Keeping My Life in "Ballance"
Working mom blogger Beth Anne Ballance shares how she manages the daily juggle as part of the Care.com Interview Series
It never occurred to Beth Anne Ballance that she would be a working mother -- but a young son, a mortgage to pay and the need to supplement her husband's income put her on the fast track to juggling work, family and everything else on her to-do list. After enduring a rocky road of postpartum depression and feelings of failure and resentment, which she shares on her blog Heir to Blair, Ballance tells us who's in her village and how stay-at-home moms made the cut.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Growing up and getting married, I always knew I would be a stay-at-home mother. My mother stayed home, as did most of the mommas in our area. Three months after our son was born, I slipped back into heels and a pencil skirt and begrudgingly returned to work. I absolutely hated it - I missed my son, I missed being home. I felt like an absolute failure to my family because I struggled so with being at work and keeping our home. I struggled with resenting my husband and resenting my best friends who did stay home - I felt so isolated. It took about a year to really grow into my role as a working momma and realize that I didn't hate working; I was just in a job that wasn't conducive to my new life. [Now], I adore working. I love growing my career and yes, my paycheck. My son is well-attached and well-adjusted, so he proves to me every day that I'm not harming our family by working.
What have you experienced as some of the greatest challenges of being a working mom? Examples would be great.
The hardest part of working (for me) is simply the time and schedule logistics. There are only 24 hours in the day and somehow, I have to squeeze in work, home, marriage, motherhood, and my blog. Just because I work, it doesn't mean that someone else is cleaning my house and grocery shopping and attending pediatrician visits. It's a hard balance. On the weekends, it feels like a jam-packed session of house cleaning and menu planning and trying to squeeze in play dates for my son between everything that gets skipped over during the week.
Another great challenge has been the "stigma" of a working mother - people asking me why I don't "want" to stay home with my baby without realizing that it's not a choice I ever wanted to make. It always hurts when someone insinuates that I am a bad mother for working or that my child will suffer because of it - even though I enjoy working. Those comments simply dig right to the root of all motherhood insecurities and worry.
What do you feel are the best parts of being a working mom?
I adore knowing that I help support my family financially; where I lack on the cooking and playtime, I am able to afford fun opportunities for our family, like making memories on beach vacations or enrolling my son in a sport (when he's older). We have experienced "slim" financial times in our family and we would be VERY slim if I did not work - so we really enjoy the luxuries my paycheck affords on top of basic necessities.
Does your spouse work? How do you share the house + child responsibilities?
Yes, he also works full-time outside of the home. My husband is my greatest supporter and cheerleader - he is a wonderful partner and we make a great team. He is wonderful about keeping our son occupied while I make dinner and then helping with dishes. He also helps with housekeeping every weekend and is usually the one to go grocery shopping. He attends every pediatrician appointment and never complains when I have a Girls Night Out. We just make sure that our "time off" is equal - for example, this past Saturday I had a hair appointment in the morning. I went out for several hours to get coffee and a haircut, but then he met buddies for lunch that day when I got home.
I think it is so important for spouses to verbally appreciate their partners - I know that he is right to do the dishes, but I still like to give him a hug and thank him specifically for helping out because I love it when he says, "Hey, thanks for making sure my jeans were clean for Monday." It's the little things that keep us a team and crazy in love.
Everyone's heard the phrase, "It takes a village to raise a child." Tell us, who's in your village?
My village is quite large! My sister is our nanny, my parents act as backup childcare when an emergency occurs. They're also our chief babysitters for date nights (so important to keep a marriage strong!) and my mother has been a wonderful sounding board for parenting woes. My working momma friends have been a huge part of my success as a working mom in helping me not feel so isolated. We also share tips and encourage each other. My stay-at-home momma friends are perfect for great ideas to entertain Harrison on weekends -- and they have been so supportive of me working. I cannot tell you how many times I had a bad day and my stay-at-home mom friend said, "Hang on. I'm out running errands and I'm going to swing by your office." Ten minutes later, she was outside my office holding a latte with a smile. I have the best friends in the world.
How did you create your "village"?
My "village" outside of my immediate family was grown from friendships where we all had babies at the same time! My friends are a wonderful source of tips and encouragement and "oh my gosh, me too!" that we mommas so need to hear. We make it a point to have Girls Night Out on the schedule every few months and to keep a regular stream of weekend play dates. The key to this working is to always respect that the other momma is making the best choice for her family - whether she works, breastfeeds, co-sleeps, or homeschools. This mutual love and respect has really kept our "village" intact.
Do you consider your spouse part of your "village?" Can you explain?
Absolutely! If I'm in the village, then he is my co-mayor. Without his encouragement and support, I would not be happily working and successful as a mother. Also, I don't make any parenting decisions without him! He is the most important detail to "it takes a village to raise a child."
Beth Anne is a married, Southern Belle who uses words and pictures to celebrate the challenges of motherhood and the joy of life on her blog, Heir to Blair. Balancing motherhood and career, she spends days chasing her toddler on the playground in high heels and attending business meetings with a Matchbox car in her briefcase. Find more of Beth Anne on facebook and Twitter.
Image used with permission from Beth Anne Ballance. Photo credit to Jennifer Bass.
See who other working moms turn to in our Care.com Interview Series: Who's In Your Village »
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