Submitted by The Mama Politic
My husband and I both work. I'm an academic researcher. He's a sociologist. We have a daughter who recently turned one and older children from my husband's previous marriage.
For now we're prioritizing my career, although neither of us is slacking on the job. His strong support is enabling me to advance in my dream job as an applied research faculty member at a large university. I feel lucky to have his backing along with somewhat flexible work hours. We also have great daycare which we appreciate. Our caregiver is wonderful, and our daughter appears to be thriving. Lots of things are going really well.
Still, it isn't easy. One of the things I find hardest about being a working parent is balancing career objectives with this feeling that I need to "do it all". And look fantastic doing it! As the sole cook in our family (long story), I need to get dinner ready each evening. Given my food allergies, this takes some extra effort. And to make things extra challenging, my daughter just started becoming incredibly fussy when we get home at the end of the day. Trying to make dinner and keep her happy is starting to feel like a losing battle. Between my Type A personality that has me wanting to make a great dinner and her unabated screaming, feelings of frustration and uselessness often take over. Hopefully this is a temporary phase.
One way I am staying motivated is by training myself to say, "Screw that!" to a lot of things. I didn't puree my daughter's food when she was younger, I don't make bento boxes, and right now I just feed my daughter everything we eat - spices and all. She has slept in her own crib since day one, and I never breastfed because post partum depression required me to take a mood stabilizer. Sometimes I feel like I can't possibly be "enough" at home. Interestingly, many things seem to come more naturally to my husband than they do to me. Maybe it's because he has older children and has done this before. Still, I feel like I need to do it all, or at least I want to do it all. These feelings and challenges are helping me learn the value of prioritization.
As I ponder the way we negotiate this life, I think about my need for my husband to support my career goals and understand my need to go to work every day. We are far from perfect, but he definitely has my back professionally. This may be difficult for some couples to understand. Maybe the fact that we both had working moms is why it feels right to us.
Some friends who don't get it give me flak. They warn me that I'll regret not putting our daughter to bed every single night, and they're concerned that I've never cried when I've taken her to daycare. When our daughter was six months old, I changed jobs so I could spend more time with her, but some still seem concerned for me.
My husband and I take this all in. We also know that our daughter is healthy, happy, and developmentally on track. She clearly loves us. Because we need our work to feel fulfilled, we truly believe that we're making choices that are best for her, our marriage and our family. It just feels right.
Submitted by Jaiess Rabbit
I am a mother who has Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety and Agoraphobia. My son has ADHD and ODD. We're on our own, and even though we face many challenges, funny things happen to us, and I blog about them. I also blog about my experiences with mental illness and depression. Those stories aren't funny.
I swear, cook, clean, yell, talk, and calm … before breakfast most mornings.
I'm also unemployed. I want to work, but I'm not sure I can offer an employer the consistency they need right now.
Still, I remain hopeful that my son will make enough progress to enable me to find a job soon. Parenting is always difficult, and most parents will probably agree that it requires flexibility, adaptation and the ability to learn, invent, and implement problem-solving skills on a regular basis. With a special-needs child I feel like these skills are critically important and I'm developing them to the fullest.
When my son had alienated all of his classmates to the point that I felt it would be impossible for him to recover, I found a new school for him that was better at meeting his needs. Then I convinced him that he needed to change his own behavior in order to improve his situation. And guess what? It worked! Things aren't perfect, but they have definitely improved. I hope that the skills I've needed to develop as a parent will be of value to an employer at some point in the future.
If you are a working parent dealing with similar issues, I'm eager to hear how you've overcome them to establish a career for yourself. Please leave comments below or visit my blog. Thank you.