I’m a manager mama

I work for a corporation and lead a team of engineers who make software for healthcare. I “work from home” but only because I was unwilling to move to the corporate offices; I am in a full office job with the expectations that I work as though I was in an office, but my office happens to be my home.

Put another way, I spend all of my day on conference calls and glued to my computer.

My son, therefore, has always gone to a caregiver outside of my home. On the days he can’t (school vacations, sick days, etc.), I do a terrible job of trying to work while hearing him fuss and cry and laugh and be a kid, and a terrible job of being focused mama while juggling emails typed on my phone during little bitty stolen moments. My team knows that if he’s home, they might hear (and ignore) the background noise; his caregivers know that sometimes (not often, really!) I drop him off with a muted phone in my hand.

It works. Mostly.

And now, today, I find out that I’ve been nominated for a prestigious thing again (yay for me) that means I have to travel away from my family and leave Joey as the sole parent for a week (boo). Each time, I’m wracked with guilt. My job is the one that provides for us right now, so he feels like his takes a backseat if mine needs me – and it does. And although technically these things are extra, they’re also necessary for keeping my career growing and secure, something extra important since I live far away from the mothership.

I don’t doubt that SAHM’s struggle with guilt – apparently guilt is a mama thing – but I have to admit that the constant back and forth wears on me. If I were the daddy, I would miss my son but I don’t think I’d feel bad about leaving my son in the sole care of his other parent, right?

So, I’ll do what I always do: try to find a brilliant solution that means I don’t have to leave Joey single-handedly shouldering the burden of parenting. Can Javi go with me? Take a nanny? Both of them join? Fly a relative in to watch him? Make it a family trip?

And in the end, I’ll end up where I always do: taking Javi along is harder on him and harder on me. His rhythm is disrupted and I can’t focus on the learning I’m supposed to be doing.

And Joey will end up where he, thus far, always has: home alone with a not-so-fun-these-days-toddler while I’m away and feeling guilty.

Modern motherhood is hard, y’all.

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8 thoughts on “I’m a manager mama

  1. My husband just went on a week-long business trip too, to another country an 8-hour-flight from me and our just-2-year-old. He missed us of course, but feeling bad never crossed his mind. The idea that it might be hard for me didn’t either (until I mentioned it upon his return). This post is pretty good evidence that mothers and fathers really do tend to think differently.

  2. Amen! I have to travel weekly for work. Last year I really traveled the absolute minimum I could and I’m sure it did affect my career growth even though everyone at work was very understanding about why I didn’t want to travel unless absolutely necessary. This year, I have to travel both coasts which means I can’t do it in a day. I have huge guilt about leaving my husband to handle things even though he insists it’s fine and it’s what we need to do as a family (I’m also the breadwinner). It’s even worse when my daughter is sick and isn’t sleeping well. Crazy guilt! I don’t think my husband would have the guilt at all if he were in this position. Most of the people in my same position at work ARE male and their wives stay home or have nannies. They seem to think nothing of being gone all of the time, but I just can’t be that kind of parent.

    • My husband tells me it’s kind of annoying when I act as though they can’t do well without me, so I remind myself of that: guilt is about ME, but they don’t need that from me.

      That only works like a fraction of the time. Most of the time I just feel guilty. 🙂

    • Hit Enter too soon.

      The other thing is the stigma attached (and that I feel even in my thoughts) about calling a spade a spade: my husband is filling the role traditionally filled by a female wife to partner with me, filling the role traditionally filled by a male husband. Even saying that feels emasculating.

      Do you feel like that at all?

      Something else I need to think more about….

  3. When my husband and I were in the odd situation of both working from home during our son’s first year we found the division of labor to be some of the hardest to navigate. No one person had more or less free time, no one person was responsible for house stuff, no one person was responsible for baby stuff. Having to figure out every day who was going to do what was exhausting. So now I’m in month two of my new job, and my husband is in month two of being stay at home dad, and it’s awesome. I would never have guessed this is where I’d be, I always thought I wanted to be a stay at home parent, but this is working for us. I had to have some serious talks with myself about recognizing that I do enjoy working and am ambitious, moreso than my husband, and that’s okay! So sometimes I think it is easier to call a spade a spade, to call the primary parent the primary parent-with all the perks and pitfalls of that designation.

  4. We both work full time, but I make more. I also have no sick time, thanks to maternity leave… and even though I take a pay cut if I stay home, I end up staying home most days when she’s sick (like today). That guilt thing, man. It’s insane. And yeah… modern motherhood is rough. The back and forth wears on me too. I love my job and I love my kid but put them together and I find myself falling apart.

    (A related but random aside, thanks for being so open about your journey with depression. After multiple doctors telling me that it’s normal to feel like this cause you just had a kid, I’m finally pushing for more and seeing a psychiatrist on Thursday. Perhaps it’s PPD, perhaps it’s just the stress of working and being a mom, but either way I need to be pushed to realize this isn’t ok and I should seek help.)

    • Oh, good. Look, even if you opt not to take meds, you will at least know you have the option. It’s all about options! So, I’m so glad you’re pushing. SO glad.

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