I’ve been really fortunate, in my opinion, that I haven’t necessarily had to work for the last five or so years since Zoe was born. Before Justin was accepted into Dental School, I was working as a manager at a boutique and was able to have Jack at the store with me while he was an infant. As he got older, I put him in a home daycare for several days a week. I felt the sting of letting go of my first baby to earn a wage that would help support our little family while Justin took the pre-requisite science courses and worked in construction.
Having been raised by a single working mother, I knew the difference and felt lucky that I didn’t need to rely heavily on childcare, and while it was hard to leave him it didn’t torture me. I was content being able to assist our family financially while working a job that I actually really liked (buying, selling and merchandising children’s clothes. Surprise!).
We talked a lot about whether I would work once we moved to NYC and Justin went to school full time. So many of those late night emotional conversations that left me feeling anxious and daunted, when really I didn’t know anything about what our life was going to be like. Loans would certainly be astronomical and the consensus was that it would be far too expensive to hire a full time nanny for Jack and Zoe if I did find a job, so we decided I would find a nearby restaurant to wait tables at during the week. While the thought of being out late at night and alone in the middle of Manhattan scared me a bit, I actually really liked waiting tables. I worked in restaurants for around 10 years before meeting Justin, but more than that I appreciated the idea of having my own thing, and my own income.
Logistically, that really didn’t work out. Justin came home late nights during clinic hours a few times a week and even on “normal” nights he wouldn’t be home early enough for me to leave for a dinner shift. We ended up applying for additional loans and made our way though dental school that way. A couple years into school and our life in New York City, my blog began to gain a steady readership and I found ways of earning an income through Momma’s Gone City. Financially the decision was a hefty one, but I was able to raise my babies while Justin got his degree and it was the best decision I’ve ever made. Truly, as they say, priceless.
Motherhood has never come exceptionally easy to me (please introduce me to the mother that finds parenthood exceptionally easy), but because I was fully immersed and 100% responsible for their well being, my priorities weren’t compromised and finding the ever-elusive balance wasn’t an issue. Motherhood was it for me. It was hard and lonely at times, but my memories are clear as a bell and even the hard times bring tears to my eyes. I am so lucky to have had those moments with them.
Things have changed in the last 8 months since Justin graduated with his degree and we moved back home to California. My parenting has changed. My role has changed. The overall dynamic has changed. Certainly a lot of that has to do with the kids being in elementary school and generally just getting older, but I’m also working and traveling quite a bit. Justin isn’t quite full time at his practice yet, so our duties at home as well as work loads have shifted much closer to 50/50 than they ever have been.
While my priorities are and always will be the same (my kids), I’m entangled in the guilt and frustration and pride and all the feelings that come with finding a little bit of success in a field that I only ever dreamed of a part from having and raising children. I’ve honestly never felt the kind of pride and joy and accomplishment that comes with achievement, and for me as an adult though mostly as a parent, it feels incredible. I want to be that example for my children that shows them they can work hard and earn something amazing while being a parent; A work-at-home parent, a working parent, a stay-at-home parent, any kind of parent that truly dedicates themselves to raising their children while fulfilling dreams outside of the home at the same time.
I’m honored to be an example of that kind of possibility for them.
That said, Mother’s Day was a little bit different for me this year than in years past. It was completely wonderful, as we were able to spend the day with my mom and my sister at the beach followed by an amazing bbq at our home with Justin’s parents-something we haven’t been able to do since we moved to Manhattan. I fought the twinges of guilt and celebrated the women in our lives in the most casual but natural ways possible.
Most importantly, I spent the day with my children and enjoyed just about every single moment.
I expect that just as I get completely used to the differences in our lifestyle and schedules and how I scramble to be everything to everyone at all times (including myself), our new baby will come into our lives and change it all yet again. That is life though, isn’t it? I certainly thrive on these little (massive) warps and it keeps me actually living every single moment.
I know that one thing is always and forever certain, though:
I’m more than a little grateful every single day to get the chance to mother these babies, and I’d have 100 more if I could.