Momaical is a humorous look at trying not to raise a flock of assholes. Cursing & copious coffee involved.

Momaical: [mom-mahy-uh-kuhl] = (Hybrid of Mom and Maniacal.)

6.19.2013

"Women Who Have it All" and Other Lies People Tell - Guest Post by Jen @ Life on the SONny Side

One of the amazing things about blogging is the network of people that you find.  People that live in other time zones become friends.  They provide support to you when you're feeling overwhelmed.  They cheer you up when you feel beaten down by the internet world or RL (real life) as it's coined in the bloggiverse.  Plus, they hook you up with new eyeballs on your writing.  I've been really fortunate to meet some amazing people through my little blog.  

So, today, I'm introducing you to one of my favoritest people - Jen from Life on The SONny Side.  She's gorgeous, hilarious and one of the coolest smart chicks around.  But with this post she's sharing today on Momaical, she is opening up about how hard it is to be growed up. 

A big round of applause please for the lovely and talented Jennifer Provenzano!

"Women Who Have It All" and Other Lies People Tell - Guest Post by Jennifer Provenzano

I had trouble getting in to work today.

I sat in the parking lot…trying to go in. I simply couldn't stop crying. I watched the minutes tick by on the clock in my car waiting for the tears to dry up…for the weeping to subside. It took almost half an hour. I looked at myself in the rear view mirror. My God. Not only did I not want to go in, but now I was going to have to do it looking like this.

I’m a mom. I work full time in a fast-paced, often high pressure career. This isn't my first day back in the office after maternity leave. My son turned two last month.

This isn't meant to be a diatribe about why it’s so difficult to be a working mom. I, both know and love, a bevy of incredible stay at home moms, who spend 12-18 hour days managing unruly children and bustling households, who would give up their only coffee cup to trade places with me in a heartbeat. I don’t blame them for admiring the green of my “career mom” grass some days. But, there’s something that I desperately want for them to know.

It’s really more like AstroTurf. It’s a vibrant green, and from across the street, it probably looks pretty great. Up close, it’s more like an uncomfortable nightmare.

I've been getting up and leaving my son to go to work for two freaking years now, and it still feels just as impossible as it did driving away from him that very first day. The heartache never dulled. Not even a little. Even though people promised me that it would.

I come home tired, and burnt out in the evenings. When I’m with him then, I’m a lesser version of myself. My patience is short. My energy has left the building. I don’t like me…I certainly don’t know how I expect him to.

I’m missing milestones and memories. Every. Single. Day.

I know that I’m missing poopy diapers and tantrums too. I. Don’t. Care.

I listen to experts and pundits ponder whether or not today’s professional women can really “have it all”…can we balance a successful career path, an orderly home, and a fulfilling family life?

The short answer? No.

The long answer? Hell no.

In my weary opinion at least.

When I close my eyes, I see a much older version of myself. She is a woman in the twilight of her career with a fully grown child…who isn't a child at all any more. She is fraught with regret. She isn't beaming with pride because of years of contributions that she made to her “work team”. She is sad to see her little boy grown. She missed 40 hours of him, in all of his little boy glory, every single week. She is ashamed. The guilt is stifling. I open my eyes again and the sad drips off of me like hot wax as the candle continues to burn too quickly at both ends.

I have vivid fantasies of leaving my job. It’s not even a terrible job. While I actually enjoy most of the work that I do, it quite simply, no longer compares to the way that I feel about my family.

I also occasionally entertain fantasies of having another child. Those flickers are always quickly extinguished when I imagine sharing the little time that I do have with yet another tiny person. It absolutely wouldn't be fair.

I find myself completely lost as I continue to converge upon this emotional crossroads that won’t be ignored. A career that helps my family live comfortably? Or, the exhausting and typically thankless days of a stay at home mom? I fear making the wrong decision for myself. I fear not making the right decision in time. I fear my obvious inability to make this decision at all.

The stakes feel dangerously high for a discussion related to domesticity. I find myself wanting to travel back through time simply to head-butt my 23-year-old-self for not spending more time basking in the glow of a life not yet purposed. My 33-year-old-self needs to pull herself together and get out of her car already.

I turned the engine off and used fast food napkins to try to erase the mascara tracks on my tired, puffy face. I grabbed my purse which was set beside the empty car seat. A lone sob escapes again. I force a deep inhale. My heel clicks on the asphalt. An audible confirmation that I made my decision. For today, at least.



When Jennifer occasionally drinks an extra pot of coffee, she stays up way too late and blogs for her site, Life on the SONny Side – www.lifeonthesonnyside.com

Go check out Ms. Provenzano and send her some love! 

40 comments:

  1. Hi, I'm someone from the other side! I decided to stay at home and have never regretted it, but I do admire women who decide to go back. It's a tough call. Thank you for sharing this!

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    1. Thank you! I love to hear stories of moms who feel satisfied with the decision they made...whether it is to stay home or go to work. A tough call for sure!

