Category Archives: Working Mama

Forgiving Friends

It’s all about forgiving friends and having forgiving friends. Confused by that? I’ll explain.

One my best girl friends since Junior High (twenty some years ago) and I have worked to keep as close a friendship as we can going with marriages, young kids, jobs, and a distance of 3000 miles. She’s one of those friends that I can not talk to for months, then pick up the phone and it’s like we hung out yesterday. She’s one of the good ones.

On a random weekday I called after work, great for me on my commute home sans kids, yet right in the middle of her dinner time. She answered anyway. Again, she’s one of the good ones. Aside from the awesomeness of getting to talk to her because I love her humor; I enjoy her view on the world and her way of saying things from husband antics, to politics, to potty training. It felt so good to talk about what it means to be a working mom and what it means to be a mom in terms of impact on being a wife.

But, at one point in the conversation, she apologized. She apologized for having not called sooner, not checked in recently, and that a few months had gone by since she stayed in touch. I was stunned. Stunned because, in my mind, she had nothing to apologize for in our friendship. Neither of us had called, emailed, or texted recently. She has a toddler under two years old, works full-time, and a really cool husband that she enjoys spending time with; plus, I live far away with a two-hour different time zone.

I realized and told her she was suffering from mom guilt because friendships change after kids. We change as people, priorities changes, and even if the first two didn’t change, the amount of free/personal time we have changes. We’re doing our best, the very best we can, and that we can say we’ll do better, and mean it, and still not call/email/text more. That’s okay too.

So all I can say to her, to myself, and to all mamas out there: forgive yourself, friend. I have nothing to forgive. Let’s not be hard on ourselves. Let’s forgive our friends and cherish our forgiving friends.

~ jibean

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Kids are Resilient

We’ve been talking a lot lately about what is the best arrangement for our kids if I’m not the one to stay home with them each day anymore. (And is that even the best arrangement if mom feels restrained, limited, unhappy, caged?) Of course, this is not an easy question to answer because I have yet to get my visit from my fairy godmother with a magic eight ball that actually works to tell me the future.

As the parent, I’m supposed to know, or figure out, what the next steps should be. It’s a tough role to be thrown into whether you’ve been a mom for a day or three years two months and fifteen days or thirty years. I don’t have a clue if having a nanny is best, or is a childcare facility is better. I can see logic in both options, strengths and weaknesses. I love knowing that my kids can be home, eating our food, sleeping in their own bed, doing outings, nurtured and cared for when they are sick. I would also love knowing that my kids are learning every day, that there is more than one teacher in case one of them is sick, that I don’t have to plan a food menu, and that my kids are stimulated, engaged and socializing.

What I do know I that kids are resilient. Kids (my frame of reference is babies, toddlers, preschoolers) are amazing at adapting to situations, finding the good, and celebrating the silver lining with gusto. They have the ability to be adamantly against something, become distracted after ten minutes of protest, and jubilantly throw themselves into playing in a new classroom, with a new nanny or babysitter. Kids adapt. Kids grow. Kids are resilient.

This is what I tell myself when I worry about my kids and my choices in their care and education at this young age. They will adapt and overcome changes, they will settle into whatever routine is put out for them as long as it comes with love, hugs, patience, explanation and a little more patience. If they feel grounded and secure in their relationship with me, my kids seem capable to deal with almost anything.

My kids didn’t love my return to work full-time. I’d even wager my preschooler is still struggling with it even though he understands and can talk about how, “Mama is at work.” My toddler seems to enjoy everyone who comes to play with her, but she’ll do a whole body dance for joy when I come home at the end of the day. Some days I feel like they have a hard time switching over to my return; then other days it’s like I’ve been there all day. I will say, it never feels like enough time between work and bedtime; and my heart aches for it. I wish mama was as resilient as my kids.

