Room for a Working Mom?

I live in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. It’s a growing, yet quiet county. There’s a focus on the community and the family with a fair cost of living. After growing up in over-priced San Diego, where the focus of the town is on the night life, Cow-town sounded like an ideal place to raise a family.

As a working mother, however, this has created a sense of displacement in my world with other parents. The community is filled with stay at home and work from home mothers who are able to keep the home life afloat. While moms are going to market once or twice a week to pick up fresh produce and local meats, Jason or I are running to the grocery store to purchase overpriced, over ripe bananas at midnight when the kids are all in bed. Markets and local stands are closed by the time I make myself home and don’t open until I’m already sitting at my desk at work. I’ve moved to belong to a wonderful community but I’m missing out on the participation.

I watch as my fellow Mommy friends have weekly play dates at 10am, drinking their coffees as they watch their young kids play in the park. Meanwhile, there are close friends who live less than 5 miles from my house that I haven’t seen in months. I shared my pregnancy with 4 other moms and we have yet to plan a play date, nearly 10 months later.

This isn’t the Beverly Hills of Pennsylvania. These aren’t the wealthy hiring a nanny so they can go get their nails and their hair done while they sip champagne. These are everyday families who have scaled back their lives so they can afford to slow down and enjoy the young years with their children.

And then there’s me.

I knew at 15 what I wanted to do with my life. I knew I wanted to have a high paced career with travel around the world. I pictured myself working hard through the week and coming home to my family on the weekends, doing stroller walks with like-minded moms on the weekends.

So where are those like-minded moms? In this family-focused community, am I left to socialize only with working dads? Is there room for stepping outside the stereotype?

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10 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brenda Boitson
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 10:43:42

    I grew up with both working parents. My mom stayed “at home” with me until I went to Kindergarten, but at home meant she worked several part time jobs to pay the bills. I have always known working parents. Here in Lancaster, however, that’s not the norm. Many Moms are staying home to raise their children while their husbands work hard to keep the bills paid. I’m not against any of this, but the career-minded woman in Lancaster County is not only not popular, but not very well accepted. Don’t be surprised if you get backlash from other Moms who can’t understand why you work full time and WANT a career. More women here are going to college, but then a few years down the road staying home to raise their babies. Not sure why, but there has been an extreme backpedaling in Lancaster County of women who progressed forward, then went back to the roots of stay at home Moms.

    Reply

  2. Andrea
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 11:16:24

    Hi, Kirsten:

    I too have a demanding career (along with a husband, two year old, and another due in May). My husband left his full time job to stay at home with our daughter and will continue to do so for our next baby.

    I miss out on library storytime at 10:30 on Wednesdays, going to the park, and lots of other stuff. I don’t think you’re alone. I just think that women in our position don’t want to put themselves out there??

    I often get asked why I’m not the one at home. And I prepare myself for the questions and comments when I say “Because I don’t choose to be home.”

    Reply

  3. sonjaslife
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 11:23:38

    I’m in North Texas but I see the same thing that Brenda mentioned. Girls are all about going to college and getting an “education” and become the “independent women” but once they are married and Hubby is making enough to pay the bills and the first kid comes along it is almost like they were secretly waiting and biding their time until they could become the SAHM.

    Reply

  4. amberdegrace
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 11:37:31

    As a work at home mom, I don’t get out much. My days are ordered and planned. In order for me to get dinner made, lunches and breakfasts down the kids’ gullets, and do laundry, dishes, floors, bathrooms, and any errands, my days are nearly always full. I rarely get out on playdates because when I DO have a few spare minutes I want to get writing in.

    It isn’t just the career-mom, working out of the house doing what she loves who finds it difficult to fit in social time. It is also the mom like me, working at home while raising two babies, who has trouble finding the time to meet up. Honestly, these two tire me out during the day. In the evenings I prefer just relaxing with my husband than trying to plan a night out with friends.

