5 Parenting Things I Should or Shouldn’t Be Doing

Although I am a working mom, my toughest job is being a mom. Children are complicated and they don’t come with any instructions.

I taught for five years before switching careers in 2008. My students ranged in age from 3 to 14 and the subjects I taught ranged from Montessori to Spanish. Some of the more friendly parents would talk to me about their parenting issues, and I assumed that someday I would be well prepared to handle it. As a teacher, I had to deal with potty fights (use your imagination), wrangled groups of kids on the playground, and helped several children deal with some serious emotions and situations.

This is where I say something like; Oh, how wrong I was.

Working with children has, in no way, prepared me for having a child of my own. I’ve looked to parenting literature, social media forums, and other parents as I struggle to be the best mom that I can be.

When I am in public with my child, I am aware of the stares I get from people who used to be just like me; the people without kids who silently remind themselves that they never want to be a mom like me. There is no right or wrong with parenting, there is just… different. But despite my open mind about parenting, others have strong opinions about how it should be done. Moms come in a lot of varieties; strict, cool, serious, kind, silly, strong, etc. I’m the confused kind of mom.

As parents, we can all agree that nothing is more important than having safe, happy, healthy, and loved children. What we disagree on is how to make all those things happen. I am aware of some things I do as a mom that other parents disagree with. Below is my list of 5 things I should or maybe shouldn’t be doing.

5 Things I Should or Shouldn’t Be Doing

What I do: I let my son brush my hair My hair is thick and long, thus taking a very long time to dry even with a blow dryer. My son has been mimicking what he sees others doing and that includes brushing his own hair in an awkward manner his motor skills can’t handle yet. He has his hair brushes, but he really likes to use mine. When I hand my brush over to him, I know it’s gonna be painful for me. Why I do It? We’re bonding; he is trying to take care of me the way that I take care of him. Kind of like the monkeys that pick bugs off of one another. He’s also learning good grooming and controlling the force of his touch (the grabbing-pulling that makes doggies cry when he pets them).

What I Do: I let my son play with my cell phone My husband, mother, and so many others have told me this is a bad idea. Mostly, they think I am teaching him playing with phones is OK and they are afraid for theirs. I have rules though. He can only play with my phone when I offer it to him. If he takes it himself, I take it away. I also require that he only play with my phone under my supervision. I don’t want him eating, trowing, or losing my cell phone. If it looks like he is getting rough, again I take it away. Why I do it? It just makes him happy. More often than not, the only thing he does with my phone is turn it on, turn it off, and smile each and every time he does it.

What I Do: I feed my son food other than fruit and vegetables I was strict on what my child ate during the first year of his life as though I was following a specific recipe to ensure healthy eating habits for life. Now? Not so much. As we added more and more foods to his diet and different textures, I don’t restrict him to fruits, vegetables, and small portions of healthy meats. I have no problem sharing a few bites of cake with him. Why I do it? If he wants to try something I am eating, then why not? It’s my job to teach him how to make healthy choices, not limit his taste buds while he’s growing.

What I Do: I let my son play with things that are not toys Like things with buttons (computers, calculators) newspapers, shoe boxes, and other things you might just throw into the trash. Currently, his favorite toy is a tin box and some ticket stubs. He loves opening and closing the tin box and passing out the tickets one by one to anyone nearby. And like a lot of other children, he also loves cooking with an empty bowl and spoon. Sometimes he even makes ticket soup. Why I do it? This entertains him for HOURS and is made up of a tin box a friend gave him and left over ticket stubs that were garbage. He plays quietly, why wouldn’t I let him play with it?

What I Do: I let my son make a mess Yes, sometimes I watch him dump his toy bins on the floor and mix the organized contents. That same thing some mother’s update their Facebook status about with pictures of the damage their children caused. Why I do it? He’s just having fun and clean up is a game for him. I cheer and praise him when he puts toys back into his toy box or the bins. So instead of telling him NO when he makes a mess, I’m telling him YES when he cleans it up. This positive reinforcement has led to him spontaneously putting things away and another game he likes to play called, pick-up-the-tiny-thing-the-vacuum-missed-and-give-it-to-mommy.