~ jibean

Six months down, Six months to go…

It’s already been six months that I have returned to the working world, merging my full time mom status with professional full time in an office status. The “working mama” role has been a challenge for me in a lot of ways. It was hard to be at working missing my kids so much. Then, it was hard to admit to myself the days I was happy to be at work, because I was enjoying working. Balancing schedules with my husband makes sick days a challenge and dinner is always a question.

When I was headed back to the office, a fellow mama friend gave me the advice of, “Tell yourself to give it a year, promise yourself to not evaluate it until six months, commit to three months, enjoy the thrill of the newness of the first month and expect to cry the first week.

It was good advice. The first month was fabulous! Newness and lunches out, new people, going to meetings, quiet time, an office to look out at cloudy skies with my coffee in hand. The second and third months were rough! I was down in the depths of heartbreaking, my spirits so low. I almost quit weekly. I woke up with a weight in my heart and dread in my stomach. I was angry and sad and guilt ridden and stressed out. I gained four pounds. The fourth month was similar though it became routine and I gained another three pounds. The fifth month I took on a new event planning project, a task I love! The guilt continued because I felt bad for enjoying work. I felt bad for wanting to go to work because I liked what I was doing. I was angry that I felt bad. So, yes, still rough, but at least I was happier at work. I felt a little more energetic and really excited to see my kids every day. I struggle with accepting what the commitment of working full time meant in terms of limitations. I don’t blog as often, practice yoga in a studio as often, family phone calls and getting together with friends is less often and more scheduled. These changes were hard for me, even though I couldn’t admit it.

Then, one morning, I woke up and found myself at my sixth month anniversary. And despite the long days, the heartbreaking mornings, the weary nights, the tears and the wine, it felt like it had flown by that morning. I was astonished it had been six months. It felt like I had reached the top of really big hill. And so I thought, what now?

After some serious self talk, I finally came to a decision (which thrilled my husband because he was ready to get off the roller coaster ride of my return to work). I’m enjoying work more than I’m not enjoying work. I want to be there more than I don’t want to be there. And I’m not ready to quit. And that I’m not sure this is my full and complete re-entry to the working world. I may need or want another year off to experience raising my kids full time before they begin school and their own lives.

But, for the next six months, I’m sticking around the chaos of frantic mornings, crazed rush hour drives home to see my kids, texting childcare in middle of day just to see what my little ones are doing. It’s a gamble and I worry about making the wrong decision for myself, my kids and my family. So I remind myself of my grandmother’s advice, “You make the best of it.” And I retain the right to change my mind.

And maybe drink a glass of wine… 🙂

~ jibean

How Do Moms Decide When It’s Time to Go Back to Work?

A dear friend asked me a question about my decision to return to work full-time rather than continue staying home with my kids and consulting. (I still teach yoga 🙂 She asked me if I regret it. She asked about mom-guilt. She asked if I’m glad. Here is what I wrote:

It’s a tough decision. It’s a tough question to answer because, for me, it’s so subjective based on how my day went, how my kids are, how much sleep I’ve had, did I work out, etc. Some days I really enjoy it. But, more than once I’ve thought “you don’t tell me what to do, I’m mama. I’m right. I can quit. Hmm… maybe I should quit and go to the zoo….”  But I haven’t quit yet.

I made the promise to myself to give it 3 months before even thinking about it, 6 months before any decision will be made, and really, I told myself I need to do it for a year because otherwise it’s not worth it on a resume and won’t qualify me for other jobs later. I do have guilt about not being mom all the time, not doing incredible outings, making amazing dinners or fun crafts. But, my personal side of needing to be more than mom was becoming louder and louder. I felt impatient. I felt underutilized. As a person, I wanted to work. As a mom, I wanted to be home.

Today I completed three major projects, a website overhaul and a plan to roll out our next big product. Tonight was delivery Chinese food and stories at the dining room table. Then we went for a big walk and played at the park. And then the next hour is bath, books, pjs, diapers, and bedtime. Finally I get to change out of my work clothes, shower, sit down with a glass of wine and write to you.

