Anyone else WOHM but ambivalent? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 22 Old 08-27-2010, 03:11 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am having a really hard time reconciling my parenting beliefs with working outside the home.

I enjoy my job and it is very family friendly. It is financially "necessary" for me to work (i.e. I have a WOHM husband so if we significantly changed our lifestyle we could get by ... even though we're pretty lowkey already). On the days when I've stayed home with DS (who is 2) I certainly understand the challenge it would be to stay home with him day after day, and I'm not saying I have some rosy picture of that either believe me!

I'm fortunate enough to have my DS at an in-home day care right down the street. I have no commute and therefore I'm able to have him in care 35-40 hours a week, so pretty much the bare minimum for working full time.

But I still hate leaving him every day! And he still cries many mornings when I leave him as well (even though I know he likes his DCP and he stops crying pretty much as soon as I have left according to the DCP).

Most of my friends are SAHM, so hard to discuss this with them - they are envious because I get out of the house, and I'm envious that they are staying home

I have a few WOHM friends, but we are not copacetic either. They want to work and consider their children's day care to be "school". I think at our kids' age (kids in care from 3 months - 2 years) they are NOT going to school yet, and calling it that is dressing up day care so we can feel better that we are working on their "education".

I'm not trying to invoke any kind of mommy wars, or judge SAHMs or other WOHMs. I think whatever works for your family is what works! I just want to find out that (hopefully) I am not alone in feeling this way. Because I do feel very lonely, and it's not a good place to be.

I recently saw my doctor about depression and she prescribed an anti-depressant. But she also encouraged me to find other like minded working moms to connect with. So far I am just having a really hard time finding WOHM that aren't ambivalent about wanting to work outside the home.

I know all of the arguments for it (staying on career path, fulfillment, money, good role model, enjoying work etc.) and believe in all of them - and have them with my job - I just really, really hate leaving my DS every day. And I feel so strongly about it that I try to compensate by spending every single moment I'm not at work with him (including co-sleeping and breastfeeding during the night). It's exhausting to feel like I'm never "off duty" and I feel like I don't do anything well because I am so torn. And I'm not taking care of myself (eating well or exercising) because I just can't figure out how to fit that in with everything else.

Hopefully this makes sense. I know I am rambling and I sincerely hope I haven't offended anyone with my comments! Just a little down in the dumps even thought it's Friday
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#2 of 22 Old 08-27-2010, 03:16 PM
 
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I work because I have to, and I spend the rest of my time trying to make up for the fact that I'm working. I feel like I never have any time "off" because it's either a.)working at work or b.)working at home. At home it's a constant struggle to get everything done, the laundry, the cooking, playing with DD, the grocery shopping,etc.. I long for the day when I won't have to work but it is still a few years away.

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#3 of 22 Old 08-27-2010, 04:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by hoosgirl View Post
And I feel so strongly about it that I try to compensate by spending every single moment I'm not at work with him (including co-sleeping and breastfeeding during the night).
That is me!

My friends want to get together for a girls night and I'm thinking, but that is my time with my daughter. My husband said I must go! I know he is right, but really I just want to be with my daughter.

I have to work. And will always have to work. My husband is a stay at home dad and can't support us as an artist. It is an emotional struggle for me, but I am doing better. I think knowing she is with him helps, but also makes me jealous.

I am actually thinking of going back to school, b/c I feel like I should be doing something I enjoy if I'm going to be working for the next 30 + years. I don't really love my job, but it is very family friendly. Ok, not trying to get off course here, but there are definitely mom's out there like us. Definitely take care of yourself though. I'm glad you found help through your dr. Once it isn't so hot out, I will be taking my walks with my daughter like I used to do. Although, I wonder how my back will feel since I have to wear her, b/c she just isn't close enough if I put her in the stroller, ha!

