“I hate to bother you at work, but we have your daughter down at the nurse’s office and she’s running a fever. I’m afraid she’ll have to be picked up”.
Again. One of my kids is sick again.
I’m out of PTO days and I’m pretty sure my co-workers think I just want an extra long weekend.
Part of me cares what they think, part of me doesn’t give a rip. Usually I stave off the anxiety by the knowledge that I’m going to have some quality snuggles and can at least put my comfies on the moment I walk in the door.
The next morning I wake up unsure if I’ll make it in today and when my toddler throws up on the kitchen floor, the decision is made….again.
Some days I feel like I’m failing as an employee, simply because my motherhood status draws me away more often than I’d like.
Other days I feel like I’m failing as a mom because I question if I should tell daycare about the vomit on the kitchen floor and just stuff ibuprofen down her throat and cross my fingers so I don’t miss another day of work.
There are women out there who grew up knowing that all they’ve ever wanted to be was a mother.
In many ways, I was one of them. I always knew I wanted to have kids and raise a busy, vibrant family.
Some women wait until their 30s before the concept of motherhood even creeps into their brains. They are so busy smashing glass ceilings that the idea of spit up and midnight potty accidents is completely foreign.
There is security in being all one or the other.
Being a stay at home mom is a noble profession and in many ways, the most difficult there is. If a woman is fortunate enough that her partner can support them both plus the children, by all means she should stay home should she desire to.
A career women doesn’t have to consider anyone other than themselves (or possibly a spouse) when they make their day to day decisions. Want to travel for work? Enjoy it. Need to stay late to grab that next commission? Do it. Going for that next promotion? Get it. I’m painting with broad strokes here of course, but you get the gist.
It’s the space between that I find the most crippling.
Could I stay home if I wanted to? Maybe.
My husband and I could probably pinch pennies, go without any extras and eliminate all activities that cost money and probably survive.
Yes, this would mean that I would be present for every moment of my children’s lives, but it would also mean that we’d give up any chance of improving our current financial situation. We would certainly have to give up many things that bring us joy and I’m not convinced we’d be better off.
Could I make my work my #1 priority and the rest be damned? Probably.
I could give the best of me to my job each and every day and probably never let a single person down at the office. I’d smash my goals and make the best income possible in my field.
I’d have to yank the sleepy heads out of bed earlier than their bodies allowed and haul them off to someone else to care for them. I’d have to ignore the calls from the school or call my husband to go get them.
I could set them down in front of Netflix and immediately go back to making calls and setting appointments. I could pretend like their upset tummies or their need for help with their homework, or their cries of “snuggle me mommy” simply weren’t as important.
I could commit to all work or all mommy, but I won’t.
I want to have a career and contribute to the finances of our household and also be the best mommy I can be. I want to be the one they come to with a bruise or something they are proud of and still show them what hard work and dedication can do. I want them to know that they can and should follow their dreams, whether that’s becoming mothers themselves or climbing the corporate ladder, both are noble. Both are possible.
It’s this space between that pulls in both directions with such a velocity, it’s amazing it doesn’t split me right in half. I don’t have answers at this point on how to mend the split or how to prevent “over leaning” on one side or the other.
I simply need to recognize this space and know that I am living in it.
There’s a voice out there for the career woman. There’s a voice out there for the stay at home mom.
Cheers to those in the space between.
This originally appeared on RaisingStrongWomen.com