Jun 19, 2014


I wrote this a month or two ago when school was still in session, but I never posted it for some reason. As I anticipate teaching summer school in a few weeks and as I frantically study for my reading exams over my summer "break," it seems a fitting time to share these thoughts on being a working mom...

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I am sitting at my desk in my office eating lunch. I only do this one day a week... this whole dress up, pack my zillion bags, take Zianne to grandma, go to work and teach a classroom full of students thing.

I am about three months into this working mom gig. Granted, I've been working since Zianne was born. I taught online classes last semester and it was almost the death of me, trying to grade papers and respond to student emails with an unpredictable newborn. When Zianne started sleeping longer stretches at night, I would put her in her crib at 9 or 10pm and then sit at the dining room table until 2am trying to get work done during the only guaranteed work hours I had all day long. Not my favorite working conditions.

But since January, I've been back on campus, teaching one day a week and working from home the rest of the time. I practically bounced to work on my first Thursday back. I smiled when paying for parking and didn't even mind when I was nearly run over by ASU's crazy bikers and skateboarders. I was ready to take on the world with my hair straightened, make up on my face, and professional clothes on my bod.

I'm not quite as bouncy now that I'm a few months into the part-time working schedule, but mostly I'm still enjoying my time on campus. I've had to get used to hauling about five bags out the door every morning, and I have to pump in the gym locker room before I work out after school. I try to get as much ready as I can the night before, but I often manage to forget things. Today, for example, my mom texted me during class and informed me there is only one diaper in the diaper bag. Oops. I'm still getting the hang of things, but overall I'm enjoying the routine of being back at work. Next semester I'll be back at school two days a week, which might throw me for a loop at first, but I should be wrapping up breastfeeding by that time, which will eliminate the need to remember and drag all my pumping supplies around and Z should be on a more predictable routine by that point... and even possibly toddling around... which is crazy to think about!

I'm not sure why I'm writing all this out. I just think I want to remember what life was like when I was in grad school, teaching, and had only one sweet baby. And hopefully this encourages other women too, whether you are in school or working or both! I know I've looked up to a few other women who were able to finish their PhD with a child at home and they remind me I can do this! It might take a little longer or look a little crazy at times, but it's doable... and I'm doing it right now!

And it's also made me realize that there are pros and cons, hardships and blessings to being a mom, no matter what your role is with work. If you work full-time, you have the convenience of a fairly predictable schedule, you hopefully have consistent, trustworthy childcare, and you are doing fulfilling work, or helping your family with the your income. However, I'm sure it's also hard to pack up your stuff every morning and get everything in order for you to spend the day at work. Maybe you battle a sense of guilt {you shouldn't!} or a sense of loss at not spending those hours with your child. Or maybe you feel judged for being a working mama, even though you truly enjoy your job and feel called to it. Or maybe you wish you didn't have to work, but your family needs the financial contribution right now, and so you sacrifice your desires for the good of others. Regardless of your situation, being a working mom is hard... and good.

Or maybe you are a stay at home mom and you delight in spending so much time with your children each day. You are thankful to be at home, where you serve your husband and children well. You have a flexible schedule, and you feel invested in your role for now. But there are days you need a break and you can't get one. Most of the time you like being home, but some days you feel "stuck" and no one is coming to your rescue. Your husband texts you to say he'll be home late from work and you inhale deeply and start the long march to bedtime on your own. You are overwhelmed with disciplining young children and keeping a house full of toys somewhat clean. Maybe you actually long to be back at work, and you miss using your talents and skills the way you used to on the job, but your family has decided its best for you to stay home for the time being, and so you patiently wait until God calls you elsewhere... Being a stay at home mom is hard... and good.

And then there are the part-time working mamas, who are only out of the house occasionally or who work from home. There are so many good things about working part-time. You are thankful to have extra time with your kids, earn money, and still use your talents in your job. You know you have flexibility that many others would appreciate. Life is good, but it's also crazy at time. If you are trying to work from home, you are often interrupted by unpredictable children who sometimes skip naps, have runny noses, or fight with their siblings. You might have to pick up or drop off kids at school, and doctors appointments, errands, and extracurricular activities are all on your plate as well. And in the chaos of it all, you are trying to get work done. You have deadlines and perhaps clients that are depending on you, and it's hard to shift your schedule because your toddler has a fever... but fevers always trump email... and so you find yourself working at midnight after the kids are in bed. Or maybe you leave the house for work, but your schedule varies and you are trying to remember which kid goes where on which day, or you have rotating childcare and it's hard to keep up with a semi-routine that only happens a few days a week so no one can really get used to it. Being a work at home or part-time working mom is hard... and good.

And to the single moms out there, whose situation I can't even begin to understand, I know your job is hard. It probably includes a little bit of the hardship from all the paragraphs above and more... and it probably contains a lot of sweetness too. You and your little ones forging your way together; you are so brave and so strong.

All photos from my #mamagoesbacktowork hashtag on Instagram. Follow along... @jenrussum.

To you, mamas, everywhere. I pray that you wouldn't be defined by your job or your lack of a job. We all know that motherhood is harder than any job you get paid for. I pray that you wouldn't even be defined by your title of mom and all the goodness and trial and heartache that comes with that name. I pray you would see yourself as a child of God, and that you would find joy today in the gifts and roles God has given you, and that as the seasons change and your children grow, you would always be thankful that He has called you His... and that He has given you ones that call you "mom."

1 comment:

  1. C.Curley6/19/14, 12:56 PM

    You look like me with all those bags! I think we may even have the same pump! haha! I think you have really hit the nail on the head. I love being a working mom, but there are lots of challenges too. Sometimes I let that guilt sneak in, even though I know I shouldn't.

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