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Elisabeth Röhm’s Blog: Hanging In the Balance

09/01/2011 at 04:00 PM ET
Sean Smith

Elisabeth Röhm, best known for her role as Serena Southerlyn on Law & Order, is in the middle of a very busy year.

The actress can be currently be seen on the big screen in Abduction, as well as upcoming films Chlorine, Transit and Officer Down, and is found online on Facebook and @ElisabethRohm on Twitter.

In her latest blog, Röhm — mom to 3-year-old Easton August with fiancé Ron Anthony — wonders what she’s teaching her daughter through the choices she makes and the balance she attempts to find.

How do you manage to handle all your priorities?  What’s the magic formula? Is there one? Elisabeth wants to know.

 

I know this might come across as a little too deep for our weekly blog, but I’m feeling a bit philosophical today. I’m wondering, PEOPLE.com readers, what it is that I’m teaching my daughter through my actions? What is she gathering from my juggling act? I want a little insight from your home to mine.

So tell me, how do you manage to handle all your priorities? What’s the magic formula you use to get it all done? How do you find the time to work and be reliable in every other way? What are these little ones learning by watching our actions? Once we move past our feelings of guilt for doing it ALL, what are we teaching our babes from maintaining all these many parts of our lives? And are we proud of ourselves for having found this hard-won balance?

The toughest part of being a working mom is when your baby says, “Don’t go Mommy. Don’t work.” You feel the anxiety when they say, “When are you coming home?”

We are working through this in our house these days. We are discussing the fact that I work and how that makes Easton feel. She knows that I come home after work and that I can be counted on, but it’s not easy to slip off to work in between her moments that all mean so much to me.

As you all know, Easton comes with me on most of my work endeavors, but for those rare occasions — the 24 hour trips — those trips that would frankly be too stressful for her, she sometimes has to stay behind. It breaks both of our hearts just a little, but we are working on what it means to balance work and family in our household these days.

We’re really talking about it! It’s pretty cool that she’s getting old enough to have real and meaningful conversations. Although I am confident that Easton is in the competent hands of her father and not some random nanny, I know that Skype and telephone are not enough to satisfy our longing for each other. We both always have an ache in our heart when we separate for an hour or a day.

So I think about what my actions are teaching her, what’s important and where I have to make sacrifices. That’s normal, right? We are all doing that in each of our homes.

I’d love to hear what you’re saying to your little ones when you have to leave them to take care of your other obligations. How do we handle it all with care and wisdom?

There is not a goodbye or a hello where I don’t think about what I’m teaching her through my choices. The obvious is that I’m showing her how to be responsible and fulfilled in the many areas of her life. It’s not just work that sometimes pulls me away. Sometimes it’s visiting a friend or managing to get a little exercise in. There is the value of her learning that she can do it all.

And through these activities that I sometimes have to do without her that take me out of the house I’m hopefully teaching her how to communicate about her feelings too. I hear her. We are talking about sadness and frustration as much as we are about the joy and love of reuniting. We are getting into a lot lately and most especially the excitement of anticipation and the importance of keeping promises. These are big important life lessons, no?

For instance, yesterday I had to go to Chicago to host their awesome morning show, Windy City LIVE. I chose to go on the redeye so that I could put Easton to sleep. For me, sleep was a sacrifice worth making.

It’s never easy to say goodbye and to explain that I will be back and when I will be back. I promised her I’d only be gone for a day and even though it might have been fun to stay for a little sight-seeing or R&R after the show, I knew I had to prioritize Easton and my promise to her — to teach her about the balance between work and family.

Although doing work you love is a privilege, your family always comes first, right? That’s a big one I’m trying to teach her despite my working too. Making sacrifices to show her and those I love that I put them first should be my top priority, right?

I hope in these early years that I can guide Easton through my actions in what her priorities should be. Having balance, some time to yourself as we discussed last week, the joy of accomplishment, but first and foremost the deep trust and safety we nurture and create with those we love.

I believe we can have it all, PEOPLE.com readers. Most importantly, I believe that our children can have it all and that it’s our job to show them how. There is nothing like going out into the world and scaling those mountains and slaying dragons, but there is absolutely nothing greater than love.

Easton will one day be a young lady with dreams of her own, desires, and a need for love from the people she cares for. It’s my job to encourage her to know that she can have it all and not sacrifice herself or others. She can be an individual. She has a voice. She can have a family. Be a friend. She has time, passion and energy to be truly present in this life. She can be a “yes” person who believes in possibility.

All this she can accomplish with a giving heart, an exuberance for life, selflessness, and a true gratitude for all that’s available.

Now comes the real work. I have to figure out how to do all this so that I can show her through my actions; so that my preaching is not fraudulent in any way. (They can see right through you!) Every day I try to face my own demons, fears and limitations so I can truly impart all of this supposed wisdom to Easton. So that I actually know what I’m talking about!

I’m heading home from Chicago today, having hosted one of my favorite shows, Windy City LIVE. I feel blessed that I’ve had a new experience that I needed to do for my work and truly grateful that I have a family to return to and share my life with. Balance is key, right?

Tell me ladies, what is the most important lesson you wish to impart to your kids? Let’s help each other do it all with a little more grace and wisdom this week. How do you manage to get it all done? What truths do you distill from managing your own juggling act? Let’s help each other focus on lessons and priorities for our families! Let’s keep it real!

As for me, I believe that whatever your ALL is, PEOPLE.com readers, we CAN have it ALL. Let’s help each other show our babes how it’s done!

– Elisabeth Röhm

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Showing 57 comments

Marie on

I am home with my son right now & we just try & show him as much love & time as we can. He is still much younger then Easton. We just try & show him as much as the world as we can right now.

april on

I don’t have kids but I can tell you what I learned from my own parents.

I was blessed enough to have a stay-at-home mom. My dad was and still is a teacher. He started working more when my little sister was born (I’m the oldest of 3) and he was gone a lot. My mom told me recently that she had to tell him to cut back because he was just about missing the first year of my sister’s life and didn’t even realize it.

Of course being the wonderful dad that he is, he cut back and was home much more. His favorite saying these days is, “it’s a choice.”

You have to choose your family if you want it to thrive. I get kind of upset when I hear women (who have a choice whether or not to work. I know some don’t and this doesn’t apply to them of course) say, “you can have it all” because really you can’t. SOMETHING HAS TO GIVE. And it’s either work or family that suffers.

I would hope that if you chose to have a family, you wouldn’t put work before it. Work is great, work is fulfilling but if you CHOOSE to spend most of your time working and not spending time with your family, then don’t have a family.

I always felt like my parents WANTED to spend time with me. And it was a sacrafice but I never felt like they were doing it out of obligation. I always knew our family was most important. I’m sure my mom would have loved to have more time for herself, though she and my dad had balance and took child-less vacations, but on the whole, I knew our family came first.

That is very comforting to a child and is still comforting to me now at 34. LOL

RKF on

April – I couldn’t have said it better myself. Nicely put. I think the fallacy of “having it all” is dangerously unrealistic. No person can have it all without neglecting some facet of their life. I, too, grew up with a Mom who worked at home, and I am so thankful for that. She made that decision, and that was her priority.