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  2. Wow, Jen. I'm not ashamed to ask you to pass a fast food napkin... I think I have an eyelash in my eye.
    As a Dad, I've had a similar moment of realization lately that I'm missing 40+ hours per week with my children. Some days I come home and they seem to have suddenly grown a few inches and developed more confidence and maturity.
    I always appreciate your writing. It's a dangerous combination having you show up here with Tracy!

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    1. Awww, thanks Chad! There are no easy answers, that's for sure! Dangerous is right ;)

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  3. Aww, Jen I know it's hard to leave your bubba but he still loves his Mama and soon enough an opportunity will present itself :) Sending loves..

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    1. Thank you Molley! I need to be reminded of this...a lot :)

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  4. It sucks you feel so torn, it's a hard decision when you feel like you need to be both places at one time. I would send good vibes for you to be able to work frOm home but that's a load of crap too- you are there but you're really not. All day long, so I'll send winning the lottery vibes :)

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    1. Thank you! I should begin praying to the Powerball Gods for sure!!!

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  5. Glad you're here Jen - and not just because it gave me a good reason to take pictures of my hot ass shoes. xoxoxo

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    1. Not to mention your hot ass legs! Damn girl! But seriously, I'm so freaking honored to be writing here today. Not only because you're such a kick-ass writing talent, but because you're such a wonderful friend. Thank you again for this!

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  6. I get it. I hate it. And it makes my heart hurt.

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    1. Thank you Tracy. I hate it too!

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  7. I understand regret and guilt. But I also believe in living your choices. I used to be so torn up about being a working mom - and all it did was leave me miserable and that was causing my "less than" more than anything else. Once I sat down and fully took ownership of my choice to work... things got better. I stopped blaming my husband (for not having a "good enough" job that would let me stay at home), I stopped blaming society (for "making me feel guilty about leaving my babies to be raised by someone else"), I stopped blaming myself (for EVERYTHING).

    I don't love it every day or anything. But I do choose to be the optimist who recognizes that there are benefits and downfalls to working or staying home and that the best way for my choices to be awesome is for me to embrace them and live them fully- rather than longing for anyone else's grass, astroturf, or mud pile.

    I think that to truly be our best selves as women, as moms, as wives, as friends... we have to grab hold of life and live it, choose it. Living with regret and guilt and worry only serves to rob us of the joy and fulfillment always within our reach.

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    1. All great points. I think that ownership is definitely the toughest part for me. I'm naturally an indecisive over-thinker, so this choice has been especially hard for me. I will continue to strive to let go of more of the guilt, and to accept the choices that I've made for sure!

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  8. Thank you for your honesty... for opening up your heart and saying what many of us are thinking... I will remember these words as I go back in the fall after being off this year to work on my masters ... my peeps are the most deserving of my patience and guidance... I won't say that after almost 12 years it gets any easier... but I think as a family we cherish our time together even more... and recognize how truly special it is.

    I want both my girls to embrace my roles, both as a teacher and as a mom. I want then to see the balancing act & tightrope I walk, to celebrate my successes and sadly, witness when it is tough and I fall down... on my face. That's real life... good, bad, and the horrendous ugly of it.

    I used to sadly aim for being a perfect 'mom'... it didn't take long for me to realize they don't exist... I am just settling now for best that I can be:)

    Glad for once you can make use of those napkins stuffed in the back seat;)

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    1. Thank you for sharing about your struggles as well Jana! It always helps to be reminded that we're not alone in these feelings. I hope that your return to work will bring you fulfillment and enough balance to keep you sane ;)

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  9. Anonymous6/19/2013

    "I come home tired, and burnt out in the evenings. When I’m with him then, I’m a lesser version of myself. My patience is short. My energy has left the building. I don’t like me…I certainly don’t know how I expect him to."

    I completely understand. Many times when I'm leaving work (I work 7-3), I am stunned by the fact that my "work day" is only 1/2 over. I am exhausted and have a full plate ahead at home - cooking, the baby, the dog, the daycare prep for next day and on and on. Throughout which, for the most part, Pappa is parenting our daughter. I miss my daughter to death, yet most times (after work) I don't have the patience for her either. It's sad.

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    1. It is hard. I think it helps to be honest about it. And to ask for support when we need it. Thank you for commiserating!

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  10. Oh Jen... I want to come give you lots of hugs. Know that I admire you and every other mother that goes back to work after having a baby. It is obviously emotionally draining. There are times I want to go back to work but like you said, the grass always looks greener than it really is. At the end of the day, know that you are a GREAT mother, doing what she can to better the family. Lots of hugs and super sloppy kisses! xo

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    1. Thank you Dani! Hugs right back at you, Mama!

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  11. *hug* I think you are doing a great job but I know it hurts to leave them.... most of the time.... *ahem*... Maybe we will all figure it all out someday? Here's to hoping....

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    1. "Most of the time" ;) Here's to hoping for sure!

