Wednesday, January 25, 2012

On work and motherhood

I returned to work a week and a half ago and while I am happy with my new company and at peace about our decision, I have gotten some reactions from other women that have deeply saddened me.

The reactions have not come  from men, but from other  women, all of them mothers.

It was not an easy decision, but one that I knew one day would come as we need my job at this time.

 If it were my choice I would work part time or from a job at home only a few hours a day and dedicate most of my time to Josemaria until he is older.

Since I was so conflicted in the beginning  (I was raised by SAHM and  for many years believed this was the very best option) I talked to many  other mothers about their experiences, my own mom, my sister which is a psychologist specializing in children, visited day care centers, read several books and talked at lenght to our pediatritian.

I wanted to  ensure to make the very best decisions for Josemaria.

One of the best insights came from my mom.  She told me that in the past children were raised by a group, actually in a large family where not only the mom was the one there with him, that babies thrived in a community of love and  the more we were able to give him a stucture of love and several stable people giving him love he would be all right.

In the end  after many talks between DH and I,  I switched jobs to a company that has great family policies  and flexible schedules ( it even has maternal leave for adoption for 4 to 5 months with full pay), my DH moved his office hours, we decided on nanny care and spent weeks preparing everything for my return.

 We even considered selling our appartment and moving closer to our offices which might be an option in the future.

 Our priority was and always will be Josemaria and we have been blessed with being able to make these decisions since I know many people that need two jobs and do not have these options...

My DH or me are there when he wakes up (around 7 a.m) most of the time fully dressed to be 100%  with him , then he dresses him, gives him breakfast and spends a couple of hours playing and dancing with him (yes, he dances around with him singing to him traditional Mexican childrens songs) and then leaves for work at 9:30 a.m. I leave early, but get to spend some time with him also.   We decided this so I could arrive early from work and my DH would be able to spend some quality time with his son.

I arrive around 5 pm or before and spend the next 2 hours with him fully. I do not do anything else,  but play with him, hug  and kiss him like crazy, bathe him and give him dinner.  Then I sing to him (very badly) or read to him until he falls asleep. I always speak with his nanny in depth about his day and together we decide next days activities when he is not having his daily naps (he sleeps 12 hours each night and has one or 2 naps a day, sleeping some 2 hours on average). I call once or twice a day to check on him.

One day a week I leave at 3 p.m and go with Josemaria to a mom and baby class which we both love.

Weekends we are fully dedicated to him and our families.

Once I get the hang from my job the idea is to arrive home earlier and also to work from home a couple of days a week.

We decided daycare was not for us,  nor Josemaria at this time and we are inmensely blessed to have an amazing woman taking care of him for the day until I arrive.   She and him have fallen in love completly, I loved the way I saw she was raising her son, she has taken care of several babies  and I spent 5 months at home watching her and Josemaria interact.   She truly loves him and Josemaria her.

I think  we have tried to  make the most of a  non  perfect  situation,

Yet some women have judged me without knowing anything about us  and why we have made the decision of me to return to work after 5 months of maternity leave. Comments about being too career driven, having not clear priorities,  the damage to my baby, etc. 

Comments about one perfect way to raise a child.  

One in specific made my blood boil yesterday and I need to write this post to make sense of it.

 She is a contractor working for my department at my new company.  She is a mother of a 15 year old girl and a 12 year old boy.

I had a meeting with her to understand her role in out team, since I will be working closely with her.

During this meeting yesterday she spent 30 minutes telling me she had chosen to be a contractor since it was the best way to be a mother.   She worked the hours she wanted and moved her hours around (which is not completly true)

She told me that she worked  full time while her first child  was young and that  she always regreted working,  lost tons of opportunities to be with her,  then had an emotional breakdown when she was expecting the second. She right then decided to leave work and dedicate herself to her family until they were older.

She then  told me that at the beginning they did not have a lot of money so she had to work, yet when she had the option she quit.   .  She does not know that I need to work and she kept mentioning  that she would never understand why a woman with my economic level would chose to work (if she only knew)

 She said she would never ever have a corporate job (clearly refering to mine) and that actually my company had offered her one a couple of years ago and she had said no (also in clear reference to me).  

She then spent 10 minutes telling me to enjoy my son, not to waste my time in other things, with him being so small, etc.  In a few words  not  to waste my time working.

I had to stop her then and ask her why she was telling me all of this and she told me it was only to make me understand why she was a contractor and that she would not be available for me to work all the time (which I never ever expected).

 That she , not like me,  had her priorities straight (almost exact words)

I was made feel like a complete selfish and bad mother by another mother .  I almost cried after the meeting and had a deep sadness all afternnoon doubting my decision to work (I later spoke with my boss about her and it became clear there were other reasons behind her words) . 

Yet this is not the first time since this has happened with other mothers in the last weeks , but this was the worst one.

I am writing this since I need an outlet!!!!!!!!!

Why cannot we understand that as mothers we are making our very best to be good ones? 

We should support each other, not attack other mothers making some hard choices!!! 

 We do not know the exact circumstances of each one of us and we should not make assumptions .  

If we decide to homeschool, send our children to parochial or public school, work from home, stay at home and be a housewife, have a full time, part time job ,  etc and our children are thriving and we have their best interest at heart who are we to judge?

If we at heart have the well being of our children and make them our priority we are being good mothers.

When mothers do not really care about the children,  but many other things such a money, power, etc,  then the priorities  are clearly not where  they should be.  

Our mothering decisions should depend on the individual circumstances of the child, the marriage  and each woman.

For example my mom was a stay at home mother.  All her life.  When I a year and a half she decided to send me to kindergarten  for several  hours a day since she was seeing that I needed it,.  But with my sister she waited until she was 3. Each child has individual needs.

