Just like every mom, I believe my kiddos are the best in the world. But as much as I love my little yet rapidly growing bundles of joy, spending every minute of every day with the young ‘uns leaves me ready for a padded room and a funky jacket that buttons up the back. Blessedly, I’ve managed to avoid losing my mind by escaping to my office for a few hours every weekday.
While I have the utmost respect for stay-at-home moms, I still cannot comprehend how they manage. To those without kids at home, considering heading to work as a reprieve sounds crazy, but trust me, hearing my four-year-old’s rendition of “Let It Go” from Disney’s Frozen for the 4,500th time makes me miss the office elevator music. I’m grateful to be a working mom, and here’s why.
A Little Peace and Quiet
As I have two little ones often dashing around the house like a herd of elephants while screaming their tiny lungs out, silence, to me, truly is golden. I love getting into my car and tuning into my favorite Sirius station without tired tykes in the back whining, “Are we there yet?”
My commute gives me time to think as well as time to rest my poor overburdened ears. Even the occasional traffic jam fails to rattle my feathers when I’m wrapped up in my own inner, peaceful world.
Getting Gussied Up
If it weren’t for the need to look professional or at least presentable in the workplace, I’d live in comfy pants and probably end up with dreadlocks from not bothering to brush my hair. Getting dressed up for work reminds me that I wasn’t born just to pick up spilled Cheerios from the rug. Some days, I even put on makeup!
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old lady, baby talk grates on my nerves like nails on a chalkboard. It’s incredibly refreshing to actually engage in conversation that doesn’t include the phrases stinky-pinky or poopie-butt. Heading to the office reminds me that my vocabulary extends beyond the second-grade level.
Fewer Invasions of Privacy
Having kids means never being alone, even when I’m taking a shower. When I’m at home, I get zero privacy even in the bedroom and bathroom. At least at the office, I can grab a cup of coffee without one or both of my mini-mes whining for a snack.
Trying New Lunch Spots
Like most kids, my duo’s taste buds mirror those of the current president — if it’s not Mickey D’s, it must be yucky. Even heading back to work on a part-time basis allows me to try things like that hot new sushi place without the little’uns starting a rice-throwing contest. If I tried to introduce my two to Asian fusion, they’d resent me for at least two weeks, but dining at my desk allows me to take out whatever I want from wherever I want, no food fights necessary.
Once upon a time, I complained about long security lines and the overall hassle of business travel, but now my company’s biannual team meetings offer me the closest thing to a vacation I’m likely to get until my kids turn 18. I now relish the aroma of clean sheets and the shampoo hotels provide in tiny bottles. Plus when the workday ends, I’m free to explore a new city without anyone (except maybe myself) growing tired and cranky.
The Ability to Focus
I have no idea how just two kids can break the sound barrier, but suffice it to say, my home environment doesn’t exactly lend itself to time for introspection. With a million distractions from spilled apple juice to a missing favorite toy, concentrating on anything requires a Herculean effort. At work, I’m able to get my deep work groove on without interruption.
Honey, I’m Home
Of course, I do miss my tykes when I’m away from them for a bit. Returning home at the conclusion of the workday means getting greeted with kiddie kisses and hugs. A bit of absence definitely makes my heart grow fonder, or at least more patient, when it comes to dealing with my children.
Not Feeling Pressured to Be Martha Stewart
Had I chosen to stay home full time to raise the kids, my husband would have supported my decision, but as a rather Type A personality, staying at home would have pressured me into acting like a Stepford wife, organizing my home with robot-like precision and whipping up family dinners right out of LeaveIt To Beaver. But since my spouse and I both work, we likewise share in the housecleaning and child-rearing responsibilities. Getting out of the house forces me to abandon my quest for spotlessness, and I’m much more able to cope with the inevitable crayon scribbles on walls and cookie crumbs trapped between couch cushions.
Finding My Zen
Finally, returning to work on a part-time basis helps me remember who I truly am inside. It reminds me that while being a good mom is important, pursuing my own personal development matters, too. I feel I’m getting better at striking the right balance between my work and home lives, and for that, I am very grateful indeed.
Whether or not to return to work after having kids remains a personal decision every mom must make on her own. Both staying home and returning to the office have their benefits and drawbacks. For me, I’m very grateful that I can both raise my babies and enjoy a meaningful career as well.