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Working Mom versus Non-Working Mom

Posted by San Luis Obispo Mom on Tuesday, December 7, 2021 Under: Mom Life
Many moms in America have faced the challenges of dealing with society's expectations, finding one's identity and making sure we haven't failed as a mother.

I was a stay-at-home-mom for years and it was mostly my choice. However, it didn't come without personal dilemmas. After a couple of years of motherhood, I started getting insecure when others would ask me if I was going to stay a stay-at-home-mom when my child starts school. At the beginning, it didn't bother me when I was holding my baby, and they were already asking me if I was going to return to work in 5 years?! But in retrospect, looking back and analyzing it all, it was kind of weird. What the heck is wrong with people? Why did they ask me that and why did it matter to them? I was holding a sweet baby. Let me enjoy this. I wasn't thinking about kindergarten yet. I was more worried about not getting mastitis!

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Insecurity When Someone Asks Me, "When are you going back to work?"
I know I shouldn't let it bother me throughout the years. They were asking and wondering, but were they judging me for not planning on going back to work any time soon? Was I seen as lazy or incompetent for not setting a plan to return to the workforce? I was trying to raise my newborn baby, nursing around the clock and learning to function without sleep. I had no relatives nearby nor friends as we had moved from a different state so I didn't have any help, therefore, as a mother taking care of my own offspring who had just arrived into this world, I shouldn't be expected to had already formulated a plan to return to work. If I returned to work, who would take care of my child??? My dog? My husband worked 12 hour shifts, doing shift work so I was the main parent taking care of my son.

Baby Bliss
Reminscing, I really enjoyed my one-on-one days with my first born. I would have many sleepless nights but they were wonderful as I held my bundle of joy throughout the day and night. However, when there would be that random break from my baby here and there while he was napping, thoughts of a possibility to find work from home would cross my mind but working with only 2 or 3 hours of sleep may not be the best idea for myself, my child nor a workplace.

Before I got married, I was working full-time for several years. Then, when we got married, my husband and I agreed that having a mother at home when we started a family would be the best plan for us. I read somewhere that a child's first years and available affection from their mother are very important and will pave the way for emotional stability for the rest of their lives. I agree with this and so does my husband so when I became pregnant, there was no additional discussion needed. Best of all, the cost of living in the Carolinas was very low and affordable. I was going to be the mother who takes care of her children, a luxury considered by my many Californian friends who lived far away. What I did not expect was that I would start to feel like someone was judging me when they would ask me when I was going back to work. As a Non-Working Mom, that triggered me to feel unworthy. I'm not going to pretend and mask it with false confidence. I started to think that they thought that I was not working because I'm not capable enough to find or land a job. I was starting to self-identify with that and it was unhealthy.

Finding Contract Work to Balance Staying At Home and a Working Mom Identity
I knew my insecurities were affecting my mental health. I would feel down for not having a job when someone would asked me, so when my 1.5 year old son started going to preschool for a few hours a day, I found a part-time contracting job working in an office during those hours. It was a blessing that I found a real estate company owner who would let me do this and worked around my schedule so that I could drop off and pick my son up. Importantly, it helped my self-esteem so that I could happily say at the time "Yes, I do work for a few hours a day while my son is in preschool". Even though the pay was very low, I was still very happy. All I needed was that Working Mom identity to boost my self esteem. However, I was pregnant again at the time so my contract work ended when my due date was getting close because I was expected to go into labor any minute.

More Inclined to be a Non-Working Mom with Baby #2
Then, my second son was born! Yay, it was easier to give birth the second time around for me! Work was out of the picture and no one asked me right after I had my second baby if I was returning to work because it was obvious to anyone who had a second to look at my frazzled face that keeping up with a 2 year old toddler and a newborn was no easy feat. Again, during this time I didn't have relatives nearby and still did not make close friends yet so there was no village. I was the main parent taking care of my own children and we did everything together: grocery shopping, going to the park and exploring family-friendly events. My husband still worked 12 hour days so when he got home and ate dinner, he had to hit the hay immediately after to start his 12 hour work day again. He was bringing home the bacon and I was raising our babies. And during all of those sleepless nights, I still never wished to have help. I love taking care of my own children without relatives telling me the better way to parent, according to them. I get to do it my way and figure it out on my own. I feel that I've been able to bond well with my sons because of this. This is a pro for being a Non-Working stay-at-home-mom. You earn that credit and that amazing bond.

When my second son turned 1.5 years old, I wanted him to start going to preschool like my first born did as I felt that really helped my first born learned his alphabet and numbers fast and gave him an opportunity to socialize with other kids within the same age group. I eventually found a preschool where both of my kids could go to together and picked up a short term part-time contract job while both of my sons were there in preschool. It was another office job for 4 months. It wasn't that I was itching to go back to work this time like last time but rather it was a good fit for me and it became another opportunity for me to see if I still had relevant skills for the current workforce.

