The elusive secret of what makes a perfect mother has evaded us for years. Is it the mom who stays home to be with her children all day so that she is the one nurturing them 24/7? Or is it the mom who works full time so that she can show her children what it means to be a hardworking career woman? What about the mom who works part-time? Is she the one holding this tightly held secret to being the ultimate mom? We all seem to be searching for this perfect equation that will bring us the perfect balance in this journey called motherhood and to me, it seems, there just isn’t one answer to this question.
I have a lot of close girlfriends and we are all very different moms. I have friends who own their own businesses, run entire divisions of companies and friends who work more traditional hours at schools or office jobs. I also have friends who stay home and don’t work at all, and friends who work part time plugging away just a few hours each week.When I talk to most, if not all of them, we wonder from time to time if we are doing it right. Are we balancing it? Is someone or something missing out because of our other commitments? The working mom wonders, maybe even silently, if her job is worth it or if she’s missing out on too much at home? The stay home mom might feel she “wasting” her expensive college education because now she isn’t using it. And the part time working mom wonders if she is giving enough of her attention to both the job and the children. We are thinking that the other mom, the one in the situation different than ours, must be the one who has figured out the perfect balance!
I can understand and relate to those scenarios too because since becoming a mom six years ago, I have experienced them all myself. I have stayed home and not worked at all for two years. Then gone back to work just three days week. From there, back to full time teaching again for a few years only to to get pregnant with twins and quit working all together again. I have just recently began part time online teaching at home and while that scenario has seemed to be a great fit, it’s not without it’s own challenges (like waking up at 4:15am every day and then wondering if I can make it through the day without being a cranky monster desperate for a nap). In all of the various ventures both in and out of working, I have never felt like I was doing it more perfectly than the mom next to me. I never felt like I had solved the age old question that seems to haunt mothers on those late night Facebook mom groups and create mommy wars between working and stay home moms.
All I have learned is that we are all just doing it the best way we can, or know how to, at the time and no one has it totally figured out. Some women need to work full time, their family depends on them and there is no other choice for them but to get up and go to work each day. Some women work full time because it fulfills them and they shine in the business world and feel proud to be working. I have even had friends tell me they are a better mom when they are working because if they lost that, they would lose a part of who they are. Then on the other hand, there are women who stay home because they feel that is the best for their kids at the time and they either have the means to do so, or they sacrifice in ways that others will never know to achieve that. Staying home is often seen as only a luxury bestowed on the lucky few, and I do wholeheartedly see it as a luxury in many ways and know it is not an option for everyone, it does not mean that it is not without it’s own sacrifices for some. Then the part time workers are trying to maintain a position at work that feels worthy of their time and a balance at home and maybe they don’t seem to feel like they fit totally in either world.
And yet everyone thinks someone else’s life or situation may be holding the secret to having it all when there really is no secret. There is no perfect life, or marriage, or mother. We are all just trying our best day in and day out to do it in the best way we see fit for our unique family. And every family is so unique aren’t they? What works for someone else doesn’t always work for us and what someone else likes we don’t always like ourselves. So why would we ever imagine that some other mom has figured out how to balance her life perfectly when her life is not ours? What works for them, may not work for me. And what brings happiness to someone else may not bring joy to me. Maybe the only secret that is out there to share is that we may not ever have it all, unless we believe we already do, regardless of what our situation may be at that time.