BONUS: I also let my son shower instead of bath (you just try getting him to sit in the tub), I laugh at how cute he looks when he has a tantrum, and I let him get dirty when he plays in the yard.

Do you let your children do something maybe they shouldn’t be doing?

 

Tuesday 10: 10 Favorite Photos

Below are 10 of my favorite photos that capture some of the most special moments in my life. If a picture is worth a thousand words, I will let these special photos speak for themselves.

1. When we first met…

2. Celebrating our marriage with family and friends…

3. Baby’s first picture…

4. Our first family photo…

5. Mother and daughter…

6. Little baby goes to Washington…

7. Precious smile…

8. Sisters…

9. That’s my boy…10. I love every, simple, mundane moment…

When Something Scary Happened to My Son

This topic is a little more serious than usual. I learn so much from my experiences, and wanted to share this one.

The sun slept in on Saturday and got a later start than usual. Unfortunately, the same was not true for me. I had a list of errands to do before a bridal shower at noon. Although motherhood has taught me efficiency, it has not taught me patience. I was in foul mood until my to-do list was completed and we made it to the bridal shower.

My mother and I were greeted at the bridal shower by family we don’t see as often as we would like and some new friends. For them, it was their first time meeting my son. He didn’t mind the attention, but was staying cautiously close to me. When the bride-to-be opened her gifts in the living room, I stood just outside the empty kitchen. Releasing my son was like opening a birdcage. After pacing through the kitchen several times, he was at my side and playing with a pair of balloons.When he sat on the floor beside me, I gave him a snack.

I took advantage of the opportunity to be sociable, and directed my attention back to the bridal shower for a moment as I stood just beside my son. When I looked down at him seconds later, I noticed something was very wrong.

“HE’S CHOKING!’ I shouted immediately. The words were there before I understood what was happening. Suddenly, time stopped.

I grabbed my son and began hitting him on the back. When that didn’t work and he continued gasping for air, I used my fingers in his mouth. I had CPR and First Aid training years ago, but I was too busy reacting to what was happening to ponder if I should be doing something differently. My mother was beside me now and while I continued to use my pinky in his mouth, she was hitting him on the back with the heel of her hand.

He gagged and spit up a little. Then he did it again. Finally, he vomited and his airway was cleared. After he got some air, his scream was one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard.

While I took care of him, the other moms at the bridal shower were taking care of me. I couldn’t truly comprehend what they were saying. When my son was choking, I didn’t have the time to freak out. Now that he was in my arms and enjoying a bottle, I replayed the moment over and over again in my head.

Even now, it upsets me to think of that first moment when I realized something was wrong. But in the seconds, minutes, hours, and days that followed, I have learned a few things that I wanted to share.

I have been spinning my tires in the mud worrying about what I did wrong. What mom doesn’t blame herself when something happens regardless of whether or not she has control over it? Sure I could have NOT given my son a cracker, but he’s had them so many times before. Should I never-ever give him a cracker again? After the incapacitating shock wore off, one of the moms gave me a pat on the back and told me this incident would just be the first of many ‘scary’ incidents. As our children grow, develop, and try new things, they take risks. Although we can not, and should not, shelter our children (young or old) from life, we can do our part to TRY to keep them safe. But keeping them safe, no matter how hard we try, is no guarantee.

This was one of those ‘special’ moments when I felt instinct controlling me. Sure I had the CPR and First Aid training years ago, but it is much easier to sit here now and remember it than it was while my son was choking. I am sure there was a better technique I could have used, but the cracker needed to not-be-stuck-in-my-son’s-throat and that was all that mattered. Even now, that is still all that matters.

