9 to 5 vs. 24/7

by samantha on December 10, 2011

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As of right now I am a part-time (3 – 4 days a week in the office) working mother of two. I was lucky enough to get a part time opportunity to ease back into the work place. A mom couldn’t ask for much more than that. Right? Wrong!

It’s becoming clear that I’m ┬áhardly ever satisfied for long because Im already feeling that part-time isn’t going to get me far career-wise. I was hired by a friend at a start-up creative agency and everyone there is a)male and b)able to dedicate the extra hours to the cause. See where I’m going with this? Let’s recap: I’m part-time so while everyone is still pecking away on their keyboards at 5:15, staying at the very least an hour longer than myself and at the very most until 10 pm and working on weekends… I leave to pick up my kids. Each day I kinda sulk away feeling a little under par and guilty that I can’t stay with the team plugging away on a proposal. But on the other hand I’ve got 2 kids at home who rely on me and I won’t give up on the few evening hours I have with them ( no matter how torturous they are!)

Essentially I will always be at a major disadvantage. Most mothers will. Asking for a raise or a promotion in this sort of situation is next to impossible. So now I’m faced with making the leap to full-time. With a full time position comes leaving both my kids in school and child care programs 5 days a week from 8-6. I spend approximately 2 hours with them before bed and on weekends of course. Is it enough?

It’s the push and pull many moms face when it comes to having a career vs being a SAHM. And for others it may come totally naturally to do one or the other, but what will ultimately make you and the entire family happy? It’s like no matter what you do you’re making the ultimate sacrifice, go to work and lose precious time with the kids or stay home and lose your sense of self.

Well I am truly at a loss. Maybe it’s a matter of finding out what color my parachute is? The thing is, I love both challenges. I get so much out of going to the office, using my head, being around my co-workers and the thrill of advancing in this career. Then on the other hand I’m not ready to give it all up with the kids just yet. What the fuck is a girl to do???

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{ 11 comments }

Jules December 10, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Reading this post just broke my heart Samantha, because you, me and millions of other moms are in this predicament. I hear you! I think most of us have the ultimate dream/goal of living complete lives; as mothers, as thinkers, as contributors in our world on so many different and important levels. Butting up against that dream are these kind of awful social and professional realities we have to live in, and in my own experience, this causes friction not only within facets of our own lives but in our relationships with others. I unfortunately lost a job I was dedicated to because I chose to have my daughter – I couldn’t keep up with the work and the company couldn’t resist someone that could. After being out of the work force for 2 years, I was one of the very lucky few to get back into the game. I love my new job, I’m doing thrilling and satisfying things with technology, but I can’t help but feel like part of my qualifications for getting it was ‘being in the club’ so to speak. Nearly everyone that works there is a parent. They understand when you have to leave at 5, they don’t judge you for taking days off, they share in my war stories and have reasonable expectations of delivery on projects. The trade-off is that I feel disconnected with my old world, a cherished world, where I felt like I was a driving participant in an ever-churning culture. A poignant, sexy, all-nighter type of place full of camaraderie and fat rewards. All I can do is balance my daughter with what I think is right. I keep pushing, and the world pushes back. I hope you can strike the balance, and let us gals know when you do. And PS, humor the option of finding a Nanny you can afford if you go FT. Daycare just all around sucked. Ours lied to us about a few crucial things, jacked up the price every month, and our kid apparently cried all-day everyday for months. We ran ads for 6 months before we found a Nanny that wasn’t an android and/or wanted more $$ than we even make. Our daughter’s all around mood has been amazing, and I don’t have to fight a nagging guilt in my gut every day. Same price as DC.

Cassie December 11, 2011 at 12:26 am

I got lucky and have a daycare just down the road from our house that my son loves (he’s 2). He goes 5 days a week 8-4/4:30 when we pick him up after work (sometimes my fiance picks him up earlier because he finishes at 3). You can do the full time thing and spend time with the kids, it’s just extremely exhausting. Sadly I can see how it would make it harder in a work environment where no one else is a parent because they can’t understand why you can’t do extra.

Annabel December 11, 2011 at 3:04 am

I sympathise, being a new mum at 38 meant my options were narrow, I had to go back to work pretty quickly after having my son who is 1 tomorrow !!! I work part time, one day in London and two days from home in TV distribution/production/development. I’m lucky with the company I work for as they are unusual in that they let me bring my baby in to work whilst I was still breastfeeding and were very flexible with me wanting to work from home. However I’m self employed so have no benefits (no mat leave for a future baby etc) and I”m not sure about my position as I”m not there enough to really move forward in my career. So I know how it feels to be part time at work and a part time mum and walk that line of guilt and duty and ambition. I’d go crazy if I had to be a SAHM, I love the buzz of my career – the travel, and my one day in London feels like a break as I get to read a magazine on the train and drink my coffee – uninterrupted. I found my job through a website in the UK called Mediaparents. It is specially designed for those working in media and who want flexible hours/contracts due to childcare responsibilities. I leave Kalani two mornings a week in daycare (nursery) and his key worker adores him so I know he enjoys it, nannys in the UK are prohibitively expensive. All I know is we have to spin alot of plates at one time and we can only do our best to be good mothers and have a career. Hopefully, once the children are in school we can get back on the ladder with full force and move on up but meantime it is hard to juggle it all and I totally resonate/empathise with all women who have to do this.

