First, can you tell I am back in an academic setting? When titles of blog entries include the words “a case for,” it should be obvious that my head is stuck in research in some kind of way. Anyway…
Lately, I have thought a lot about this whole “working mom” thing and how it’s often looked at as something negative. Think about it. If you’re a working mom, you know that people feel bad for you like working is some kind of punishment: “Oh wow, that’s too bad” or “It must be hard not to stay home with the kids all the time. I’m sorry to hear that.”
Today, we are going to redefine “working mom.” Yes, it is a woman who has children + a job or career of sorts. But let’s not forget to give all these women credit for not only begin badasses, but for being intentional.
I went back to work with three children ages 8, 4, and 5 months (at the time). The truth is that I did so partly because we really did need to bring in extra income after I spent two years parading around with a “business” that pretty much flopped (another story for another post). However, going back to a job I love – being a university instructor – seemed like a wonderful plan. I love being a teacher, and I feel that my job is important.
Before this job, I worked full time from home for an education company. I’ve spent most of my life working, and some of my life essentially being a stay at home mom. If I learned anything from it, it’s this: Mothers who have to balance their time more are undoubtedly more intentional with it.
When I stayed home with my kids more, everything was always pushed back to “later on” or “sometime tomorrow” or “save it for a different day.” I didn’t run the numbers formally, but I am confident that so much of those things never got done. Unfortunately, they were usually activities with my kids. I figured, “Well, I’m not working much. We can always do it another day or later.” Often, “later” turned into “never.”
Fast-forward to now: I am on campus 12 hours per week, teach 73-75 students, and it’s a a researched argumentative writing course. The amount of planning and grading is a lot more than I remember from when I taught this course before. There were plenty of times during the few weeks when I wanted to throw the towel in, finish the semester, and never look back after that.
But here’s the thing: Once I got into a balance (for the most part), I found myself being a lot more intentional about the time I spend with my kids. Instead of making excuses, I make a lot more memories. Kids don’t really care of you have “more time” but 65% of it is spent checking Instagram instead of paying attention to them. Kids care about your focus on them, and intentionally spending time with your kids will force you to be a more present mother.
I started taking my 4 year old daughter on weekly “dates” when I went back to work so she didn’t feel like I forgot about her. It’s one day out of seven, yes. However, I’m not trying to multi-task during that time. It’s all about her. I legit never did anything like this when I wasn’t working a steady schedule.
I don’t consider myself a “working mom.” I consider myself an “intentional mom.” And you know what? Maybe I like working! Maybe I like feeling like I put in time to make shit happen. Fine by me.