Feeling like a Loser Career-wise

Updated on June 22, 2012
L.N. asks from Fort Myers, FL
12 answers

My son is 2.5. I always wanted to stay home with him (as evidenced by my previous post on here) but have been too chicken because of fear about the economy/living on a tight budget, plus, I do enjoy my job and I work in a pretty specialized field it would be hard to get back into if I left.

That said, I feel so down on myself a lot because I feel like I am just having such a hard time being a FT working mom. I am tired....my house is a mess.....I miss my son at daycare. My husband and I want another child but I have put it off specifically because I just don't know how I would handle it all if we had another, not to mention going through the pain of going back after maternity leave again. I got 6 months off with my son, the max my employer allows, and it wasn't near enough for me.

And then I look around at women who not only have more kids, but jobs that are much more demanding than mine! Both at my work, and elsewhere. They are better dressed....they seem more awake...they go to high-level meeting where obviously they have to be coherent and have intelligent things to say....meanwhile I feel like at least 50% of the time I am barely holding it together in my much easier job!

I know, I know. We're not supposed to "compare our insides to others' outsides" etc. And, maybe we are just built differently. Maybe they are more career oriented women whereas I'm a more home/family oriented woman. But I can't help comparing myself. Am I the only person who ever feels this way?????? Thanks.

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answers from Boston on

No I feel that way too. But while you're looking around thinking "I don't know how she does it..." someone is thinking the same of you.

Here's what I've come to realize - the real power players have help and lots of it. Cleaning ladies, nannies who come to the house, personal trainers and lots of take out dinners. I have friends like this, and this is how they function. Sounds nice, but usually there's a downside - like longer hours, or travel - to the upside, which is higher pay to be able to afford more help. One of my sisters owns her own interior design business. Her husband is a corporate attorney who writes books (which are published) as a hobby. They are beautiful, wealthy and she is always put together, because that's what her job demands. But she literally has three nannies (a day nanny, a night nanny for her newborn and a weekend sitter). Groceries are delivered, the cleaning lady comes once or twice a week. I wouldn't trade places with her for anything. There are a few female executives where I work and while they love their jobs and their lives, the trade off is that they miss out on a lot too. Different strokes for different folks.

The only friend I have at work who never slowed down or appreciably changed her life when her kids were born regrets it because her kids really dislike her. Lots of family issues. Everyone else I know has slowed down during the baby/toddler/pre-school years, so that's another thing to keep in perspective. The ones who are bright-eyed and knocking it out of the park at work probably have kids who are a little older than yours, and that makes a huge difference.

I often feel like a failure too, and I've got 4 kids, a demanding FT day job and a seasonal tutoring/teaching job evenings and weekends. I hear a lot of "OMG how do you do it?!" but I'm usually looking at the other mom and wondering the same thing. Remember that we're all in the same boat, really.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

The grass is always greener on the other side. I've been there, done that. I've been a go to work mom and a stay at home mom. I have 2 kids. I know all the factors all the way around.

Again, I'll say that the grass is greener on the other side.

Perservere. Enjoy the quality time versus quantity time with your son. Enjoy the mental stimulation at work.

Hire a cleaning service at least once every other week. It'll keep you sane.

Cook several meals during the weekend that are easily eaten during the week. That'll give you breathing room.

Good luck,

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Cleveland on

There's a woman I work with who has FIVE kids, one is very autistic and she looks stunning all the time while managing a fairly high level job. I'm in awe. If she wasn't so incredibly nice, I'd hate her. With people like that I just admit she's better than me. :) There likely are women who can do more than you. Just the way things are. Same time, you're not home with all of them. How do you know what their houses look like? How much time they actually interact with their children? If their husband hates them bc they take out frustration at home etc. And sometimes high level jobs aren't all that much more demanding. Likely the person has been doing it a long time and perhaps she delegates a ton... Some people just don't need much sleep either! And likely these moms have outsourced lots and lots of housework. As a working mom with a nanny, I will say it's easier than daycare at your son's age. A mom with a nanny doesn't have to make lunches and feed and pack up every morning. I'm always grateful I don't have to add that to my long list of responsibilities. I'm sure you're doing a great job. There are plenty of women out there who can't handle less than you have on your plate and likely admire you!

