Katie McCarthy: Working mom, SAHM or WAHM?

March 8, 2013 

I didn’t feel it right away.

Sure, I wasn't necessarily ready for the time I spent hanging out with my daughter all day to come to an end, but going back to work was always the plan.

Then after a week or two, it started to creep up on me. The guilt. The questioning. The wondering if there was some way our dual-income household could add another member to the family and subtract a salary.

It's the same old story and the same situation many women find themselves in once they cross over into the world of motherhood.

Can I really do it all or by having a career am I somehow neglecting my mothering duties? If I stayed at home, would I feel fulfilled or would I miss the workplace?

My husband and I are fortunate enough to have been able to work out a schedule that allows our daughter maximum parent time. By the time my work day is starting, he's nearing the end of his. We have a babysitter for only a couple of hours a day.

But there are pros and cons to everything.

Such as, we're essentially single parents except on the weekends. And then we have to learn how to navigate around one another while caring for the baby.

This isn't always easy because we each have our own way of doing things. I often don't realize that he's not tuned into my daily activities until he questions why I do something a certain way -- and vice verse.

If having a baby puts stress on a relationship, only seeing your spouse for a few sleepy-eyed moments each morning compounds it.

But we're feeling our way through this, step by laborious step.

The big bonus to this arrangement is that our daughter doesn't have to spend 8-plus hours a day in day care -- she's with her mom or dad for a majority of the day and she's not being exposed to the germs of 20 other children.

The other options -- and you better believe that I've weighed them -- include being a stay-at-home-mom or a work-at-home-mom.

While the benefits of either designation are pretty obvious -- more time with the baby and the husband, plus more time for other domestic duties -- there are also a few things that worry me.

For instance, how much work could I really get done at home with the baby? My mornings before work are pretty packed with feeding, changing diapers, nap times and household chores. Could I be disciplined enough to carve out time to work?

Not working at all is not really an option for me because, in general, I like my job and I like working.

Though I have a sneaking suspicion that I could find plenty of baby-filled ways to spend my days if my nights weren't filled with looming deadlines.

But for now, our current situation suits us. It's the best we can do.

The guilt, I assume, is just part of being a parent. I'll get used to it one of these days.

Katie McCarthy, kmccarthy@ledger-enquirer.com or 706-571-8515.

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