There was a small part of me that I can not deny was a little embarrassed afterwards. I had given a room full of women (most of them moms) a scare during what should have been a fun and happy moment for the bride. Their laughter became anxious silence when I shouted out. They all approached me afterwards (some several times) to check on my son and I. It was natural for me to feel embarrassed for being the center of attention for a few minutes, but wrong of me to think that others might feel annoyed that I had given them a scare. Nothing mattered to them more than my son being ok.

What impressed me most was that I realized my son is tougher than I am. He moved on from the incident very quickly; unfazed and behaving as though nothing had happen. I monitored him closely through out the day, but he wasn’t bothered. I needn’t be afraid of him loving me less (or even loving crackers less). It happened and he’s over it. This mom, however, is still working on it.

I started my day with a to-do list, but there is no way of predicting or controlling things from happening. My son wasn’t choking for more than a couple of seconds, but it has certainly affected me since then. The only thing predictable about life, is that it is so unpredictable.

In case you didn’t know, I am not a medical expert. I’m just a mom who wanted to share her experience. This was an opportunity for me to sort my thoughts and the what-ifs that have been bothering me.

Moms, what have you learned from similar experiences? How did you feel? What did you do? Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts.

Getting Work and Life More in Balance

Blogging is greater than just writing. It is about conversation and interaction. If bloggers didn’t want a response or reaction to their posts, they might use a pen and paper to record their thoughts and keep them private. But here I am; an open book.

After Work-Life Imbalance was Freshly Pressed, a productive conversation about work and family occurred. Some shared their personal experiences, others shared advice and encouragement. I would be a fool if I neglected to recognize what I was learning from their comments. I would also be greedy if I didn’t share their wisdom with others.

I wanted to highlight a few comments from different perspectives and with different backgrounds than my own. Recognizing that no two stories are alike, but that they are equally relevant, is important as we all journey to be better bloggers, parents, and people.

Flav_Holman: I think my life went completely off balance 5 years ago when I had my daughter. Never to go back to the way it was again :)

ASuburbanLife: I wish I could find the person who coined the term “work life balance” and kick him. The definition of balance is “a state of equilibrium or equipoise; EQUAL distribution of weight, amount, etc.” or “to be EQUAL or proportionate” (my emphasis in all caps). When you are a working parent of young children there is no balance! I prefer “work family juggle” (juggle = to hold, catch, carry, or balance precariously; almost drop and then catch hold again!).

emmahevezi: you need to concentrate on what you are doing well not on what other people appear to be doing or how you compare to other people.

Life’s amazing journey: There’s a chance that the work/family-life balance is a myth. I think that it’s easier to take work and family as it comes separately – work for these hours, family for the other hours.

kramerjen: I don’t think anyone really has it figured out.

kcburk: Work 8 hours. Get 3 with your kids before bed time. That’s an even trade right!?

krafte: From the other side: I had a stay at home mom, and while she was always there, as I got older, she was STILL always there. It ended up being hurtful both to me, and to her, I think.

divaofdelicious: I hated to work my butt off just pay $$$ for someone else to do what I wanted to do…raise my kids.

oilandgarlic: I’ve written about this topic numerous times. I think flexiblity is more important than the mythic work/life balance, as there is always an imbalance of sorts!

Ruby Bagga: When at home, just try to spend quality time with him and the house work gets neglected. Its a never ending vicious circle.

Thank you to everyone who has been participating in the Work-Life Imbalance discussion. You are more than welcome to share your thoughts or additional comments below.

Babysaurus Rex: My 1 Year Old Eats Like a Dinosaur

Something happened at the pediatrician last week that I don’t quite understand. Although I am happy to report I did not sob through my son’s booster shots again, I’m a little confused about the way I behaved.

One of my biggest parenting peeves (EVER) is when other parents assume that they can tell YOU how to parent. But motherhood is a lot like driving; once you figure out which side of the road you should be driving on, you have to figure out how to get where you’re going. Confusing? Yes. Yes, of course it is.

