know why we, as mothers, feel the need to attack some other woman’s parenting skills. As long as abuse and neglect are not present, we really have no right to judge. (And even in those cases, I would say leave it to the authorities.)

The biggest problem I see with this debate, however, is that it leaves moms like me completely out of the picture. We are a growing force, and we deserve recognition just as much as any other mom. (After all, we are screwing with our kids’ heads in our own unique way.)

So is it the best or worst of both worlds? It’s probably a little of both, and I can hardly wait to see what the research will say about me.

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154 Responses to Do I Really Have the Best of Both Worlds?

  1. Spectra says:

    I do hope your littlest one gets stronger and bigger in no time. My nephew and his next sister were both premature, and they seem to be doing fine now, 13 and 7 years later!

  2. mthoffman says:

    This is beautifully written and also a very interesting feministic perspective on being a stay at home mom. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint on the subject! 😀

  3. abichica says:

    I gotta say, to me it seems like you do have the best of both worlds.. 🙂

    • zomelie says:

      Yep, I get to experience the frustrations that come with both. In all honesty, though, I think the experience has made me a more understanding person.

  4. You are an inspiring figure to many of those ladies who think of working from home but can’t make up to it.. The best part about it is productive engagement.. Hope the baby becomes healthy pretty soon.. Keep on enjoying what you are doing 🙂

    • zomelie says:

      Thank you. She is doing well and slowly catching up to her peers. I’m certainly glad that I can be here with her. It’s much less worrying that way.

  5. Lindsay says:

    Yeah…sounds like the best of both worlds to me. I wouldn’t complain if I were you. Well, most days. 😉

  6. baligins says:

    My twin sister and I were premature and our Mom became a stay at home mom to care for us. Looking back, I really appreciated that she was able to spend so much time with us when we were much younger. I made us very close and now as an adult, she has become a confidant and friend. Great post!

  7. Mikalee Byerman says:

    I think there’s only one nastier debate: to breastfeed or not. I just wish “society” as a whole would stop debating these topics and allow individuals to peacefully make our own choices!

    I did both as well (stay home and work), and I also saw two sides to that reality. Ultimately, though, it’s a private choice — and for you, as you noted, there was NO choice.

    I wish you luck with your situation. You do sound blessed to have 2 beautiful babies! 🙂

    • zomelie says:

      Yes, I hate that debate, too. And you’re right. Very often, women don’t have a choice. We do what we have to do (even when it comes to breastfeeding or not).

  8. You didn’t mention how old your children currently are, but I can’t imagine its easy try to care for them and accomplish business as well. talk about the ultimate multi-task! My little darlings are 2 and 4 and constantly up my rear, hats off to you for getting your job done too! If you can manage to do both at once, you are surely a better mother than I, I think i would be half crazy by days end!

    Congrats on making FP!

  9. hiddenponies says:

    I enjoyed reading this – I also sometimes feel torn between what is really not the best of any world, let alone both worlds, and I hate how nasty people can get on the topic, for either side!

  10. Yes, you do. Best of both worlds for sure.

    Best of luck to you and your family, you all sound like an awesome bunch!


  11. tmastgrave says:

    Hmmm….I think we, humans in general that is, always feel the need to prove that we are better. My teaching style is better than yours, my parenting style is better than yours, my fighting style is better than yours, my writing style is better than yours, etc. It’s unrealistic, and unhelpful, but we all have a competitive side that has to be better, and this expresses itself in a variety of ways.

    I don’t have any children, and wouldn’t deign to comment on your parenting choices if I did. I’ve known enough parents to realize that, while there are wrong ways to do it, there is no right way. I hope everything works out well for you and your family. What do you teach by the way?

  12. Thanks for this. I’m a (kinda-sorta) unwilling SAHM, and I’ve noticed a huge range of reactions from each group towards the others – everything from envy to sneers. It’s actually the part-time WAHMs that get the least amount of negativity. At least where I am. It’s such a sad comment on how uncomfortable women still are with their choices and/or circumstances.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

    • zomelie says:

      Yes, I suppose you’re right that the upside of being left out of the debate is that we don’t get as much of a negative reaction for our choice/circumstance.

      Thanks for commenting!

  13. Like you, I have been a work-at-home mom, outside-work mom and a stay-at-home mom. There are pros and cons to each, and it makes me crazy to argue about it. I think the ones who wish for most women to stay at home fulltime also wish for life to return to the 1950s. That ain’t happening.

  14. I had to stop in and comment just because I loved the title of the blog!

    • I would add that you face unique challenges, and we can only be judged by how we deal with those challenges with the resources we have. It sounds like you are trying to make the best use of your talents and resources to me. No one should fault you for that.