K on

I have to respectfully disagree with April.

When I was a kid, my dad took me to school every morning. Then, I wouldn’t see him again until the next morning. This was because he worked A LOT. It was also because he HAD to. My mom also had a full-time job, so there was never really an opportunity for balance.

I’m not going to say that it was always easy. There were a few years in which my relationship with my dad suffered. There were a few years in which my relationship with my mom suffered. But in the end, I’m a better person because of the choices that they made.

Neither of my parents went to college. They simply didn’t have the opportunity. In fact, there were a lot of opportunities that they just didn’t have. So they promised each other that they would provide their children with all of those missed opportunities. In keeping their promise to each other and my brother and I, they had to work. My mom even said to me recently that she hopes that with each generation, we can become more – more educated, more worldy. She hopes that together they have planted a seed that will blossom for many years.

My parents set aside time to spend with my brother and I. They were at every school event, sporting event, and field trip. We took a great vacation just about every summer. But they had to work in order to provide for us.

And let’s be honest, parents need something for themselves to. Many parents, not all, but many need to be defined outside of their role as parents. And that’s fine. It’s how they maintain sanity. I don’t have children, but I know they are very hard work. Fulfilling of course, but hard work.

Thank you for your thoughts. Very insightful for someone who doesn’t have children but is thinking about it.

Lydia on

Both my parents worked and I am a working mother. My life as a child was great. My brother and I were very blessed to have parents who were able to manage successful careers and maintain and happy and loving household. My daughter now 3 asks me not to go to work from time to time, but I explain that mommy and daddy work so that she can have all the wonderful things we are able to give her. I also explain the importance of going to her super fun pre-school.

Yes, life is full of choices but I don’t think by choosing to have a career means you choose work over family. It simply means for me, that I can do for my child what my parents were able to do for me, pay for college, take European vacations and teach her what it is to be a successful business woman and mother. Yes, you can have it all and shame on anyone who says otherwise.

Holiday on

I am not good at balancing my life. Right now I give my kids all of me and do every single thing I can for them and that leaves pretty much no time for myself unless they are sleeping. They are still little at 1 and 5 and I know in time things will get easier but for now my world just revolves around them.

dea on

We have a 2 1/2 year old daughter. I am a doctor/scientist who does breast cancer research and my husband is an elementary school science teacher. I go in to work later than I would and take her to preschool and my husband is done earlier in the afternoon and picks her up. In this way, she is gone for about 6-7 hours (with a 2 hour nap in there) and for that time has a great time interacting with her friends, playing, and learning.

We spend every minute that we aren’t at work with her — we get our together time after she’s in bed, and I get any alone time (ie haircuts and pedicures) on weekends during her nap (I should add here that we are both in our 40s and having her involved multiple rounds of IVF). She is (and we tell her she is) the most important thing in our lives. But we also discuss with her the importance of helping other people and the world and in so doing, explain to her why it is important for Mommy and Daddy to do what they do.

momoftwins on

I’m a stay at home mom, and it has def been hard not to have the money we’d have if I did work, course the trade off there is I’d have to work enough to cover day care and still have it be worth it for me to work. I think it is a choice, kids don’t really have as many needs as everyone tells you they do. They need love, they need food, they need clothing, etc. but that doesn’t mean they have to wear name brand everything, or eat at a 5 star restaurant either. I’ll go back to work if I absolutely have to, but there is much more of a choice than people like to think there is.

BTW I am a college graduate, and so are probably 95% of my friends, many of who are stay at home moms. We made a choice. I think I would lose it if my kid tells me one day that I’m not worldly enough, there is no reason to be worldly at all, in the world not of the world is a bit of a family motto. I absolutely support getting a college education and being able to take care of yourselves and your family, but if your family is playing second fiddle you need to rethink your priorities.

Also, being a stay at home mommy doesn’t mean you don’t get time to yourself, especially if you have a good husband, and I have a great one, when I need space I get it, but I wouldn’t trade one day with my kids for work if it wasn’t an absolute necessity.

Marky on

Well, for what it’s worth, my parents chose to raise their children in a home where the mother stayed home and the father worked. They both had the attitude that their children were valuable and worth the sacrifices that entailed; both parents were deeply involved in teaching everyday lessons such as honesty, responsibility, respect for others, as well as the importance of self-respect.

My mother was able to volunteer in our school, make certain we were able to be involved in outside activities, and they both supervised our homework. My father spent time talking to us about guys, life, everything we wanted to talk about, and we had good relationships with both parents. Nothing was greater than sitting on the back porch, talking about life and watching the stars with my dad.

We both graduated from college, though neither of our parents had, and both of us have had long successful marriages ourselves. When we graduated from college and went out on our own, our parents had a blast traveling all over the country together and checking in when they wanted to. They didn’t feel compelled to raise our children for us; they knew we could do the job as well as they did, because they had set the example.

We may not have had the most expensive house growing up, and we didn’t buy the most expensive clothes, but we learned how to manage money and make wise choices in life. When I think about growing up in my home, I am grateful every day for 2 parents who loved each other greatly, and loved us, too; enough to teach us the lessons we needed for life and to make us feel really important to them.

Kris on

I’m a stay at home mom, too; and I don’t think I’ll ever find that elusive balance. I’m kinda with April, though; in that it feels like something always has to give. Whether it’s cleaning the house v/s playing outside or picking up Chinese v/s making a nice dinner, something always needs to be bumped & shifted around to accommodate whatever else is going on.

But that’s life, you know? I chose to stay home with my son, and I’m grateful I had the opportunity to do it. He has autism & a regular daycare wouldn’t take him, and I wouldn’t have been able to afford specialized childcare costs on my non-college-educated wages. Yes, money is always tight & we sacrifice our own wants in favor of his; but someday, I hope he’ll be a secure, confident, strong man. And I cling to the hope that I’m helping him become that person by being here for him when he needs me the most.

You just do the best you can. Really, that’s all there is to it. Life isn’t perfect and it never will be. Do the best you can, and everything else will be okay.

ecl on

The problem isn’t that something has to give, the problem is that when something has to give it’s always the mom rather than the dad or the job. Dads need to step in more and jobs need to be more flexible. As for moms making a “choice”, the fact is that that choice isn’t as freely made as you would like to believe.

Frequently, childcare costs more than what women earn so it makes sense to stay at home. I wouldn’t call that a choice. Frequently, thanks to a long history of gender inequality, the man makes more so it makes sense for the woman to stay at home rather than the man. I wouldn’t call that a choice. Frequently, jobs are inflexible and fathers don’t help out enough so mothers become overwhelmed and decide to stay at home. Also, not a choice.

We need to start acknowledging the structural factors that coerce women into staying at home even when they might not really want to. I definitely believe in the value of family and both my husband and I have made career sacrifices, but it is dangerous when only women choose to do this because without an income you are left very vulnerable in this country, especially with a high divorce rate.

