My husband and I have 5 children ages one to eight. We also both changed career paths and have unused degrees for which we are still paying.
I don't work by choice. I work out of necessity. That isn't to say that I don't want to work, but I would love to work a lot less or to work from home and be able to be home with the kids more.
Although I work as much as my husband does, I still feel responsible for all of the housework. I ask him to help, and he does. But when the house is a mess (which is always is), I feel fully responsible. And I feel like everyone else blames me.
My brain is about as full as it can get. I cannot function without my planner, and I sometimes forget appointments or the kids' early dismissals from school. When I do, I feel like a failure.
Our oldest is very disorganized. Once, the aid in her class was telling me about how disorganized Izzy is. She said, "But then I saw you with all the kids, and I realized that you must just be relieved to get them all out of the house in one piece in the morning!" I felt ashamed and guilty.
Sometimes, I am too busy to pick up the slack when my kids are disorganized. Some days, one of the the girls forgets her backpack, and I don't have time to run back home to get it.
I want you to know that I wish I could be home more because I love my kids. But I also want you to know that I work because I love my kids. If I didn't work, we couldn't afford for them to do their extracurricular activities. As a kid, I never got to do dance or sports. I work so our girls can do ballet and cheer. I work so we can make semi-regular trips to one of the bigger zoos in the area, even though it requires half a day's drive and a weekend out of town. I don't care about giving them all the materialistic things they might want, but I want to give them experiences.
I want you to know that it hurts when people say, "How can you work with 5 kids?" I want you to know that it hurts to reply, "How can I afford not to?"
More than anything, I want you to know that working moms are not better to worse than stay at home moms -- and that stay at home moms are not better or worse than working moms. We are all doing the best we can with what we have. And I want you to know that, whatever your situation is, no matter how often you may feel like no one understands or appreciates your effort and your struggles, someone knows how hard you work (whether you stay home with the kids, work at home, or work outside the home).