Each day I see Josemaria thriving, he is reaching each milestone on time or even before, he smiles all the time, has a very good schedule, has gotten sick only once,  etc. A  normal, happy,   healthy child. by all standards who has complelty bonded with his parents.

If I saw that he was afraid, not thriving, had doubts about the care I would have made a completly different decision.  Maybe tried an at home business,  dipped deep into our savings, sold our car,  I do not know.

Then comes the economic circumstances.

Some women have the  choice not to work, but not all of us have this option.

Then comes each woman and her personality. For example I am not made to be a full time  homemaker.   I need to be outside, to dedicate myself to many other things at once.    I love being at home and cooking and having a  beautiful home, but after a few days I need to do other things.

On the other hand    I have a friend who spends her days happy at home, almost never going out, fully dedicating herself to her year and a half daughter and her house,  with no interest in  seeing other adults in days,  and she and her baby are very,  very  happy.  

Please if you see a mother doing things differently from you, do not judge, nor make her feel bad about her choices (unless she is doing something clearly bad to her children)  but help her be the best mother she can be whatever her circumstances might be. 


  1. That is terrible!! How dare she say those things to you. You are a TERRIFIC mother!! Providing for your son is a responsibility also, and one you can't ignore. I think you are doing a GREAT job. Don't listen to a word she says!!! Hopefully she does not teach her children these judgmental ways.

  2. wow women can be very mean. THat woman is clearly jealous of you and your situation. She is bitter bc her life did not turn out the way she wanted it to. Now she sees you are happy and she has to try to ruin it. It sounds to me that you have a great set up and you are able to provide for your son and give him what he needs.
    Staying home for 5 months sounds like a dream. Most women where I live only get 6 weeks of ML. Then most women have to place their child in day care. Your child gets to stay home. So you situation sounds great. Most women do not have a choice to stay at home.
    Don't listen to those witches.

  3. From a completely outside view, you are an amazing mother for Josemaria, looking after all his needs (these include his economic needs). The contracter, sounds as if she deeply regretted choices she made (which do not sound like the ones you made) and she is giving you the "scolding" she feels she deserves. Don't take it personally, it is her problem. Don't let this worry spoil the wonderful time you share with Josemaria. His thriving and happiness confirms you are both doing a wonderful job with him. Love and prayers.

  4. I just blogged about the dilemmas between multiple vocations - motherhood and work outside the home - and I heard so many different stories from women in all sorts of situations. Every single one of them struggles with this dynamic, whether working full-time outside the home or as a stay-at-home mom. I don't know why we are so cruel to each other in this area - perhaps because we are so unsure of our own choices or insecure about whether we're doing things "right." But I agree with you that we have to start 1) sharing our stories and their realities more - the good and the bad; 2) working to be more Christ-like to fellow moms so that we can build each other up

  5. That is too bad that you were made to feel like that! I am a working mother of 3 (ages 5, 1, and newborn.) My kids have gone to a daycare center, and the new baby will go there as well. Believe me, a daycare center earns even more comments than a nanny. :) And yet, it has been nearly perfect for us. The teachers there have now known our family for 5+ years, and they literally cried when my daughter "graduated," and again when she comes back to visit! Each family needs to find their own way and assume that others are trying their best as well. I love the fact that your husband is taking a big role. I see more and more fathers these days who are making similar sacrifices and career decisions as their wives, to make the most of these early years. I think it's a great trend.

  6. AMEN!!! Mothers need to be sensitive to the needs of their children. You are doing a GREAT JOB!!!!! I need to tell you that! You have more care and love and motherly instinct than that rude woman contractor at your job. She can jump in a creek.
    I will be a working mom too, so I'm totally on your side for this ... not everyone has the ability to stay at home. Ignore the nasty women and comments. You are doing the right thing!

  7. Take care of yourself! Do not listen to her. She sounds jealous of you. I have found that because I was IF for so long and had a career in between all my years of childlessness that women are actually JEALOUS of me for earning a decent living. What was I suppose to do all those infertile years?

    So, I sorta see that you in you as well. You have gone far in your career. You deserve every benefit of your hard work. And, don't let any other mom tell you otherwise!!!!!

    They/she did not walk in your shoes all those years.

    Josemaria sounds blissfully happy. And, so is your ENTIRE family. Which is what we are ALSO called to do---take care of our husbands, home, and our children, too!

    I am so glad you found an amazing nanny.

    She is lucky to be a part of your family life.

  8. Yuck!! You are prayerfully discerning God's will for you and your family and that is enough. That is the best gift you could give Josemaria because now he will be free to do the same with his life since you've provided a wonderful example. You can already see the fruits of your decision- a happy, healthy baby. Phooey on those nasty, judgemental comments. As Fr. Emmerich Vogt says, SLAPP- sounds like a personal problem!!

  9. It seems to me like no matter what women do, there will always be people who judge! Don't worry about them - you're a wonderful woman and a wonderful mother, that is for SURE! You do what you need to do for your family and ignore the nay-sayers :)

  10. Prayers for you! I will never understand why we must tear others down? What does it prove or solve? Nothing! I feel that that other woman has some very serious issues with her own choices, but that in NO way gave her the right to judge your choices.

    Keep doing what you know to be best for YOUR family...that is what God calls us to and you are doing a beautiful job of it!

  11. First of all, you sound like you are going an amazing job! You and your husband have thought of every possible angle with regards to your son's care. You are being a very conscientious mother!

    People always have a need to comment. I have no idea why other women feel the need to tear other women down. What it comes down to is that you have made a good choice for your family and it isn't anyone else's business!

    You are a wonderful mother, never, ever doubt that!

  12. Don't listen to those who are jealous of you. Every family is different, and your love for your child is obvious.