It seems like every day there is a “mom war” going on about staying at home vs. working in an office: which is harder, easier, better, or worse? With an eight-month old at home, I’ve had time to adjust and reflect on my decision to leave my 9-5 job to be at home with my daughter. Which situation do I like better? Do I feel like I’m going to crack? Do I miss society? What do I DO all day for crying out loud? Well, when comparing both jobs, I’m here to tell you they may have more similarities than you’d think! Here’s why…
There is pressure.
Working in an office I had pressure of deadlines. At home I have the pressure of caring for another human being. Like all day long. If you let diapers pile up or if you let emails pile up, you’ll get the same result: the shiteth will overfloweth. You need to clear it away as it comes or else you’ll drown in a river of poo.
There are regular meetings…
My boobs clock in at 7 AM every morning for a meeting. EVERY MORNING since we have had her (and way more frequently throughout the night in the beginning). No weekends off, and the meetings recur several times per day.
…And I cannot be late for said meetings.
I cannot be late or else I will feel the wrath of my boss via the monitor next to my ear into which she will shout profanities. While she does not speak English, she makes herself very clear. I believe what she is yelling is “Maa!! Meatloaf!!!!”
You need to be on your game.
When you see your little one about to accidentally fall over you must dart toward her with lightening speed to cushion her fall, and if she gets hurt, you feel like a terrible human being.
In the workplace, when your hungover co-worker falls off of his chair you have the pressure of grabbing your phone in time and accessing Instagram before he gets back up. Either way, you must spring into action before the moment is over or suffer from severe disappointment and self-loathing for the rest of the week.
There’s this stigma about at-home moms wearing yoga pants or leggins every day, and I’m sorry but it’s just not – wait a minute – yes, yes I do wear yoga pants or leggins pretty much every day. I’m wearing them right now. But this is not far off from being in the office when I’d rotate the same two pairs of pants constantly. I’d roll out of bed, and hey, whaddya know?! It’s ‘Black-Striped-Pants-Day’ again! Casual Friday? Time for my second-choice-MVP – black leggins!
Either way, my goals are the same: look decent, be comfortable, show no plumber’s crack, and hope no one notices.
And then there’s the makeup…
Yes, you still put yourself together when home with your baby because you do venture out into society to run errands and get shit done, and also, because your baby is silently judging you. You may not be ‘Project Runway’ material. Crap, you might only get one side of your face done before having to tend to your baby at which point your ADD will kick in and you’ll totally forget about the other side, or you may go super heavy on your eyeliner for a simple trip to the post office. People may give you strange looks, but don’t be embarrassed; you can just tell them it’s ‘half-face drag-queen day’. What, they didn’t know about it? Pshhhhh, they are SO out of touch.
I work weekends.
This past Saturday night my husband and I thought it would be funny to challenge each other in Wii wakeboarding games, where the loser must take shots of tequila. (As a side note: it IS possible to get a workout while drinking tequila. We did this on Saturday night and I am still sore.) We had a blast! I wanted nothing more than to sleep late the next day.
But do you know who did not think this was funny nor have any mercy for my shenanigans at 6:45 the next morning? I’ll give you one guess. She weighs about 15 lbs, loves sweet potatoes and oatmeal, and would fire me if I tried to call in sick. (She can be a hard-ass like that.) Don’t let this face fool you.
Like a boss, sometimes I have no idea what the hell she is talking about.
Boss: “Where is that report I asked you for two weeks ago?”
Baby: “GEEEEEEberDOB!! DadamamamamaoooooooOOOferlom?? OOOOOFERLOM?!?”
Both individuals are furious and intense. And my reaction is the same: I got nothin’.
Those who are not on my team have no idea what I do all day…
Like in the workplace, some may even say you do nothing! Pffft. Ignorance. They might also say your job is easy. Just like you did in the workplace, ignore those fools and keep pluggin’ away.
…but when I ask them to cover me for a minute, they freak.
If someone (who does not have a small child) stops over the house and I ask if they can keep an eye on little Sweet Pea while mama takes a tinkle, a look of sheer terror crosses their face.
You know the look, because you’ve seen it in the workplace. It’s the same one that the higher-up who always down-plays your job gives you when you need to leave them for two minutes to use the bathroom in the middle of a conference call: desperate eyes, silently pleading for you to hurry back before the person you are leaving them with realizes they don’t have anything resembling a clue as to what they are talking about. “You mean I need to spoon-feed this to her? And try not to let poo spew out anywhere?” Yep! Sound familiar?
My co-workers stick their noses where they don’t belong.
Seriously, boys, this does not pertain to you. Stop being creepy. And really – you could use a shave.
I don’t have much downtime.
Here’s the funny thing about when your baby naps: you don’t know exactly when it is going to happen or for how long, so it’s tough to count on actually completing any one task. Among those tasks are things like household maintenance and getting your ass in the shower while you peer out at the monitor or stick your ear out from behind the curtain every 30 seconds to make sure your co-worker is OK. And if you are working additionally at home, on top of this?? Well then you become a caffeine-fueled, multi-tasking maniac with bouts of ADD, which is again, not much different from plugging away in a cubicle.
Promotions happen (but with strings attached!).
During the first few days on the job you start out at the bottom, sifting through poop. Just like the old sayings, you have to work your way up from the trenches. When you are a full-time caregiver for your child, before you know it, you become CEO of your household, too! You man the ship all day, you have the authority to make all decisions and see that your home runs smoothly and most efficient.
But guess what else? You still spend much of your day sifting through poop. You see, there is much room for growth in this job, but not much budget to hire a team. You are flyin’ solo, mama. Which is not much different from when HR shows up in your cubicle with “brand new responsibilities!” and not an increase in pay in sight.
Like some jobs, there are no yearly reviews.
(And if my husband ever decided to suggest said review, I would swiftly punch him in the nuts.)
You will question yourself.
Most importantly, you may sometimes question yourself no matter which role you assume. Sometimes working moms think that stay-at-home moms have it so great and are perfect and wonderful and have dinner on the table at 7 and brag about it all day long in mommy groups with their noses up in the air. But that’s not the case, and occasionally weird shit runs through your head, like “Is my baby socializing enough with other babies?” “Am I providing enough to keep her engaged developmentally?” and, “Did I wash my hair today?”
Moms who work in the office sometimes question themselves too, which leads me to the conclusion that, no matter what role we take on, we are all going to doubt ourselves and make mistakes no matter what we do. But we are still using every last shred of our energy to make the decisions that work best for our own unique family situations. So we’re all in this together, OK?
I love being with Penelope at home and this truly is the best decision for our family. I’ve been fortunate enough to take freelance jobs to help make ends meet, and continue to work on my books, and I feel lucky that my husband supports my decision.
And yes, being at home with her IS a big job. But she’s my favorite co-worker to date and there is no one else I’d rather spend my days with. Sure, there’s no yearly review or merit raises, but that’s OK – luckily I’m tenured, so she can’t fire me, anyway.
Now, it’s your turn: can you add to my list? Any more similarities you can find between the two?