Since turnabout is fair play I wrote a few questions for Jennifer to answer as a working mom. She does a great job and I like her perspective on our situation.
What made you say yes to working full time with two little boys at home?
I think the best part of my decision was it was OUR decision, and nothing MADE me say yes. We asked the Lord for more money, and I literally fell into a job where I was making a lot more than we had been previously. I prayed over it, Aaron prayed over it, and despite the initial feeling that I was abandoning my sons, it was right. It helps that I’m married to a man who is a father, not just a parent, so I know I’m leaving my boys in the loving hands of their father. It’s important to us right now that one of us be home raising our kids. That’s why we aren’t a “two income” family. We choose to have less money, so that one of us is home parenting our children.
What do you like most about being a working mom?
I love that I work at a job I’m good at. I really am good at it. I like the people I work with a lot, and I like being out in the world. It’s hard, and it’s long hours sometimes, but I never feel like I’m less of a mom because I work a career type job. I really look forward to my time with my boys, because I have less of it than a stay at home mom. It reminds me to give my kids my focused attention. I feel like they get the best of me.
Do you find it hard to be away from your boys all week?
Every day. Of course! I have the peace of mind knowing I’m where the Lord wants me to be. I also have the peace of mind knowing my husband is caring for them, feeding them, taking them to the park, reading them stories. I don’t feel the panic of “they aren’t being taken care of as well as I would do it!” because Aaron takes such excellent care of them. Aaron sends me lots of videos and pictures and updates, which makes me feel closer.
What do your coworkers think about you working while your husband stays home?
They can’t believe that he could stay at home and like it, and are usually skeptical when I tell them that is indeed the case. Many of them either are working women, or are married to a working woman, so it’s not odd to have a woman in the work place. It IS odd to have the man be at home, but when I explain that it’s very important to us that we raise our own children, they get it. They are a really supportive and kind hearted group of people. They like the stories of him being a stay at home dad. They always ask how he’s doing. It’s nice. They also can’t believe we truly swap roles. Many of them still have to go home after a long day at work and cook and clean and do homework with their kids, because their husbands also work and someone has to make dinner! My husband makes dinner, cleans, does laundry etc. It takes a tremendous amount of pressure off of me.
Do you feel any pressure or stigma from others because of this role reversal?
Hm. Not pressure. I feel omitted. All of my friends are stay at home moms, or single girls. I choose not to go out most nights, because that’s the only time I get to see the boys, and also because I workout at 5am, I go to bed really early. On the weekends, it’s my only family time and many of my friends family time with their working husbands, so not a lot goes on. I think most of my friends do things during the weekday, with other moms, when I’m at work. And when my single friends hang out, they usually assume I’m busy or unavailable, because that is often the case. I mean, *laughs* I work 40 hours a week, and I’m married with two kids. It’s easy to be omitted when you have that many commitments in life. No one is being deliberately exclusive, it’s just my schedule is weird. It’s a really lonely time relationally, to be honest.
Other than financially, how do you support your husband and how does he support you in this not so traditional set up?
Aaron does it all. He cooks, cleans, does laundry, has dinner on the table when I get home. I try to do the boys dinner and baths, and the chores that are hard to do with kids underfoot on the weekends to take the housework pressure off of him during the week. We try to spend focused time together, like a date night every few weeks. We also make a point to give each other time alone out of the house, without kids or each other. It doesn’t always happen, but we try! I’ve found the best thing Aaron can do for me is ask, “How can I help you…” and it’s my job to answer honestly. Can’t whine if I don’t honestly tell him where I need help. He’s not a mind reader!
Do you have advice for other working moms?
Loads! I could write a novella. Here are the important pieces of advice: Ask your husband for help. Ask him what he needs from you, to help him. Hold your children, and look them in the eye often and tell them you love them. Be proud of yourself! Don’t internalize your emotions. Remember to be vulnerable and honest with your spouse. Remember to take time for yourself, even if it means some housework doesn’t get done. Continually ask the Lord if you’re where he wants you to be. Eat well. Exercise. Go to bed early. And call me if you want to go out for cocktails.