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Work or Stay at Home? One Mom Strives to Find Her Balance

Posted by Melissa A

For every mom, a huge dilemma tends to be whether to work or stay at home. I’ve tried both options and realized that working was the way to go for me. This was after I found a meaningful job that also went along with being able to contribute to my family’s funds.

I started off as a working mom and then did the stay-at-home thing for a while, not always by choice. I still had E in day care so I could look for jobs and also allow him to develop social skills. However, it was only for part of the day so we could also spend time together. Then I became a work-at-home mom shortly before M was born. My job allowed a flexible schedule and I could even work at nights when the kids were asleep. Eventually, M started going to day care, as I was having trouble getting work done when he was crawling around and getting into trouble. It allowed him some social interaction with other kids, which he also needed.  E was in preschool during this time.

When we moved to our current home, E was still going to a preschool program and M started in a toddler class nearby. I was looking for jobs again and found one a few months after we had moved. It was at a non-profit organization that also had meaningful ties to my religious beliefs. It wasn’t too far from home either. When I started there, I had a daycare and after care plan in place for both children and things were running smoother than ever. Flash forward a couple years later to when E’s regular sitter decided to quit on us.  Finding another sitter wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, believe me. We’re still experiencing frustrations with finding the help we need and making sure E is received by a responsible and trustworthy adult when he gets off the bus. In the meantime, E asks me why I have to work in the first place.

While being a working mom, I do everything within my power to make sure E receives my attention. I show up to his school parties, pick him up from school when he’s sick and stay home with him afterward, etc. There are times when I feel like I should be a stay at home mom, like when I run into frustrations with finding after care help. Or when there are programs going on for my daughter and her speech therapist thinks I’m not making enough effort, even though these programs are at an inconvenient time for working parents. Or when M has something going on at his school that I can’t attend. Then there are situations like the earthquake we experienced this summer, where I felt so helpless because I couldn’t reach anyone, as all cell phone lines were down.

There are also reasons I’m glad I’m a working mom. My job is fulfilling and gives me purpose each day, plus a reason to get out of my pajamas. I get some “me time” during the day, by getting to read or run errands during lunch. I feel I am defined by more than being a mom, even though motherhood is the most demanding and fulfilling “job” a woman can have. I know I’m meant to be a working mom and can’t see myself staying home with my kids all the time. I love them but also don’t possess the creativity and patience to entertain them all day. I don’t mind a snow day or sick day when we can just chill out together, but I don’t know if I could give up my job and the future I see for myself at my organization. Choosing between the two extremes is like walking a very thin tightrope. However, when a balance is achieved, the walk is effortless.


About Melissa A

Melissa A. and her husband have 2 young sons, E and M, and a new baby daughter. Melissa's son E has hearing loss and wears a cochlear implant. Melissa works as an administrative assistant for a non-profit and also runs a bullying prevention group and a book-related fan group, in addition to blogging for Empowering Parents. You can check out Melissa’s personal blog here.

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