Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Working moms: your thoughts.

As soon as a person finds out I'm the intern and I'm graduating in April, they ask:

"What do you want to do after that?"

I know what they're expecting me to say. Something news-related, of course. Producing, reporting, anchoring.

But I'm not so sure I want to do any of those things. So, my answer is, "I'm not sure yet."

You see, working in a newsroom is stressful, fast-paced, and requires a lot of devotion. Viewers are relying on you to get the news out quickly. They want to see compelling video and they want to see it FIRST. They want to know what's going on.

Motherhood also requires a lot of devotion. Maybe even more than a news job. The news goes on 24 hours a day, but producers/reporters/anchors sleep. They have shifts. They get to clock out and go home when the day is over.

If the baby cries at 2 a.m., mom goes back to work. She never clocks out.

So, how can a girl do both?

One purpose of this blog is for me to document my feelings as I try to reconcile a career path with the path I'm already on--the Mother Path. But every day I go to work, I begin to feel like this just isn't possible. My well is getting awfully shallow. I'm exhausted. I'm tired of driving. Dillon -- bless his heart -- is really trying to help, but it's not enough.

And I only have one kid.

I know there are moms out there, reading this blog, who do it all. Their kids are fed, clean, and happy. Their houses are relatively clean. They have boundless energy. And they work.

But really. . . how is it?

If you could have it any way you wanted, what would it be? Would stay home, would you work less hours, would you work full-time? Do you wish it were different for you?

And most importantly, how do you do it?


  1. I worked full time before I had Ethan, then cut down to 2 12 hour night shifts a week after he was born. I just remember being insanely exhausted all the time. I continued to EBF/pump through that and it just about killed me. We were fortunate to only have a 1 bedroom tiny apartment, so housework was minimal...but geez. Not so fond of memories of those times, especially because he was a rotten sleeper.

    Since I got pregnant with Rachel (who is now 5), I've managed to cut down my hours substantially. Now I do 2 shifts a month and it is just right for us. Seems like I always have a meeting or a class to teach to add to that, so I'm down there more like once a week. At the moment, I can't fathom adding on more shifts - it just takes too much out of me and it takes me 2 days to recover from my night shift.

    On the flip side, I also can't fathom not working at all. I need my intellectual stimulation break, and the satisfaction of earning a little cash. I'm in a sweet spot at the moment where I call the shots on my hours and feel like we're in a good routine. I swap babysitting with a neighbor who is also a nurse.

    Be patient...don't jump into a job that's not a good fit. You might have to work more hours for a little while before you can get away with cutting back but it's worth it in the end. And don't stress about having a spotless house. Something's gotta give. (Don't come look at mine right now, either!)

    Ok...that was long. Shutting up :).

  2. Jenna,

    Love your new blog!! I read your family blog until it went private. I have been on babycenter since you were pregnant with your little one. Gee, time sure flies. I guess that's the point of this comment though is take a position only if you are comfortable with everything. Personally, I would go for part time (this is what I did and since my husband was ill, we ended up switching places) that way you get the best of both worlds. Don't worry about your house, the messiness will always be there, but your baby will grow up and be gone one day. Savor every moment.

    Janice in Virginia

  3. Jenna-
    I love your blogs so much because you always have something to write about! I never have ANYTHING to say so it's refreshing to read yours.
    Okay, seriously, before I read this blog, I wondered and wondered how you are even graduating with a baby on your hip! I feel like I have to choose between kids or education and reading your blog, I feel like it might be possible to have both!
    I don't know what it feels like to be an intern or a mother so all I can offer is words of encouragement.
    HANG IN THERE!!!! You are doing such a good job and so much more than I think I could ever do! Whenever I get down, I always listen to "The Impossible Dream" by Andy Williams. Lame? Perhaps. Just listen to the lyrics. it will get you pumped to keep going.

  4. youre my hero. that is all. love you j.

  5. I know how you feel about the working and being a mom. I worked full time through two pregnancies- until my second child was approx. 4 months and my first child was almost 2 1/2. It was very difficult for me. My home suffered, my kids suffered, my sanity suffered- I personally couldn't do it all- but I had to because my husband was in school and looking for work. As soon as he got a full time job in his career field, I went part time. I work two days a week, 10-12 hr shifts each day. It works for me for now. I really don't know how any mom does it all. Something has to give.

  6. This monday was the deadline for applying to the nursing program here in CT. I finally decided not to apply which means I now have to wait two+ years until Peter is done with school to go back. I struggled so much with this decision and even though I know I made the right one its still hard to deal with.

    So hang in there, you are almost done and you will finally have your degree! Yay!

    I would try and find something where you can work a few hours a week. You have to do something for yourself to keep sane!