Hugs to you!
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#4 of 22 Old 08-27-2010, 05:06 PM
 
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reluctant WOHM mom here. For me, there's no other option. When I decided to have dd, I knew at that point that work was merely a means to have a family with her. So, even though I usually like my job, I would absolutely, positively stay home if I could. Maybe then I would spend other time away from her. Who knows? But for now, dd is 3 and has never had a babysitter. I have never gone and done adult only activities, never gone on a date, none of it. Other moms are aghast, but honestly this was the life I chose! I suppose some day soon I'll want to do something just for me, but it hasn't seemed like the sacrifice other people think it is. Dd nursed for 2.5 years. This is what we did after work/school. Every night. We'd come home, she'd get on the boob, take a break for dinner, and continue, all through the night. It was like that for at least the first year. It's how we managed to be AP and fully child-centered in my home. And I like it that way. It never feels like two jobs. Not at all.

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#5 of 22 Old 08-27-2010, 05:12 PM
 
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I am not thrilled at the necessity to work outside the home, but I do what I can to make my peace with it. Short-term, that means lots of family time during nights and weekends, and using my personal leave at work instead of letting it just sit there. Long-term, I hope (at the least) to eventually cut back my hours to about 30-35 hrs. a week, instead of full-time, and (best scenario) to one day transition to working at home.

Mama to DS (5)

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#6 of 22 Old 08-27-2010, 05:13 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Dingletwitz View Post
reluctant WOHM mom here. For me, there's no other option. When I decided to have dd, I knew at that point that work was merely a means to have a family with her. So, even though I usually like my job, I would absolutely, positively stay home if I could. Maybe then I would spend other time away from her. Who knows? But for now, dd is 3 and has never had a babysitter. I have never gone and done adult only activities, never gone on a date, none of it. Other moms are aghast, but honestly this was the life I chose! I suppose some day soon I'll want to do something just for me, but it hasn't seemed like the sacrifice other people think it is. Dd nursed for 2.5 years. This is what we did after work/school. Every night. We'd come home, she'd get on the boob, take a break for dinner, and continue, all through the night. It was like that for at least the first year. It's how we managed to be AP and fully child-centered in my home. And I like it that way. It never feels like two jobs. Not at all.
I agree, I don't feel like I have another job when I go home. I love going home taking on the roll of mommy. Now, if I have to clean, then I feel like I have 2 jobs, ha!

awww, I love your story of how your baby would latch on once you got home. Mine is still doing that, but since the grandparents have been visiting I barely get a wave (she is almost 20 months) I will be her favorite again come sunday
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#7 of 22 Old 08-27-2010, 05:15 PM
 
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PAK (pumping at keyboard)

OP, I could have written most of your post. My DD is younger (4.5 months) and is in a small dc center. They love her and she has a good time, but I hate it!

I will say, though that I went our for a mom's night out recently with some local MDC mamas and I'm glad I did. It was only a couple of hours and it really recharged me. I also make sure I at least get a nice long shower to myself each night.

But our general circumstances are very similar. I work because I "have" to. But yet I do see other moms on here getting by for less than what DH makes. I know that if I stopped working it would bring about a whole different type of stress, and honestly money stress is really hard on me, so I think i'm doing the right thing. but that doesn't mean i like it!

And most of my friends are SAHMs and the few WOHMs I know didn't put their kids in daycare until much later- they had family nearby to watch them

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#8 of 22 Old 08-27-2010, 05:39 PM
 
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OP, I'm right there with you. Exactly there. I wrote a long post commiserating but it got deleted when I tried to click to see what city you're in. I don't have the energy to retype it, but for me, taking vitamins and treating my (lifelong) depression are the only things that make it okay.

Let me know if you're in Austin.

ETA: I think having the "option" of changing your lifestyle to possibly stay home makes it even harder. There are a lot of people that do fine on my Huz's salary alone. I just don't know whether its right for our family.