  15. momsomniac says:

    My husband is a stay-at-home Dad. I have wished I could trade with him since our oldest was well…about 3 months old. I am a feminist, for sure, but I never loved what I did for a living. No doubt that I love my sons. So….if I could choose to spend the day devoted to LOVE, yes, I would.

    As for whether you have the best of both worlds. hmmmm…. I don’t know. I have a job that allows for occasional work-from-home days, but I really can’t get anything done with an 18 month old, a 3 year old, and a 7 year old who ALL want “Mommymommymommy.” Some days for you must start VERY early and end VERY late as so you can squeeze work into the hours that the kids are *hopefully* asleep!

    And….when I stepped out of my car yesterday evening, I heard my 3-year old shout “Big Brubber! MOMMY BACK!” The 7 year old responded, “Mommy’s back! Mommy’s back! Mommy’s back!” They dive-bombed me with hugs when I came in the door. To me, the BEST part of being a working Mom is the daily welcome home party!

  16. JT says:

    It’s funny but my post talks about some of the things that anger me and although this wasn’t specifically on the list you may find yourself nodding in agreement to it. As far as right and wrong go…I think that can be somewhat simplified if you are pouring yourself out for others it’s right, in my opinion that’s what love does, it considers others needs ahead of our own.
    Bless you as you try to balance both…I can only imagine how difficult it must be!

  17. GG says:

    I also feel that you deserve recognition. Whatever anyone may tell you or even Life may, you are a terrific Mom and a great person…

  18. janiejackson says:

    I’m a teenager and I wish that my mom could stay at home because I am stuck watching my sister most of the time and it is hard to find rids places, but I am also happy my mother works becasue I get a little but more freedom to be by myself. But either way, I think the kids who have their moms stay home wish their moms worked, and kids who have their moms work whis they stayed home. I hope to be able to stay home with my children when I have kids but I also want to havea career. Tough situation.

  19. I had never thought of how my mom had managed with me and my little sister constantly bugging her for all the little things and the work load of a teacher to take care of. But after reading this I realized that it would have been really difficult.

  20. You may not see it for years but I think you do have the best of both worlds. Having raised my son alone while working outside of the home I wish I had been home much more. You can maintain your independence and be a Mom. It’s all a juggling act. It’s not a bad thing

  21. I don’t understand why there are few women with your viewpoint. Being a parent is hard enough without some interloper making you feel bad about yourself. I was in an environment that was three women to every man, and I didn’t understand why no one wanted to join together and instead lashed out at each other in an every woman for herself situation. *sigh* Keep doing what is right for you and your family. That is all that matters!

  22. Umm Ahmed says:

    I salute all the moms around the globe…stay-at home or working moms? They are all moms and that’s the best job in the world 🙂

  23. sapphy03 says:

    Great perspective!

  24. lexy3587 says:

    congrats on FP, great post. I can’t even imagine how much work is involved, coordinating being mom and work-mom simultaneously

  25. 14 years into the parenting game, I have experienced being both a stay-at-home mom (which I currently am) and a working mom. Both are difficult, and there’s always a trade off. Hats off to you for trying to figure out what is best for your family.

  26. Emily says:

    I think it’s great what you’re doing. With 2 little ones it’s a wonder that you could get any work done at all! Please tell me you have a house keeper or an amazing husband who helps with the cleaning?!?

  27. Eva McCane says:

    i commend you. i don’t think i could ever stay at home, but i appreciate all the women who do. you’re saints.

  28. k8edid says:

    You really do have the best of both worlds, I believe, because you have very good insights into what your reality is. I have been a working mom, stay at home mom, and a work at home Mom. Each scenario required different set of strengths and abilities. The work at home mom does have a unique set of issues/blessings and you’ve expressed them well. May your baby grow stronger each day. Congrats on being FPd

  29. YES! Let’s stop judging each other! I’m a work-at-home mum with two kids, too. I left my career in publishing to be with them, and there is no looking back. What surprised me most about stay-at-home parenting are how many opinions EVERYONE has on what I’m doing and whether or not I’m doing it right. It’s ridiculous. Our kids are healthy, safe and happy. Period.
    Thanks for the opportunity to rant a bit 😉

  30. It is amazing how we feel pulled in so many directions. I’m in a vocational struggle of my own at the moment, but I suppose I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are blessed to have options. At a work retreat, the question of which decade we’d choose to live in was posed. My boss and coworkers yearned for the idea of living in the 50s, knowing their one role. While envy stay-at-home moms and I hope to be home with my two girls (and probably work from home) within the year (my husband will be done with college), I remain grateful for the cultural ability to choose, and the opportunity to support my husband’s career change in a way women of the 50s could not.

