Careers and Children – The tug of war

Careers and Children

Oh boy, has this week been rough! I know that I homeschool my children and that I spend copious amounts of time with them each day (especially since I work nights, which leaves me home during the times that they are awake, and because I only work maybe 2-3 nights a week). However, this does NOT absolve me of the guilt of having to leave my children and go to work.

Right in the heart…

My 4-year-old son came up to me about 15 minutes before I had to start getting ready to go. He said, “Mommy, I want to cuddle.” Yes, I know, cue the sound of the broken heart. I held that sweet boy for 20 minutes, even though I knew I would be 5 minutes (or more) late to work. Sometimes, being late is worth it, and this was definitely one of those times. Unfortunately, this was not quite enough “cuddle time” for that little boy. He had decided he wanted to take a nap while laying down on me, and guys… let me tell you… this NEVER happens anymore. I mean, it’s been a good year since he has sat still with me like that. When those silent crocodile tears started to fall from his eyes, my heart shattered into a million pieces. It took everything I had in me to get dressed and run out the door. I know that moments like these don’t last forever and that our children grow up way too soon.

Career versus children?

Yet, that is the dilemma that all of us working mothers face. How do we balance that work and home life? How do we make sure that our children get the attention that they so desperately crave and make sure that we are honoring the commitments that we have to our places of employment as well? Simple answer is… I. don’t. know. And to be honest, I’m not sure that any mom gets it right every time. We just have to do the best that we can with what we have.

I could most definitely go to the extreme and quit my job so that I would be available for him and catch all of those rare moments that I know will go by way too fast. I could. But what about my career and the job that I love to do? Sometimes, going to work is exactly what I need to do to just get away from the house for a while and maintain my sanity. Sanity is important. And what about the extra income that my job provides so that we can take our kids to do fun things like go spend the week at the beach or visit Disney World? Quitting my job would fulfill my desire to ALWAYS be around EVERY time my kids wants me, but it would leave me (and my family) unfulfilled in many other ways.

Balancing Act

Deep down, beyond all the guilt I felt when I saw those tears, I knew that, ultimately, going to work was the right thing to do for me and my family. And even though I felt torn during my entire drive to work and my entire shift at work, I developed a plan to make that little boy feel like he hadn’t missed out on too much time with his mom. If cuddle time was what that baby wanted, well then, cuddle time he would get!

When I came home from work the next morning and caught up on my sleep, I invited my children into my room and my bed. I had nearly 4 hours before I had to go back to work, and I wanted to make sure that he wasn’t sad this time when I left. I really don’t think my heart could have handled a repeat of that. My older son, politely, declined this offer. Cuddling with mom is not currently very high on his bucket list. But my little baby. My sweet little 4 year old. Oh, the way his little arms wrapped around my neck and the smile that shone on his face… it still warms my heart just thinking about it. He jumped into my bed and he laid there and we cuddled! It was the best 10 minutes of cuddling I’ve gotten in a while. Lol. But yes, it only lasted for 10 minutes. That little young man had decided that he couldn’t be still for quite that long, and the bugs in his pants made him run right back off to play. I couldn’t help but laugh because that’s just who he is. But I made sure that he knew that I was available. That I am ALWAYS available to him. Even if my availability is not right at that moment, I will always make time so that his needs will be taken care of.

We CAN do both!

I think that, as working mothers, that’s really the best that we can do. We make sure that our children are taken care of, first and foremost, and we also manage to balance our careers. I can’t help but to think of this amazing balancing as almost super-hero like (along the lines of Superwoman or Wonderwoman). So while my 4-year-old may pick up a dandelion to blow and say, “I wish mommy didn’t have to work.” I will be able to temper the guilt with the fact that he is well provided for and that even when I have to leave, I will be back and I will always make time for my children.

Do you have any strategies that helps you deal with having to leave your children while you go to work? I would love to hear about them! I am always looking to add new and improved (or even just different) ideas to my toolbox to make me more effective and efficient all around! Share them with me below or shoot me an email!

Erin T. is a military wife, mom of two homeschooled boys, and works PRN at a local hospital. She has lived in multiple states incluing NC, VA, and KY. She enjoys writing articles about her homeschool journey and different life experiences. If you would like to email Erin directly, please do so at


  • Dee M.

    Man, when I was reading about your son wanting to cuddle I almost cried. I can’t imagine how difficult it would be to have to leave after that!

    I thought it was sweet how you made time to spend with them the next day. I’m sure that made an impact on them and they’ll remember that mommy is always there for them. So sweet. My kids are older and cuddle time is not near as often as it used to be, but occasionally one of them will lay their head on my lap and I cherish those moments.

    • Erin T

      It really was sooo hard, and my mom guilt was sooo strong. If I could have gotten away with it, I might have just stayed home that night. But, as you know, duty calls. I know that these boys are going to grow up far too quickly, and I’m going to miss the cuddles for sure. Thanks for sharing the pain with me!! LOL. Though it is good to know that even when they’re older, they still make their way back to mom!

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