While I’d thought she & I approach motherhood differently, after reading her post I’ve realized we are not as different as I’d initially surmised.
“You’re never home!”
As a full-time working mom who is building a business on the side, these painful words hit me like acid rain.
They were hurled by my indignant 11-year old when I told her I would be gone one evening to showcase my health coaching business at a women’s networking event.
Whether you travel for your career, work full-time, or are trying to build your dream business, these words can make you feel like the worst mom in the world.
They can also make you pause to reflect on whether you choose quantity or quality time with your family.
This post is a response to Carla Birnberg’s declaration that she chooses quantity parenting over quality.
While I applaud her courage, I do not want to be in her shoes.
When it comes to food, I am a big advocate of quantity.
As a weight loss coach, I have made a science of teaching women how to fill up their plate without gaining weight.
The more you eat, the less hungry you are, right?
This may be hard to believe, but I used to love all-you-can-eat buffets.
As a child, we would meet Grandma Arndt at the local Old Country buffet for Sunday brunch after church. When I was older, my friends would frequent the Golden Corral in our town for some late-night eats. My more grown-up tastes led to Mongolian or Cantonese-type grill buffets.
I refuse to be the all-you-can-eat buffet to my kids’ needs.
Do you feel like salad today, or maybe a steak? Really, I just want to skip to dessert.
I am not everything to my kids. And, that’s fine by me.
When it comes to parenting, I am all about quality. This was a legacy passed down to me by my own parents that I freely give to my own children.
I may not be there for every single defining moment of their childhood, but I focus on them when I am there.
My children may not agree with my decision, but they understand it.
The same daughter who complained about my absenteeism said once, “Ma, you were MISERABLE as a stay-at-home mom”.
She is absolutely right!
While I cherished the extra-special unsung moments of spending our entire day together, I cursed the unerring drudgery. Here is the paradox I found with quantity.
The more choices you have, the less you end up doing.
While a buffet might have over 50 different choices, you probably only eat 2 or 3 of them. When I stayed home all day, I was so paralyzed by the options that I found myself getting frustrated.
I suddenly went from having 2 hours of time with my kids to having 24 hours of time. Sadly, I didn’t know how to fill that time with activities or events so we could all flourish.
I made a go of it for a while. But, it was not meant to be.
In my case, the less time I spend with my girls, the more I focus on what they need. When I spend a whole day with them, I find myself multi-tasking my way out of any engagement. I struggle to focus.
My children need my attention, even if it is just one minute at a time. I am happy to say that my younger daughter no longer tells me “Mama, put your phone down”.
My work does not interfere with my family. It allows me to be the best I can be when I am with my family.
Whether you are a working mom by choice or by necessity, it’s ok to choose quality over quantity.
Yes, you are a mom. But, you are also a woman, a wage-earner, daughter, a wife, and a dreamer. You have ambitions and goals that existed before your children were born, and will continue to exist after your children leave the house.
A home is not just a space, but a place in your heart.
Your heart is always at home with your children.
Jenn is a former fat girl who helps working women achieve weight bliss through health coaching and speaking. She can be found dancing with her daughters in her living room, cooking it up in the kitchen, and speaking at events.