I work part-time as a marketing specialist in the financial services industry, and I recently transitioned from working five days a week to four so I could have more time at home with my 2-year-old daughter. My colleagues are mostly men (whose wives are stay-at-home moms); and of the few women I work with, none have young children at home.
Although my male coworkers are abundantly supportive, accommodating and all-around decent dudes, it can be difficult for us to relate to each other. It is hard for some of them to wrap their heads around the concept of why a woman with children would want to be an active member of the labor force. Yes, working outside the home does add a layer of complexity to my family’s life. And, yes, there are days where I feel like I’m keeping pace with a giant juggling act. But is it worth it? Yes, because my sanity depends on the work-life balance. If I was home all day, every day, I wouldn’t have a balance — just as if I worked all day, every day, there would be an imbalance.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve been interrogated by several of my male coworkers with every question imaginable about why I chose to come back to work after my daughter was born — good, bad, shocking and rude.
Here’s a handful of frequently asked questions I’ve received and how I attempt to handle them.
1. Oh, you’re back from maternity leave already? We just assumed you would quit and stay home. Yes, I came back. No, 12 weeks at home with my baby didn’t feel like enough, but I also value my work and the wage it comes with. And, yes, I am really tired.
2. If you’re here, then who is home with your child? In case you didn’t know — there are daycare centers, babysitters, preschools, nannies, etc., that are delighted to hang out with our little kids all day while we parents work. Crazy concept, huh? I am very fortunate to have my mom as our “nanny” (or Nana, as she prefers). My daughter is with her three days a week and with a wonderful sitter on the other day.
3. Do you feel guilty that you aren’t home with your child? This is probably my least favorite question. I typically respond with, “Do YOU feel guilty that you aren’t home with your child?” Truth is, not everyone is cut out to be a stay-at-home parent, but by no means should anyone feel guilty about it. I crave balance in my life and, for me, that includes working outside the home. I’m a happier person in general and a better mom to my daughter by having a healthy work-life balance.
4. Is your husband OK with you working outside of the home? Last I checked, my husband enjoys the perks of a dual-income lifestyle.
5. How come you don’t want to go to lunch with us every day? My lunch hour is precious. I am shamelessly possessive of those 60 consecutive minutes each day. It’s my hour, and I’ll to do whatever I want with it. And “whatever I want” often equates to errands, working on freelance, running to the grocery store or even catching up on Grey’s Anatomy.