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My reality as a working mom

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“Women’s libbers say we can have it all. I do not believe that we can have it all at the same time. Life is give and take. For me, I cannot immerse myself in my career without falling short in other areas. This is not a pessimistic approach or a judgment against those who chose their careers over staying at home. This is my reality and I would not change it for the world.”  Amber Johnson, Mile High Mamas

 She’s not wrong, but my reality is a bit different and I wouldn’t change it for the world, either. Being a parent is a tough balancing act that takes a lot of work, and this women’s libber believes you can have it all, if that’s what you want.

I am an “older” mommy.  I had a professional career when I chose to get married, and even later still, when I chose to have children.  Actually, I have two careers; I am an attorney and a JAG for the Reserves. Working now for 17 years in both careers, I have seniority, have moved up the ranks and earned promotions, and I am successful as both a professional and a mother. I am doing what I love and have amazing kids to boot!  I have great employers that are flexible, and understand that my family comes first.  I am allowed to achieve balance.  That’s why I didn’t take a break.  I did not want to lose the employers I had, and frankly, it’s not easy to jump back into a career like mine. 

Another great thing I have is the perfect husband – well, perfect for us, that is.  There is no division of labor.  We both do it all! Our mutual respect makes our reality work.  Our house may not be clean when you surprise us, but we are raising two great kids.  They are smart, funny, and support their parents’ choices to work (my husband also had a career when we married and then had children).  They see the independence in me, the can-do attitude, and they emulate that.  Which is why I often wonder why I am asked to justify why I chose a career after I chose to have kids.  My husband is never asked that. For me, I don’t choose either/or.  I choose to have it all as long as I am able.   

 I acknowledge that I can do this because of him. He does way more than his fair share of household chores and shuttling the children around.  I am lucky to have an employer who allows flexibility for all its employees in the year 2015- what a concept! We are also lucky that we picked a school that has an excellent schedule for our dual working household.  My children have never gone without.  I had a longer maternity leave and was able to nurse both kids upwards of a year, and they get to go on some pretty amazing trips at an early age because of my work.  I haven’t missed a single field trip, play or gymnastics meet. With 17 years seniority, I have plenty of leave and I take time off when I need.  When my parents needed me in 2012, I was able to fly out each time and help them as well! 

I hold no judgment against your choice to have a single income family, and we ask for the same in return.  I want my kids to succeed in all they do, but I also want that next promotion, and I am not ashamed to admit it.  So that’s why I choose it all, not because I want to escape my family (because I don’t), but because I am driven and I love serving my country too! I hope my girls one day say what a great role model they had in me.  But mostly, I hope my girls will grow up in an America where no one will ask them, “why do you choose to work,” or “why do you stay at home.” 

That would be a great reality indeed. 

*Ratna blogs as Get Clued In! on her blog at getcluedincolorado.com.

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Comments
  • comment avatar Amber Johnson January 4, 2016

    Loooove this. You are a mama who juggles it all so beautifully.

  • comment avatar Sarah January 4, 2016

    When I went back to my job after my first child was born, I cried on the ride to work every day for a month. I also missed my youngest son’s first piano recital because I had to be away at an industry conference—and a decade later, he still talks about it. And I confess to being so burned out on occasion that I secretly moved the clock hands ahead to make my kids’ bedtime an hour earlier.Like any working mom, I’ve had the usual fantasies about being “just a housewife.” But I’m also not the only one to have ever spent the weekend wishing Monday would arrive a day early so I could escape the family fray. I still wouldn’t have traded my job—or my kids—for anything. Despite the constant and often chaotic balancing act, the rewards are sweet and rich. I love the life of a working mom.

  • comment avatar JessicaJones January 4, 2016

    I like that my kids spend more time with Dad. My working means my husband has been more involved in day-to-day family routines. Not that he doesn’t love the kids, but let’s be real: Most men I know opt for Fun Duty as opposed to Diaper Detail or Get-Ready-for-School Tasks. Because I have a job that requires at least as many hours as my husband’s, he knew he had to contribute more than just horsey-back rides to the household. Men shouldn’t get extra credit for child-care, but they often do. As a working mom, I can more easily negotiate these responsibilities on a level playing field.

  • comment avatar Ratna G. January 4, 2016

    Sarah, I hear you. I almost quit several times and cried often when they were younger. It was not without struggle and still is not without struggle, but it is easier now that they are both in school. I have had the same fantasy, but found the balance worked better, even when I was dog tired, when I kept a positive attitude about the choices we made. In the end, we will all be fine, and the kids will turn out great too!

    Jessica, agreed. My husband is amazing, but I do see the qualities you talk about in some who have SAH spouses. But, I don’t think my husband would ever just be a sideline EVEN if I were SAH. Thanks for the comments.

  • comment avatar Eileen January 5, 2016

    I’ve done both, been a working patent and a SAHM. You’re a great role model, Ratna! A loving wife and mother, a caring friend, an intelligent professional, and a loyal compatriot.

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