I have always been very careful about monitoring the foods my son is eating. I am hopeful that the healthy choices I make for him now will be healthy choices he will make for himself in the future. Despite my scientific-research-based and pediatrician-advised efforts, I have long endured comments from other moms about how chubby my son is.

“Oh, my! Look how chubby he is! You have a BIG boy! What are you feeding him?”

I smile, nod, and pretend to ignore the vocal emphasis on the word big that makes me think they might be describing a dinosaur. It’s not necessarily a weight issue, but the implication that I am feeding my son a brontosaurus for lunch and a Jurassic Park jeep for dinner. Not sure how either one of those got into my breast milk. Also, I thought his cereal puffs were sweet potato, not extinct-herbivore. I love-love-love my son’s chubby legs and knuckles, but are his eating habits and weight unhealthy?

After 4 shots, this little dinosaur was as angry as a Photoshopped T-Rex!

When we visited the pediatrician last week, I nervously waited for a lecture (or a take-home pamphlet) about my son’s weight. However, his height and weight were in the 44 and 50 percentiles. Yes, my son is perfectly average. I must have exhaled heavily, because the pediatrician asked me if something was wrong. I explained my concern that he was overweight, and she reminded me that he was, in fact, a baby. A healthy (and handsome) baby boy.

When I left the appointment, I felt like updating my status on Facebook to proudly announce how average my son was. However, I was embarrassed about what I had learned about myself, after all, bad parenting moments are among the most teachable if we aren’t too stubborn to admit it. Despite the fact that I have strong opinions which are easily expressed on my blog, I’m not otherwise vocal about agreeing or disagreeing with others. Yes, despite saying I don’t like it when other people tell me what to do, I take what others say VERY seriously. I mostly end up thinking that I am the one doing it wrong or not very well if someone else is doing it differently. And with billions of people on this planet, that’s a lot of ‘different.’

I could not possibly say enough good things about the network of moms and women I have encountered through blogging, web, and social networking communities for their pats-on-the-back and encouraging words when I dare to be brave about my feelings regarding parenting issues. It’s not that everyone agrees with me, but merely reminds me of the fact that we all must make decisions and assessments for ourselves.

And no, brontosaurus will not be on our dinner menu this evening.

Guest Post: Getting the most out of Family Portraits

Today’s special guest post is brought to you by a longtime personal friend of mine. I have long admired the wonderful portraits I have seen other moms having done and reached out to Jessica, a professional photographer, for some more information that I could share with all of you. Enjoy and stay tuned for other helpful tips from Jessica on capturing memorable moments in photographs!

By guest blogger, Jessica Grof:

My name is Jessica, and I’m a mom to my 2 stepdaughters, Jessica and Gina,
and my son Nathan. I’m also a professional photographer and I work at
McMillen Photography, and part time at a one hour photo lab
in Uniontown. My kids were my main subjects for quite awhile (they mostly
just squirm when I get my camera out anymore, I guess I wore them out…)
but now I enjoy focusing on other people’s children in a studio setting.

I realize that the thought of getting portraits done can be overwhelming,
especially if you have more than one child, but the effort that you put
forth is very much worth it. It seems to me that people get a false sense
of security anymore because of digital cameras. You can click away and
have hundreds of snapshots of your children and the quality of point and
shoot cameras is improving. Most people don’t even print their photos
anymore. They just keep them trapped in their camera or computer. I’ll let
you in on a little secret here…memory cards fail and computers crash.
Things are changing rapidly if you haven’t noticed; there are several
different types of memory cards and it seems that each brand of camera
takes a different one. Instead of burning CD’s anymore, we use DVD’s
because they hold so much more information. Think about how many changes
have been made since cameras came about. They started off with tin or
glass plates, then film came along. Most of us think of 110 or 35mm when
it comes to film. But before that there were slides, the discs that remind me of Viewfinder
reels and who could ever forget the Polaroids (makes me want to sing shake
it like a Polaroid picture!). Polaroids aren’t around anymore, and who
reading this still even uses 35mm film? My point here is that things
change, all the time. Prints will last, as long as you take care of them.
And they can be passed down from generation to generation.