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#9 of 22 Old 08-27-2010, 11:30 PM
 
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YES. So much, yes! I truly do have to work (we have high student loan debt, especially my highly educated but barely paid DH) to make ends meet. However, I'm a teacher, so I do get 2 months home with my DD. I live for those months. I never hated work until I had her, and now that she's 2 I'm only just starting to not hate it completely (just dislike it strongly ) It's really hard right now because her previous home daycare closed around the time I withdrew her for the summer, so we had to sign her up for a center. She's been there a week and has not adjusted to it. It makes me so sad to see her crying all the time because she just wants to stay home with mama. I know it's good for her that we don't have to live in a homeless shelter, but sometimes I can't help but feel angry at my husband for accruing all that debt before we even met, continuing to work in a low-paying field, and refusing to move in with family for a year or two just to get us on better financial ground.
Sorry, that was completely off-topic! Yes, I feel very ambivalent about working. Hopefully it will get better at some point.
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#10 of 22 Old 08-28-2010, 01:04 AM
 
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Yep, me too!

I had to go back to work because of a divorce.

I absolutely know that for *me* being at home was best for all of us. I just don't juggle well and now life is all about juggling and my kids get shorted quite a bit.

I have done everything to make it as palatable as possible: I love what I do (phew!) and I work close to home (for the first time just this fall), but I have long hours and bring work home ... it is tough, but necessary.

Figure out what is best for your whole family -- working f-t, p-t, not at all. Nothing needs to be forever.

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#11 of 22 Old 08-28-2010, 03:38 PM
 
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Having to work is a tough situation. However, I totally understand how staying at home might be trading one kind of stress for another.

My husband and I both worked at the same time for a period of about one year. We more than doubled our overall income but actually had very little extra available cash once we deducted the cost of childcare, the extra car and cell phone required because we both worked, the convenience foods (even though they were healthy convenience foods) we wouldn't have purchased if one of the parents were home, work lunches and many other incidental costs. Seriously - we had an extra couple hundred dollars a month, and we could have made that in savings from his paycheck if we saved carefully.

In our case, I took the job to gain skills necessary to start my own business. After one year, my husband quit his job and was a full time at-home parent until recently when I also quit. Our family's goal has been for both of us to participate in operating the business (from our home offices). It's not the solution for everyone, but we've been at it for a few months now, and for us it's heaven on earth. We both work, we both have professional responsibilities and adult interactions with clients, and we both have LOTS of time with dd. It has plenty of its own challenges, but I feel the 40 hour work week out of home is simply not natural and certainly not family-friendly, and if your life feels unbalanced, it's because it is. It's not your fault -- the system is just set up that way.

Don't give up friends and relationships though - they can help you through hard times and help you find new dimensions in yourself that you bring into your relationship with your little one as a parent, working or otherwise, which makes mom's night outs just as beneficial to the kids as they are to the moms.
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#12 of 22 Old 08-29-2010, 06:35 AM
 
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I'm so ambivalent that I quit my job--only to return a couple months later.

My kids are a bit older, though still young (elementary school aged), so I am past the daycare phase, but my daycare situation was similar. They were in really the best place in town, where they were SO loved and cared for, but I wasn't 100% about the decision, and dh hated the fact that they were there, so that lack of support made it all worse.

There are moms at work (at least at my work), as well as some women without children and some men too, who "get" and even share my ambivalence. I learned this only when I attempted to quit. They came out of the woodwork to speak supportively to me. (Quietly, but supportively.) I think that most of them just don't want to talk as much about it because it's such an emotional issue, and it's not easy to be open about something so personal as individual family values at work.

But in my case, my leaving and coming back to work kind of laid it all out there and there was no denying that a) I was/am ambivalent about my working mom role; b) I was not going to settle into a conventional working arrangement for any long term; and c) there needed to be a conversation about meeting family needs.

In fact, I think my actions precipitated some other changes for a couple other moms' schedules/work arrangements in the office. I came back to a different schedule, and I hope theirs are working better for them than the traditional 45-50 hour week they were doing before.

