Last week, our bonfire topic was becoming a stay at home mom. This week, Lea Ann of Mommy’s Wish List talks about UNbecoming a stay at home mom as she heads back into the workforce. These two posts so clearly outline for all of us how no side of the motherhood fence is really easy. I think you’ll love Lea Ann’s perspective.
Three weeks ago, I was paroled.
Just as Meg from Phase Three of Life was gearing up to become a stay-at-home mom, I was released from my grueling 8-year sentence. After an eternity of stay-at-home motherhood, I got a job.
Unbecoming a stay-at-home mother feels like drawing Monopoly’s Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card and landing on Free Parking, all at the same time.
I realize that is a very unbecoming and unpopular thing to say as a mother. Motherhood is regarded as the highest calling. The hardest yet most rewarding job a person will ever have. Mothers are saints. Heroes. Role Models. But they are also the most underpaid, undervalued, and under-appreciated employees on the planet.
“Mommy, I want some chocolate milk.”
“Well, I want to live in the South of France.”
“I’m thirsty mommy. I am not kidding.”
“I’m not your servant. And I am not kidding either.”
“Ok, fine. Please mommy?”
Like every stay-at-home mother, I have endured the natural isolation that comes from being the personal assistant of tiny high-maintenance, low-vocabulary people with 24/7 demands. But, in addition to surviving the overly hyped daily joys of motherhood, I’ve also lived with being kept out of my chosen profession for the past eight years.
I’m an advertising Creative Director. Or at least I was, until I aged out of a system that undervalues experience and insight. And females. Mothers in particular. Surprisingly, even though women make over 80% of household purchase decisions, only 3% of creative directors worldwide are women. One would think that a female creative director would be especially valuable to brands.
Especially one with her own built-in toddler focus group.
If you look at this point in both of my boys’ lives, their maturity, cognitive abilities, and general desirable human traits are almost identical at this age. They are almost 7 and 16 now. But the first years of both of their lives were vastly different.
My oldest son had a happily employed mother up until he was 7-years-old. When I was a working mother, I thought motherhood was the greatest thing every invented. Maybe that was because I only did it a couple hours a day. Or maybe it was because he was a piece of cake.
As a stay-at-home mother with my youngest child, it was jail. Jail in hell. No chance of parole. Not even a blessed hour in solitary confinement. And although this second child has finally metamorphosed from being a wild baboon into quite a nice little boy, I never want to do that again. Ever.
I could say the reason my youngest is doing so well is because I made him my life. The stay-at-home mom in me would love that answer because it would validate my sacrifice, and demonstrate positive ROI.
I could say my oldest turned out so great because he grew up with a happy, personally fulfilled parent. And the working mom in me would breathe a proud sigh of relief. Children thrive, rebound, adapt. And, they reflect their role models.
Would my youngest’s life have been easier, and better, if I had been a working mom for him too? He would have grown up in daycare, with a happy mother in the evenings and weekends. I have this never-ending rhetorical discussion with my husband.
“Maybe he wouldn’t have been such a snarling beast the first few years of his life if he’d been in daycare.”
“Maybe I caused him to be a snarling beast because I was so unhappy as a stay-at-home mother.”
“Maybe he’d still be a snarling beast if I hadn’t been here day and night to correct his behavior.”
I’m starting my fourth week as a Digital Strategist at Standing Dog Interactive in Dallas. When the CEO met me, (after 136 job interviews) he called me an enigma and created a new position for me in his agency on the spot. He told me to set my work schedule around my children’s school schedule. And to work from home every Wednesday.
More than unbecoming a stay-at-home mother and returning to myself, I feel like I am becoming something completely new. Something akin to living in the best of both worlds, where I am happy and fulfilled, both by my career and by motherhood.
Do moms have to give themselves away to get good kids in return?
Lea Ann Stundins is a branding and digital strategist, creative director, expert shopper, and blogger at Mommy’s Wish List. You’ll find her not only telling people how not to pay for things, but cursing at Photoshop in her glamorous dining room office. Lea Ann is on twitter @mommyswishlist and you’ll find her blog’s Facebook page at facebook.com/mommyswishlist