Me on

Not everyone can be a stay at home parent….that being said its all about the love we show. If our children feel safe, secure and loved then we are doing it right. We will make mistakes but what parent hasn’t.

My parents had 5 children and what I remember and loved was my mom giving me tons of kisses all over my cheeks and getting “bear hugs”. She read books and played board games with us. If we were sick or sad she was right there to cuddle. If we were bad we got spanked. Not in an abusive way or impatient way. We look back and laugh about it. I was blessed.

chelsea on

Lovely blog Elisabeth. What I enjoyed the most about it was the fact that you were writing it after taking the red eye to Chicago to work (for Easton’s sake) and after hosting the morning show. I can tell that this blog truely came from your heart at time when you were probably very tired, yet extremely insightful and that’s what makes it so special.

I have no children yet, but I do come from a family where both of my parents worked fulltime running their own business. Seeing my mother work so hard taught me to be an independent woman. I learned that it is fulling and beneficial to be able to provide for yourself and your family, but at the same time it does require a lot of balance.

It is clear that you put your family first, but also understand that in your line of work it is important to take work when it becomes available. From what I read in your blogs it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job. Keep up the good work!

Kris on

Oh! I forgot one more thing, which has helped me tremendously with the mommy guilt.

Stop trying so hard to seek everyone else’s approval. I say that from the bottom of my heart, because really, *you* are the only person who knows what’s best for your family.

xoxoxox

anon on

I’ve been lucky to be able to stay home full-time with my son since he was born. I’ve been balancing that with finishing my Ph.D. though and I find that the balancing doesn’t always work well. More time goes to my son than to school and as a result, I’m still trying to get the degree finished. While there’s no big rush, it would be nice to have it out of the way.

I just started working part-time too, after having the previous year off. I’m not sure how that will fit in, but sleep is overrated, right? I get to work from home, but I think that has both good and bad sides. Working from home gives me flexibility, but it also makes it more difficult to get work done–it’s too easy to blow it off. For now, I work like crazy during naps and once my son goes to bed at night. My husband has been spending more one-on-one time with our son on weekends so that I can have bigger chunks of time then.

It’s not perfect, but it mostly works for us. For now, my son is too young to mind when I head over to the coffee house to get some work done. He just waves goodbye and smiles and is very excited to see me when I get back. Hopefully when he’s a bit older he won’t mind–he’ll be spending the time with his dad and it’s good for their relationship, too.

gema on

I have a two year old and a baby on the way. Im a working mom and, as most mothers, go through a struggle every day of trying to find a balance and of keeping the “guilt” part in check.
I am the first and last person my daughter sees every day, I dress her, I bathe her, and I play with her as much as possible. She goes to preschool during the morning, I pick her up and she spends the afternoon with her nanny until I come home in the evening to play with her, have dinner with her and put her to sleep.

Sometimes I have to travel for work and have to be apart from her for a couple of days. Sometimes I decide to go out with my husband and take her to her grandmothers house or to my sisters house. I think these instances are important for her, as she is learning about independence and that she can form bonds and great relationships with people other than her parents, like her grandparents, her teachers, her friends. I think it is enriching for her.

I feel blessed when I look at her and notice that she is a happy and healthy little girl.

I believe all moms need to concentrate on the positive aspects of motherhood and not be overwhelmed by guilt or put your lifes on hold when you become a mother. Not only is it negative for the moms, but also for the kids.

anon on

Forget to add that I hope my son will learn from my actions that education is important and that spending time with mommy or daddy is fun. He may be too young for the first part to sink in, but I’m hoping he’ll get that message throughout his life. Yes, it’s tough to leave him to go work on school stuff, but I think it’s ultimately in his best interest and once I get settled in, it’s nice to have a chance to use my brain for something other than toddler activities! And a happy mommy makes for a happy baby.

Bufford Pusser on

No not everyone has the luxury or can afford to be a stay at home parent. And I hardly think that leaving for 24 hours is that big of a deal, you’re going to have a latch key kid with seperation anxiety on your hands soon enough. This is why I dislike parents that “wait” until they are close to 40 to have children. For the most part they know it all and are voerbearing

Lisa on

Wow, Elisabeth, you’ve certainly hit upon a topic that can be divisive and angst-ridden with strong feelings on both side of the issue.

First, let me say, many women are in a situation where it is not a choice of whether they work or stay at home. Whether they are single mothers or married, they absolutely must work to support their family and in doing so, they are loving and caring for their family in the best way they know how. For those where it is a choice, some of the best, most amazing mothers I know are full-time career professional Moms, who not only work, but they travel for work and they do, in fact, raise confident, happy, and cared-for children.

All of us as Moms do the absolute best we can to make sure our children know they are our priorities and instill in them (by our words, actions and loving care)the values we want them to grow up with. We all find ways to make sure we focus on our children and give them the best we can. We also know that time with our children is of great value.

However, it is extremely important for both stay-at-home Moms and working Moms to have some time on their own. We need to nurture our inner-selves and have some time or activities that we do not feel guilty about doing on our own. We are better mothers if we care for ourselves and not get lost in the guilt.

We are all juggling children, households, being a good wife, being present and active in our daily life, volunteering to help others, etc. There is no right or wrong way and no one should be judgemental. Rather, we should unite and support each other as Mothers, no matter what each person’s situation is.

Kelli on

I would be concerned about being 100% dependent on someone else for my livelihood if I were to be a SAHM. Maybe some of the SAHMs can answer this question: What security blanket do you have in place to ensure you don’t end up on poverty should your spouse die unexpectedly or he leaves you?

I ask this because single women are much more likely to end up in poverty or using government entitlements than their male counterparts. I attribute this to both the fact that more women stay at home than men, and women in general have lower paying jobs than men. In this economy, even women who have college degrees find it difficult to find jobs, so you may not be able to rely on the, “Ill find a job” statement, as that is usually easier said than done.

I certainly don’t have a problem with SAHMs, as it doesn’t affect me, but I would be terrified to know that my well-being was completely in someone else’s hands. Also, you CAN have everything you want in life. My mom had a lucrative career, but also never missed a PTO meeting or ball game, and my parents are still happily married. I’m very lucky I have such a strong female role model in my life. I wouldn’t trade my upbringing for anything.

So can anyone answer my question?

Penny on

Kelli asks an interesting question, and I’ll be curious to see answers pop up.

In my case, I’m someone who never imagined she’d be a working mother — my own mom and sister both stayed home with their kids, and I always thought I would, too. As it turns out, I had to keep working because my husband’s job didn’t offer health insurance — and thank God I did, because he’s now been out of work for almost a year.

Fortunately, I enjoy my work, and our son is in a loving in-home daycare with a small group of other kids. I am comfortable going to work, knowing that he is happy and very well cared for while I’m away from him. And like another poster said, I’m the first person he sees in the morning and the last one he sees at night. We are very close, he is super-confident, and if I had chosen to quit my job and stay home with him from the start, I can’t say for sure that we’d be in such a good position today beause of my husband’s current job situation.

