Need to Work vs. Maternal Instinct: the Plight of one SAH, Soon to be Working Mom

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Maybe plight is a strong word, but there is a dissonance that exists between the need to contribute financially to the family and the desire to self-actualize, versus the maternal instinct to always be there for our kids. I would anticipate it is different for everyone. Maybe there are some who love their careers so much and appreciate the balance that work provides to parenting. And, I definitely believe there are SAHM (stay at home moms) who just feel a tremendous (albeit tired) sense of purpose and fulfillment being part of almost every waking hour with their children. Me? I’m a juxtaposed mess somewhere in between. Here is my story so far.

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I’ve officially completed my first week of YTT (Yoga Teacher Training). Leading up to it, I had found my motivation at home was wavering. I adore my kids and thoroughly enjoy taking on each day with them, but found the confines of each day in our home were beginning to weigh on me. We would get out, but as my husband and I share a car, our regular jaunts had been come way too regular. Yes, I love to craft, explore, challenge, and engage my toddlers in whatever way I can dream up or that Pinterest may suggest. Still, I find myself craving adult interaction and mental stimulation. And so, I can get lost in social media, reading articles, commenting, sharing… Cleaning the house has always seemed almost futile. I tidy almost endlessly, only to have everything undone by two sets of hands as I go. So, I’ve found myself lately doing the bare minimum.Β Feeling a lack of inspiration when it comes to household duties and outings, this yoga training could not come at a better time.

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The day of my first class, as expected, I was very excited, but nervous about what was to come. Being that that day was only 7:00 until 10:00 pm, I left after an early dinner, and only really missed bath and bed time. Easy peasy. The second day of class was the same schedule, and therefore was totally reasonable. The following two days were on the weekend, and, as a result, were longer. They also were preceded by the most time I’d spent away from my kids in a given week. Though my mom was taking care of them, and they both love her dearly, I could not shake an immense feeling of guilt for having to leave them. My kids were thrilled to wake up to Nana in our home. And even still, my gut was telling me I was forsaking them. By mid-Saturday, I was feeling as if I had put both of my kids in a cardboard box and left them on a stranger’s doorstep, never to be seen again. I kid you not. Even though rationally, and based on my litany of texts to my mom, I knew they were loving life. To rub salt in it all, this particular weekend’s series of courses was held at a local tourist hotspot. Because it was gloriously sunny, seemingly every family and their stroller were out to enjoy Granville Island. And I had basically abandoned my children. It felt like every fibre of my being was aching for them. I survived. And once home, couldn’t hug them tightly enough. Fortunately, they were willing participants in my “Mama can barely live without you” spectacle. Sigh.

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The thing is, I love yoga. I so totally, completely, and utterly love yoga. If we didn’t need me to get back to work, this would still be on my bucket list, and high up there in priority. As a result, I can’t help, but feel grateful that I am doing something that I have such a fondness for. Otherwise, I would be an absolute weeping mess (as is, I’ve been borderline). I do anticipate it’ll get better. I will adjust, and my maternal instincts will stop being so darn hyperbolic. Still, I have this overwhelming appreciation for every single mother who has gone back to work, has dropped their kids at daycare for the first time, and/ or has returned to work to a job they don’t love, or even like. To all of you, I wish I could give you the biggest hug and tell you how impressed I am that you survived it, and do it so well. Because clearly, I’m a borderline mess!

xo Alana

Please share your own back-to-work stories, thoughts on eventually going back to work, or any tidbit of insight you have on missing your kids less πŸ˜›

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17 thoughts on “Need to Work vs. Maternal Instinct: the Plight of one SAH, Soon to be Working Mom

  1. For me, it’s hard. I am a disabled stay-at-home mama who WANTS to go to work. But, physically, it just isn’t feasible for me. However, I’ve struck a balance of wanting to contribute to the family by working at home as a freelance contributor to a bunch of mom sites. It doesn’t exactly cover the rent, but it can buy a tank of gas and some groceries.

    But I can imagine if I did ever get the chance to get out of the house and “go” to work, I don’t doubt that I would become a weepy mess the minute I step outside the door.

    1. That’s so impressive how you have been able to contribute by working from home. I can only imagine your desire to get back to work is greater as a result of not being able to. And thank you for relating to me being a mess of emotions. It’s one of those dammed if you do/ don’t sorts of situations. I was really looking forward to this experience and then my sensitive heart can barely handle it!