    On another note, I’m saddened by the debate as well. It always feels like a battle between the working moms and the stay-at-homes. Sadly, we so easily offend each other… probably because, as you noted, the grass always seems greener. Thank you for your post. I loved it.

    • zomelie says:

      As a quasi-feminist, I do have to respect a woman’s choice. Although I do both, I know that others choose one over the other. Weighing one’s options is never easy and always requires sacrifice.

      Thanks for your comment!

  31. I think that is the most grounded and thoughtdul thing I’ve heard in the whole debate! I also like that it preaches a priciple largely ignored by most society these days, moderation. That things don’t always have to completely this or completely that either. As a mother who has to work, I see both sides as equally challenging. Glad to know someone out there has common sense. 🙂

  32. jennigetsit says:

    I commend you for making this decision. I have very mixed feelings about this subject at present. I was fortunate to spend 16 years as a stay at home Mom. I have 3 kids, ages 17, 15, and 9. I am now getting divorced and need to re-enter the workforce. I never imagined i would be in this position. My kids have benefitted, but now I am at a complete loss. Keeping my head up and working hard. My kids make the struggle worth it!
    Congrats on being freshly pressed! Best of health to your baby!

  33. Alana Munro says:

    Great post! It is something I have thought about a lot! I have done a degree and not actually done anything jobwise with my education since having my three kids. I am very lucky to have the choice, I can stay at home and look after the kids which is a beautiful choice to have…But of course there ARE days when I feel a little bit frustrated as I want to see what I could do in the world – outside nappies, swimming lessons etc! I guess it is a very natural human condition to always wonder what the other side is like. It is very natural to compare and wonder how everyone else is actually coping with this all consuming parenting gig. I started a blog last year – to avoid the ‘baby brain’, discuss important issues and practice my writing. A little bit of something for ME! 🙂 Great blog. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I hope your baby continues to get better!

    • zomelie says:

      I feel fortunate to know what both sides are like. I have also been a single mom, so I can empathize with the struggles they have as well.

      Good luck with your own blog!

  34. Studies have shown that the happiest kids are usually the kids with the happiest moms – whether they’re working away from home, working in the home or staying at home raising kids. I’ve been happy with both but also struggle with both — Good luck to everyone in finding what works for them and their family. And I whole-heartedly concur..let’s stop attacking each other for our choices.

  35. People can be so judgemental. The worst part about it, is that they suck others in with their negativity. This happens in all areas of life, though. Think about the media and how quickly gossip spreads and people just believe whatever they hear! It takes guts to think for yourself and make the best life choices for your family – even if they are criticised.

    Thanks for putting a spotlight on this topic! I have no children, so I really enjoyed getting a parent’s perspective on this. I have often wondered how I would handle this situation if/when I have children. I love my career (where I work from home), but it is very time consuming… I cant imagine adding a child into the mix and having time to give 100% to both, but I also cannot imagine choosing between them.

    I think we should create a world where men and women split the parenting duties so there is not as much pressure on women to play both roles.

    I wish you the best of luck! You sound like a positive person who’s got her head on straight!

  36. what a great post – props to you mom!

  37. pmlevitt says:

    I am a SAHM who loves being at home, but occasionally misses the satisfaction and sense of accomplishment I got through my previous working life. I also miss the adult interaction. I think most moms are doing what they can to help their family by managing their work/mothering roles in their own unique ways. It is not always a want situation that leads us to make a particular work/mothering choice. Many of us do not have an option financially to do one or the other; for me, staying at home was as financially viable as going to work and depositing that check in child care. For others, the situation is completely different. I can deal with the stay at home stigma for the most part, but the worst judgment I’ve experienced is from one working mom who one-ups everything I share with her. Her experiences are always magnified and more difficult because she has a work outside the home role as well. I do think moms who work outside the home face a juggling act, as I know to a lesser extent from my unpaid work as a freelance writer and poet. I just don’t see the need to compete or compare. Haven’t we all got enough on our plates juggling our own lives? Good post!

  38. magpietimes says:

    Great post! I completely agree when you say that there is no ‘correct’ way to be mom…everyone is trying to do their best and like you say, screw up their kids in their own unique way!

  39. wadingacross says:

    I think that the inner turmoil is there whether you’re a stay-at-home mom or dad in this day and age. Of course, it also depends upon the parent’s own upbringing and views on marriage, work and parenting that they bring into parenthood. I suspect that Amish people have little to no issues with inner tension and turmoil concerning staying at home and raising their own children.