(And for anyone curious, no, my husband isn’t staying home with our son these days — he’s using his time to search for a new job, and we also didn’t want to give up our spot with the woman who cares for our son during the day. Consistency and routines are just as important to a child’s security as almost anything else, no?)

Jillian on

I have been very fortunate to be a stay at home mom for our four children. They are ages 6 months to 9. We decided before we had children that this was the best decision for us. I know that not everyone can do this. There are even some of our friends and family who have nannies or families to watch their children.

It is very difficult to find a balance to find personal time for me. Especially with four children and over four years of breastfeeding I have had/will have. Yes, my children can integrate bottles, but I prefer to not use them as much. I do occassionally go out with my girlfriends for a movie/dinner. My hubs and I also will go out for a once a month date night. But I would much rather be at home with our family. Such a big change from 10 years ago!! Anyone else like this??

To answer your questions Elisabeth, How do you manage to get it all done? Well…..I do have help. We have a cleaning lady that comes every other week to clean the house and someone to do the landscape around the yard. Both sets of parents drop by as much as they can to see their grandbabies. It is much easier now with two of them in school.

Kelli, that is a great question. First, I do not feel as though I am dependant on anyone for my livlihood, as marriage is a partnership. Before my husband and I decided for me to a stay at home we had certain conversations and decisions. If I ever felt that I was dependent on him, then I would never have been a stay at home mom. I don’t know many moms who stay home who feel dependepent. I personally think that is sad and I hope they would talk with their husband and work something out to feel better. Now on to the money situation. Before we had children, both my husband and I had plenty of money set aside in each of our accounts before we had any children. We are just lucky that way. I know not everyone is lucky to have a rather large nest egg set up, but we were. I was also a rather “young” parent, according to some on here. We have two successfully businesses that we run. I am thankfully everyday for the life I have and am so afraid to gamble with anything because it is going so well.

Signed,
Not Jillian

Lena on

I don’t have any kids, but I do have an amazing mother, whose story I feel compelled to share. She was a single mother, married twice, but neither marriage worked out. She has kids from both (I was a product of the second marriage.) My mom was an immigrant from Mexico, a person who moved here knowing only a few words of English (though she learned) not only in search of a better life for herself, but for the kids she knew she would someday have. Money has always been more scarce than not, even though trips to a restaurant or movie are luxuries, and we live in a small house I am very grateful she was able to afford with, driving the same car we have for the past ten years. And despite the fact that she was always working and always broke, I feel as if I never went without. Not without attention or her time or without happiness.

I feel very fullfilled, and with how much I can now she had on her plate, I don’t know how she accomplished this. She has worked so hard all of her life, raising her first “set of kids” who are now wonderful, working adults starting their own families, and then the next “set” (myself and my sister) who are just now graduating from high school, going into college, and trying to get our own feet on the ground. So at 60, my mom is still working full time, supporting not only herself, but still baby-sitting the grandkids that are now a part of our family. And I hope and pray that I make enough money one day to make my mom’s life easier. So she can retire, buy herself a new outfit she hasn’t had in years. (I can’t remember the last time I ever saw her nails painted, or her hair done up.) And the funny thing is that this is all becoming much clearer. Growing up, I never knew the extent of her situation. She was the perfect parent in that respect – revealing enough to make us aware and responsible, but not revealing so much that we were children, being weighed down with worry.

What my mother has shown me has made me very independent. At 20, I pay my own way through college, buy everyone of my plane tickets for visits home, my own clothes, books and supplies (though I know that if I ever couldn’t my mom would somehow find a way – I just don’t want that burden to be hers.) She has taught me to be grateful, to give back, to love, to be happy no matter what wordly circumstances can affect us.

And I say all this because I read all these comments, about parents not being able to find a balance between their children and what they have to do. And I know my mom feels guilty, that she missed talent shows, and fundraisers, and school dances because she had to be somewhere else. But please, don’t. Your kids will grow up and understand the sacrifices you made for them. And for me, that is worth much more than anything else my mom could have done for me.

momoftwins on

I don’t really feel dependent on my husband either. In all reality right now if I were to go to work theirs a good chance with my degree that I could make more than him right now, but we both want me home with the kids. As for if he dies, unexpectedly, well that’s why we have life insurance (enough that if something were to happen he could stop working for a year or more, and be able to afford daycare etc. if he lost me and if I lost him I’d have enough to literally not have to work for 5 yrs, not saying I wouldn’t work, but it’s an option). As for him leaving me, its sounds naive probably, but I know that isn’t happening and if I worried about it. Sometimes that is a self fulfilling prophecy. I can’t worry about something that I have no reason to believe will ever happen and I guess if it did, that’s why I got an education to begin with.

Annon on

I will answer the ‘dependency’ question.

We live on one income….we have savings. My husband would never ever leave me (with 4 kids the child support would kill him :)) We have life insurance.

If he were to lose his job, we would cut out the extras we have (TV, Netflix, cell phones, long distance, ect) just like when we were newly married. He would look for work, and I would look for work. We would do what we could to stretch our savings, and whatever unemployment/severance, he got from his job.

I don’t find dependency a bad thing. My children depend of me to feed, clothe, and house them, this isn’t bad. I depend on my husband, but, he depends on me. While he is out in the world working, I am at home, raising and educating the children we created together. He doesn’t have to come home and clean house, make dinner, buy groceries, manage homework, because all of that is done while he is off at work.

If my husband were to lose his job tomorrow, yes, our life would change. Would we do what we had to to provide for our family, yes we would, just as any working mom would should her husband die, leave, or lose his job.

Marky on

About the dependency question….I never felt dependent because we made the decisions (about whether I worked or not) together. We also didn’t feel the burning need for a 4000 sq. ft. house for a family of 5. I am stunned at how many young families think 2000-2500 sq; ft; is too small for a family of even 3! I would never have left my children for an over-size house. It’s fine if you have the money to afford it without sacrificing time with your child, okay, but all you are teaching them otherwise is that “stuff” is more important than they are.

One of our children had special needs (heart problems) and needed me to be at home, and when we adopted a child, she could not be left with others for quite some time. Our decision was mutual, and both of us always felt the children were “ours”, not “mine”. He provided lots of help when he was home, and if I needed a weekend with friends, he was perfectly willing to take care of 3 children 5 and under. I never came home to a dirty house, miserable children, or even a messy kitchen (and no, he didn’t take them to McDonald’s for every meal. He even made their birthday cakes himself). He was willing to do it all, by himself, and the kids were fine. He did the same when I was sick, because raising our family was “our” job. I took responsibility for all sorts of things all day long; cleaning, cooking, laundry, painting walls, and even making window treatments, but he was always willing to step in when needed. We thought of ourselves as a team, just as our parents had.

When the children started school, I worked as needed and wanted–we both worked our schedules around the children’s as long as they needed us to. When you decide to have children, it stops being all about you. It’s not that you don’t matter, but you’re not more important than the children. Most children ARE going to care if you aren’t at their games, performances, or available to talk to. They just don’t always say so. And it’s much easier to say it didn’t matter when you’re all grown up, than it is when you just played another football game without Mom in the stands because a client was more important.

me on

i know this wasn’t really part of the discussion, but I am wondering why Easton is not in preschool?

