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Saturday, October 12, 2013

she works hard for the money

A few days ago I posted about Working Out of the Home Moms and Stay At Home Moms. I said both are such hard workers, it's a tough job regardless if you're in skirts or sweatpants, that's for sure. Being mommy is a big job.

I wrote about balance, schedules, things that are good and bad about each type of jobs, as I'm lucky enough to experience both as I work in a school and have summers and vacations off to be with my babies.

The next day after posting that, my son got sick. He had a stomach bug and needed to stay home for 2 days. It was one of the busiest weeks for me at work. I was in charge of state testing for 200+ kids and 20 or so staff members. It's the biggest part of my job that I'm coordinator of all year... I had to be there.

So luckily I have a supportive husband who agreed to stay home with our son.

Only I didn't know my son was sick until I drove up to daycare... saw him looking queasy and pale, like he was about to throw up... I was rushing, had to be to work early this day... so there I went into full mommy manager mode. I helped him in the bathroom, called my husband to come meet me, and got my son situated while we waited for him to arrive to take him. I texted my co-workers asking for help to get things started until I could get there.

Did I feel guilty not staying with my son, choosing a big work thing over a big baby thing?
Nope. Honestly, I did not.
I'm sure some moms are thinking, "Oh my word, I could NEVER leave my baby if he were sick."
Well, my son is 3 1/2 so we've been down this road before, I'm experienced enough to know he'll be OK in a few hours and that his father is 100% capable of taking care of him.

As a mother who works out of the home, you have to set priorities.
I know many will say, "Well, your kids should ALWAYS be first priority."
And yes, you have a point there.

But when you have a really important job, that pays the bills and health insurance, and that you enjoy and know you are making a difference at, and where many people are counting on you, there is no replacement for you, you also see your work as a priority. And sometimes work comes out on top, and other times your children come out on top.

It's balance.
It's setting boundaries.
It's somehow finding a win-win situation for you and your family, and the workplace you are dedicated to.

On the first day he was sick, I called 3 times from work, talked to him so he knew I was thinking of him, checked in with my husband - who was doing an awesome job, by the way. I left work as soon as I could, didn't stay late or run errands after work. I got right home and snuggled my big sick boy for hours that evening. I made pancakes for dinner because that's what he asked for... despite him not taking a single bite. I read extra stories and tucked him in to bed ... while my husband went to work that evening.

It's balance. It's doing what you can, and not feeling guilty.
I WAS helping my kids by being at work that day. I was doing a thousand things to provide for them.
It didn't mean I had to be the one wiping his bottom when he went potty or fixing him crackers and milk for snack.

That's what I've learned as a WOHM... you HAVE to ask for help, rely on others, and let your partner do things on his or her own. You HAVE to. You cannot be in control of every situation. You can't be the one it always falls on. You just can't. You have to trust your partner to do  baths and bed time routine and sick days.

And honestly, my son was so incredibly happy to have a day with his father all to himself. It was special for them. Another reason I felt no guilt about it.

The very next day, we knew he wasn't well yet, so he needed to stay home.
Well, again, busiest two weeks of my entire work year... I HAD to be at work. We talked about me going in for half a day and then coming home with my son, while my husband left for work. He decided it was OK, he'd stay home with our son again. SUPER DAD for sure!

So I went to work. Again. And focused on my job, calling my son to check in a few times from my office.

It's just what I had to do.

I have a friend who carried the health insurance for her child when her daughter was extremely sick last year. Like really, really sick. Hospital sick. Diagnoses sick. Medicine sick. Up all night sick. Do you think it was easy for her to leave her sick baby in a hospital, after she'd slept there all night long? To go to a job she hated, but needed because it was the only health insurance method they had found at that point? Hell no. She cried and got angry. But she got up early, went to dress up in work clothes, smiled her way through her work day, and returned to the hospital as soon as she could to hold her sick baby.

We do what we have to do to survive and be great mothers and individuals.

You are there for a thousand other moments that really matter, that he will remember. He's not going to remember that you worked six hours while he was home with dad eating cereal on the couch watching a Turtle Tale. He'll remember it was OK, dad was there, and mom came a little while later to read stories under the blanket tent.

It's a lot of this and that, choosing things over the other, putting priorities in order. It's never easy. Sometimes it IS work over child... but I don't see it that way exactly. When it's stated like that it sounds awful... like you're some mean mother. It's not like that.

When my child was home with his father, happy as could be sitting in the back of the truck pretending it was a boat when I drove in the driveway at the end of the day, he was happy. My husband felt pretty good. And I finished my work duties for the day. It was a win-win.

As long as you still find time in the day to BE that mom you want to be ... to do bath time or offer snuggles when they cry or rub their back when sick or make their favorite meal? Well, then you're doing OK.

Balance. Do what you can do. Try your best. It's what it all comes down to... SAHM or WOHM... we're all in this together.

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