It’s an intense routine. I don’t know if I will do this indefinitely. Right now, I’m going to stick with it. I like the salary and to feel like a professional again. I am happy tomorrow is Friday and I have two days with my kids. For me, the position I accepted was a fluke of right timing, right qualifications and right position. So I may work a year, maybe three, maybe I just keep working. Who knows? I know I’m going to work tomorrow.

~jibean

Two Months Into Working Mom-hood: Honeymoon Bliss and then Not So Much

It’s been quite a while since I posted and that’s life; but I’m here now. What prompted me to write again? It’s been two months that I’ve been on the job in my new position as a full-time working mom outside of the home. I do not debate that stay at home moms work full-time. (I’ve been there, I agree.) However, for the sake of ease of typing, let me call myself a “working mom”.

Actually, the first month I was pretty content with the new life of working full-time outside of the home. It was thrilling to be in the work place again; everything was new, exciting, challenging, meeting new people, dressing up each day, drinking my coffee in the quiet peace of my desk and peacefully checking email…. Yeah, that first month it felt like I had been released from a cage.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids and I loved being home with them full-time. I’ll get to the downsides too, but initially, it felt pretty great to be out on my own all day, to talk with other adults who were interested in my brain and my work experience, not my kids sleeping schedule or eating habits. I had me time and mental challenges every day, and then I can home excited every night to soak up my kid time. It was like a honeymoon.

And then not so much…. Slowly the energy from the exciting change wore off, I would be tired at night. I often felt like my time was pretty thinly spread out. Where it really became hard is when I started to feel the downsides of the change and my kids were too. At work, the newness was wearing off and I began to see some of the challenging aspects of my position and the agency.

And my toddler was starting to show unhappiness with my absence. At first he seemed to like having a new friend devoted to playing with him, and then that wore off and he missed mom. He has mastered enough verbally to be able to tell me that he is sad when I go to work or to tell me to “no go to work, go to park.” My baby girl is a joyful, happy-go-lucky kind of little lady, but even she began to hold on a little tighter in the mornings when it was time for me to leave for work.

So the second month was pretty damn hard. Between seeing my kids be sad, feeling worn out by the new routine and annoyed with my boss; I debated quitting every week. It’s hard-working when you know you don’t truly need the income and someone is bugging you.

Leaving in the morning can be agony. I get sad on the way to work some days. And then I get into my office building. I’m greeting people, my brain shifts gears into what I need to do today, and I settle into my desk with a mug full of yummy coffee. My coworkers are nice and funny. It feels okay to be there and I’ve moved past the sadness. I text in between projects and meetings with my child caregiver and she sends me photos so I can “see” my kids. I crank out work and knock out deadlines. I feel awesome and triumphant as a professional. Then, when it’s time to go, I pack up and log off as fast as possible. I drive intently to get home to see my kids. Immediately I hug and kiss them both, sitting on the floor in my work clothes to play toys.

It will be interesting to see where the next months take me in this journey from SAHM to WOHM.

~jibean

Take the “If” Out

Sometimes my husband has true gems of wisdom. Really, he has these moments of saying things in a way that just strike to the heart of the matter and resonate with me like a gong.

Recently we were discussing two huge changes coming up for me that impact our life together. One was my decision to work with a nutritionist and go boldly after my goal physique and rebuild my core.

The other, a little more game changing for us both, was to accept a job offer. I’m going back to work full-time. This, in itself, is a huge step for me as my whole identity-world-life here in Oregon is built on my existence as a stay at home mom, PR consultant, and yoga/fitness teacher.

It’s all changing. And I’m afraid. I’m afraid of making the wrong decision, afraid of failing. What if I can’t do it? And this is when he had his moment of wisdom.

“Take the if out.”

What?

“Stop saying if I can and what if I fail. ” Then he explained, “Say to yourself When I can and When I do.”

It makes sense. Take out the rom for failure. Allow myself to fully commit to my goal. It’s not about if I fail or not. It’s about keeping going, no matter how many tries it takes to get me there.

Take the if out.

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