One of our main points of business at the photo lab are old black and whites that
customers want to get reprinted. Very rarely do these customers have the
slide or negative, they come in with the original print so we can scan it
in and re-print it. That’s just the way it is. I personally value a print
that I can hold in my hand or put in an album (just ask my husband, I have
so many photo albums that it’s a little crazy). Nothing beats taking a
photo album to a family reunion and seeing the looks on the faces of
relatives you don’t see very often as they admire your little ones. And
how in the world are we supposed to fill the frames on our walls without prints?

Portraits are important for many reasons. First, your child will never be
the same as he is today. Tomorrow brings changes that can’t be undone. As a parent, I know how quickly time flies. Before you know it, that baby you just had is walking, then he is walking into his kindergarten classroom. Where did all the time go? You may feel that you are too busy, or that now just isn’t the right time, but if not now, when? We also want to give our children something to remember. I suggest using a 3 ring binder with the
clear pages to store your 8×10′s in when you replace the photo in a frame, instead of stacking pictures on top of one another. That way you have an over-sized album of all of your portraits that you can look through and pass on.Do you remember what your parents did with your pictures? Shoe box? Albums? Nothing? I’m proud that my kids will have their photos to show their children.

Here are a few tips for your portrait day:

  • Schedule your appointment around your kids. When are they happiest during the day? Don’t schedule at a time when they would typically be napping or hungry.
  • You can dress you child casually. The frills and lace are optional. But if your kid is comfortable, it will show in the pictures, and the shoot will probably go smoother too. It may be a good idea to bring a few outfits, in case he happens to get dirty (we are talking about kids here). Most photographers don’t mind waiting the few minutes it takes to change clothes.
  • Bring snacks and a sippy. Sometimes bribery works.
  • If your child has a favorite toy, or if you have a special blanket or hat, bring it! It can be incorporated into the shoot, and make it all the more special.
  • This one depends on the photographer and your child, but sometimes its easier if mom and dad stick to the background and let the photographer be in charge. It can be confusing to a child to have so many people try to get his attention, and he may not be quite sure where you really want him to look. Bunches of people jumping up and down playing peek-a-boo can be overwhelming!
  • Be patient! It’s rare that we have children that come in, sit still and smile for every picture. A lot of the time we have to work for it. Kids wiggle, so re-posing may go on a lot! If they need a break, give them one.
  • Pick up your baby and cuddle or let your toddler roam around a bit.
  • Studio sessions aren’t the same as outdoor sessions. During an outdoor session, we are able to get more natural, unposed pictures of your children. They are more on their turf, so the smiles won’t be forced or fake (you know the big cheesy smiles I’m talking about!). We are able to move around more and get different, creative shots. If the weather is nice and the option is available, a mix of studio and outdoor shots is the way to go!
  • If you can’t choose just a few pictures that you like because there are so many good ones, get a collage. It’s a great way to incorporate several of your favorite pictures into one photo, and in a creative way.

I hope that I have inspired you to make that call and schedule an
appointment to go get some portraits taken. It will be well worth it!

Work-Life Imbalance

On a daily basis I find articles and blog posts promising good advice on balancing work and family. They only seem to help with making me feel more out of balance. How do these working moms do it?! There is a deceiving calmness to the advice they offer and I always ask myself the same question. What am I doing wrong? A harmonious work-life balance is like Bigfoot; I want to believe it exists.

On occasion, I have brought my son to work. He’s well behaved when he’s somewhere new and loves the oooh’s, awww’s, and attention he gets from co-workers. Although I don’t know much about cooking, I do know a 1 year old and an office environment full of things he can’t touch is a recipe for a tantrum.

