Moms at Work

I’ve always been a working mom.  I was one of those women who thought that I could do it all – full time teaching, ever present spouse and greet my kids after school with a tray of freshly baked cookies.
Life didn’t exactly turn out that way.
When my daughter was born, I was sure I could return to my 7thgrade English teaching job.  It only would require a 60-minute round trip commute and leaving her home with her dad all day.  And, I could still breast feed.
Luckily, the sleep deprivation got to me, and I realized not all that was going to happen.
After six months home with her it was time to return to the classroom.  I settled on a 5thgrade position that would allow me to work closer to home and have fewer papers to grade.  I could zip home on my lunch hour to feed the baby, zip back for the afternoon and be home in time to bake cookies for my husband.
Life didn’t exactly turn out that way, either.
Trying to time a feeding for the 10-minute window I had available didn’t sit well with my stubborn daughter.  The tears when I left didn’t sit well with my husband.  Fifth graders were sucking all my patience – they were so clingy.   And the cookies?  That was just a fantasy.
The following school year I tried something else – a 7thgrade position in a town about 10 minutes away.  The plus side was the curriculum-my comfort zone-and my schedule-8-12.  The down side was the commute-15 minutes each way might have well been crossing the state line.  But she was growing up, and didn’t depend on me quite as much.  My husband mastered the art of the long walk to tire her out, and she adjusted.
Then life presented baby #2.
This time I gave in.  Stay at home mom I would be.  The pendulum swung, my husband took a second job, and I spent every waking moment with both kids.  I baked cookies-but he was too tired to eat them when he got home.  Baby #2 didn’t seem to know who this man was that stumbled into the house every night, too exhausted to play, laugh or go to the park.
Going back to work was at least familiar, if not exciting.  Teacherwolfe went into full gear.  I decided that the commute could be a time for myself, and found that by the time I got home mamawolfe had reappeared and was excited to re-enter the home. My husband left his second job, balance slowly reappeared, and so did the cookies.
Life never tasted so sweet.

Jennifer Wolfe

Jennifer Wolfe, a writer-teacher-mom, is dedicated to finding the extraordinary in the ordinary moments of life by thinking deeply, loving fiercely, and teaching audaciously. Jennifer is a Google Certified Educator, Hyperdoc fanatic, and a voracious reader. Read her stories on her blog, mamawolfe, and grab free copies of her teaching and parenting resources.

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  1. Dear Jennifer,
    How hard this must have been. I’ve never been a mother and never been married, so my decisions almost always affect only myself. That has allowed me a great freedom with regard to work and relationships. But of course, I have missed the joy of making cookies for a husband and children and rejoicing over first steps and words. Life always seems to be about compromise. Finding the middle ground takes work, but how rewarding that can be. Like “My Inner Chick,” I’m so glad that you find your life “sweet.”


    1. Thanks, Dee. I do find my life sweet-especially the part with the kids. The job definitely isn’t always sweet, but it helps me have flexibility and resources to spend time with my children.

  2. By the way, I’m not anti-moms who work. For us, it was more important that I stay home and my husband’s income is secure. When the kids were young, our budget was quite tight, vacations and new clothes not so common. Totally the right decision for us.

    Whatever is best for any family can only be discovered with a realistic budget AND recognition of what is best for each member, dad, mom and kids. 🙂

  3. You describe this so well. When my first son was born, I enjoyed a 12 week maternity leave (mostly unpaid, but that was okay… we planned ahead). I went back to work as a criminal prosecutor. Lawyer-mommy was going to grab the world by its tail and control it. WRONG!!! Emotionally drained after a day of courtroom battle and the horrors of the life of crime, I came home exhausted, grumpy and ill-tempered (or as we say here in the south “ill!”). I quit. Just like that. I’ve dabbled in things from time to time since, but the truth is, we are better off without my income and with my heart, energy and love intact.

    My son graduates this June. I do not regret for a second walking away from “the law” to be “the mom.”

    For those still struggling to find a balance that works, I’d encourage you to work with someone who can help you develop a realistic budget and identify true goals for you and your husband.

    1. Karen, I love that you followed your heart and did what was right for you and your family. That’s the only way I can make big decisions – what is best for my kids first. It always works out.

  4. It’s never easy….no matter what choice. Until the kids get older, usually, but even then you have homework and after school activities. We women are lucky to have choices but sometimes I wish things were more black and white.

    1. Thanks, Elisabeth. I am learning to trust that things will work themselves out…opening myself up to new opportunities and trusting my intuition. I’m sure you will know what the right thing is when you feel it!

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