Personally, I'm still ambivalent. And it has nothing to do with the mommy wars. I love a lot about the work I do and the people I work with, and my family benefits from the paycheck I bring home, small as it is. At the same time, I run myself ragged and sometimes feel like I am buying into the rat race and denying my "self." But it comes and goes, depending on how much work I have to do at home and what's going on at the office--both work and politics-wise.
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#13 of 22 Old 08-30-2010, 01:21 PM
 
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That describes me to a tee...

To be honest, my feelings changed a lot after I had a kid. I always thought both choices were valid and should be supported, but that the SAHM role was easier and more preferable, and the WOH was the harder, rougher road. It took having my son to realize that there are no easy roads in parenting.

I think, for me, it's easy to think that if I were at home, I'd have free time, I'd sleep more, my husband would be happier, my son would be happier, I'd have more time for friends, and I'd loose 15 pounds. From the few times that I've been home, I just don't see it happening, though.

That being said, I've decided that I am going to give SAH a shot after the new baby. But I'm going in with both eyes open that I'll be loosing some perks of WOH, and that SAH is no walk in the park.

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#14 of 22 Old 08-30-2010, 02:20 PM
 
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I'm right there with you. I have to work as I am the main breadwinner and if either of us stayed home we would have to sell the house and live in a very crappy rental - college town means expensive and a lot of slum lords.

DS appears to love daycare so far (it's only been a week) and doesn't want to leave when DH picks him up. But yet the guilt eats away at me that I'm not with him every second of his day. On the other hand I am good at my job and can pretty much do everything there blindfolded.

I feel like nothing gets 100% from me anymore because I just don't have enough to go around and cannot devote myself to my priorities.

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#15 of 22 Old 08-30-2010, 02:34 PM
 
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Me! I could have also written your post. I kept thinking that I'd get used to this and that eventually it would feel all right, but it doesn't. I want to be home but we just can't afford it. I won't get into all of the details, but it makes me so incredibly depressed that a poor decision regarding a home purchase is what has me in this position. I work with a lot of women who are in similar situations but they don't feel the same about it as I do. It is a lonely place sometimes.
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#16 of 22 Old 08-30-2010, 02:44 PM
 
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Oh and if anyone has a tips on how to meet up with other WOH mom's (esp with young kiddos, I'd love to hear it!)

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#17 of 22 Old 08-31-2010, 10:10 AM
 
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I'm totally there. I work PT. I like my job most days, but I only WOH because I have to. Looking back, the happiest time in my life to date was when I was on a 14-wk maternity leave after my 2nd, puttering around in my kitchen with the kids in the next room. The whole household is lower stress when I've had periods of SAHM-hood.

I am doing my best to pay off the car loan, talk DH into getting our other house sold, and get to a financial situation where I can return to being a per diem employee like I was when DD was a toddler (ie keeping my foot in the door at my workplace, but not working more than one day a week). In another year or so, we will be thinking about another baby and also be full-swing into homeschooling. But my dropping my hours more probably won't be possible for probably another year or so at the minimum. DH just does not make enough at this point to support us, and he works for his family so won't consider finding a better paying job (feels responsible for keeping the business going).

DH and I have had some talks lately re: this situation. I told him, "Let's face it, I have realized that I am just NOT a career girl." Before we had kids, I was determined that I would go to grad school and do this and that, but it all changed after I became a mom.

(Disclaimer: I have been a SAHM on and off, so I know it's isolating at times and not easy, but for our family, it's without a doubt a better balance for all of us that way. I also felt less guilty taking time out for myself as a SAHM, bc I didn't feel like I was cheating the kids out of time with me.)

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
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#18 of 22 Old 08-31-2010, 10:15 AM
 
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I WOH out of necessity and desire. I'm a single mom, so we wouldn't make it if I wasn't working. Having said that, I went to school for a long time to work in the profession I do, and I love it.

My only regret is that I have to work so much. It would be nice if I could work 30 hours a week instead of 45.