The working hours are long and even longer when I am lonely for my son. Which is like always. Working from home sounds nice, but I can’t even fool myself into believing that it would be a good option to consider. Worth a try, but likely not a productive solution.

Fortunately, I have found ways of feeling closer to my baby during the hours of 9-5 when I’m doing my ‘other job.’

My son is always in the care of family when I am at work. Instead of a standard written report telling me about his day, I get pictures through out the day showing me the exciting things he is doing. For a moment, seeing his pictures makes me feel like I am right there with him. Fortunately my co-workers are good sports when I show them the pictures too.

There is also a special area in my work space where I keep a few of my favorite (and fabulously Washington, DC) photographs. I proudly display his hand prints we made during his first day in the office many months ago. Don’t be fooled by the neatness and organization. This is the only thing orderly about my cubicle. Might explain why a work-family balance feels so unattainable to me.

Occasionally, there are those days and opportunities for bringing my son to the office. By opportunities, I mean days when a lower level of productivity is acceptable. Mostly, those are just weekends.

With President’s Day just behind us, I’m reminded of how difficult 3 day weekends can be. You know what happens to the mouse you give a cookie to, right? Inevitably when I return to work, I miss my son a little bit more than usual.

If there is a such thing as a work-life balance, I am still looking for it. In the meantime, I have his pictures, baby-talk phone calls, and a wonderful greeting each evening when I come home. Although the quantity of time I would like to spend with my son is significantly less than I would prefer, the quality of our time together is wonderful. Perhaps it is the quality of family time that keeps work-life in balance. In that case, mission accomplished.

 

UPDATE 03.01.2012 Check out a follow-up to Work-Life Imbalance at Getting Work and Life More in Balance.

Blog Post by Her Bad Mother: Love Lifts Us Up, To Where We Probably Belong

Aside

Blog Post by Her Bad Mother: Love Lifts Us Up, To Where We Probably Belong

I wanted to share a blog post by Her Bad Mother. She talks about another controversial parenting subject; stay at home dads. She addresses the judgements others make and the complicated way some dads feel about being the parent at home. As I mentioned in the comment I left; We all eat the bacon. It doesn’t matter who brings it home. – Jennifer

This will seem like a statement of the obvious, but still, it bears stating: when we moved to New York City, everything changed.

Everything changed, of course, in the ways that you might expect: we went from living in Canada to living in the United States, we went from living in a very small town to living in a very big city, we went from living in a detached house with a basement and a yard to living in a loft, we went from socialized health care to totally not socialized health care. But it changed in this way, too: we went from being a household in which mom worked in the home and dad worked away from home to the reverse. And that, my friends, has made all the difference, and a difficult difference at that…

Continue reading at Her Bad Mother…

Also, the Co-Sleeping controversy.

Blog-Baby-Book: Walking

For some time now, my son has been disinterested in sitting and laying. Although he would rather stand than sit when he plays, he hadn’t realized that you don’t have to be hold onto the wall to walk around. On Monday evening, he let go.

Why the sudden walking? Because my husband reached across the room and offered his cell phone to our son if he walked to get it. If you need to know anything about my son; if it DOESN’T look like a baby toy, he wants it. Really bad.

Within minutes our son was less interested in the cell phone than he was in all the cheers and attention he was getting. Amazing what positive reinforcement and encouragement can do for a child.

And to be clear, he IS walking like you and I although it does seem as if he is much less clumsy than I am. He’s not cheating in any way and I’m not exaggerating (I think we all know moms who stretch the truth).

Within 30 minutes, he was running in circles and shouting gleefully. My house hasn’t been this noisy since I had a newborn and a grumpy husband. Pretty sure this was what all the moms were warning me about when they said, ‘Oh, boy. Just you wait.’

As a working mom, one of my biggest fears is missing these moments in my son’s development. I am thankful to have witnessed and share this milestone with my son, husband, and mother. Quite obviously, I am very proud.

