I saw this question come across the working mom forum on Babycenter, and there were definitely some interesting responses. Everything from “NO WAY!” to “yes, I am extremely more patient and calm at home.” I don’t think there is a wrong answer but I think the reasons behind the answer is critical. The answer also probably lies somewhere between the middle for a lot of us. We all have days where we are CRAVING just a few more hours at home with our little ones and we all have days where we lose our patience at home after 1,302 questions about why they need shoes to go to the playground (and secretly look mentally forward to the whole pack of M&Ms we can have in peace tomorrow at work).
Me? Do I think I am a worse mom for working…full-time especially? Well, sure. Some days. Most days? No. I am not a worse mom for working. Some days I even full like a rock-star, glass is full kinda mom. I work because my family needs me to work. I have provided some pretty awesome insurance for us at times. I do truly value the mundane, the playing on the floor, the chasing around the yard, the conversation around the supper table SO MUCH more than I think I would if I saw and heard it day in and day out. I hear so many stay at home mom friends that just go nuts over their kids’ behavior…and some days so do I…but I often hear an underlying frustration behind the complaint because they see it day in and day out. It is a lot harder to see progress. I know that generally the behavior I see this afternoon is probably going to resolve in the next few afternoons and be different next week, but I think it is easy to lose sight of that when you wake up to it and go to bed to it. I am not saying that alone makes it worth it to work or “be away” from my kids, but it does help me keep perspective…and patience.
I think I am also better for being the “working me” because of the example I set for my kids. There are some extremely valuable lessons that kids learn at home. I also feel that there are some valuable lessons my kids only learn by seeing how I balance work with family. They still see that money doesn’t buy everything but they see that there is a love and sacrifice that also goes into “why” I work. My 5 year old is starting to see this. It went from struggling last year when I left for work to an appreciation for what I am doing. A sincere interest and desire to be able to do more and help others with my income. I love it.
I also have a patience with my children that I know without a doubt I would not have if I were always home. It is something inside of me. Not something learned. Not something unlearned. I need a “whole picture” perspective and when I am in the middle of a situation, I cannot see the whole picture for anything. I feel absolutely helpless and for me that is one of the worst feelings. When I am able to take a step outside of the box, it is a completely different experience with a completely different attitude. I feel refreshed and can actually feel like I “see” the answer. It takes me twice as long or even longer to come up with a solution without that break. Again…it’s not all about behavior issues or having a break from my kids…but I just know that my perspective is entirely different when I am in the same environment. I also plan better with limited time. When I am at home, I have such a hard time focusing on where to focus my time.
These are all personal reasons I find that working helps clear my head and give me focus. There are days where I pine over how different things could just be if I stayed at home. If staying at home were my job I would have the house in tip top shape, the kids on an activity schedule, a clear chore organization chart, meals hot at 6 pm, workouts scheduled and done…but it’s just not that glorious. I know myself too well. I am a better mom for working. I am not a worse mom. I may not always like my situation but I love my family. I even love my job. Having a job forces me to do things differently but it also forces me to focus on and appreciate what is most important since it is not staring me in the face 24 hours a day. I would lose sight of that if I stayed home. I would be so frustrated by attitude issues since it would be my job to work on them daily. I would take it personally when my kids struggled, and I would have a hard time knowing how to be a wife, a mom, a housekeeper, a chauffeur a cook, a listener, a director, a friend, a role model. I am all of those things, but my roles are much more simpler. On a day to day basis, I am a mom and a wife and an employee. The lines are actually fairly clear. Again, not the main reason I work to give my life distinction, but it does let me know that I am making a good decision to be a working mom. I know my limits and I know that I work then I play. I am a mom and a wife the whole time, but after 4:30 pm you’ll have a hard time tracking me down because I am probably on the couch with books poking my knees and back or on the floor building tracks or outside with sand “accidentally” being poured in my shoes. Full “on.” Full better.