    I’m a stay-at-home dad because it made better sense for our family situation. It wasn’t what I wanted, but what was better. Marriage and parenting is about compromise, working as one, as a team, being committed, putting your spouse and your children ahead of yourself, etc. Tangentially, I wonder that this is why so many marriages fall apart. People unwilling to give up their pride and selfishness.

    I can understand the turmoil you have concerning being a home-maker. Having done this now for five years, and adding two more children to the mix, I’m experiencing a period of angst and even mild depression greater than I experienced after our older children were born and I took over care. Part of me wants to get out of the house, to be left alone, to deal with adults, to do what I’m “supposed to do”, which is be the breadwinner, not just the spiritual and executive head of the house (yes, we work as a team on equal footing, but someone has to have the final say – otherwise there is disharmony).

    Other than a brief stint working part time doing evening chump work after our first child was born, I haven’t worked in four years. That doesn’t bode well for me career-wise. It means that if I ever want to get back into the workforce, I have to retrain. On top of that, I’d need to find a field and career that not only pays somewhat the same as what my wife can make, but one that I’d enjoy or at least not mind doing. As it stands now, there is no way I could find a job making what my wife makes.

    Add schooling into the mix. Our children are 5, 2 1/2 and 5 months (twins). We’ve been “schooling” the eldest since he was three and our intention and plan is to home-school – which we are and have pretty much been doing in some fashion or another.

    But, persevere I will and so shall you, because we can and we must. You do what you have to do because your family, your children are that important.

    Besides, time flies, and what a great thing to be able to spend so much time with our own children instead of only seeing them for a few hours a day and on weekends.

    • zomelie says:

      It’s hard enough for a woman to make a choice she is expected to make. I can only imagine the difficulties you have faced as a man who has chosen to go against tradition.

      Thanks for the encouraging words!

      • wordsfallfrommyeyes says:

        Yes it’s hard enough for a woman… and it’s great to see a man with the balls that women have.

  40. Aja Lynn says:

    I really enjoyed the commentary about conflicting research on the subject. You’re absolutely right. I’m still facing making MY choice. As a formerly successful, independent, feminist sort I always thought my choice would be clear. But it turns out the reality is much more difficult. Let us all know how it goes! We can always use another perspective!

  41. …and I found this just MOMENTS after posting THIS on my own Facebook Wall……

    Maternal Epiphanies ~
    by Meg Etheridge Torrie on Wednesday, August 10, 2011 at 8:56pm

    My entire childhood I secretly wondered why my mom was such an idiot (at times) and yet I was so sharp and witty!?!? Seriously…. Now I understand! Childbirth, Motherhood, Lack of Adult interaction and sleep deprivation! “This is your Brain…..This is your Brain on Parenting…….any questions???” I truly thought of my mom as one of the Golden Girls – with Blanche’s class and beauty but full of Rose’s “Back in St.Olaf” mentality!!!

    ….OFTEN Mom could have an entire room of people laughing hysterically over something she said!!! The trick is to be quick enough to ditch the (deer in headlights look off your face) so they THINK you’re FUNNY AS HELL – not hopelessly falling upon humor by mistake’……. Apparently I’ve been AFFLICTED with perpetual stupidity!!! FML’

    I feel your pain as I too have wondered if I could recoup some of my long lost brain cells if I re-entered the workforce (even as a Barista would seem more stimulating than my days of potty training and YoGabbaGabba!) At the end of they day, it will ALWAYS be a Lose-Lose’ situation because being a “Mommy” comes with natural, constant feelings of failure…. The world would simply stop turning if we all went to bed every night without asking ourselves the question “Did I fail my kid today???” lol – thats the way of a Woman’s World…..

  42. Interesting, informative…thank you!

  43. “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”…..I too have known both experiences of working outside of the home, staying home full-time, being a full-time student, etc all while being a mother. I worked with my first and stayed home when the 2nd was born because of a coinciding military move. So I understand circumstances being out of your control, yet having to appreciate both sides of the coin. I’ve had my good and bad days in both worlds with moves, being away from famiy and support systems, the often mixed value-added interactions with other mothers and of course the culture’s judgment. And I daily recognize the sacrifice it takes like you mentioned. I honestly don’t know what is the “best” really, but at the end of the day, I count my blessings and I wish you many blessings as well.

