Every day I feel like I’m being pulled in two directions – one toward following my dreams for my career and the other toward wanting to be with my kids. When I’m at work I miss my kids, but I really enjoy interacting with my coworkers, and while my current job may not be my dream one, I like that I can zone in on the task at hand and not have to worry about things like potty training, which episode of a kid’s show to put on based on the most vague description my three-year-old gives me (“you know, the one with the scary guy”) or what to feed my picky five-year-old.
But when I’m at home I find myself distracted by mentally planning out my next day at the office (yes, I’m kind of a control freak in that way. I am completely accepting of things not going as planned though because that can easily happen in my line of work). And I also find my mind racing with ideas for my writing and my blog.
I have always had career aspirations and never really saw myself as a stay at home mom. It wasn’t until I went back to work after my first maternity leave that I questioned whether I was doing the right thing and had made the right decision to go to work rather than stay at home with my baby boy.
Returning to work after my maternity leave was difficult for me for a few reasons: I had started a new job, I missed my son terribly and I felt guilty. The guilt was not just about leaving my son at daycare but it was also about wanting to get back on my career path again. Despite how much I missed my baby, it felt good to be back in an office environment and learning new things, not to mention talking to adults again on a regular basis.
Six months after starting that new job I found out I was pregnant. Before I knew it I found myself back on maternity leave, just when it felt like I had gotten settled into work life again. I was a little sad to be putting my plans for my career temporarily on hold but that was quickly overshadowed by my joy for being at home with my baby girl.
During my year at home with my daughter I found myself wondering again if staying at home with my kids would be something I want to do, especially when I was laid off shortly after my maternity leave ended. Financially though it wasn’t going to be feasible, so I searched for a job and for a second time returned to work with mixed emotions.
Flash forward just over two years to today and I still feel like I’m being pulled in two directions. Since starting my blog the desire to achieve a long-time dream of being a writer and editor is very strong. Not only am I working full time at my job, but I am dedicating a lot of spare time to working on my writing, brushing up my editing skills, re-learning Photoshop, managing my blog website and slowly learning all things blogging and social media. It is a lot of hard work but I am loving every moment of it! It’s taken me a long time to get here but I am finally doing something that I thoroughly enjoy! It may not be a paid gig, perhaps it never will be, but it has brought me so much happiness in such a short time (I’ve been blogging almost a year) that I can’t imagine giving this up anytime soon.
The tough part about being so busy with work life and career goals is that I end up missing out on things with my kids. School drop off and pick up is not an option for me because I have to be at the office, I’ve never been a parent volunteer for a school trip or pizza day, and I hardly ever stay home with the kids when they are sick or there is a PA Day from school. I have missed out on things like taking the kids to appointments, trips to the zoo or going to the playground. For the past two years I have been working on contract, and any time I’ve had to book off needed to be chosen wisely. I don’t want to leave the wrong impression here, it’s not like I am never spending time with my kids. But unfortunately this is the way things have unfolded in my work life and it is a daily struggle for me to find balance with my family life. I find I’m often wondering if I am spending enough quality time with my kids.
And so this tug of war continues. I very much want to pursue the possibility of my dream job and become the writer I’ve longed to be for the past 20 years. But then I look at my amazing kids and I know that in a flash they will be all grown up and I can’t help but wonder: will I regret not spending more time with them during these formative years?
The more I think about it the more I wonder if working from home is the solution I need, but is it really that simple? I would still be working so would that option really provide the balance that I’m seeking? I would love to hear from work from home parents and find out what it’s like for them.