Why I Love Being a Working Mom
By, Heather Engolm
I curled my hair twice last week. That may not seem like much of an accomplishment, but considering most days I don’t even bother to blow dry it let alone style it, anything beyond pulling back wet sopping strands into a ponytail is a monumental feat.I remember the day it had finally grown out enough from my initial super-short pixie cut into a length that allowed me to put a rubber band in I was ecstatic. Never mind the fact that I had bangs over my eyes and the hair in said rubber band stuck straight out from my head like a cocker spaniel’s cropped off tail.
To anyone thinking about cutting your hair short “because it will be easier to manage once you have kids” – DON’T DO IT! Short hair requires much more styling, more product, more work overall. Granted it gives them less to grab onto and yank, but I’ll take that any day over waiting almost two years for it to grow out again, not to mention the “stages” of growth I had to endure along the way.
Parenting certainly doesn’t detract from the day-to-day ups and downs of life. There are still moments of ultimate personal triumph and moments where you feel like a total failure. And of course, plenty of those “OMG what was I thinking!” moments. When I was about 7 months prego with my second child, I decided to cut and dye my hair. This news was nothing shocking to my family and friends, I’d been through a number of variations on blonde and redhead themes before. Somewhere in the conversation with my stylist, I may have mentioned my favorite childhood heroine the whimsical and mischievous orphan Anne of Green Gables – he must have envisioned Little Orphan Annie because I ended up with this:
Being the master of loving whatcha got and embracing anything quirky or unusual, I of course said, “it’s exactly what I wanted, I love it!” I truly did, for about a week. Luckily, it later faded into a nice dark auburn.
When I returned to work full time I was ecstatic: I always knew I wanted to be a mom, but I also knew I didn’t want to be a stay at home mom. At first there were pangs of course. It was heartbreaking when their little hands would cling to me and their big eyes would well up at drop-off time every morning. Then at work, sitting down to my computer with a latté and a whole day of grown-up possibilities and responsibilities ahead of me, I knew that the best part of my day would be going home and the joy of seeing their faces light up as they told me all about the fun they had at school.
The choice to become a mother is so much more than just choosing to be fat and exhausted for a few months. It is choosing to be the one that tucks them into bed every night, choosing to take on the homework and soccer games and nightmares. Parenting changes your life inevitably, irreversibly, and dramatically. I wouldn’t say you lose your identity as much as expand it.
Although for a while it may see like you’ve lost yourself, instead of “Ms-Career-Girl on the path to world domination” you become “Ms-Mommy-Woman with spit up in your Prada bag and Prada-sized bags under your eyes.” You read workingmums.co.uk instead of Cosmo. You relinquish your days of facebooking on lunch breaks for milk-pumping in the office bathroom. You give up a new pair of shoes every month for a cart full of diapers. But what you sacrifice for a year or so is made up a hundredfold in the long run.
You start to make better choices, more responsible, selfless, life-bettering choices. When the weight of liability for your own actions and consequences is all you bear, it’s easier to slack off on goals or personal areas of development. When the weight of molding and shaping another future member of society is integrated into your life, every action and word and thought takes on new significance.
It’s strange now to think of myself as anything but a mother. It has become my whole identity. I have lost myself in it, but I have not lost myself to it. I still enjoy the same things I did before having kids, enhanced now by watching my children’s newly found appreciation for them. Today I blow dried my hair while my 3-year-old daughter hid under the bed putting on my lipstick.
Heather Engolm lives just outside of Chicago with her children Diana (3) and Dylan (2), her boyfriend Sean and their black lab Tucker. Heather loves her career in advertising/marketing because it offers her flexibility and time with her family. Before she had children, Heather worked in hospitality management and sang jazz/pop for weddings. In her spare time she rides horses, reads sci-fi novels, watches football, and goes to local punk shows and art galleries. Her Alaskan roots inspire her to take her kids to forest preserves and parks as often as possible.