Tuesday, January 25, 2011


Do you ever take a look around at your life and wonder: what exactly am I doing here?

I am a stay-at-home mom.

No, I do not dress us in matching outfits - this was a coincidence.
PS - grey sweatpants are totally sweet.

I also work part-time as a nurse. I've worked in labor and delivery for over five years. Five years. That's the longest I've ever done anything.  I should be great at it by now, wouldn't you think? The thing is, since the wee one's arrival, I only work a little. Once a week - sometimes less, and so I'm losing that body-mind-gut-hands thing that nurses have - you know, reaching for the pink bucket before the patient even realizes she's gonna vomit. I have to think about what I'm doing, whereas three years ago, it was all second nature - my hands working usually before a thought had time to completely form.

Upside down book.
Now, I have that mind-body-gut-hands thing going with my kids. I  know what they want or need, often before they do. I can tell when they're getting sick, hungry or tired. I can soothe, distract or discipline as needed without really thinking about it. I can deftly switch gears to avoid a tantrum, without even realizing consciously what I'm doing.


But it bothers me, this career-on-the-side, thing I'm doing.  There's a fine balance to it, and right now, I'm tipped toward the kids. But I can't help but wonder, what am I going to do with myself when they get to kindergarten? First grade? High school? I can never get these years back - if I try to reenter the workforce full time five years from now, will all the new graduates be smarter than me? Will I be able to get that nursing-sixth-sense back?

New haircut.
I want my boys to be proud of me. And for some reason, I feel like I have to be successful at "work" in order for them to respect me.  Is that even true? I don't know, but it's how I feel.

Right now I'm trying to take on a little more in the work department, and it's going to take some juggling and balancing, and I hope that I can give some of myself to my work and still have enough to give my two boys what they need.  I feel pulled in two directions at once, and although I'm making the best choices I can, I know that if I overextend myself, we all suffer. 

My mind-heart-gut tells me to go ahead and stretch a little, it's good for me. I have to trust that I'll be able to recognize if things get out of balance. I have to trust that I'll be able to pull back if I need to.  Unfortunately, I'm not really trustworthy in that department, I'll push myself too far, afraid to disappoint anyone, unable to accept that I can't do it all.

It's hard to measure success by your own standards, but that's what I want my boys to do for themselves, so I better figure it out.  You know - in the end - they'll probably be the ones to teach me how to get it right. That's always the way.


  1. the dilema of every working mother. i wanted you girls to have a home of your own and to pay for good college education. in this economy working women are the norm you have been very lucky to have as much time with the boys as you have..and trust me they will get your motives in time. also think it makes for independent kids..you are doing fine.stretch those wings..

  2. I have such admiration for anyone who manages to strike some sort of balance, no matter how crude, between a career and motherhood. I'm behind enough as it is - I can't imagine adding work into the mix at this point!

  3. I didn't know you're an L&D nurse, that's cool!

    I think you can do both, but success isn't measured by work or kids, I don't think - I think success is measured in happiness. :)

  4. Your boys will be proud of your excellent character, kind heart, and wisdom. I don't think it matters to them whether you have a career or not. Sometimes I found the stress of out-of-home work diminished how much of my 'excellent character, kind heart, and wisdom' was available to my kids, so that's something to watch for.
    Hmmm. Is nursing like riding a bicycle? Can you 'forget' the instinct of it, I wonder?

  5. It's a dilemma, isn't it? And I don't think anyone has the definitive answer. We can only do our best in the circumstances in which we find ourselves at any given moment! I CHOSE to be at SAHM when my daughter was born and intend to stay at home until my son, now 2, starts school too. I can't say I love it all the time though and have to remind myself it was my CHOICE!
    I do have two big concerns:
    1) am I a good role model for my daughter; and
    2) what do I want to be when I grow up ...?
    I was a barrister/attorney in the UK but now live in the Netherlands and haven't quite the confidence in my Dutch language skills to imagine practising here!
    So I say, if you're happy taking on more work, enjoy your work and can do so without too much of an upheaval, do it! And if it doesn't work out, well, at least you gave it a shot and won't be left wondering" What if ...?" ANd your boys will love you whatever you decide!

  6. Oh thank you guys so much for the comments. It really is a tough question. You have to answer it for yourself, your family, and your finances. There's no right answer. It's hard not to compare myself to what everyone else is doing - I should be working more because that's what she's doing... it's tough.

  7. Ahh, work-life balance issues make me want to pull my hair out. But you just have to do what works for you right now. Whatever you've chosen is not a forever-decision. Nursing is such a great career because of the flexibility and the ability to increase and decrease your hours when needed (my sister is a nurse). And don't worry…you'll still be smarter than all the new graduates. Nothing will trump all the experience that you have. Even if you're getting it one shift at a time.

  8. I love this post and all the wonderful comments. It's what makes us blog, is it not? I wish I had an easy answer to your home/work question. I constantly struggle with the kid/me balance and wonder about what type of role model I am for Livvy, and in some ways I hope she is more successful than I, but then, what does that say about the choice of being a stay-at-home mom? No easy answers. If I figure it out, I'll let you know (and probably write a New York Times bestselling book!) ;)

  9. What a courageous post to write. I think so much of what you share here can be hard for women to articulate and have the courage to admit!

    The balance IS hard. I think no matter what work/home situation a woman chooses (assuming she is able to choose) there is a struggle of balance. Personally I work part time (about 20 hours a week) and at times I feel that I have simply the best of both worlds, and at times I feel like neither work or home get the best of me -- that I am stretched too thin!

    I think the advice above about following you heart and really listening to the important Mama messages you will hear will be an important part of your finding the balance.

    Best to you as you move forward!

  10. So true - Claudine - it also shifts from day to day - some days I think I have the right balance, some days I feel totally out of whack.
    Tonya - exactly, that whole role model thing scares me...

  11. lol...love the "matching outfits" comment.
    too cute.
    thanks for finding me, I've enjoyed your blog too! I've been a "lurker" before.