Balancing Act

I've been feeling very reflective lately, especially when it comes to my journey as a working mom and all the ups and downs that came along for the ride. I'm sure it has something to do with my brand new job being awesome and only requiring three days a week from me (although I'm still doing that extra half day on Thursdays at the old job, too). But I feel like I have to share my thoughts on this one.

During my maternity leave with Truman I was literally panicked about returning to work. I just didn't think I could muster up the strength to leave my precious bundle of squishiness all day long. The typical phrases like, 'Leaving the baby with strangers,' and 'Paying for someone else to raise your child,' and 'You'll miss out on so much,' are like daggers in the heart to any working mom. I dug myself into a hole of 'I can't do it, it will be too hard,' within the first month of being home with Truman. And as the 12 week countdown continued my anxiety increased exponentially, although I made a conscious effort to enjoy each day and not spend time worrying about the end of the blissful time off. The week before I returned was the hardest: the anticipation was absolutely horrendous and I just couldn't stop crying about it. But you know what? My first day back to work was honestly not as bad as I had made it out to be in my mind. I tell every single new mom who plans to return to work that the anticipation is one hundred times worse than the reality of it. Or at least it was for me.

But then again, it was still SO hard to feel like my heart was being pulled in two different directions. I wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom with every ounce of my being and it just simply was not an option. As the breadwinner, insurance carrier, and sole income I had no choice but to work to provide for my family: a fact that I was well aware of before we had Truman, and something that I totally signed up for when I wanted to have a baby before Nate was finished with school. And yet, I'd be lying if I said that those first few months back to work were easy because they absolutely were not. My heart wanted to be at home and my mind knew it was ridiculous to think about that idea. I was tired from lack of sleep, working on my feet all day, pumping a ridiculous amount of milk from my body, and trying to juggle it all in the evenings, too. It was hard and I constantly dreamed of a day I could stay at home forever.

And then something weird happened: I took another job in a flexible setting, that allowed me to work only 30 hours a week instead of the 36 I was putting in before. I didn't have to work every other weekend anymore. And I was almost always finished for the day by 4 at the absolute latest. All of a sudden my mindset changed and I started to feel the swing towards the 'mommy' role in me, moving away from the 'PT' role as my primary title. Truman also started sleeping through the night around that time (finally!) and I'm sure that had something to do with the new ray of sunshine coming out of my rear. Sleep makes everything better you know.

Then a little bit after the holidays I got a call from another home health company and I took a leap of faith to make yet another job change. I definitely made the right decision although it was a tough one and now I'm in a place where I can feasibly work just 20 hours a week if I so choose. Amazing, right? I have not felt this balanced when it comes to my PT career and my mommy career since....ever. It's just so nice to have the ability to bring home a paycheck, wear that PT hat and help others in need, and then have some recoup time at home with mister man afterward. I am incredibly blessed to be in this position and feel totally at peace with where I am in the working mom world right now. It sure did take awhile though, and it sure as heck wasn't easy along the way.

I'm not saying that working moms have it harder than stay at home moms by any means. I know that just using the words 'working mom' that will surely stir up some defensive thoughts from the moms who work hard inside their homes, raising their children. I hate that it always seems to be working moms versus stay-at-home moms because we really don't have to be on opposite teams. I'd like to think that I am truly split down the middle on this one, working 3.5 days and home 3.5 days per week. I give mad props to SAHMs out there and if anything, my new part time career woman/part time mommy gig has really broadened my view on both sides of the coin. Neither camp has it harder than the other. Neither has it easier. But they are just different with their own sets of challenges, mommy-guilt, and rewards.

For instance: on my days off with Truman I am in LOVE with the fact that we do not have to answer to the clock. We don't have to rush through our morning to hurry out the door to make it to daycare/work on time. But on those days I have to be totally on top of my game to keep little man entertained and out of trouble. Gone are the days when I could plop him on the activity mat and let him bat around a shiny object for an hour. Yes, it definitely gets harder as time goes on.

In case I haven't put this sentence in enough twinkling lights lately, 'NATE GRADUATES NEXT MONTH!!' and I simply cannot believe our time has come to have two salaries. Of course, part of me likes to toy with the idea of saying, 'Okay, honey. Your turn to work and now I'd like to stay at home, okay?' But in reality, we have financial goals for our family that include buying a home, having more babies, continuing to save for emergencies and for the future, and possibly get a new car someday. I just can't see us reaching all of those goals on one salary and so I'm basically committed to continuing my three day work week. I think Nate wants to get that in blood but he'll have to settle for my word at this point. We are really going to crunch some numbers this summer once the two paychecks are rolling in to get a feel for what we can and cannot afford. But I've already decided to embrace my part time working mom role as long as our family needs it. Truman loves Lori's daycare, it's so good for him to get the social interaction, I enjoy my job outside of the home, and extra money never hurts. I've come a long way since my maternity leave mindset of 'I cannot handle leaving my baby with strangers' and I'm proud of this evolution.