Blog-Baby-Book highlights baby’s firsts and developmental milestones.

Life Labeled as a ‘Working Mom’

Hi, it’s me standing on my soap box. Yes… again.

Moms make difficult decisions every day: Should I buy the generic diapers on sale or should I splurge on name brand? Breast or bottle? Is my child crying because he really needs something or is he crying because he’s a little fussy? Despite the unsolicited advice and lectures I have endured regarding my family’s ‘controversial’ decision to co-sleep, the toughest parenting decision I have made is little more complicated and selfish; my decision to be a ‘working mom.’

Being a mom is a super-duper important job! It is both challenging and rewarding. Moms don’t earn a paycheck for their hard-work, but they raise curious babies who become intrigued children who become responsible adults. Moms are responsible for nourishing their children, keeping them safe, and totally loving them! If it sounds difficult and complicated, that’s because it is.

You have my deepest apology for using the clichéd term, ‘working mom’ as you read on (if you kindly choose to do so). Labels should be for jars of baby food, not moms!

Being a working mom has been a difficult experience for me that I underestimated and was not prepared for. Sure I’m always struggling to find time, but what mom isn’t? The issue has been an emotional one that I can no longer blame on hormones.

After 6 weeks of maternity leave, I was back to work in March of 2011. Was I ready? Not at all! Although six weeks sounded like a vacation before maternity leave began, when you actually have a newborn, six weeks is no time at all. I have since encouraged other working moms to take extended leave if possible, unpaid or not. Yes, where maternity leave is concerned I offer my unsolicited opinion to other moms.

So why be a working mom? For some, it’s not a choice. As a first time mom, this was one of the first decisions I had to make in which I had to put my own feelings second to doing what was best for my family. I’ll be honest, it was a tough lesson to learn. I was, and still am, very selfish about my child. I want to spend every possible moment with him (and what mom doesn’t).

But there were other reasons for returning to work as well and I only have myself to blame. I have worked very hard to get where I am today (shout out to the working girls!). Opportunities in my field are limited and highly competitive; leaving meant the likelihood that I would never be able to return to the position I am in today. I had to ask myself if I was ok with that, and my honest answer was no.

You may have noticed I seem to be contradicting myself. Yes I am. But I did say this was difficult. Honestly, after nearly a year of being a working mom, it hasn’t really gotten any easier and I still struggle with the same emotions. I can’t possibly describe how much it hurts when another mom says something like, “Oh, I can’t imagine being away from my children all day.’ Yeah, pretty much sucks as much as the guilt you just dumped on me.

So why do it?

It’s a combination of doing it for the good of the family and doing it for myself professionally. So far, being a working mom has been the right thing to do, despite the challenges.

When my son is not with me, he has been exclusively in the care of family members who devote 115% of their time, attention, and love to him.  Not only do I save a small fortune in child care (we’re talking more than $1000 a month per child in the DC area) but my son is with the same people who raised me. Mostly, I think I turned out ok and my son will too.

His reaction each evening when I get home from work also dispels my irrational fear that my baby will forget who I am and love me less because I am not with him 24/7. Babies understand families and love a lot better than we give them credit for. Added bonus that perhaps me being a working mom can someday be a teachable moment for him.

Emotionally, it is fortunate for me that my husband and I commute together and meet for lunch each day. Most people don’t think of traffic as quality time together, but we make the most of it. It’s also nice to talk about the stressful parts of our day before we take our stress home with us. We leave our stress stuck somewhere in traffic and give our son the better parts of our days.

I have no immediate plans for leaving work. Things are good and we like ‘good.’ Although my family intends to remain on its present course for the time being, we are open to re-evaluating things when the situation warrants other consideration. If I have learned anything about how quickly children grow and develop, it has prepared me for the very real reality that I will begin homeschooling soon enough and the label of ‘working mom’ will someday have a different meaning for me.