As a mom, I often feel caught between two worlds. There are two very specific camps in the Mommy world: stay-at-home moms and those moms who work outside of the home. Sure, the two camps comingle from time to time, and some members are even known to cross lines and be friends with one another. But for the most part, the groups stick together, silently justifying their own choices and questioning the priorities of the others. There is strength in numbers, and each group enjoys the friendship and camaraderie of its members.
I don’t belong to either group.
I am a work-from-home mom. And believe me, I know there are no tears shed for me; I’m extremely lucky. I get to earn a paycheck and do work that is very satisfying, all while being at home with my kids and enjoying a (mostly) flexible schedule. Best of both worlds, right?
Yes, I get to attend most of my kids’ school functions and field trips, without having to take a vacation day or begging to leave the office early. That is a luxury, for sure. However, I pay for that luxury dearly in the schedule I keep. I get up to work at 3:30 a.m. Yes, that is AM! I’m a morning person, but 3:30 a.m. is not morning. It’s the middle of the night. Much of my work is done before my kids wake up, but not all of it. I have to use the rest of the day to squeeze in bits of work here and there, making me feel as though I am never “off from work." The lines are constantly blurred and it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
Yes, I earn a paycheck. Making money working from home is a privilege, absolutely. But even though I work full-time hours, I earn part-time pay. And no benefits. That’s a difficult pill to swallow. It’s hard to save for college for the kids and our retirement when we’re pretty stretched all over. Of course, in return for this sacrifice, I get to stay home when my kids are sick without having to call in sick myself or scrambling to find a babysitter. Again, how can I complain?
There’s lots of pros and cons to being in this minority category. But probably the biggest con is the fact that neither of the established mommy groups really recognize me. The stay-at-home moms don’t understand that I have restraints on my time that they don’t have to deal with. And the working moms pretty much resent the fact that I get to work from my house, with my kids. I miss the camaraderie of belonging to a specific group.
I feel very fortunate to have what I have. But I never, ever thought it would be this hard.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food addiction memoir, "Designated Fat Girl," came out last month. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. Find her here on Go Ask Mom on Tuesdays.