  44. allthatisonmymind says:

    Believe me, its better to struggle to have the best of both the worlds,than to leave one altogether.I guess you’re doing a great job.Its good that you didnt sacrifice your own dreams and do respect both the (individual -you), and the (mom-you).

  45. used2bfat says:

    I wonder if this economy will soften the argument a little bit? I’ve been a SAHM and a working mom and I think there are so many pros and cons to either situation that it’s a mute argument.

    I loved seeing the teenager’s comment on here. I hate having my older kids always babysit. In one regard it’s a good thing for kids to realize they have to contribute but in other ways it’s kids raising kids and that’s not a good thing either. In our household, with six kids ranging from ages 8-21, there are many times where I have to depend on the older kids to step up so I can afford to feed everyone. There are no easy solutions.

    Your kids are so little but it’s going to be the best time of your life! Good luck and I hope they continue to bring you much joy!

    • zomelie says:

      You are so right about there being no easy solutions. It reminds me of a documentary I once saw on mothers in the animal kingdom. I remember the narrator saying that sometimes a mother had to act when there were no good choices.

  46. adminoutlook says:

    Wow, a lot of comments. Interesting that debate. I’m a single mom who has had to do both. Also, my son was born 8 weeks premature. He is now a happy, demanding 9 year old. In addition, as a twin I was also born premature. Trust me, we catch up. I preferred being a work at home mom. As a single mom, my son receives all of my attention. I was fortunate to have my twin sister around. It was difficult for us. She was newly divorced with two small children. We’ve done an excellent job. She also worked from home for some time. I’ve been a stay at home mom (due to no job), and a work out of the home mom. My sister has always been there to help. Whether your work at home or out of the home, your children have two attentive parents and trust me, when you volunteer at your child’s school you’ll see how rare that is.

    • zomelie says:

      I’ve done the single mom thing as well. If there is anything I have learned from being a mother, it’s that you have to do what you have to do (married or single, working or not).

      It’s always good to know that preemies do catch up. We’re getting there.

  47. I can understand what you have to go through on daily basis trying to shuffle through your work and home…Because I have grown seeing my Mom do that…But anyways…I had say,That Still…Mothers are the strongest individuals in the world…

  48. It sounds like things haven’t changed much for women in a generation. I am 55 and experienced much of what you write about.

    From my vantage point, as long as women stay conflicted within themselves about the myriad of roles we are playing, we will project the angst out onto each other and “society.” Let’s get right within our own selves, and we will see that “out there.” And what is “right” may change from year to year, because life is not a march forward but a cycle of letting go and building back up. What is “right” is up to each individual woman.

    • zomelie says:

      It’s interesting that you bring up the point about our own angst. I felt conflict within myself before I had children because I absolutely did not want to do what my mother did. (She left school when she got married and didn’t ever go back. Then, she stayed home with three kids up until the youngest entered kindergarten. I was in high school by that time and thought I knew everything about what being a woman should be.) Now that I have two of my own children, I am more understanding of the choices women have to make.

  49. Temi says:

    Great post. I hope the little one is getting stronger by the day…love and kisses for her.
    I work from home and I am a mum to 2 boys ages seven and three and a half. I dediced to stay at home and work for myself as a business consultant – redundancy struck straight after the second child. it has it’s challenges but I won’t trade for anything else. The sheer joy I get when my child connects with my eyes when he stands in line after school does it for me. I had to laugh when you wrote that you are sometimes don’t get to shower till after lunch – it happens to most us. Few of my friends have taken the plunge too and are wondering why they didn’t do it earlier. Enjoy it and know that you will get better at juggling all the stuff you need to do.. I am far better now! Being able to find something to do and look after my kids is a privilege I do not take for granted.

    • zomelie says:

      She is getting bigger and stronger, and it’s hard to believe she was ever so small and frail. And I know I will look back and be glad that I was here to see her grow.

  50. I started off as a stay-at-home mom, and absolutely loved it! Then my kids went to school, and I began volunteering as our church secretary, went back to school, and dove back into writing with a serious passion. It felt great to have this new identity as someone other than just mommy. But then I got the wonderful surprise of finding out I was pregnant, and things changed again. I loved my new identity and didn’t want to give it up, but spending hours working on a novel just isn’t going to happen with a baby in the room. Over the last few years I learned how to balance Mommy time with Michelle time. Next year, my youngest will go to school, and I find that I am sad that I won’t have her chatting away while I work.

    Great post!

  51. avidsapphire says:

    Loved your post. Have been through both scenarios myself, and absolutely agree with you that there is no right or wrong.

