Working Mom Balance:: Greener Grass and Glass Ceilings

As a working mom, I remain in a constant state of tension between mom-guilt for not being around my quickly growing children 24/7 and employee-guilt for not being available to devote my entire self to work all day.

Working Mom Balance:: Greener Grass and Glass Ceilings

The Fantasy of Having it All

There are times when I think of how wonderful life as a stay-at-home mom would be:: I could make my kids REAL breakfast everyday {in place of the array of packaged things they get}! We could do art projects! We could do science experiments! We could go to museums and the zoo and have playdates! And all without the responsibility of another workload!

Then there are times when I think just diving head first into my career path as a working mom would be the most life-giving thing I could do:: I could spend all day focusing on completing projects with my team. I’d pour myself into becoming the most successful version of myself I could be and exceed even my own expectations. I’d be well-known in the organization as the one who gets things done. And when I come home at the end of the day, I’d pick up my kids from their very prestigious daycare {because I’d make enough money to afford that} and we’d order our favorite restaurant dinner in.

The Reality of Being a Working Mom

But my reality is this:: I am forced to balance these two worlds as best I can. It means that I can’t truly give 100% of myself to either one, and I am constantly jealous of other women who are able to. I have this brown patch of grass that I sit on with two other inaccessible greener pastures in view, and a glass ceiling that I live under; one that society began building long before me, but also one that I allowed myself to move under. 

I knew that something would have to give when we decided to start our family. I knew I didn’t want to stop working, and I knew I wanted to be present in my kids’ lives–not just while they’re young, but for as long as they need me {which, in my experience with my own parents is always}. The glass ceiling above me means that I can’t quit being a working mom and stay home with my kids {even if I wanted to} because of my family’s financial reality, and it means that I can’t excel at work because I have kids to care for. You can’t very well be available at any and all hours to take phone calls, and answer emails, and work meticulously on projects whilst changing diapers, drying toddler tears, adhering to preschool schedules, providing one million requested snacks, and not letting your kids become little TV zombies.

Making It Work

I want to be a mom, in every sense of the word. I want to be devoted in my career to doing excellent work. I want to spend all my time in both worlds. But that is about as unrealistic as being able to exist outside of time and space.

How can #momlife and #worklife co-exist in a society that demands so much from both? My answer is in no way a solution to a greater {and growing} problem, but it’s just the way I reconcile these two areas of my life. Rather than trying to make these two worlds exist separately from each other, I’ve had conversations and made arrangements with both my family and my employers to create a healthy balance of the two. It means early mornings and late nights of working, afternoons of play-doh and park swinging, and running errands and answering emails simultaneously.

It’s also worth mentioning that my husband does not have the same struggle or expectation placed on him as a dad and an employee. This is not to say that he is an absent father or doesn’t have an equal share in parenting, thanks to one of the many aforementioned conversations about how we can help each other not go crazy. Granted, he is the breadwinner in our family, but it is true to say that if he has to work late, take a phone call, attend an early meeting or go on a business trip, it is my schedule {even as a working mom} that must accommodate it.

I hope that I, along with the other working moms in the world today {and the dads, too!}, can help create a world for our children where being able to “afford” kids isn’t an issue, and where their passion to have a family and a career can happily co-exist on the same patch of green grass under an open sky of possibilities.

 


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