Mommy A to Z

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On the Washington Post… With the Working Mom Blues

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WP income

Today I’m at the Washington Post, with a disturbing revelation. In gathering together my income and expenses for my taxes, I discovered a worrisome fact. No, not a looming IRS audit… but rather the upsetting realization that my childcare expenses pretty much equaled my freelance income for 2014.

Now, some of this has to do with the fact that I took several months off to finish and publish my hilarious, life-changing book, Mommy A to Z: An Encyclopedia of the Joys, Wonders, and Absurdities of Motherhood. (Apologies for the shameless book plug.) Yet seeing the numbers on my screen was concerning.

And it raised some questions. About why I choose to work, instead of being a full-time stay-at-home mom. About my fears of giving up a career I painstakingly spent years building. About whether I’m really achieving a middle ground by working part-time.

To find out the answers, check out my latest article. I’d love to hear about your experiences. Is your career more than just a paycheck to you? Do you ever wonder if it’s all worth it? And how crazy is the cost of childcare?! Leave a comment below.

Photo: David Castillo Dominici via freedigitalphotos.net

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20 Comments

  1. I just wrote my latest post today about being a SAHM working part time. Part of the reason we chose for me to stay home, besides the fact I felt my heart was being ripped out leaving my child, is that my paycheck would have been handed over to daycare. It didn’t make sense. Some days it is not easy. We have to be much more frugal. But we figure it out and I feel it is just for a short time. Everyday is worth it! I loved your post for The Washington Post! I can relate to a lot of it. You are doing a wonderful job mama!

    • Thank you! It’s a tough balance, and always a hard decision involving sacrifice, no matter what you choose. It sounds like you’re doing a wonderful job too! Thanks for reading! :)

  2. It appears that you have made a choice that allows you to fulfill your need to be creative but that also allows you to spend time with your children. It is good that the money you are earning allows you to do this, even if it is should be more. Meanwhile, you are keeping your writing skills up and creating a rich resume. Hopefully, that will get you the job you want and the future you deserve. I wish you the best.

    • Thank you! It would be hard to give up my writing, and thankfully I don’t have to, even though we make a lot of sacrifices for the life we’ve chosen. Thanks for reading!

  3. How frustrating! The main reason I stay home is because we wouldn’t be able to afford childcare. I can’t believe how expensive it is! At least it sounds like you broke even for the year and along the way you wrote a book and kept your career active.

    • Thanks! Childcare is a fortune. When the kiddos are older I’ll probably go back full-time, or try to make more of a go of it with freelance. In the meantime, here’s to breaking even! :)

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  5. I also do not make much money after paying for daycare, but there are so many intangibles that make working SO worth it to me! Like you, I did not want to have a huge resume gap and then try and re-enter the workforce. I also have great retirement and tuition benefits that will pay off immensely in the future. My kids benefit from having other caregivers in their lives. Please do not feel guilt, you are obviously a great mother.

    • Thank you! It’s great to hear other people’s stories… it seems to be a difficult decision for everyone. And I agree that having other caregivers can be positive as well. My son’s teachers are wonderful, and I can see that he cares about them and vice versa. I usually have to drag him out of there when I pick him up. So while the kids don’t have us all the time, they have other good things too! Thanks for reading!

  6. Just read your wonderful Washington Post article. I feel the same way. I also work in publishing and I barely break even. But besides the practical reasons you state, I also agree with the more personal stakes. I work and I also write fiction and blog. I think (rationalize?) that it’s good for my daughter to see her mother living her life her way. Besides that, my job has security and my husband’s does not.

    • Ah, publishing… a great profession but not the most profitable, unfortunately. I think it’s great for your daughter to see you pursuing your dreams and writing. I’m sure it will inspire her to go after her own passions, whatever they may be! Thanks for reading! :)

  7. Congratulations on the article, first of all. I think it proves the point that everyone has to do what feels right for them. There is no right or wrong. It sounds like you found the perfect balance. You get to fulfill both sides of you that are vital to you (being a mom and also a creative). I have no doubt your ability to take some time to work makes you a better mom when you are with your kids! I know it does for me. Thanks for sharing!

  8. This was excellent. Its so hard to stomach that our pay and our expenses are practically equal and at times, it feels so worthless. This is such an important reality and I love the value you place in both roles. It helps remember what we do matters, both at home and in the world! Great article!

  9. It is so hard to balance work and home – and it seems so unfair that all that effort doesn’t often pay off financially! I think it is important for many of us to feel we are multifaceted. I know I feel the need to contribute to society as well as to my kiddos.

  10. I just wrote about the choice of being a stay at home mom this week. Last Thursday, I resigned my seven year post as a language arts teacher to become a stay at home mom. It wasn’t an easy decision because like you, I loved my job. It’s more than just a paycheck to me as well.

    I think your decision is sound. Staying at home or working shouldn’t be deemed an option, but a choice. You do what’s best for you, because if you’re doing your best, then your family thrives from it as well. So stay at home, or work–it shouldn’t come down to finances, but the promise (like you said) that you can provide for your family, whether that’s in the form of a comfortable lifestyle, the simple fact of being involved in their school activities (a pre-school pj party sounds like such great fun!), or both. That’s the beauty of parenting. You can do what YOU think is best. 25 year old HR people be damned!

  11. I just read your Washington Post article and it was fabulous. I worked full time until my first child was two years old and then we decided on a major lifestyle change and I became a stay-at-home mom. I don’t regret the decision at all but do identify with some of the fears you mentioned. In a meeting with the CEO of the company I worked for I once asked how he balanced his own work and family life. He had two answers: 1) A supportive spouse and 2) He said you’ll find that you’re going to be where you need to be when you need to be there. It was a vague answer but makes sense in hindsight. When I finally quit, it was definitely what I needed to do, but not a decision to make lightly. Thanks for sharing the great article and for hosting the link up!

  12. It is such a tug of war: the desire to feel challenged in a way that taps into one’s own talents beyond motherhood and the call of children’s and families needs. It should never cost a family more to put a child in childcare than the parents earn. It’s a no-win situation, it seems. Guilt comes into play either way. :( Thank your your insightful post1

  13. I’ve been writing freelance articles for the last five years. I do most of the articles at night so I haven’t had to pay for childcare. However, when my son starts preschool, I will basically have to work the whole time he’s at school to pay for it. It’s worth it though so he can get a little school experience and I can have some time to think.

  14. My career is certainly more than a paycheck to me. I think it’s very much part of who I am. I also agree with the point a couple of people have made that I want my daughters to see their mom happy and living life on her own terms. That said, I’d love to figure out a way to be at home more. I don’t see part time as an option with what I do though, so I start to go in circles a bit at that point :).

    As far as daycare costs go, forever happy to be Canadian. It still isn’t cheap, but it doesn’t eat a whole paycheck.

  15. Becoming a SAHM or a stay-at-home working mom or having a career outside the house is not an easy decision. I made it over 10 years ago, when I had three babies in diapers. It just didn’t make sense for me to be working 50 + hours a week, traveling and not being there to see my kids grow-up. So I quit and started writing children’s books and consulting in digital marketing. I absolutely love what I’m doing and I get to be at home with my kids. Wish I made more. Like you, I’m barely breaking even. Stopping by from the Link-up Hop!

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