  52. Madam Muck says:

    Dear Zomelie

    I am a 26 yr old single female, and I have such respect for you, having found a way to work AND raise your children,.
    Whilst i am single, many of my friends have gotten married in the past year, and despite having studied and graduated from varsity, geared up for a successful carreer, the second they have a ring on their fingers (not even a baby in tow yet), they give up their jobs to be housewives! I am not overly feminist, but I think i would be terribly bored wondering around my home all day, baking and cleaning! That said, I work 9 hours a day, and by the time I get home from gym in the evenings, I’m buggered. I cannot fathom how the working mothers do it, and how they bare to leave their (often very young) children in the care of another all day.
    Well done for finding a solution that works for you, I can’t imagine it’s easy, but then again no one said parenting was!
    I noticed you didnt mention your children’s father…I hope he pulls his weight too!

    • zomelie says:

      He does what he can, but his job often keeps him working late. When he’s here, though, he keeps the baby occupied while I’m working with the older one on her homework. Or, he’ll play with both of them while I’m getting dinner ready.

      When I was a full-time working mom, I was also single. That was hard!

  53. Laura4NYC says:

    Interesting perspective! I liked your phrase “It ridiculously assumes there is a right way to be a mom.” Fantastic! There is no right or wrong in this case, what works for one person well, will leave the other desperate. I myself do not have children yet, but can see how this will become an issue for me, too, once I am in a career and having a child.

    • zomelie says:

      So true. I’m the kind of person who has to stay busy lest I get depressed. This was a big problem for me when I stayed home with my first because there were long periods of the day that I simply had nothing to do.

  54. Well put! As a mom who didn’t exactly plan to be a stay at home mom, I can say there are pros and cons to both worlds. Motherhood and parenting is personal. No one should judge us whether we choose to stay home or not stay home. It seems like no one is ever happy so we should be doing our best to ensure we, as mothers, are happy and then our children will be too. I’m discovering it’s that simple.

  55. I can completely relate. I began my teaching career…full steam ahead! Newly married, I would get to school when it was still dark and leaving using a flashlight to find my car. (This happens in a rural school!) After the birth of my daughter I found it extremely difficult to be away from her. So I resigned, stayed home for almost a year…and wondered how to help pay the bills. I then went back to teaching part-time and have been doing so for the last 10 years. I agree that we as mother’s should support each other. Some of us work because we want to, or need too. Some stay home because of the same reasons. Regardless of your choice, it is the most difficult and wonderful job in the world.

  56. Harri says:

    I really hope everything is OK with your young one, must be extra hard work to have someone so small and delicate to look after! Sounds like you’re doing a great job (ha) of working and being a Mum. It’s sometimes impossible to be too many things at once, and working from home is a great solution although I’d imagine its a shame not to have the ‘social’ vibe you’d get in an office or being AT work, and also the escapism sometimes. But like you say, for you, right now, thats just not possible and you’ve made the best of a tricky situation. well done and good luck!

    • zomelie says:

      Nice pun! Yes, she is doing very well. We’ve seen almost every kind of doctor imaginable, but she has had no major problems, which really is amazing considering how small she was.

      My night classes do offer somewhat of an escape. I also go to the gym to recharge!

  57. gaycarboys says:

    I think what’s gone wrong with the world is there are not enough parents (it doesn’t matter which) stay home and raise their on children. another pseron, no matter how professional or well intended can fill the shoes of a parent. even after the start of school kids should never be without the love, guidence and nurturing of at least one parent. Nothing was lost by your choice, in fact quite the opposite!

    • zomelie says:

      Unfortunately, many parents don’t have a choice. In this economy, staying home is often a luxury. I am glad that I get to contribute to the household in both ways.

  58. A very interesting topic. I’m a 21 year-old, not married and won’t be for another 4 years or so, but I think about this a lot. My mother is a stay home mom, and I don’t have many real life references to working mothers, so when I think about it, it really puzzles me. I don’t want to stay at home, never imagined myself as a stay home mom. I wish I can figure out how it works by the time I actually have to deal with it.
    Beautiful piece =)..

  59. Your life is rich. There will always be some workers and homers with ‘more’ than you. There will always be some workers and homers mothers with ‘less’ than you. So forget comparing your lot to that of others. There is a point at which we have met our needs for food, shelter, warmth, health and some paid work. Beyond this, the only things that matter are “giving and receiving love” and “building relationships”. To continue to count how much more of home life or work life we could have or should have is a complete waste of time. If you are already rich, does one need to continue counting how rich you are or how much richer you could be?