I had to learn a few new things but I completed all of my tasks ahead of schedule and my contract ended. I honestly became more appreciative of my husband after this 4 month gig was over. I felt really burned out from the office politics of that recent job as it was a city job. I'm glad I did the job because I learned a lot but I was just so thankful when it was over as it gave me a different perspective. This workplace had a very toxic environment and more than ever, I thank the Lord that we were not in financial need for me to work so I wouldn't have to be stuck in a bad working situation like this for the long term. I felt very fortunate! I made sure I did a better job as a stay-at-home-mom by cleaning the house better from then on, which my husband noticed that positive change as well.

I started seeing my stay-at-home-mom title as a role I should continuously improve, like I would want to continuously improve in the workforce. It was quite interesting how that last job gig affected me as a homemaker. I cleaned better, tried new cooking recipes and didn't turn away from learning how to paint the inside walls of my house. My preschoolers had decided a few specific walls were perfect for their crayon drawings but we were putting the house on the market and it was the opportune time to get my hands into a bit of home improvement. 

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Moving Back to California and Then the Pandemic Hit

When my sons were 4 and 2 years old, we moved here to SLO County for my husband's better job opportunity. It's a happier place to live but the rent is about 5 times higher than where we were moving from! When we lived in the Southeast in the Carolinas, we had easily rented a 3 bedroom, 1 bathroom home for $650 a month! When we moved out here, our 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom townhome rental was $3,100 a month (now a home of the same size is more than that today, of course)! Our cost of living is so much higher but we're so much happier. I guess sometimes you do have to pay for happiness and today, I still feel like the move was worth it.

During the first year of living in SLO (very common abbreviation and name for San Luis Obispo) County, finding a job did not cross my mind at all. I wanted to spend time exploring this wonderful county with my two sons. My older one was going to start kindergarten in 8 months from the day we moved here so I wanted to savor all of the time I still had with him before I have to miss him for 5 hours a day in the coming fall. He was going to become the kindergartener that someone had asked me 5 years ago about. Remember that person who had asked me while I was holding my newborn when I was returning to work when he started school? Well, that time was coming but I was still not planning on returning to work because I still had a preschooler at home to continue more local adventures with and luckily, I'm not around that particular questioner anymore to ask me more unnecessary triggered questions. Yes, I know I'm so sensitive but in America, we have freedom of speech and I can write and write whatever I feel (that is not hurting anyone)!

My fun explorations with my sons continued with beach days at Pismo Beach and discovering new playgrounds. Then, my first-born son started kindergarten and we navigated around making sure we survived it and making more adjustments to our lifestyles. Six months after my son started kindergarten, the Covid-19 pandemic hit and we had a lock down! Consequently, the online learning from school began at home! And of course, no one dared to ask me when I was returning to work because people were sadly losing jobs around the country. Many working moms became stay-at-home moms not by choice. Plus, everyone had to be home! For the first time, many working moms had to do both and became stay-at-home moms at the same time, juggling everything. Things were changing.

All Moms Stepped Up During the Pandemic Lock Down
There's a bit more common ground now for the Working Moms and the Non-Working Moms. All kids had to do online learning and mothers in America were our kids' IT support, tutor and teacher. Every mom, whether you're a Working Mom or Non-Working Mom had to adjust quickly! The Working Moms who had never had the opportunity to stay home could finally get a good understanding of what Non-Working Moms had been doing. Daycares were closed so the Working Moms didn't have childcare help and Non-Working Moms usually never had childcare help so in a way, the Non-Working Moms had a skillset that was more prepared for the pandemic.

I think many Working Moms who never had a choice to become a stay-at-home-mom realized that many Non-Working Moms are not incompetent at all. They see the benefits of being a Non-Working Moms and how they can play multiple different important roles for their kids and their availability allows their kids more room to thrive, even if their career is not thriving. Working Moms can now earn that mad credit too now because they have been raising their children from home during the pandemic while earning money! Even though it is sad and scary that we are still facing uncertainty and trying to get through pandemic, there is at least one silver lining from all of this and it is this growing mutual respect between the Working Moms and the Non-Working Moms. I love this and I hope we don't lose this respect for each other soon.

Today, I'm a Working stay-at-home-mom. Because many companies are more open to hiring remote candidates, this has given moms like me more opportunities to find a contract job so I've been able to work remotely from home during this pandemic for the last 6 months while being able to be there for my kids. My work contract is ending soon.

Nowadays, I don't measure my self-worth by whether I have a job as much as I did before. My kids need me as an emotionally and physically stable mother who will be able to be there for them for homework help, when they're hungry and need emotional support. I'm happy just being their mama. I'm focusing more on staying healthy now as I'm getting older.

Blessings to all!

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In : Mom Life 

Tags: stay at home mom versus working mom  pros and cons of working as a mother  sahm or work mom 

About Me

San Luis Obispo Mom Originally from San Diego, California, I'm a San Diego State University alumna, veteran's wife and mom of two kids who were born two years apart. After living on the East Coast for 6 years, we now reside in San Luis Obispo County and here, the exploration continues.
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