I’ve always been a working Mom.
For over 10 years, I’ve juggled both jobs – the one that pays and the one that doesn’t – and never known any different. But this past week has put my family to the test… and so far, they are carrying me on their backs.
Since I’ve had children, I’ve always been in advertising sales. I’ve had the luxury at working for some great companies – Hearst Magazines, Dow Jones and The New York Times – and flexibility is just one of the luxuries of being a good salesperson. Although they were all full-time positions in downtown Boston, I was used to it and so were the kids.
Three years ago I took a position at a small company, selling advertising in Conde Nast magazines, where I was set up in a home office. The Holy Grail! I was able to eliminate my commute, have more flexibility that allowed me to become a bigger part of the community, and even made it (somewhat) less life-altering when we wound up having a third child. For a time, it was perfect.
Of course, nothing lasts forever. While I loved the freedom and flexibility, the job itself had become much less appealing. I wound up stumbling into a fantastic opportunity working with smart people at Sovereign Bank and knew that for me, it was the right decision.
Hello professional happiness, goodbye flexibility.
The first week has been tough to say the least.
I found myself choking back tears twice in two days while running for the 6:15 p.m. train to get home, knowing that I was going to have just one hour before Quinn went to bed. The guilt of not physically being home or available to them as well as the selfish desire to spend more time with them has been brutal.
I keep telling myself, I did this for my first seven years as a mother, why is it so different now? Is it that I’ve just been out of the commuter game for so long, or that there are three kids instead of two or just that I’m older and my priorities have shifted?
I was lucky enough to be able to take the train in with a friend of mine, who is another working mom in Dedham, and knew exactly how I was feeling. She assured me that as hard as it is to get back into the swing of things, I’ll eventually adjust and before long, it won’t be so painful.
I have another friend who just went back to work after having her third child and said, quite simply, “Being a working Mom sucks. It just does! But your family loves you, just as much as they did when you worked from home.”
And you know what? In the last week, I’ve learned to appreciate the kids and my husband more than I have in years. Andy has been a champ – working a full school day, picking up kids, ferrying them to activities, getting dinner ready, and continually reminding me that this is the right move for all of us.
And I can’t believe it myself, but I would swear that the kids have stepped up their behavior and dialed down arguments. Sure, Quinn has a screaming case of the terrible-twos but seeing his little face and hearing “Mommeeeee!” when I come home is enough to get me through anything.
And so, I re-join the ranks of the countless other Moms and Dads who count a full workday PLUS a commute as part of their normal life. I know that they, too, have all struggled with what I’m going through now and still have happy families and well-adjusted kids. They’ve just had more time.
As a working parent, it’s all a juggle. And practice makes perfect.