Friday, March 2, 2012

WAHMs have all the fun. And also all the work. Or whatever.

I don't talk much about my work in this space. But it's something that's been weighing on my mind a lot lately.

I love my job. I do. I get to handle the social media presence of a university, and it's really a wonderful adventure. I oversee a staff of fantastic student bloggers who amaze me every day with their insight and personality and passion for life. And I get paid to spend large parts of my day on Facebook and on Twitter and reading great blogs. How many people can say that?

So all things considered, I truly love what I do. But the thing is, I have these kids, you know?

The Monster, 17 months
The Princess, turning 6 this month!

And, well...I miss them when I'm at work.

When I became pregnant with my daughter almost 7 years ago, I was able to convert my job from full-time to half-time. I was very happy with that schedule. Yes, it required considerable sacrifice, because I gave up half my salary along with half my hours, and frankly, I did not give up half my workload; I had to do almost as much work in half the time, for half the pay. But we made it work, and I believed it was worth the sacrifices. I felt kind of balanced and whole.

After two years of that, some of my job duties shifted and I agreed to come back full-time, on the condition that I would be allowed to work 20 of my hours from home. This? Was kind of wonderful. I got my full salary back, and enough hours in the day to do my job without giving myself a heart attack, but I still had the flexibility and freedom to be at home with my daughter for many of her daylight hours. And my entire family thrived.

Working from home certainly has its own set of challenges. Teaching my toddler to entertain herself so Mommy could work was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. But I did it, and I think she's better for it. She's strong and independent and creative and imaginative, and I was there to see all of that. I also received nearly perfect performance evaluations during this time; the autonomy of my schedule really brought out the best in me, at home and at work.

When my son was born I continued this half-time in the office, half-time at home schedule, and once again had to reevalute my time management and routines, but again, I made it work.

Things have changed recently, though. My workplace no longer allows telecommuting. So last summer I had to rearrange my life one more time, find full-day childcare, and now I'm in the office all day every day.

It's hard. As much as I love my job, I miss the work-at-home mom I used to be. I miss getting up and booting up my laptop in my pajamas, snuggling with my kids while they watch cartoons and eat breakfast and I check my email and start my day. I miss watching my daughter teach her baby brother how to walk, talk, and play. I miss so many of these moments now, and it's difficult.

OK, maybe I don't so much miss "Moooooommmm, I'm huuuuuuungry" just as I begin a conference call. But overall, I do miss being a work-at-home mom. I'm not saying it's easy; just that, for me, it's worth it.

I'm hopeful that there are solutions still waiting to be found. That this is a temporary crossroads in my life, this full-time office job. As much as I adore what I do, I can't shake the knowledge that I could be doing it just as effectively and so much more contentedly from my home. The knowledge that I am committed to my career, but my career is not who I am. The knowledge that my babies are growing up and I'm missing much of it.

Are you a working mom? A work-at-home mom? A work-away-from-home mom? How do you find balance? And are there still opportunities out there to make a real living working from home?

What say you?

3 comments:

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