The Paradox of a Working Mom

Blame it on Baby Boom in 1987 starring Diane Keaton or the struggle of my mom having no identity outside of being a wife and mom, but I knew for years I would be a working mom. This belief was completely reinforced once Keaton was born almost seven years ago. After spending 16 weeks home with him for maternity leave, I was sprinting to the door to get back to work. Please don’t take my eagerness to get back to work to say I did not enjoy my son, or that it was not hard to leave him… you see I did have those pulls, but I also had a pull deep in my soul for my career… for my purpose outside of being a wife and mother.

I have lived in this paradox of emotions from being a working mom since the day I found out I was pregnant… but today… during a pandemic… in the matter of a few hours it was more evident than ever.

A good friend invited me to part of a small group webinar today on self-care for staff as the new school year begins. I was so excited to participate! I knew I would get new insight for the professional development sessions I would be leading for teachers in the coming weeks on self-care… what I was not expecting was the self-reflection I needed to do… you see I am the one who guides others on this process… why would I need to do it?! The first exercise asked us to reflect on different questions with the first one being what have been our losses during the last six months. It took everything in me to not start sobbing… I miss being at work. Yes, I am working remotely… but it is completely different. I miss my life outside of the home. I miss having my space apart from my remarkable husband, amazing son, and adorable dog.

I continued to process these thoughts and it wasn’t even an hour later when my son came into my office (the spare bedroom with my desk). He said he was wanting to read and got comfy on the bed and started into Lunch Lady Vol 10. As I looked at the curls that framed his face I once again started to fight back tears. I felt deep in my soul how this moment… the moments of the last six months with him at home are a gift… a gift that is precious and irreplaceable.

So I sat in my chair looking at my to-do list a mile long and then looked at my son and the paradox of my life as a working mother has never been more evident. You see my desire, need, to have a life outside my family does not mean I don’t long for these moments with my son. I have run (or drove at high speeds) from work to his school for some event just so I didn’t miss a moment… or I have been late getting home because of a work even that fills my soul in unexplainable ways.

I am a woman, a parent, constantly living in a battle within my soul. I work not because I don’t want to be with my son… I work because it is a burning in my soul I will never be able to explain… at the same time, I am a mother not because society told me I needed to be… I am a mother to an amazing little boy because it has taught me life lessons and showed me how to live life in ways I will never be able to explain.

Often society pits working moms versus stay home moms. I get impressions that I don’t care, love my son because I go to work… society tries to make me feel less than because I choose a career and family… today my choice has never been so clear as the right choice… at the same time I was reminded of the sacrifices of my choice… while I miss going to work each day, the last six months have given me time to see my six-year-old with new eyes that only happened because of a pandemic.

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