The Sometimes Bitterness of the Working Mommy.

by Rita Arens


This week I had a meeting with a woman who left the workforce when her second son was born and the first stopped sleeping. She had a great career, an enviable career, but one day, she'd just had it and realized she wanted to be home for her kids. She said they were poor for a while. We talked about how some of her friends and family reacted to her decision, how some called it "giving in," how she'd built a successful consulting career in the 15 or so years since she made that decision.


I ate my bagel and wanted to cry. If I quit my job, we wouldn't be just poor. We'd be out on our asses.


I've been having a hard working mommy week. The little angel has been really fighting daycare. I don't know what's different - she was doing fine for months - maybe it's that she senses in me a wistfulness when I drive her there. A realization, for me, that any chance I would have to be home with her before she starts real school is running through the hourglass at breakneck speed, and there is nothing I can do to reverse time.


I've worked full-time since she was three months old. I've had to. We are a solidly dual-income family - we need both salaries. I've gone around and around the mulberry bush for four years, trying to figure out how I could possibly spend more time with my daughter, and the answers have always been disappointing. I don't regret my "decision" to work, per se, because it doesn't feel like a decision when it's a necessary evil. I'm very happy I've been able to move my career in a direction that makes me happier - I love writing and editing - but I'd love to do it fewer hours a week, at least now, before my daughter completely grows up on me.


I don't know where I'm going with this. I feel like I've been over this ground so many times I've worn ruts with my pacing, and the answers never change. But this morning when my daughter clung to me, crying, I think if I'd been able to make a decision like the woman with whom I had coffee, I would've done it right then.


But I can't.


Damn it.




From Surrender, Dorothy.


Interesting post, though it is true that many working parents specially mothers finds it hard to leave the job & sit back at home to nurture or take proper care of the kids, due to this decision their financial condition gets affected. As i personally believe that there are many day care centers which are operating to help those working momma's to do well for their families at the same time care of the kids earnestly. Little Kingdom Child care center in Encinitas, CA is one such licensed child care center which is providing a perfect balance of academic and social developmental programs to children, that is exclusively designed to give every child the highest quality of attention and learning experience to kids between six weeks to twelve years of age.

leslie morgan s...

Leslie Morgan Steiner

God I loved this essay. Thank you for being so candid. There are no pat solutions.


When my daughters were 3 year old and 4 months old - I was told to leave my home - go live with my parents - he wanted a divorce. And I did. I lived with my parents for a year, and determined to be on my own, I got a job and moved out on my own, for the first time in my live with a 1 year old and a 4 year old. I had to put them in daycare, work full time, get them after an exhausting day, pay bills, buy groceries..the whole bit - for the first time ever! I did for 10 years on my own and HATED EVERY MINUTE of working. SO much guilt STILL runs through my veins over this. They are now 13 and 16 and I'm remarried - but still having to work. I hate it hate it hate it. I've started putting my paintings and artwork for sale, and attempting to go it alone with a photography business. But it's slow going. I am determined to NOT have to work..away from my an office and NOT be convenient for them. One day...geesh a girl can dream can't she? My husband wants to be filthy rich...I want to be comfortable and happy. There's a HUGE difference!


I thought this was a post that maybe I had forgotten I wrote-I understand how you feel so much too! I about died when I had to leave my son at daycare 6 years ago and it was even worse when I did the same for my daughter 2 years ago. It is still hard and I don't have much flexibility with my work. It depresses me to think that if I/we had been more frugal way back when that I could be at home with my daughter now and my son then. I think about ways and options that would help me to stay at home more or work out of the home...but the unknown and the risk scares the hell out of me.


I'm in the same boat. I actually bring home income than my husband - he chose a teaching professiona and my talents led me to the corporate world. I have a killer commute, but a flexible boss. Still, there just aren't enough hours in the day. I wish I could go part-time, but the company doesn't offer that as an option. I too have contemplated going solo and doing my own consulting work, but I just think it would be taking too big of a risk. My husband's salary could just cover our mortgage. We still have all of our other expenses to manage. And beyond the mortgage, we're pretty much debt free. I go through ruts, but I guess I just have to tell myslef that this is the way things are - no sense dwelling on it. I am blessed to be surrounded by family who helps immensely with my two boys - and now we have one more on the way. We're probably crazy, but I just try to enjoy every moment that I have with my boys and take the rest one day at a time. It's natural to get jealous of others, but everyone's situation is different. One of my friends stays at home and it works for them - but I also know they pinch every penny, aren't saving a lick for college and have to be very particular about extra activities. Hang in there.


First, I have to let you know that I know exactly how you feel. I loved my job and enjoyed the respect and purpose (and money) that came with working, but I hated leaving my son at daycare. He even loved his daycare home and almost never had a problem with separating. Then I became pregnant with twins (surprise!) and found out that one of them would have several disabilities (shock!)
This practically forced me to stay home which meant losing just shy of half of our income. I used to think we'd be "out on our asses" too if I ever quit to be with my son. Now, with three kids, there wasn't much question.
We had no savings; in fact, we still had consumer debt at the time. We were scared out of our minds, but we started living frugally immediately after the news of the babies and the diagnosis. (I thought we already had been fairly frugal, but I was wrong.) We have survived financially and thrived as a family unit. When the twins were 6 months old, we even paid off our credit card debt. Not to go "Dr. Laura" on you, but we have never been happier or more whole. I really never knew life could be this great (and we have some serious challenges to face.) That is a far cry from how I felt on a daily basis when I felt pulled between FT work and my little boy. It's amazing what you can do when you know you are making the right choices for your family.
I am not commenting to make you feel badly about your current choice, but to offer a ray of hope. You really can do it. You can.
And, this is probably not a very popular opinion on MT, but being home with all three of my kids has been the best thing I've ever done. I so regret not doing it sooner with my now five-year-old. Being a full-time mother to my babies from birth has opened my eyes to all the moments I missed with my older son and sometimes it is heartbreaking. And I'm not just talking about first steps and words. I'm talking about character-building, teaching moments that cannot be planned and wonderful, tender mama-baby times that will soon be gone for good.
This is a very short season in our lives- raising young children. I will work for pay again some time in the next 5-10 years.
I know exactly where you are at this moment and I used to hate it when women (usually of another generation) would try to encourage me to stay home, telling me I would figure out the financial end. I just knew we needed my income and there was no option. But I now know I was wrong. When your choices align with your heart's desire, it is astonishing how resourceful you can be.
I wish you and your family all the best.


Dear God - I know just how you feel. I have a little boy - Jack - just turned 3 a couple months ago and I miss him to bits each and every day I have to go to work. Due to my commute I leave before he wakes up (Daddy takes care of daycare those days) and most evenings - I am either rushing to pick him up at daycare or I come home after he's gone to bed. I live for the weekends - not because there is no work but because I get to spend every second with him. I see him growing up right before my eyes and I know I am missing so much. This sucks. I love my job - I love my boss - it's a good job and he's a good boss - actually, he's a great boss - but I miss my baby so much. Just wanted to say - you're not alone. We are also a solid dual-income family. Any amount of coulda-shoulda-woulda - isn't going to change the situation so I just have to suck it up and put my big girl panties on...but it doesn't mean that in the middle of the night, when I'm sure no one is awake - I can't sneak into my closet for a well deserved pity party. Hang in there.