I say this because I know having children in daycare gets a bad rep these days but it can actually be a great things. I know this because I’m an early childhood educator and I have seen the difference between stay-at-home children and those who went to daycare.

You see, bonding with your child is important and having her parents be there for her is great, however there are things children learn at childcare that you just cannot teach them. Of course, this is considering that it is a good center.

For example, Easton is at an age where socialization is extremely important, how will she be able to make friends in school if she doesn’t have those early skills now? It also teaches her to have a routine, and share with other children; something she probably cannot learn at work with mom.

I understand most mothers’ need to be with their children as much as possible, but part of being a parent is teaching them to fend for themselves and NOT always rely on mommy and daddy. I think you leaving from time to time is not only healthy for you, but extremely educational for your child, as she needs to learn that she can fend for herself when mom is not around.

All I’m saying is that leaving your child from time to time is a good thing because it teaches them to socialize, trust others, and much more. So please do not write off the possibility of childcare and don’t feel guilty for leaving your child from time to time. One day, Easton is going to go off to college and she will never be able to do it if she is used to mommy being around all the time.

My parents are working parents as well and there is not a moment when I resent them for this. I actually like that my mom was not one of those annoying moms that was at every school fundraiser and doing my homework with me. After all, she already went to school as a child and it was my job to get good grades, not hers. I am now a responsible and independent adult because of that. My parents taught me the value of hard work and that’s what I take from everything they did.

Like I said before, I think separation from your child is healthy and necessary so don’t feel bad! You CAN have it all and you are NOT a bad mother!

Best of luck,

Jillian on

Me, I am a bit confused. You ask why she’s not in school then go on to mention day care. Hmm… As a former child care educator, myself, I wouldn’t automatically compare the two, so not sure why you are doing so. If educators explain preschool as daycare, why would parents send them??? I wouldn’t!!

Anyway……Easton has been going to preschool since the beginning of the year. I assume she is still going.

I think it’s VERY important to clarify that preschool and daycare don’t equal each other. My daughter went to two year old and three year old preschool for 2 to 3 hrs every day. My neighbors go to daycare for 10 hrs a day. If someone feels their child needs to have socialization, play with children, learn without the parent around……..the solution is a school setting, not daycare. Unless they need daycare. Daycare is a totally different environment and set of rules and if the child is only there for a few hours, it will not be the best for them…..IMO.

Kcip on

Elisabeth, it sounds like you’re doing a GREAT job of helping your daughter understand all this, while you see the importance in trying to ENJOY having it all yourself!!

I’m a stay-at-home mom, who always expected to work part-time, till my mother-in-law got sick, 6 months after my first child was born. I thought part-time was the ideal, but honestly, being home has NOT felt very ‘ideal’. As much as I LOVE being home with my kids, and appreciate being able to be THERE for my kids for everything they do, I also feel I should be the role model for all the reasons you mentioned! Especially when it comes to my daughters, I wish they could see me accomplishing goals of my own, and being fulfilled in ways that don’t always involve them!

That’s almost TOO much weighing on a child, to be your EVERYTHING?! Besides, my daughters have great goals in mind for their own futures, & I wish I could SHOW them that ANYTHING is possible. Though I often tell them they can do anything they choose, I wish they could see me LIVING that motto, instead of just saying it! I really feel they’re missing something by having a mom who DOESN’T have a career, or at least accomplishments of her own!! ENJOY your career & baby… you’re doing it RIGHT!!!

Elizabeth on

My childhood was a little unconventional. I come from a home where my father traveled EXTENSIVELY for work. (And by extensively, I mean either gone all week and home on weekends or gone for a month or two at a time-sometimes more). He did this from the time I was born and still does it today. My mom stayed at home until I started school, at which point, she went back to teaching at the schools we went to.

We also moved a lot which throws another wrench in the system, but I can honestly say I never remember feeling ‘abandoned’ or feeling like the time we did spend with our parents was forced or feeling like I didn’t get time with my parents. Dad always made an effort to be at our games, school events, birthday parties, ect and Mom rarely missed anything. And my parents made time to do things together – like dinner dates and travel with just the two of them, which I think was great because of how much dad was gone and I am sure mom needed a break sometimes.

It was also good for us to get to spend time away from them with our grandparents (for the longer trips) or babysitters (for the dinner dates). It helped both of us develop into strong, independent women. I have so many friends who didn’t get to have a relationship with their grandparents, and we were lucky enough to get to know all 4 very well even though we didn’t always live close by.

Dad’s job put both of us through college, which I am eternally thankful for and Mom always made us feel like we were special and planned so many fun things for us to do. (We had the best birthday parties thanks to mom)! Our parents always taught us we could do anything we wanted to.

Like others have mentioned, I do believe that separation from your children is important. Kids need to grow their own wings in a healthy environment and learn that they CAN function without their parents sometimes. I look up to both of my parents for the way that they raised us.

Bryan Garten on

Awe, that is a sweet story! I am soo happy for you. You have a successful career and you get to include your daughter! I know how you feel though, my little boy hates it when I have to leave! So I do the same thing; take him with me :-). Sure there are times when it might be easier to go alone but I am glad I don’t have to.

I have enjoyed raising him and always being there for him, with one horrid exception which I cannot detail here! We are very very close. We are almost connected as one some time. I am glad you and your daughter have been able to share that bond too! Just last Summer he wouldn’t let me go to Italy without him but that was OK! I would have missed him anyway! I told them next time they should make the trip more affordable so children can go too!

So I feel your pain Elisabeth. But I also want to say it seems to me you are doing an excellent job! Keep up the good work! Your daughter is soo lucky to have a mommy like you! Happy Fall Elisabeth. Good luck and God bless your family.

Jenn on

After the birth of my son, a year and a half ago, the transition to being parents seemed to go very smoothly. But, once I had to go back to work, after his first birthday, things have been far more difficult.

Now my husband, who works afternoons, has to get up in the morning with our son, and has to change his routine, and I can see the resentment he has. It is heartbreaking to leave in the morning thinking that my little fella can sense his fathers resentment of the changes he has to make. Now my husband “makes up” for his lost personal time by going out to his friends every weekend, getting drunk and sleeping in until 3 the next day.

I am trying to be understanding, but all he really has to do is be there, I take care of everything else, and he still makes it seem like I am asking too much from him. Financially, I can not afford to stay home, but I am wondering if emotionally, it is too much of a risk continuing like this.

Kitty on

I am a working mom, wife and mother of a 3 yr old girl. My husband and I discussed me staying at home years before we even conceived. We had our life planned out from the moment we got engaged. Alas, our lives are very different than what we planned. I made a CHOICE to continue working after childbirth. Not because we were destitute but because I WANTED TO. My husband and I had very successful careers prior to starting a family. I made that choice to show my daughter that there can be a balance. Women can work and raise a family successfully. My daughter was cared for by my mom from the moment I went back to work (3 months postpartum) until August 15 of this year when she started pre-school (Yes, pre-school not daycare).