  60. Joy says:

    It is so good to hear from someone who works at home & the struggles. It seems like it’s either/or. It seems like it shouldn’t be that much to affect your mom work, but just even a few hours of work really affect what you can do as a mom. And the interruptions – oy! Yet, I am glad to be home with my kids. I’d miss them.
    ps-As a mom you might appreciate this resource called the Mom’s Guide to Caring for Little Teeth ( It gives practical tips on how to start and maintain healthy dental habits. It also helped me think through how to make teeth brushing fun for my 4 year old. Anything that helps with those battles makes it an all around better day!

  61. What a balancing act. I have worn a few hats since motherhood and experienced the grass is greener moments. While we have our independence as women (to choose), we are all heading in different directions, whereas mothers of past generations were usually all in the same boat. While some moms out there have a “my way is the best” attitude, I feel many are just trying to connect with others and are looking for support and positive feedback about what they are doing. It is hard, no matter which hat you are wearing. I also think that for some moms, we feel more comfortable wearing certain hats during certain stages of our children’s lives.

    • zomelie says:

      I wonder if the mothers of previous generations felt a sense of solidarity. Yes, they were “in the same boat”, but did that really help them steer the right course?

      Thanks for your insightful comment!

  62. onemomstips says:

    My son was 7 1/2 weeks premature and I too had to stay home with him, he also had problems that developed as he got older. Between Dr appointments and trips to the ER I didnt think an employer would appreciate my need for time off. I struggle now, 9 years later, to find a work at home job that is legit. I would go back into the work force part time but Ive been out of the office so long and jobs are so hard to come by with so much competition that I doubt Id even be in the running.

  63. Kristina says:

    Amen! 🙂 I completely agree, we are all just being the best mother we were created to be – whether working outside the home, working at home, or stay-at-home!

  64. Fantastic post putting many of my own thoughts and feelings across rather eloquently! I worked full time with my first born and even changed jobs as I was so unhappy at one point. I love my new job dearly but have just started maternity leave awaiting the birth of baby number two. I am at present toying with the idea of requesting returning part time. I can see so many benefits my son has gained through my working and his time spent at nursery but at the same time there are things I feel I may have missed. You are completely right in saying there is no ‘right’ answer and children’s needs and family circumstances will indeed be the deal breaker. I have been judged quite harshly by some for working (although praised by others!) but I find it so sad that mothers feel the need to comment on and judge the parenting of others without always knowing all of the facts.

    I hope your little one is well, keep up the good work!

  65. Yulia says:

    I am a mother of two as well. I gave up my job once I gave birth my first son. He is 4 years old now. It was my commitment that I will take care of my kids by my self and my husband also wanted the same thing, and he always say that the best nanny for the kids is their own mother 🙂
    But, honestly, it was not easy to gave up my job, and my boss still wanted me to come back to work for her. But I think, at the end, I have made a right decision, I am happy to have this chance to become a full time mommy for my kids 🙂 I can see my sons grow up every day, every time.
    Therefore, I believe you have made the right decision, Become a mom for your two precious kids 🙂 That’s your best career ever 🙂

    Please visit my blog, and I would be more than happy if you are willing to share some of your thoughts there 🙂


  66. I love this post. You nailed it when you wrote about judging each other. I wrote something about motherhood and careers from the perspective of a mother with kids going to college, basically saying I didn’t regret my choice to quit working outside the home. It’s always a hot debate. Here’s the link in case you want to check it out.

  67. karlapr says:

    I’m a working mom who stays home with my kids in the summer. To some degree, this has also put me in in a situation that is a mix of stay-at-home mom and working parent. While I haven’t really gotten sucked into a sense of “debate” on the merits of what’s better, I have found myself struggling with envy of other parents’ situations from time to time — particularly envy of the financial freedom that allows some parents to stay home all together — even though I really don’t think I would be happy not working, and my job is quite rewarding and satisfying!

    • zomelie says:

      Yes, I can certainly understand the envy. It always seems someone has it better. But, then again, someone else has it worse.

      Thanks for your comment!

  68. I used to love working from home, which I did roughly twice a week. I’d start the morning with a walk to the coffee shop a block and a half away, then savor the sweetness of booting up a laptop in my naturally lit living room. My dog was at my feet, green was visible through the window, and I could count on very few interruptions.

    I only work from home occasionally now, but it’s a very different beast than it was from my pre-mommy days. I spend half my time chasing after a little one, and the other half attempting to get working done while fretting–in the back of my mind–what that little one is going to get up to next. Part of me still enjoys the freedom of it, but it’s definitely not the same kind of freedom it was before.