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  12. ((hugs)) I've done WOHM, SAHM and WAHM and they are both equally part sucky and exhausting and exhilirating and rewarding for me. Always remember you can change your decisions.

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    1. You're absolutely right Robbie! And thanks for the virtual hugs!

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  13. Jen when our kids were small, my husband and I couldn't afford NOT to both work. And we worked opposite shifts. I'd work day shift and he would be home with them all day, then he'd bring them to where we both worked and do the 'baby swap'. He'd go into work, I'd take them home. We never had to rely on childcare, babysitters or nannies because one of us was always at home with them. Was it tough? Absolutely, and we rarely had family meals together, but it was well worth it because our children were always with a parent who loved them. And it always made me feel a little better about leaving them knowing their dad was home with them.

    I don't have ANY issue with anyone who needs childcare, babysitters or nannies, so please don't think I'm putting them down! I just totally understand how hard it is to leave your child and go off to work everyday, missing a huge chunk of their formative years.

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    1. Thank you for this, Teri! XOXOXO

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  14. Oh my. I'm only 2 months into my maternity leave (with 2 months to go) and I'm dreading this moment you describe. I feel for you and thank you for your honesty.

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    1. Ellen, please don't let me scare you. There are days that I enjoy my work more than words can say, and I relish the success that I find there. I just wish I didn't spend so much time second guessing my decision... And I wish you 2 more months of maternity leave bliss ;)

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  15. I didn't get a chance to read the comments, but I do think a lot of people always feel the grass is greener somewhere else, I have been both a working mom and a stay at home mom, there are advantages and drawbacks to both, but being a stay at home mom was and is my real passion, I love being able to see every moment of my munchkins lives, I do not envy working moms, but I sure as heck admire them, hugs mama!
    Domesticated Breakdown

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    1. You're absolutely right Lacie! Thank you for the comment!

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  16. Ok so I ended up commenting on your blog and here.

    It sounds like you are still very conflicted about your decision to work. I hope that you are able to find a better balance that brings you happiness. I do believe it is possible (and I'm posting about it in the AM!).

    I commend your bravery to reveal how hard being a working mom is though. The more we share as working moms, the more we can help others who are going through the same struggles. We need to stick together!

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    1. I read your post today. I absolutely loved it. It was the perfect counterpoint to my piece. I know that I have days that I feel that way as well. I think that's what makes it all the more confusing for me sometimes. I definitely seek more balance. I'm so happy to hear that you're finding it!

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  17. Jen, I had no idea. Everyone always tells me it gets easier the longer you work. Guess it depends on the chickadee. Hugs Mama! Thank you for sharing and I truly hope this helps you beautiful gal.

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  18. I adore Jen and her blog, and I love Momaical, too, so it was an awesome surprise to see you two together. This was such a profound post. I am dealing with a little bit of this right now, too, and it's great to have friends--whether in "real life" or cyberlife--who understand how difficult these choices can be. We've just got to do the best that we can in each of our situations, and I truly believe that everything will be okay! Thanks so much for sharing this great post, Jen!

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  19. Hi

    I am a stay at home mom who sometimes finds the grass greener on the other side,,,whenever I see a friend or someone having a job and managing it all. Though I guess I would never be able to leave my son and go to work. I dont have those guts. You rock!

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  20. Hey Jen! Another great post! Sorry things are hard. I think a lot of mommies lie to themselves and to other mommies about how wonderful it is to "have it all". You really can't have it all. As a Dad, I have similar feelings sometimes. I come home from work exhausted and think "the most important part of my day is just starting and I'm already tired and grumpy". Not fun.
    Justin Knight- Writing Pad Dad
    Writing Pad Dad Blog

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  21. Oh my gosh, I worked until I was pregnant with my 3rd & can relate. Although I really enjoyed working, logistics with my travel & Joe's overnights at the firehouse were wretched. Sadly, I always felt like a bad mom as I happily ordered room service & got ready in a hotel feeling thrilled that I didn't have to pour anyone Cheerios. No matter the choice, no matter the situation, it's all a bit of a struggle for moms. I blame men. (that last bit was a joke in case someone calls me a bad name).

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  22. I'm the stay at home mom who has major envy over people's nice homes and nice cars and nice clothes and then I remind myself that I stay home for a reason. There is much to worry about in a single income household. But I wouldn't trade it for anything right now. I can't not do it and I applaud people who can and also the people who, like me, cannot. Thank you for opening up and giving me a glimpse into the world I've been envying lately. Soon I will take on a roll as working mom but....not yet.

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  23. Hey, Jen and Tracy, sorry it took me so long to find this awesome post!!
    I totally identify with this, Jen, because that was me about 8 years ago and then again me 4 years ago; each time, leaving my kid at the daycare center and then driving that long way to work. Now, when I see my kids as the well-balanced and confident kids that they are, I think it was fine and worth it, and because I am so much a better mom because I got the chance to advance my career.
    I'm not trying to belittle stay at home moms; just saying that I couldn't take on that role!

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