And by the way: daycare workers don't have to be perceived as 'strangers.' Once you put some effort towards getting to know them, and if you have the right daycare provider, they will start to seem like a part of the parenting team and not at all like outsiders. The term 'strangers' in regards to daycare really bugs me in case you couldn't tell. I think daycare workers have the toughest job of all---and it's quite possible that no matter how good they are, they will never live up to a mother's standards for their children. I tell Lori all of the time that she has big shoes to fill because I am definitely one of those moms who wants things done my way and I really believe I know my child better than anyone. As time goes on I see that it's completely healthy for Truman to have another authority figure in his life beside family and I am grateful for our daycare situation, for sure. Enough rambling about daycare....pretty important subject around here I guess!

I'll end this tangent with some new pictures of my growing boy. I seriously think he looks like he's 16 years old in this baseball hat and summer outfit. Sigh.




Oh, and then there's this new fave---my new computer desktop:

Hopefully there are some working moms out there who find comfort in the idea that you really can feel balanced in your life roles. It definitely helps to drop to part time, though, if that is an option for you. :)


  1. This may surprise you, but I'm actually incredibly jealous of your work situation right now.

    If I could find something close to home (very important since my last job had me commuting an hour each way) that would allow me to work 2 or 3 days/week, that'd be AWESOME.

    It's a dream world, though, because I have no idea what we'd do for daycare, etc.

    But seriously. You have the "perk" of being able to spend time at home with the little guy, and the other "perk" of getting your time away, which is super important, I think.

  2. Yeah, I'd say you have a pretty sweet gig going on there!! I'm sure there's really not many moms out there that WOULDN'T want to go part-time. If only it was an option at my current job. I might look into it more seriously in a few years. I'm so glad you were able to find the balance that works for you! That is definitely a HUGE perk of working in healthcare, the ability to work part time. My sister was just telling me about all the poop she's had to deal with (she's in her final rotation for PT right now, working with old people) so that's the downfall I guess :)

    Also - Truman's tennis shoes. OMG. I just love them.

  3. I completely agree with you about wishing it wasn't SAHM vs working moms. I'm not even a mom yet and I already see it so much, it makes me worried about what is to come.

    I'm a fairly new reader, but from what I can tell, you're a great mama, and I'm glad you've found a balance that works so well for your family!

  4. I'll tell you, having been with you (well, sort of) through your journey, I've gained such a respect and admiration for your ability to make it through the very things that terrify me. Hopefully things continue to go well for us and I can stay home more, but knowing that you've been so successful is such an inspiration! And, there's so much to be said about appreciating the situation we're in which you seemed to have done quite well!

  5. I just finished week 2 of my 12 weeks of maternity leave. I am just trying to put it out of my mind. I agree with what you said about day care providers becoming another part of the parenting team. I truly think that if you find the right person, it can be a really positive experience and can be beneficial for the child to have new experiences and to be in different environments. Hopefully I'll still feel that way when I have to put our little one in day care in September after my husband goes back to teaching in the fall.

    Also, the Nike sneakers on Truman are absolutely adorable.

  6. I am so glad you found a great job that you love doing, that also allows you some time at home with Truman. :)
    I am in awe of moms who work outside the home because I cannot imagine how you get everything done at home while also working. So you are totally awesome in my book (not like that means anything though).
    Congrats to Nate and you for graduation next month. You have both worked so hard for this I'm sure.

  7. Slightly jealous over here too! Personality wise, if Ryan and I were home together all day, we would both be deranged. But, it TOTALLY helps to have a daycare provider that is like a family member. That's what I LOVE about mine. Eases the mind a lot. :)

  8. Hi- I've been reading for a while but never posted.

    I spent the first 3 years home with my 2 children and loved it and cherished it. This past January I decided to bite the bullet and go back to an Accountant...meaning I would be working 60 hours a week off the bat. Was it hard? Of course, but I am so much more fulfilled. It's been worth it every painful day. It's still hard and long sometimes, but when I am as content as I am it's much better.

    Oh, and I totally agree on the daycare thing. They turn into a member of your family!