  2. Oh my sweet friend, this gave me chills because this aspect of my life is looming in the not too distant future and it already makes me cry. I’ve been a SAHM, a full time working mom, and a part time working mom. They all have their perks and downfalls, but I have to say my favorite is SAHM. Now as a single mom, I will soon have no choice but to be a working, single mom. It guts me. Even typing it makes me teary. I feel like above my calling to be a social worker is my calling to be a mother and I too am a mother who wants to spend every waking moment with my kids….within reason haha. But, as you said, sometimes we have to do what we have to do. Ideally we find something we love and are able to enjoy our time away from our babies. It sounds like you’ve found that which is amazing! And the good news is, it does make you appreciate your kids that much more when you’re with them. And vice versa… but it’s still so tough!

    1. Thank you for being able to relate, and for all that you wrote <3 I have a girlfriend who was a full-time working single mom. It is a heavy thing to have looming; it isn't easy. She did it amazingly well considering the demands, as I'm sure you will too. In the mean time, I will pray blogging turns out to be a good paying gig for you πŸ™‚ Or that maybe part-time could be an option. I do appreciate my monkeys more now that I have more balance, though I think my heart needs to grow a fair bit stronger!!!

  3. Great article Alana! I only have the one boy so far but I have been back to work full time for just over a year now and i actually really enjoy it. And although the thought of having my boy spend most of the day with someone else was hard at first i found comfort in the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child”. It also helped that my son absolutely loves going to daycare and really enjoys being with all the other kids. That being said when I am not working I find it very hard to take time for my self because I want to spend every free minute with my son and husband. Thank goodness for 7:30 bed time and wine! πŸ™‚

    1. Andrea, thank you so much for your kind words. It isn’t easy deciding to leave your kids with someone else, but ultimately it does provide a nice balance. I agree so completely that it takes a village to raise a child. And part of the benefit of that village is our children get to have a variety of awesome influences in their lives.

  4. The day I went on maternity leave I missed work. Everyone said that will change once you have the baby. After she was born I remember sitting in hospital missing work. Then when she was 4 weeks old I couldn’t handle it anymore and arranged to go back to work full time when she was about 9 weeks old. I love my job and I needed it- it is my oxygen. I felt the life draining out of me and that I was miserably withering away. I was so much happier at work but it was hard, and now that she’s a bit older it’s even more difficult. Initially I worked in emergency where we only work 80 hour fortnights but now I work on stroke and in the last two weeks have worked 30 hours of overtime plus 16 hours on call and it has been really hard. The days I get home late my heart aches because all I want is to hold her but that overtime enables John to stay home full time. But, I know that I am a better Mom as a working Mom because overall I am so much happier. The hard days I remind myself that everyone makes sacrifices for their kids and how lucky we are that I will always have a job and a reasonably steady income.

    1. Dara, I had wondered why you appeared to be back so soon. Thank you for sharing your own experience as I think many can relate too. What an amazing experience that John can be home, and you can get that balance that you so desperately crave. I understand how being balanced makes you a better mom. I was losing balance, and therefore was coasting as a SAHM. I am grateful to be working towards something outside of the home. Though, I still miss my babies desperately πŸ˜›

  5. I am currently a SAHM. But I know one day very soon I’ll have to rejoin the workforce. It makes me sad to think about it, but also excited. It’s great you have a passion to pursue. I imagine it will just take time for you to adjust to your new schedule.

    1. Thank you for being able to relate πŸ™‚ It is sad to think about leaving our kids, but exciting to get to interact with people who don’t throw their food, or colour on the walls! Haha. I think I need more time too… It is getting a bit better though. πŸ™‚

  6. I have a hard time leaving my kids but also crave that mental stimulation. I’ve been writing online articles for the part 5 years. However, the pay isn’t as good as I would make outside of the home. It’s a tough choice. When I leave my kids with my parents, I know they are in good hands but I still worry about them.

    1. So cool that you’ve been employed by writing from home. Though, I’m sure that is no easy feat with little ones running around. I am like you, Melissa in that I miss my kids, but I feel so much more balanced. My kids have been left, for the most part, with my parents. And as they say, it takes a village to raise them. I’m glad they get a more rounded experience by not being with me all the time though I wish I could have my cake (independence) and eat it too (kids within arms reach the whole time). Haha. Not exactly realistic!

  7. I am a SAHM and like you, feel any longer than 2-3 hours is too much. πŸ™‚ I am so glad you are getting to do what you love though! And I know your kids will have extra special Grandma time as well. In time I am sure it will get easier. However, like you, my heart breaks for those who have no choice but to go back to a job they do not like for the majority of their day. Many prayers for grace sent their way.

    1. Thank you for your comment, Sasha! It’s been 2.5 weeks, and I still think 3 hours is more than enough away from the home. Lol. Hopefully, I’ll get stronger in time πŸ˜›

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