This is the blog post I started composing in my head before I was even accepted as a CTWorkingMoms blogger (a girl can dream, right?). In my fantasy, the title was something really dramatic and self-indulgent like “Becoming the Working Mom I Want to Be”, but I changed it so I wouldn’t annoy you right off the bat! I’ve been following this blog since day 1 and am a huge fan. Your stories about the joys and challenges of motherhood, marriage, friendship, love, cooking, special needs, fitness, body image and of course WORK have left me speechless, laughing and on more than one occasion, in tears. I’m honored that Michelle has accepted me into this community. The brutal honesty on this blog is what I really respond to, so here’s a little about me, warts and all.
Being a working mother really defines who I am and something with which I also struggle. Despite my liberal, progressive exterior, I do have a little 1950’s housewife in me. Some days I believe I’d be totally fulfilled being home with my kids 100% percent of the time, planning playdates and cooking a nice dinner every night for my family (cleaning is another story). Even though I know they have a grueling job, sometimes I get a little jealous of my SAHM friends. So, for the first couple years of motherhood, I tried to create a world where I could spend as much time as humanly possible with my little girl and make as much money as humanly possible for my family. So five years ago, I quit my full-time job working in marketing at publishing company to stay home with Mia when she was about 6 months old. Living in one of the most expensive parts of the country, it was clear that I needed to bring in some income, so I created a blog for moms in Fairfield County. This brought in some income and I also cobbled together a bunch of freelance marketing projects with local business. Things were good and I was beyond fulfilled. I got to spend lots of time with my baby and I was doing work I loved.
Then the economy tanked and I got pregnant with my second little girl. That pregnancy was rough and I spent almost 2 months on bedrest, unable to work. After she was born (perfectly healthy, whew!), things got hard. I had two kids, it was early 2010 and the economy forced lots of my freelance clients to close their doors and/or to stop spending money on marketing. Plus, there’s no such thing as downtime with 2 kids, I soon realized. No longer could I count on a 3 hour chunk of time in the afternoon to bang out some work during naptime. I could never coordinate the kids’ naptimes so when I could find freelance work, I ended up doing late at night and it wrecked havoc on my sleep and my family life. Sure I spent lots of time with my kids, but I was stressed and not fun to be around. Time to get a “real” job.
I was fine with working outside of the home, just not fine with outsourcing childcare. At the time I was one of those haters, you know those moms who want to do all the child-rearing themselves because no one else can do it better? I may have even said, “I don’t want anyone else raising my kids.” Yep, I sure did. I quickly changed my mind once I found an amazing nanny, an amazing childcare center and my amazing mother offered to help with childcare. To this day, she still drives over an hour every Wednesday to care for her “grandcherubs.” Thanks, Mom!
Long story short, I took the first job that came along. Pickings were slim at the time, so I was just happy to find a job, period. I could write a whole book about what a nightmare that job was. I worked for quite possibly the most chauvinistic, dishonest man ever. He offered me very little flexibility despite my first class performance. Clients loved me and I brought in a lot of extra revenue for him (you’re welcome!). It all hit the fan when one of my kids got very ill and I had to miss a few hours of work one week. His lack of understanding and the anger he expressed toward me hurt me so much I wanted to cry. And I did. A lot. Why couldn’t he see I was TRYING here? I had an infant and a sick toddler that had been to the pediatrician every day for 5 days straight. I was busting my butt. Thanks to the support from my husband, friends and family, I made it through that hellish year.
Then, like a light shining through the dark (for reals, I am not exaggerating here – it was THAT bad), I found a new position working with an incredibly progressive, forward-thinking, family-friendly company 18 months ago. My new job fulfills me and I am grateful for it every day. I work full-time from home and travel just enough to keep me from becoming a total hermit. Most of my team works remotely and most of us are moms. We work our butts off at all hours of the day. It’s not uncommon for me to be sending and receiving emails late at night and early in the morning, but I don’t mind. My company and a very cool boss make it possible for me to be the working mom I want to be. My whole life has fallen into place since landing this job and if I could freeze time I would. At 5 and 2, my girls are happy, hilarious kids and I feel very involved in their lives. My husband is my best friend and greatest support and I’m chugging along with work.
But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned about what’s on the horizon. We just moved to Wilton 2 weeks ago and so far I love the town, but it does mean lots of CHANGE. My 5-year-old starts kindergarten next month and we are moving my 2-year-old to a new childcare program. How will they adjust to this new environment? Kids are resilient, yes, but I’m sure there will new fears and trepidation to deal with. I sense that Wilton has fewer working moms than our old town. How will this affect me and my family?
So that, my new friends, is a little (or actually, a lot – TMI?) about moi. Have you become the working mom you want to be ? Are you lucky enough to find a little balance between work and family? Or is it still a little off kilter?