  9. I totally agree that working part time is pretty much the 'ideal' and best of both worlds. I don't take it for granted, and feel very lucky that my job allows this situation! Also, yes--healthcare does involve poop sometimes. I have some stories that would astound you----definitely not a glamorous job by any means but I do love it!

    Also, I meant to say that I don't really think it gets 'easier' with time like everyone promises. It just becomes more comfortable as you fall into a routine. It's still not 'easy' to leave Truman at daycare but I know it's necessary and best for everyone.

  10. This is great for me to hear right now! I'll be having my boy any second now and as a teacher I feel blessed to have a whole summer before I have to go back, but still the thought of leaving him when it seems so natural to stay home is tough. There's a good chance I'll be able to work a half schedule though and I think that would end up being the best of both worlds. I so hope my principal can work it out! It's good for mommies to hear from all sides, and try not to be vs. anything, but appreciate the best efforts that all mommies give.

  11. woah, that is an awesome gig you got! That sounds like my idea job--for sure!!! Balancing act is that to say the least. I've been back at work over a year, work 40 hours plus at least an hour-2 hours a day of commute time. It blows but you have to learn to give up a lot and give in other places! SOak up that time with that adorable little man. :)

  12. You wrote this post at a perfect time for me. I'm going back to work in 3 weeks and it makes my stomach hurt just thinking about it. I'm just trying to remember that so many moms do it and their kids are just fine :)

  13. You know how I feel, and I'm really happy that you so obviously appreciate and don't take for granted the ideal work/life situation you have that a lot of moms would want. But I certainly don't begrudge you that - you were smart to choose a profession that allows you that flexibility!

    I enjoy being a working mom a lot, but I certainly would welcome a 3- or 4-day work week. Maybe someday!

    And you're right - I'm not sure if it ever gets "easier" per se, as there are always new challenges to face with an ever-changing and ever-growing kid! But you do learn to accept it and make the best of it, and I think everyone involved thrives when you focus on the positive parts of the situation!

  14. I totally agree with you about having to be on your game and ready to entertain Truman. Andy is at that stage as well.

    I'm so glad everything has worked out for you, and that Nate is graduating soon!!! Yay!

  15. Although your working mom, cloth diapering and baby gear posts aren't in my radar this minute, I have all your important baby posts "starred" in my GR for the future. I love how realistic your posts are! You've come a long way with your work situation and I'm so happy for you to have found a happy medium. And a big YAY for Nate! How awesome for him to be so close to the finish line! Congrats!Oh and as always, Truman keeps getting cuter and cuter...his big smile with those all his teeth are adorable!

  16. Yes, the part-time gig really is awesome, no question. I have a similar situation, I spend 3 days a week Tue-Thur (27 hours) at the office, and then have Fri-Mon off to spend with my boy. It's wonderful, and I feel so lucky. I've even been able to meet some SAHMs by doing ECFE Mondays, so it really feels like I've got the best of both worlds.

    When I think about not being able to do it this way, I feel a panic attack coming on, so I just pray every night that nothing changes with my position or my company. :)

    Congratulations on finding the seemingly mythical "home-life balance" that we all talk about so much. I'm so happy for you Julia!

  17. Oh, god. This sounds so wonderful, and makes me so much more worried about the end of maternity leave! It would be so awesome to be able to work part-time -- and I HOPE that I'll be able to spend the 10 months after I finish vet school but before I start my internship & residency with a work arrangement similar to what you have now. But the first year is TERRIFYING me! I'm going to be working 60-80 hour weeks straight off maternity leave, on clinical rotations with insane hours, and MM has a FT job and will basically be the "mom" since he's "only" working 40-50 hours a week. So all the daycare pickup/dropoff, peds appointments, sick days, etc will fall on him. I'm sure we'll make it work somehow, but this is definitely one of those moments where I think we were INSANE for deciding to have a baby while I was in vet school!

  18. I'm so glad you've been able to work out the kinks in your work/life balance. I think you've found your sweet spot :) You really do have an awesome situation and I'm happy you realize and can revel in it :)

    I know you'll agree with this but I think we, as moms, need to all pat each other on the back and say "good job", whether we stay at home all day or go to a work place. Being a mom is hard and we're all doing the best we can given our personal situations.

    So unbelievably excited that Nate is thisclose to graduations!! I'm excited to see what's in store for you and your fam :)

  19. I think you have the best of both worlds. We couldn't afford financially for me to be a stay at home mom at this point, but while on mat leave I've been teaching half a day a week and I feel really refreshed when I come back home. It's nice to be able to contribute financially to the family, and Kent is off that day so he is home with Casey.
    I realize that half a day a week (four hours) is NOTHING, but I think part time the way you're doing it would be equally refreshing and do-able for me. I think I make better use of my time at home with him when it's not my 24/7.
    For now I'll just be grateful for Canada and my year off with him!

