Seeing Red

So someone repeated a statement to me today that’s got me a little perturbed. I’m not upset at the person who repeated it; I’m a bit frustrated that it was said at all. And my heart breaks a little that anyone thinks that way; this should be something that individual families decide for themselves.

I go back to work tomorrow, having been on maternity leave since my daughter was born in January.

Today the statement was repeated to me, “I thought Addie wanted that baby so badly, I’m surprised she’s going back to work.”

Cue the Donald Duck-style temper explosion in my head.

I made a comment about us needing my salary (we do), but there’s way more to it than that.

I’m the daughter of a working mom. My mother taught elementary school for thirty years. I can remember helping her set up her classroom and grade papers as I got older. I remember being proud of her when former students came up and told her how much they loved being in her class. I have many friends who have gone back to work after having kids.

I’m also friends with several stay at home moms. I know for a fact that they don’t sit around all day eating bon bons and watching Dr. Phil reruns. I didn’t on my maternity leave. Caring for small kids full time is a job and a half. I’m grateful to the stay at home mom who is going to be caring for my kid in her home while I work.

None of the working moms I know wanted their kids any less than the moms who were able and wanted to stay home.

I have enjoyed every minute of every day that I was home with The Girl. I’ve watched her grow from newborn to a nearly two month old baby while I was off. No matter the number of diaper blowouts, snot sucker drama, colic, reflux, getting peed on, getting pooped on, her spitting up while being burped, being an overstimulated baby refusing to nap, or any of the other more gory parts of new parenthood, I wouldn’t trade a moment of it. I’m glad that I was able to take a maternity leave with pay so that I could be home to experience all of it. I wish all moms could have that luxury.

I think all moms out there want to set an example for their kids. And we pick and choose what traits we model for them.

  • I want my daughter to know that she can have a career that fulfills her and still be a mom; and that sometimes having a fulfilling career can make you a better mom. 
  • I want my daughter to know caregivers other than mom, even though that breaks my heart a little. I want her to learn that there are loving people in this world that are outside of our home.
  • I want my daughter to know how good of a father she has because of how much he supports her mother in chasing her dreams; which would not be possible if I stayed home full time (we couldn’t afford some of the extra expenses I’ve incurred chasing this writing thing).
  • I want my daughter to know that she has value over and above being a mom; that she can contribute to the world more than just what she can give birth to.

And yes, we do need my salary. If I stayed home, I’d still have a mortgage and student loans and other bills to pay. And I have a stepson that will be in college in just four or five years. There’s no way we can afford to have me stay home.

Even if the money was there, I would still go back to work, because I need to, emotionally, intellectually, and physically. I’m not cut out to be a stay at home mom; I tip my hat respectfully to those who pull off that job. It’s one of the hardest jobs there is.

That’s not to denigrate stay at home moms. These are the things I’ve chosen to model for my kid. Others choose differently, based on their family and their circumstances. And there’s nothing wrong with that. Some of it is based on the individual moms and their desires, sometimes it’s based on the needs of their families.

BUT THAT CHOICE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH HOW MUCH YOU WANT OR DON’T WANT YOUR KIDS!

I’ve seen moms with unexpected pregnancies who stayed home with the kids and loved every minute of it. I’ve seen moms with planned pregnancies who couldn’t handle a Mommy and Me sing a long without losing their minds, and Pinterest gave them hives.

Yes, I wanted The Girl with every breath of my being, and well, I’m so grateful to have her. But don’t feel bad for me working, or think I wanted her less just because I go back to work in the morning.

(Though leaving her tomorrow will probably still be one of the hardest things I ever do, so do have a kind thought for me in the morning, why don’tcha?)

 

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