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Boca Raton on

Maybe your heart is just not in it?

Whatever decision you make don't make it out of fear. I truly believe that fear is one of the devil's greatest tools.

And for what it's worth, I feel the same way sometimes as a homeschooling mom (i.e., why do these other moms look so put together?). Why can't I better manage my household with only two children when I have mom friends with 5+?

Don't compare, which is actually a form of coveting imho.

Hang in there Mama! Do what your heart calls you to do.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

Some of the best advice I received came from my boss, also a single mother, when I returned to work. She gave me a long lecture about how I needed to accept any help that anyone offered and that I needed to quit trying to juggle everything. Her biggest advice was, "You need to give yourself permission to fail. Until you do that, you are going to be at your wits end. You ARE going to fail, and you need to be ok with that." She went on to tell me about wearing a white suit to an important meeting, arriving at work and discovering that her baby's diaper had leaked poop down the front of her suit. She said, "I was meeting a huge client and covered in baby sh*t! Believe me, every mother has these things happen, and you just have to go ith it when it does."

So, what items can you outsource? If you've considered being a SAHM, then can you afford a housekeeper every few weeks as a working mom? Do not volunteer your time/services for othe stuff while you are struggling. Some day, you'll be able to do that again, but not with a 2 yr old and FT job. Get a full check-up including bloodwork for Vitamin D, thyroid, etc to see if there's any physical issues. Make sleep as much a priority for yourself as you make it for your child. Does your employer have a job-share program or an option to work part-time? That could allow the best of both worlds. If you don't have that option, is the any option to work one day per week from home? I do that, and it allows me to do laundry throughout the day. Missing the commute, not having to dress for the office and being home at lunch hour also gives me extra time. (My daughter still goes to daycare). It is a real life saver.

Really and truly, it is HARD. As my boss said, take advantage of any help you can get and outsource what you can. Most of all, give yourself permission to fail. You're probably your harshest critic.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Provo on

I bet if you ask those women how they do it, they would tell you how hard they think they have it. I am working, going to school, and taking care of my kids out of necessity. But I do everything only halfway because it is too much for me to handle truly. I feel like I am barely scraping by on everything, but to others, just the fact that I am involved in so many things makes it look like I do everything. I really don't.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Just remember to others you are that got it together woman. :)

Ya know, just today I am on the phone trying to answer a question. I go argh! They asked what. I was trying to add things on the phone. :( Do you think that person thought any less of my competence, they didn't even notice beyond a laugh.

Stop being so hard on yourself and easy on others. You will realize you are pretty amazing as well.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Norfolk on

Things could always be worse.
My sister stopped working when she married (hubby didn't want her to and neither did she), and eventually they had a daughter.
18 years later, he's riddled with cancer, he's terminal and he's filed for divorce.
She's going to have to support herself and her daughter (she's 12), and it's likely what ever money there might be from his death will be eaten up by medical bills.
She's getting ready to sell the house (at a loss - it's under water) and she doesn't know what she's going to do.
Stuff happens, and sometimes it's not so pleasant.
At least with a job, you could support yourself and keep a roof over your head if other emergencies/disasters turn up.
You might want to have a check up and see if you're suffering from some mild depression.
Us Moms seem to get it from all sides sometimes and it can overwhelm us and get us down.
We start wishing to always be where we are not, and the grass is not always greener.
You've got to find the joy where you are.
Sometimes we're about as happy as we make up our minds to be.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Houston on

Sure, we all feel some degree of this. Comparing doesn't help so don't do it. Remember the grass may look greener on the other side but it still needs to be mowed. Figure out your priorities and accept you will not be Martha Stewart and Hillary Clinton all rolled into one on your own. You will have to use your priorities to focus your routine and to create reasonable expectations. What matters, what doesn't, what can slide and what can't. Learn to allow yourself to let your unimportant go.