Melina December 11, 2011 at 12:34 pm

Hi, I’m so sorry to read this post, and I have to ask, where does the kids’ dad get in the picture? It sounds like it doesn’t matter if you’re a single mom or not. Maybe he could work part time for a while so your kids don’t need to be in child care monday- friday?

In our family we took an equal amount of time off from work after having our baby, that way neither one of us had to “sacrifice”, which by the way I don’t think it is, and I think fathers are just as keen on spending precious time with their children (or at least should want to).

Equality, just a suggestion.

samantha December 11, 2011 at 5:05 pm

@Melinda That isn’t an option, nor would I want it to be. My husband is the breadwinner and he’s damn good at it. He would be the worst SAHD ever! He has his own business which is very successful and I am grateful for that. We have a very comfortable life. The story is…I tried staying at home with the kids for 2 years after the birth of our daughter Lola thinking that was what I wanted to do, I gave it a go and I found it very difficult. It was a little lonely and I became in increasingly worried about the gap in my resume. I am a naturally ambitious and creative person so my going back to work has to do with a want not a need. Or at least the need is for my brain, soul and future…not a financial need, although I am very proud after not earning for 2 years to be contributing again.

Trish December 12, 2011 at 2:54 pm

I totally hear ya on this one! I feel the way and as a matter of fact today was my first day of work! I have a 19 mo. old and now work 3 days a week. I want to be successful, I want to get ahead, I want to be a leader and excel but the thought of being gone so long (full-time) just doesnt feel right. I think it makes sense while the kids are so young to divide equally between work and home so that way you get a creative, adult outlet but are also present in the family. Who knows though. I once heard that you can have it all but you can’t do it ALL well.

Sheila December 13, 2011 at 11:18 am

Yep. I don’t see much change happening in this regard, either. Full time lawyer and single mom to 3 now-school age kids. I tend to think part time is this illusion we all have to make us feel like we can be everything to everyone, including ourselves, but the reality is, when I worked “part time” (which was really, like, close to 40 hrs a week because I don’t think male bosses know what part time means) I felt like I did everything half-assed. Half-assed mom, half-assed employee, half-assed everything. It wasn’t until I found nirvana when my youngest started kindergarten and I had all 3 in school full time, every day, at the same school, that I also found a full time attorney job WORKING FROM HOME, which is still sort of unbelievable. Before that, I was doing your dance for 12 years and I feel your pain. Everyone seems to need us but no one seems to make it easier for us to do it all. Keep up the fight – it somehow all comes out o.k. (or so I tell myself daily).

Charlie December 13, 2011 at 11:30 am

I’m the main breadwinner in my marriage and it was never an option for me to stay home with my son. My husband was laid off 3 years ago and stayed home for a couple months while looking for work but with the financial strain he had to go back to work. We’ve struggled so much over the last 3 years and as much as I would love to spend these amazing hours with my son I want so much for him to have what I didn’t growing up, a home, decent clothes, and the security of knowing he won’t have to just pick up and move every time one of his parents can’t pay rent and for him to have these things I have to work a full time job, do freelance on the side, and teach design lessons when I can.
Even though I have the full time job I also have my passion of singing for a metal band with my husband as the drummer. I practice once a week, play shows at least twice a month and these nights our son spends with a babysitter. I of course feel like I could spend way more time with my son, but the time we do spend together is always full of love.
My husband and I have discussed these issues a lot, but one of the things our son is learning from this is that his mom is passionate about life; music, work, and family. I work hard and accomplish goals. In my opinion no parent should feel guilty for being passionate about accomplishing goals.

samantha December 13, 2011 at 6:36 pm

@Charlie Thats exactly part of the reason that I’m working. It’s for my own personal fulfillment AND to give them a good work ethic. I think in the long run they will respect me for going after my goals. I want them to look up to me and their dad and say “Hey my mom and my dad dis this or that”. I want to, sort of, make them proud by being a working mom.

Hayley December 16, 2011 at 1:43 pm

I feel as a generation of young mothers we were lead to believe we could have it all, but i am fast learning that is a pack of lies, I daily have to wrestle with guilt over conflicting desires to be the best mother I can be and wanting to have a fulfilling career! I had my daughter, Audrey straight out after my graduation from University, as a result didn’t manage to make a start on the career path I was hoping, and am now stuck in a job I hate to pay the bills, while I desperately try to search for a way on to the career ladder that will satisfy my goals and ambitions, all the while having to rely heavily on my mother to pick up on the days I cant afford the child care, adding to the guilt (and I have to admit a little jealously) that Audrey has to spend so much time at her Granny’s. Does motherhood leave anyone else feeling constantly guilty like me!!

samantha December 20, 2011 at 7:33 am

@Hayley I am guilty as sin. Read back over the years and you will see the web of guilt i’ve woven for myself.

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