Full time working mom to two bright and busy little girls! treehugger.gif
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#19 of 22 Old 08-31-2010, 10:48 AM
 
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I WOH 2 days a week, and WAH 3 days. It isn't easy, but I do it because I am the main breadwinner right now. DH was laid off around the same time we found out I was pregant with DS, and while he does do some freelance work, mostly he is a SAHD. I would love, love, LOVE to be a SAHM. but unless we win the lottery or DH finds a really awesomely paying job, that isn't going to happen.

I have the opportunity to WAH full time, but I like going in the office 2 days, it is my time away from home. Which is why, when people (read: IL's) ask, don't you want some "me" time? I say, not a chance, I get that on my office days! I don't feel, when I come home, that I have a 2nd job, though honestly, the house has suffered in the cleaning department. DH is just not a multitasker, and sometimes he can't clean and do babycare, and that is ok, the baby is far more important than the dishes.

so, yeah, I am ambivalent. It helps I have some friends at work who are in a similiar situation, and have met a few more through church, who thankfully don't mind if sometimes I bring DS with me to Ladies' Night Out! (if it is an office day, I almost always do, else I would only see him after bed time)

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#20 of 22 Old 09-01-2010, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks, everyone, for your posts! It is so nice to hear that I am not alone.

Grossly overgeneralizing, but it seems like the only WOHM I know IRL wouldn't have it any other way. It is just not helpful when you feel conflicted like I do to hear "I could never stay home - I would go crazy!". Yes, it would be challenging (as many people have noted), but it is also in my heart what I feel would be the right thing to do for my child. So while I "have" to WOHM right now I do feel incredibly guilty and sad about it.

And yes, I do have a great work situation for having to work - great hours, family friendly, fulfilling, etc. So I have some consolation there but in the end it doesn't absolve my internal conflict.

And as others have mentioned, it is almost harder because there is the "option" of not working ... option in quotes because it would require major, major lifestyle changes to live on DH's salary alone. Yes, there is always a way, but as others have mentioned, not sure they are feasible or what is right for us.

And while it's not fair, I am also glad to hear that others have some resentment towards their partners. I know it is NOT fair, but I am sometimes angry towards my DH that he doesn't make more so I could stay home. I feel awful for admitting it and it is totally contrary to any feminist belief I have ever had, but it is still there.

In the end, I know it's our society that is screwed up but that doesn't make everyday life any easier.

In the end, I wouldn't trade having a child for ANYTHING, he is the best thing that has ever happened to me. It's not that I resent having to care for him, I resent all the other stuff (working, cleaning, etc.) that gets in the way of that. And the guilt and reluctance to do anything for myself because he gets so little of me to begin with.

And yes, texmati - I'm with you ... would love to meet other WOHMs with young children. I do LLL and a playgroup but they are almost all SAHMs. Justkate, I'm in NC unfortunately
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#21 of 22 Old 09-01-2010, 03:56 PM
 
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There are lots of NC mamas on here (maybe not WOHMs). I don't see many SC mamas, which is a litte frustrating, but a topic for another day!

I was having this discussion with a co-worker today, and neither of us are really reconciled to this whole WOH thing, but we know it has to be done. We are grateful our kids are with someone(s) they love and trust (DH in my case, a great daycare in hers) but both of us wish we could be home with them instead.

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#22 of 22 Old 09-01-2010, 04:56 PM
 
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Of all people, I can have this conversation mostly straightforwardly with my boss. She has enough vacation at this point that she can sort of build some balance in, but not really, since whether she's there or not, she has to solve the problems. I don't have the years in, so I became a per diem employee. It's the least guilt-inducing, most able to dial-up-or-down arrangement we could come up with.

The trouble I have with FT WOHM friends is that we can never get our schedules to match up. We could be virtual soul mates, but between work and home demands, there's not enough free time for the wiggle room to plan and get together. But I do have some mom friends who are less than 40 hours at their work/studies, and it is nice to feel understood.
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