I am fortunate to be a working mother with an equal partner husband. Even with all of his help we let things slide and we have a definite ebb and flow in things we categorize as important. Family and couple time trumps every single other thing. For instance, we budgeted for a landscaper which was a huge deal with my lawn perfect husband. However, we weighed our time worth versus the need for a perfect lawn. We can spend two to three hours doing the work or we can pay someone every two weeks to do it. Hmmm...five minutes later that decision was made. We can't ever get that couple of hours back with our son. For another we have a two bathroom house. For now we use basically only one bathroom, the master. It's one less room to clean and typically I clean/spruce up the master bathroom while my husband supervises our son's bath time. Our house is not spotless but it's tidy enough and we're fine with that. Finally I have to work. It's not an option so I don't dwell on what I can't change. I'd love to stay home but it's not going to happen so I let it go. Focusing on it would only cause unnecessary turmoil. I do stipulate I will not travel for my job. I’ve no doubt that has curtailed some of my career opportunities and growth but so be it. I know at the end of it all our son thrives with our nanny and we're still his beloved parents. We are expecting number two in the fall. We'll make that work somehow so I'm not going to stress about the logistics now. Good luck and learn to gracefully give and take. Life is about finding your balance.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Amarillo on

It takes a lot of organization and scheduling and checklists. You have a place and time to be and no detours. It is called a routine. When you are at home you are busy with laundry, dinner, homework and a little free time with kids. After kids go to bed you have another hour or so of things to do. So when you go to bed you literally crash.

I used to be supermom and do it all, clothes, hair, nails and kids and house. But the more I did the more it seemed was placed in my way. I also was Mom and Dad when dad was deployed so that made it harder to do everything on my own out of the country.

After the kids got older I slowed it down a bit. My daughter said I was a workaholic and I didn't realize it. So now I do things but at a slower pace and enjoy life. I am still busy but in a different way.

Perception is what you see the "put together" woman maybe she is as frazzled as you but she puts on a game face and doesn't show her weak side. Whatever you do don't compare your life to hers like apples and oranges. You will be okay just take it step by step and it will all work.

The other S.

PS I still find myself amazed at all the things I have done in my life and continue to do. Let's see - wife, mom, friend, caregiver, life insurance agent and clerk, real estate agent, seamstress, bus monitor, trip mom, logics planner (milk trucking company), legal secretary, law enforcement records clerk, cancer survivor, construction secretary, ceramics instructor, communications/media television (PBS station), secretary medical teaching research school, part time non traditional student, confidant, a soapmaker of homemade soap, and world traveler thanks to the government.

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answers from Miami on

Actually, I could have written this post except that I have two and want a third. I am exhausted all of the time and on Friday evenings, I am in bed by 8:30pm. My husband thinks Fridays should be happy hour after the kids are in bed:) I'm WAY too tired! I will tell you that the second is a bit easier than the first because you've been there and done that...and the first entertains the second somewhat so you don't have to do all of the singing!

Hang in there, have a 2nd if you both decide to and know that children grow up. C.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

Tired is a working mom's way of life! Having 2 kids is really hard while working full-time, but it is do-able. We all feel torn in different directions as working Moms. Some days are way easier than others. Remember that you never really know what is going on with someone's life. I am quite sure that I sometimes look like I have it together WAY more than I do. People might not realize that my kids had chicken nuggets for dinner last night or that I haven't cleaned bathrooms in at least two weeks. It DOES get easier as you find your groove. I aspire to be able to afford to hire a cleaning service. The reality is that sometimes things just do not get done. You have to prioritize what really matters and let the rest slide.

1 mom found this helpful
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