  7. If I had what I wanted I would not work. When I only had one and two kids and they were little I liked having a reason to get out of the house. I'm not a structured person and wasted most of my time while at home. I also like the social interaction and keeping my brain alert. Now, with three in school, a toddler and a newborn I would love to stay home. I would love to be a homeroom mom and get involved at their school. That is not an option for us. I am the main breadwinner in my home. I'm thankful for the degree and that I can work but I resent my job mostly because, like you, I feel as though I'm spread too thin. It results in things like missing parent/teacher conferences and my kids turning in projects late. It results in my boys always having to search for clean socks and my toddler not getting a bath but once a week. Not cool. But, on the flip side, we are happy. I would say to try to find a job where you get just enough hours to keep you current and fresh (in your career you have to stay current) but one that is not too competitive. Does that kind of job exist in news? Maybe, I'm hopeful for you! Maybe stick to small towns or maybe since your writing is going so well you could do that part time or even do some freelance work. Just a thought. By the way, I was majoring in magazine/communications and dropped it because I didn't think it would be conducive to being a mom, it was just so competitive and demanding. Not that you need to do that, I regret it sometimes, I'm just saying that so you know between my dad working for a major news station my whole life and my previous major I totally get where you're coming from. Sorry it's so long.

  8. I have no idea about this but I love this question. I'm asking myself the same things right now and really am waiting to see where my career goes so hopefully I can think of a good balance... not likely huh? We'll see! Great advice from others though! Love you Jenna!

  9. Jenna,
    Bro. Walz tipped me off to your blog. Glad to see we did teach you something. But I'm getting the "how to balance work and motherhood" a lot these days. Any the only real answer is, "You do what works for you." You can't do exactly what someone else did, it just doesn't work that way. You have to figure out your own balance. Either way, I support you 100%. I know your a great journalist and I'm sure your an even better mom. So, hang in there and it will all work out.

  10. i'm going to be my typical politically INcorrect self and say
    It can't be done
    Of course you can try to balance it--many people do. But sooner or later something is going to start slipping. Prophet after prophet has told us that mothers belong in the home. I'm actually working on a post about this right now (it should go up this weekend).

    oh, hi, by the way, I found you via jennifer's babymakinmachine blog. :)

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  12. While prophets have given the general ideal that mothers should be in the home, not every family fits the ideal. Even the Family Proclamation acknowledges the necessity of individual adaptation to the ideal structure. There are MANY reasons why a family would not fit exactly to the ideal, and they are not all centered around money or finances.

    Gordon B. Hinckley hoped mothers wouldn't work for the sole purpose of providing money for unnecessary extras. So if a woman honestly feels like working is something she should do for reasons that are her own (not just for extra money), what should she do?

    The correct answer is: pray about it. The Lord will tell you what is right. Then, of course, follow that, and hold confident to your answer. Don't let society or culture tell you what you've decided is wrong. The "world" says it's wrong to not work. The LDS Culture will raze you if you work. But whatever the Lord says is the right decision for your family - period.

    What would we do if women (mothers) never worked? Women from some cultures could never go to a doctor. Well over half the teachers in the country would be gone. Some of my best college professors were women and mothers, and they do incredible things. One professor (a mother) wrote The Family Enrichment Program - which the Church uses and sends out all over the world to strengthen families. It was (and is) extremely important for her to work, because the Lord had/has plans for her. It was amazing to hear what she has done, and though I'm sure some would criticize her for working while she has children, I'm so grateful she followed the counsel she received from the Lord.

    For the record, I am totally in support of stay-at-home-moms. I think they're incredible. I look up to women who dedicate their whole existence to mothering. If you pray about your situation, and that is the answer you get, follow it and love it with all your heart, and don't for a second feel badly about it.

    The bottom line is to pray about YOUR family and YOUR situation, and get the answer straight from the Lord. Be willing to accept His answer, no matter what it may be. Be open to adapt and change as your family changes. Following the Lord in whatever He says is always the best answer.

    Another thought I'd like to interject: the mother's role is to nurture her children. Nurture means to fill the emotional and spiritual needs of your children, while raising them the best you can. Nurture DOES NOT mean cleaning or cooking. Your ability to mother does not depend on how well or often you clean. Your ability to be a mother and a wife is not diminished if your husband cooks and cleans. While it is important to have a clean, sanitary house and food to eat, the details concerning who does what matter so little. Everyone in the family should contribute to the household.

    Ok, so this is a super long rant. Jenna, if you ever want to talk more about this, email me or call me. If you can't tell, I have a lot to say on the subject, mostly because I have asked the same questions (even though I don't have kids yet.) I also got my answer - I'll tell you about it if you want =)

    Just keep trying your best, and you will do great. You're an amazing woman, and you CAN do them both Jenna - you can.


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