I made many sacrifices. I worked full-time and still breastfed her for 2 years, pumping 3 to 4 times at work and nursing evenings and through the night until I weaned. I have been waking up at 5:00 a.m. to take her to grandma’s, go to work, pick her up at grandma’s, make supper, playtime, put her to sleep (wake up every 2 hours to nurse through the night), spend time with Daddy, sleeping at 11 p.m. then start my day again at 5:00 a.m. I still wake up at 5:00 a.m. to make her breakfast, pack her lunch for school, get her ready for Daddy to take her to school, get out early from work to pick her up from school, go home and make supper, playtime, reading time, bedtime….and on and on.

My husband and I have had ZERO date nights since she was born. EVERY SPARE MOMENT is spent with her. She is our number one priority. While I’m at work, I work. When I’m at home, my time is for my family ONLY. I take no work home, EVER. Oh and I finished a Masters Degree in between all this madness!

I do all this and yet I feel guilty still. Reading these holier than thou comments from SAHMs doesn’t help. Mothers should support mothers. Period. It shouldn’t be a competition between SAHMs or WOHMs.

Elisabeth, you are doing a great job with Easton! You are teaching by example as I am. Keep it up!

kjenn on

My son has been in daycare since 2 months old, and he is the most well-adjusted, smart, funny, confident 2 year old I know. He learns things that I wouldn’t even think to teach him. I flexed my work hours to 7.30-4 with a 30m lunch, and my husband doesn’t go into work until 9 so that we could minimize his time in daycare (about 7 hrs a day). I get a solid 4-5 hours a day of time that is just focused on him- I don’t answer work email, clean, or do anything that doesn’t involve him. When i’m home on vacation, etc, I don’t get nearly that much quality time with him and I know that would be the case if I stayed at home all of the time.

Working makes me see how precious my time is with him. I also run errands, etc on the weekends during his nap time so I don’t miss anything. Yes, something has to give, and for us it is cooking big dinners on weeknights- we keep it simple- pasta, lots of Trader Joe’s meals, etc. My house isn’t the cleanest, though working does allow me to hire a housekeeper 2x a month which is a godsend, and I don’t worry about cleaning on the weekend knowing at worst it was just cleaned last week LOL. Just maintenance on the weeekends. It also allows our family to take multiple vacations, cruises, etc and create wonderful memories.

I work in the HR industry and I see how hard it can be to get a job once you’ve been out for 2+ years…I don’t want to be in that situation, I want my skills to be marketable. As others said, what if your husband leaves you? You aren’t going to likely be able to go out and get a high paying job if you haven’t worked in 5 years, even with education. I am lucky to have a flexible job where I can work from home when needed, or take off for a concert or recital or whatever it is that comes up, so I don’t foresee missing many (or any of these events). Another question, what do you do when your kids go to elementary school and are gone 6-7 hours a day?

Michele on

I enjoyed Elisabeth’s thoughts and the other comments here. I was, however, offended by her comment about not leaving Easton with “some random nanny”. My husband and I both work full-time and while we do, our daughters are with our longtime nanny who loves them (and it is mutual) dearly. She cares for them so tenderly, and they are both thriving, having three adults in their lives who love and adore them. The also love and adore her wonderful teenage daughter, who we also consider part of our family. My girls have known our nanny since they were babies.

Perhaps this is not the right answer for other families, but just as I would never judge a family’s decision to have Mom or Dad stay home, or families who choose day care, I would ask Elisabeth not to judge. I don’t know ANY parent who would leave their child with someone “random”. I feel confident that all families using nannies conduct the same careful, thorough, robust screening process that we did and then, like with so many other areas in life, trust their gut instincts as parents and make a leap of faith.

I also believe one benefit of Mom working is showing our children by example that people – male or female – have choices as adults. I make sure my daughters know that I love them, but that I also feel proud of what I do at work. As they get older we’ll also talk about the fact that lots of other moms do not work. My goal would be that my girls feel like any choice is a valid choice. We moms need each other – working outside the home or not, there is no harder job than motherhood – and I agree there is no room for judging each other’s choices. Just my 2 cents.

Jillian on

Kitty,
Where are the “hollier than though comments.”

DR on

Some thoughts:

– Especially if you have one child and a stay-at-home parent, it can feel very suffocating for that child. It is important for children to have interactions with parents AND peers, and spending every waking moment with one’s parents is not healthy even at a pre-school age. We live in a world where 9-to-5 jobs are not necessarily the norm, and if part of working means being away on trips, that is absolutely fine. There is absolutely no reason for guilt! If your child is suffering in your absence, maybe he/she is a little too attached to you. And yes, children can most certainly be too attached to parents.

– I am allergic to talk about a “career.” That is a modern concept for a generation of people who have no choice but to work full-time and need a way to justify not hating their job. It is a JOB, its purpose is to pay bills, and not to fill some emotional void. If you can enjoy and find purpose in what you do – great! That’s a bonus! But I am really tired of celebrating teachers and nurses because they “help make the world a better place” – what about loan officers, and janitors, and truck drivers? They are jobs! They fuel the economy, and they pay bills – that’s it.

Maybe if people kept that in mind, it wouldn’t seem so devastating to be a stay-at-home parent. Maybe we would all derive happiness from a job well done, regardless of how “meaningful” the work may or may not be. (I happen to have a job I absolutely love, and feel extremely fulfilled profesionally, but it is still just a JOB and I would be just as happy flipping burgers if it paid the same.)

– Please, for the love of God, stop overthinking things to this painful degree. Children are far more resilient than you think, and I have met many, many well-adjusted and happy adults from a variety of family backgrounds. Knowing your parents are behind you in whatever you do, having that certainty – THAT is the most important thing. Whether Mommy is by your side or away hosting a TV show for a day is far less important.

mom2KB on

I really tend toward the same mindset as DR. My parents always worked. I had to go back to work when my daughter was 3 weeks old. No, I didn’t want to but because we needed the money, I had no choice. Diapers are not going to pay for themselves. Also, I was unable to breastfeed. Formula is certainly not cheap.

I think that I am teaching my daughter that hard work is inevitable. At some point in her life, she will need to maintain a job and an income. I hope that she will have learned through us, as her parents, that we do what we need to in order to provide for our families. My husband travels a lot and unfortunately, his job takes him for the entire work week. In this day and age, we are so fortunate to have Skype and FaceTime along with email and photos. We can “see” each other every day. We can blow kisses to one another through these methods.

Sundays are dedicated to family. We spend each and every Sunday together, when possible. If one parent is unavailable, the other takes Kellie wherever they go. She is 11 now so, it won’t be long before Sundays will be a time for her friends. I used to wonder if she resented us for having to work but I know in my heart, she is learning valuable lessons. She knows that we are here for her no matter what and that is something that every kid should feel.