  20. What a perfect post! I am 29 weeks pregnant with my first. I will be returning to work. The one thing I am worried about is balancing it all. I just hope we can get on a good schedule sooner rather than later. I know it will all work out in due time.

    Thanks for putting this in writing. It is refreshing to here real experiences.

  21. Ahhhh, the working mom/SAHM thoughts. I have had so many of them in my 3 years of becoming a mom to one and now a mom to two!

    I have experienced a lot when it comes to these two very different worlds. I have worked full-time at jobs I absolutely loathed. I have also stayed at home full-time for 10 months with a toddler and while pregnant with baby #2. And I've also gone back to work for a job I LOVE with two babies at home.

    I think what makes it a bit easier for me is that my boys still only go to daycare twice a week. They've never had to go full-time. I'm not sure how I would feel about that. But I know if it had to be done, it had to be done.

    This economy has been SO TOUGH on so many families. Like you, we have specific financial goals that we want to reach and two incomes will help us reach them faster!

    I miss my boys terribly during the day. But I know they are in good hands.

    And now, as we get ready to move to our dream home, I know for certain that all the hard work and time away has been worth it.

    p.s. any thoughts to move back to Missouri soon???

  22. I was a career woman who wanted to be a career mom. With my job and the commute I couldn't keep it going. I was in the car 3 hours a day.

    I was luck in that even though I was the bread winner - we could just swing it with my husbands income. I miss the working part of me a lot sometimes... and some disposable income. :)

    Don't get me wrong - I love the time have been able to spend a t home with my daughter. I just completely get the balance aspect and I hope to some day return to a more balanced life.

  23. It really sounds like you have the best of both worlds right now. Your schedule was completely nuts before and your awesome commitment to breastfeeding must have made things even more insane. I would love to find a similar balance when the time comes.

    And CONGRATS to Nate on graduating and to you for supporting him all this time! I am a student and I know how important the role of spouse/significant other is in maintaining your sanity!

  24. First - I hear ya sister. Love my job but this is killing me. I can't wait for the next duty station where I can hopefully work part time, and if that won't work out, then I'll stay home. The last few weeks have really reaffirmed my priorities. Second - thank you so much for the "virtual hug." You have no idea how much I appreciate the support, even from so far away. Miss you buddy!!!!

  25. I am so happy for you, Julia. Your situation sounds pretty close to perfect. It's been a long time coming and you deserve it. Congrats to Nate! What an exciting time for you guys! And Truman... come on! He is too cute!

  26. I really appreciate posts like this because the honest truth is that we would probably already have a baby if we could just figure out this whole work/stay at home thing. Not knowing which I want, afraid to choose the wrong one and then make a change after everyone gets used to what we first chose, etc.

    It is just good to know that people can be happy with whichever of the choices they choose - and I am working hard to put myself in a position where I can be in the office only three days a week and work from home the rest of the time, so that if/when we do have kids, hopefully I'll be in that type of schedule.

    Thank you for always being so honest about this! I am learning so much from watching you go through all these transitions and it makes me feel a lot less anxious about making the RIGHT decision. Because you are right; there are many right decisions from which to choose.

  27. i'm glad your schedule is working so well right now! you were really busy for awhile there. can't believe your husband is graduating already. when i started following your blog it was still a couple years out. i have a question. been listening to 'the weepies' lately and i remember you had one of their songs on a baby playlist and you blogged about it. do you remember what song that was?

  28. We love The Weepies, the whole album. But our fave that was on the nursery playlist was definitely 'Gotta Have You'.

  29. I am sooooo glad that you were able to explore the home health arena and that it has worked so beautifully for your family! I know my clinicians were able to enjoy the best of both worlds and the flexibility certainly can't be beat and absolutely cannot be found in a facility setting.

  30. 'gotta have you'. got it! thank you julia! always look forward to a post from you. :)

  31. I'm reading this post the night before my first day back after maternity leave. I'm going to be working 4 days per week, with one of those days split between the office and home. So i'm hoping that I've struck the right balance but it's little comfort at this minute with the Grand Canyon-sized pit in my stomach ! I knew leaving her wouldn't be fun, but I didn't expect this. I appreciate your honesty that although it doesn't get easier, the routine itself does get more comfortable in time. Hoping that's the case for us too. Thanks for the great post!

  32. That's one thing I'm very excited about having with a career in PT, is the flexibility and family options it offers. I've loved hearing how you make it work for you guys!


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