    I love your reason #2 above. I wrote a depressing entry a week or two ago in which I tried to introduce this idea. It didn’t fit the entry, but it’s been rolling around the back of my mind just waiting for a chance to express itself. So many people told my mom she was doing a horrible job with us. What did that do except make it even harder for her, and alienate her even further from others when what she needed was support? I’ve thought about that a lot since I had my son. I used to tell my mom, “It’s too early to tell. These guys have no idea–it’s what we become later that will show whether or not you were a ‘good mom.'” I don’t think it helped her much then, but I’m glad I said the words. And I’m glad for her reminders to always try seeing the best in people, even if it was hard, because that lesson has helped me keep my head above water when I haven’t understood the hardnesses people show each other, without even bothering to ask a question first.

    I’m so grateful for the small graces strangers have shown me since I’ve been a mom. I try to pass those along, too, so I can be a part of someone feeling like they can do it, instead of despairing that they can’t.

    Beautiful post. I wish you luck in the journey ahead!

    • zomelie says:

      Thanks for your encouraging words! It’s always good to know that for the people out there who would sit in judgment regarding a mom’s choices, there are others who are willing to step up and help her out when she needs it.

  69. Jessica says:

    I agree with reason #2…makes no sense to me. I’ll be a first time mom come February and I plan on staying home…we’ll see how that goes.

  70. wegotkidz says:

    Ahhh! You took the words right out of my mouth with this post. Pre-babies, being a stay at home Mom in my eyes was a cop out of sorts. How could you sacrifice that extra income just to stay at home with your children? But it’s a JOB in and of itself – A rewarding, terrifying, exhausting, insane JOB… but I love it. I’m beginning to explore opportunities in the way of working from home. Trying to start my burgeoning graphic design business has proven to be difficult to balance. I’ll be sure to check back with you for advice and those “ME TOO” moments. lol

    • zomelie says:

      It’s so easy to look from the outside and say what you think you would do only to discover you were completely wrong once you’re actually there. Good luck with your business!

  71. realanonymousgirl2011 says:

    Great post! I find myself struggling with the same things. It really is hard to find a perfect balance. If only we could clone ourselves and enjoy both aspects of life!

  72. wordsfallfrommyeyes says:

    This was good. I like to see how it is for others.

  73. When my eldest was born, 4 years ago, it was expected that I would stay home, its what my mother and sister both did, its what my mother in law did. I didnt like having the decision made for me but I am still a S@H mum now, with a 4 year old a two year old and a one year old. I am starting to resent the people in my family who have said ‘If you didnt want to stay home you shouldn’t of had children’ I feel like they took that decision out of my hands.And besides having kids isnt a prison sentence! I don’t resent my children at all though being with them is heaven, but I have decided to go to University as soon as my four year old starts school next year (provided I get in- I dont find out for a few more weeks!) It will be nice to have something other than playdoh to focus my mind on, and I might even get some nice adult conversation too!
    I hope your little one grows healthy and strong and I hope you find the right balance of work Vs. babies. If you figure it out let me know 😉

  74. oooh lots of comments to scroll through!
    just wanted to say that was a fab read, i dont read what research says anymore, from what i have learned which ever way u parent, weather u use a babysling, weather the buggy faces parent or the world nothing is the right one, were damned if we do were damned if we dont!
    everyone does what suits them, not someone who may not even have kids!
    im a sahm at the moment but going back to college next month to give us a better life but no doubt someone somewhere will say ‘bad mother for abandoning her kids’
    hope ur little one is strong now, my youngest (now aged 2) went in a special care baby unit, only for a week but it was the worst week of our life!

  75. wordsfallfrommyeyes says:

    I agree with you – I don’t like the debate. Being single, as a mother, and one who did not want to live on the breadline, I worked and sent my child to care. For anyone to have me feel inferior for this, I would not tolerate. And on the flipside, women who are great and devoted mothers, who can get away with not working commercially, they are also doing a brilliant job.

  76. rheabette says:

    I can really relate to your post, as I am doing both — working at an office 3 days a week, working from home the other 4 (having to work my schedule around my child means I’m never really “off”, as you mentioned). It is interesting to hear the perspective of someone who has done everything — been a SAHM, a full-time working mom, and a mom who works from home… you have so much experience to draw from! Your children are lucky to have a mother who will have so much to teach them. You will be showing them that many models of work-family life are possible for them. And nothing we do is ever the “perfect” balance — I write about that a lot on my blog too — the elusive balance of career, passion, & family!

  77. Just happened on this post…. My 30-something working mother and missing my daughter self would like to tell my 20-something idealistic naive feminist self to open her eyes a bit wider…can’t go back in time though!

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