There’s no reason to think that a working parent is there any less than a stay at home parent. No, we can’t be there for every moment but we are there and truly present whenever we can be. Ultimately, isn’t that meaningful? Just because you are “there” more than a working parent, doesn’t mean that child is any less loved or the relationship any less valued.

Teach your daughter to be independent and strong. Teach her to stand on her own two feet and to make decisions with conviction and confidence in herself. Don’t teach her to stress and over analyze every little move. Occasionally, we spend time away from our children. That is okay. It’s even encouraged. What matters is how you spend your time together. Enjoy her, laugh with her, cry with her and at the end of the day, all that will matter is that you loved her. She will remember how valued she felt far more than she will remember the time you went away for a night when she was two.

mom2KB on

Lena, you have grown into a lovely person that I promise you, your mother is proud of.

Elisabeth, though I already posted, I feel compelled to point out Lena’s story again. She show us that working parents are just as capable of raising amazing children that do not resent the fact that we work. She shows us that these working parents may miss the occasional event (which is more heart breaking to the parent than the child) but they can be ever more present when they are together.

This should be your goal. Not to spend every single moment wondering if your child will resent your job. Embrace your job, embrace mother hood, embrace being a wife but most of all, embrace yourself and know that if you are giving all you can, your child will see that. She will respect that and she will learn great things from that.

Heather on

People should do what is necessary and right for them and their families. That might be different for each family, and that’s OK. Don’t impose your beliefs and views on others.

“Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so too.” -Voltaire

Heather on

DR- “(I happen to have a job I absolutely love, and feel extremely fulfilled profesionally, but it is still just a JOB and I would be just as happy flipping burgers if it paid the same.)”

That’s really easy to say when you most likely will never have to flip burgers for a living! I see where you’re coming from, but I also think that people spend 40+ hours a week at work, and it sure makes it better to not hate it.

I used to wait tables for a living and I hated it, and guess what? That made me miserable in general. I worked 6 days a week doing something I absolutely loathed. It paid the bills, yes, but it wore on my spirit too.

Most of us HAVE to work for a living, and I agree that too much emphasis is placed on loving your job. But I think there’s a middle ground there- we should at least seek out jobs we don’t detest, and if you actually enjoy it, that’s something to celebrate.

Kelli on

@Heather- I thought the same thing! I have been a burger flipper and a teacher. Now I’m a physical therapist, and I can’t imagine having to go back to teaching or flipping burgers, even for the same amount of money.

Courtney on

What helps me the most is realizing that parenthood is a loooong journey. If you start each day with trying to be the most kind, patient, loving parent you can be, your absences shouldn’t be the one thing you focus on that is negative. Because it’s not!

Example – I am a working mom and although I am there every morning, and usually home by 4:30 each day for bedtime, sometimes I have evening meetings, and I miss bedtime. Well, guess what? I am NOT going to beat myself up about it anymore, because that time I am not there is precious time she gets to spend with her grandma or grandpa or her daddy. I have to remember that the next day, maybe I’ll take the day off, and then we’ll have all that quality time together.

So, it has to be about QUALITY not QUANTITY. Of course, sometimes you feel you have to have both to be a good Mom, but it’s simply not true. And there is no such thing as balance. There is doing the best job you can, each and every day. Because I believe this, I truly believe I am happier than a lot of other mothers I see trying to be perfect all the time, and feeling like they are failing at it all.

Juliet on

@Kelli: I am not going to be a full-time SAHM for that precise reason. I doubt my husband would leave me, but my mom didn’t think my father would leave either. She has multiple degrees but decided to raise us without daycare, and she is still paying for it. My dad left when my sister and I were young – I was 13. By that time my mom had been out of the workforce for over 10 years so it was extremely difficult to get back in.

She works now, but she is not earning nearly as much as she could have been. I liked having a SAHM at the time, but now I wish that things were different for her. She sacrificed a lot – perhaps too much. You have to trust who you marry, but you also have to protect yourself I think. I believe that both SAHM and working mothers can do a good job as long as you make your kids a priority.

Now, I think in most marriages the wife would get something in event of divorce, but sadly my father was crap with the finances too, so she got nothing – there were no assets to split. And if the husband is insured and dies, the woman also gets some money, so it’s not being entirely dependent on the husband. Still, the situation does not appeal to me.

Lori on

I love all the different opinions, the different lives, the different outcomes. Thank you all for sharing your opinions.

I failed a lot of times in striking a balance, in relationships, and made many, many, mistakes. My youngest, my babygirl, is in her second year of college out of the state, we talk every day. My oldest son is an aspiring actor in Californa and we talk every day. My middle son is in the Marines.

I have made many, many, mistakes, but these three children of mine have grown up to be beautiful and loving people. I’d say that throughout my many mistakes they rose above it all and found themselves. :D

Beck-a-la on

Sounds to me like there’s a difference in opinion about what “having it all” means…

Courtney on

This is one scary paragraph, in my opinion:

“My husband and I have had ZERO date nights since she was born. EVERY SPARE MOMENT is spent with her. She is our number one priority. While I’m at work, I work. When I’m at home, my time is for my family ONLY. I take no work home, EVER. Oh and I finished a Masters Degree in between all this madness!”

To not allow yourself time to be husband and wife and have time alone, away from your child, is a travesty. A mother is NOT just a mother. A mother is a wife or partner, friend, and a person on her own. To deny those parts of yourself is wrong. Embracing ALL aspects of my life make me a better mother, a more patient mother, and a happier mother.

Go on a date with your husband Kitty! You won’t regret it!

mo on

I just started working again after staying at home for 10 years raising 4 children. My youngest is 4. It is a balancing act. I started working because I got an offer I couldn’t resist. My husband makes plenty, so i am in a lucky situation that I don’t have to work. But going back has done several great things for my family and Me.

First, I have an increased self worth. I know I know, they say staying at home is the most important job. Well,If something happened to my husband, we wouldn’t have to change our lifestyle because I would bring in the bacon too. Very important for me to know that…I didn’t realize this until I was working though. Like other women have said, my husband and I have a great relationship, but you never know what’s in your future.

Second, shows my daughters that it is good to get a college education and use it. My kids are surprised how much money I can bring home because I never brought any home before. My daughters have a renewed drive for college education and talk more about it since I am using my degree. They actually have pride in me because of my job helping people.

Third, I am more focused on giving my children quality time vs. quantity. Over the summer, each day I would come home and do something really fun and memorable.

Forth, I seem to try harder in all aspects of life and seem to be more responsible and organized. I have triple what I had on my plate before, and I am feeling better than I have ever felt before.
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Fifth, I have simplified our families lives. YOu wouldn’t thing that a mother going back to work would simplify things, but it has! CLutter is gone, I simplify everything I can because I would rather focus my energy on my family vs. cleaning up more crap or doing this or that for the church or community.

So, I love working, wish I did it before. My deffinition of having it all is Having a happy family and being happy. How we all get there is going to be different, but who cares! The end result is the same.