    I’m sure in the future, as the kids get older, I’ll be able to find more ‘me’ time again but I’m content with the life I’m living right now.

    And for the record, I see nothing wrong with you wanting a career. I never thought in a million years I’d be happy with being home with kids. Never ever. I understand your dreams completely and support all moms who have a career.

    Reply

    • Kirsten Deeds
      Mar 10, 2011 @ 21:05:42

      Thanks for giving me a different perspective. I know that work at home moms don’t have it easy. Maybe it’s just in my head that there’s so much more flexibility with work at home moms!

      Reply

  5. Hillary
    Mar 10, 2011 @ 12:24:03

    I’ve been working a full time job since before I had kids and ever since. I find it slightly easier to find playdates etc because I work second shift so my day starts at 3:30pm but it also means I’m practically a single parent all day every day and my husband is a single dad every night. I too find it very difficult to meet up and often times the best laid plans get rearranged last minute due to sickness or other unforeseen emergencies or exhaustion. I went back to work 4 weeks postpartum each time and don’t miss the braindeadness that is having an infant. Now that both my kids can walk and relatively shovel the food into their own mouths it’s getting easier and I can see the light at the end of what seemed a very long tunnel.
    There are several things I’ve learned that help over the past 3.5 years. The first is to have regularly set play dates etc for every week. We have Gymboree, the YMCA, a once a month women’s dinner out, etc. Some people have church functions too. This really helps me “feel” like leaving the house because it’s a set appointment and either I’m paying for that service or I have friends depending on me being there. Even on downpour days when I’m exhausted (like today), my oldest has school and the youngest had Gymboree and there are friends I enjoy seeing at both those places even if only for a few minutes. Come warmer weather having a particular day of the week to have a group meet at a local park(s) is the best way to get out. Knowing you have that already planned for say every Thursday at 10am others won’t make appointments for that time and it’s more likely you’ll get to have a playdate. I know we’ll be setting plans because otherswise I may not feel like taking them out and about and planning the day of is too stressful, especially when everyone has a different nap time for their kids.
    I think we live in a world where women’s liberation and respect has been accepted and a consequence is more complicated exhausting lives. I know I don’t balance work mom/home life well but I try every day and I think that’s what we need to remember. There is no perfect way to do it and there’s nothing wrong with staying home or working. It’s still about wanting to spend quality time with people we care about and trying to find the balance.

    Reply

    • Kirsten Deeds
      Mar 10, 2011 @ 21:07:13

      That sounds fabulous! Maybe I should get in the habit of creating a woman’s evening out or playdate once a month. It would be so nice just to have someone to talk to and brainstorm with!

      Reply

  6. The Momma
    Mar 18, 2011 @ 14:10:37

    I struggle with this all the time. The area of San Diego I live in is full of “designer moms”: super wealthy women, who don’t have to work, so instead stay home with their kids and are fabulous. They’re the ones who are always at the spa during their time away from the kids and the ones who want to do playdates and lunches mid-week at Legoland or the beach.
    The few women I work with who are moms all live 30 minutes away from where I do, and are like me–the come to work and then they rush home to try and be with their families (and get things done so that hopefully the house isn’t a total disaster). There doesn’t seem to be much middle ground, and so I spend a lot of time feeling like that odd mom out. I feel sad that I can’t seem to find any moms that are in the same shoes as me, close enough that we could have playdates on the weekends.
    I think it’s even harder in an area like where you are. I don’t have a solution, just solidarity!

    Reply

    • Kirsten Deeds
      Mar 23, 2011 @ 20:54:49

      I’m originally from San Diego as well. I know the kind of moms you’re talking about! Of course, I also have some very good friends in San Diego (like http://hour23.wordpress.com/) who are in a similar position to what we’re talking about. With the cost of living in San Diego, I think there’s a lot more families with two working parents. Maybe not in your office but I’m sure if you keep looking, they’re out there! And hopefully, if I keep looking, I’ll find some here, too!

      Reply

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