Jillian on

I can tell you it all takes team work from your self and your husband. I have a little guilt cause while my kid is at school all day I’m home cause I work third shift. so during school months during the week I see him about 3 hrs then I go to work at 8pm .but I make sure on weekends we do special stuff. It’s either you struggle and be a stay at home mom, or you do the switch a roue with husband and I work third shift. and he watches him all night he is in bed at 9pm so hub see’s him as well 4 hours during week. we can’t afford daycare so this works for us now!!

CamoMama on

In our house separation is hard. My husband and I are both in the military, I’m a medic and he’s a cop (and pre-dental student). For the first 2 years of her life we were lucky enough to work our schedules so that one of us was home when the other was working, but for us that also means longer separations which at 2 1/2 my daughter still doesn’t understand. Right now we explain it to her that it’s important to share and sometimes that means instead of sharing a toy, you’re sharing your mommy or daddy with people who need help. When daddy has to leave it is to keep people safe from bad guys and that when mommy leaves she’s taking care of other people’s boo boos. The longest stint away so far for me was 6 weeks, but my husband is expected to be leaving for 8 months next year. We have books that talk about what we do, books that talk about how sometimes we have to go away. There’s always a bit of an adjustment whether I’m going to work for a day or a couple weeks at a time, but skype is what gets us through when we are apart and we have the benefit of an amazing support system of friends and family who help pick up the slack. I think being a stay at home parent is an amazing luxury and once my husband is finished with Dental school and we have more kids, it is a choice that I will probably make, however sometimes when you’re an adult you have to make sacrifices to get where you want to be.

PDDB on

This is from a working dad’s perspective. My 6 year old daughter was privately cared for so for the first 4 or so years of her life, she was never really separated from either her mother, her caregiver or myself. She also didn’t have much social interaction with other kids her age. Two summers ago, her caregiver went on vacation so we made the decision to place her in a child care center for the week. I explained to her what was going to be done – that she would meet new kids and I even brought her there before hand so she could see the outdoor playground and know she was going to have fun.

When I brought her there that first day, she looked around at all the kids and adults she didn’t know and then she latched onto me like a monkey on a tree and cried and cried. It was heart wrenching. She screamed “Don’t leave me, Daddy!” I felt like a horrible parent. I ended up holding her for a half hour until she was calm enough for me to leave. I called several times that day and even drove over to see how she was (being careful not to let her see me). When I arrived in the evening to pick her up, she was by the door watching for me and gave me a huge hug. For each of the remaining days of that long week, she did a little better but at the end of the week, she was very glad to be done with that. The following year, when we had to do this again, she dealt with this a lot better.

This column deals with a theme that is similar to Elisabeth’s previous column on Easton’s first sleepover – separation anxiety. As a parent, I know I feel guilty when my daughter asks me to stay home with her and I can’t because of work commitments. But I learned several things from that first experience. Kids are resilient – they may feel sad, but with my help, that will only be momentary. I also realized the importance of talking to my daughter about her day. This way she can share her day with me and I can share mine with her. This helps both of us as it strengthens her communication skills and helps me learn more about her (as well as fills that loneliness gap that I feel). These experiences helped prepare both of us for when she eventually started kindergarten.

Work for me is a reality. As much as I might want, I can’t stay with her all the time. However she and I learned that even though we are apart, it is ok because we will be back together.

audrey on

Glad I was not the only person offended by the “random nanny” comment. Obviously her husband is a SAHD..wonderful but most people do not have the luxury of someone at home and strive to find excellent caregivers who also don’t like the idea of being called “random”–there is nothing “random” about finding a nanny who you trust and who becomes part of your family.

Kae on

I’m interested in this idea of “having it all.” As the mom of one and another on the way as well as a grad student and freelancer in theater, I’ve come to the conclusion: for most of us, “having it all” is only a possibility if we realize we can’t have a full serving of everything. I’m taking four years on my two-year program at school; to be on-site full time at the university an hour away would have meant missing my son’s preschool years. I can teach one class at a time, or crew a play, or do makeup for one play at a time; any more, and I wouldn’t see my husband. I gleefully hand sole care of my son over to my husband or mother or in-laws from time to time so I can do the research that I need for my thesis…which is taking longer than expected because sometimes he gets sick, or I need to rest, or there’s an emergency among my friends or family. Can I do it all? Yes. Can I do all of it at a full-time level? Heck, no. There’s not enough meth in the world.

Katy on

After the birth of my 2nd child, I remember Leslie Bennetts’ book “The Feminist Mistake” had just come out. Mostly I recall a quote from her about how the only thing she regrets about being a working mom is the guilt she felt about that. Here’s a review of her book on Amazon and summary of the points she makes: Many well-educated American women are giving up the struggle to balance career and motherhood and making the “willfully retrograde choice” of relying on men to support them and their children, Bennetts maintains. Financial dependency can jeopardize women’s futures and those of their children, she warns. Drawing on interviews with hundreds of women as well as sociologists, economists, legal scholars, and other experts, Bennetts lays out the dangers of giving up careers. She looks at how new divorce laws have altered alimony, reducing the likelihood of a lifetime guarantee of support for stay-at-home mothers after divorce. She details the impact of a loss of income on medical and retirement benefits and weighs it against lifelong financial needs. Bennetts encourages women to consider a “fifteen-year paradigm,” viewing their lives beyond the years of motherhood and asking themselves what they want from life when their children are grown and gone. Allowing women to tell their own stories of economic abandonment, Bennetts presents a cautionary tale for women pondering giving up economic independence. Vanessa Bush
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Anonymous on

I am a Mom of 3 little girls 12-13 months apart, the oldest being 29 months. Before I had children I had a great career and was a bit of a workaholic. Deciding to stay at home for me was a difficult decision, but I think a lot of the reason I chose to do so was because of what my Dad said to me one afternoon. I could continue to work for a lifetime and put my children in daycare, but in the end, my picture and my efforts at the office would long since be forgotten and the time and efforts I put into my children and relationship with my husband will leave a legacy. My days at home are 10 times more difficult than going to an office every day, but are a million times more rewarding. I couldn’t imagine leaving the care of my children to someone else because I know noone would be able to love them like me and provide the consistency that children so crave. That being said, I also know I am very lucky that I am able to stay at home. I just can’t imagine a parent who is financially able to do so choosing not to be at home where they are truly needed.

Anonymous on

Hi, I think you should find the right work/life/balance by being truthful to yourself first of all and then things just fall into place. You obviously love your job and it has constraints that go with it. I think you show it all to your kids and stop beating yourself up about it. You teach her that its OK for mom’s to work and that it makes you feel good and that you love your job and that it means that sometimes you have to travel but that’s OK. Furthermore, you have your husband taking care of her, what more can you wish for. No guilt, good times, and if you’re tired when you get home tell her, if you had a bad day, tell her. We work ourselves up way too much by wanting to be wonderwoman. The more truthful you are to yourself and to her, the better the relationship in the long run. I also think that any loving, caring person can take care of siblings, toddlers and that its the older they get the more they need you and your attention. Enjoy it all and relax!

Geeta on

Elisabeth, I LOVE your blogs.

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