Coming To Terms With My Own Mommy War

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IMG_6520 Nine years ago after giving birth to my first child, I found myself wrestling with an internal struggle that I would continue to deal with for the next 9 years. At the close of my maternity leave, I went back to work as an Account Manager for St. John Knits, handling the Saks Fifth Avenue account. Words cannot express how much I loved my job, and although it was stressful and emotionally draining at times, more so than not it was fun, exciting and empowering. Early on in my pregnancy Art and I made the decision together that I would return, because we needed the income and health insurance, and also because I felt I “needed” to work. So even before I gave birth we had plans in place for childcare and settled into the ideal situation, with both sets of grandparents splitting up the week to care for Taylor.

When I was 7 months pregnant, with my full support, Art left his job to start his own company. While the future was scary and unsettling, we at least knew we had my income to fall back on in case his business was slow to grow. When I returned to my job though, within the first week I knew I couldn’t stay. Art and I consulted with an accountant to go over finances, took inventory of our own expenses and savings, looked into the costs of health insurance since we would be losing that, and that Friday of my first week back, I tearfully went into my bosses office and handed in my resignation.

Let me interject here to say I have complete understanding of how lucky I was to have the option to stay home. I do not take that for granted, and as you continue to read, I hope you understand my sincerity in that. I know plenty of women who don’t have the luxury of a choice, one way or another.

Those first few months at home with Taylor were a blur, and many days I felt lost. To help “keep me busy”, I decided to start a children’s clothing company selling screen-printed tees. I busied myself with designing, sourcing garment houses, dye houses, pattern makers and screen printers. Once we had our first line completed, I took it to the garment district in Downtown LA and looked for a rep to sell the line, literally cold-calling these reps in person, until I found one who took in the line. I sold at craft fairs and we got into, at one point, 13 stores across the country. I used my old connections at St. John to also show the line to the Saks buyers and had plans to eventually get the line in their stores. Back then we could just focus on doing the work; designing, producing, selling and shipping, without the distractions of social media to contend with. Facebook hadn’t even really began. So although it sounds like “a lot” I did most of it at night, with the exception of the selling, after Taylor went to bed. I took a few afternoons here and there to sell the line, but for the most part I was doing the mom thing by day, and the clothing thing at night. It felt, back then, completely manageable.

Even though I was experiencing some successes with the clothing line, essentially getting the best of both worlds by being to stay home and have something going on the side, I still greatly missed my old job. I kept in touch with all my old friends and would regularly meet them for lunch or drinks and we would catch up on office gossip and happenings. I remember always feeling sad after those get-togethers, and during one lunch date, I decided to stop by the old office to show off Taylor and say hi to some old coworkers. I ran into my old boss and as we hugged goodbye, tears ran down. My job was my identity for so many years, I was struggling to let go of the old me and embrace this new role. IMG_6547

Let me interject here again to talk about preconceived notions of women’s roles, and how we should handle them. During this time I remember getting a lot of grief from various people for not embracing full time stay at home motherhood with complete joy. I know I’m not alone in this. For those who wrestle with the decision and reasons to stay home or return to work, we are rarely able to make anyone else happy, let alone ourselves. If we miss our old job and way of life, we are pegged as ungrateful and crazy. We are spoon fed a guilt trip; do you know how many women would be overjoyed to be in your situation? Alternately, if we embrace full time motherhood, some may accuse us of wasting our potential. Even worse is when fellow mothers who continue to work, emphatically tell us how they could never stay home, they would go crazy. When it comes to the topic of stay at home or go back to work, it is hardly ever an easy and uncomplicated situation, which is why it baffles me when people make judgments based on their own experiences or projections. We all have different backgrounds and histories that shape each decision we make, therefore how can we ever expect to fully understand, and then comment on, someone else’s situation, based on our own frame of reference? As with almost anything, especially involving parenting, I think the world and our roles of motherhood would be a lot more joyous and a lot less guilt ridden, if people kept their opinions to themselves. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to a mother’s decision to stay at home or go back to work.

Soon after I had the tearful run-in with my boss, I called him one early morning and asked if they had any openings. I did not consult Art, and truth be told, it was the only time in our marriage where I lied to him about something. I told him that my old boss had called me with this opportunity, and it was a long time before I told him that I was the one who made the call. Even though I felt lost and quite depressed staying at home, I also felt extreme guilt about my desire to return to work. I had recently confided with my mom’s group how conflicted I had been feeling lately, and a friend gave me a copy of The Mommy Wars, which only seemed to confuse me more since it was a collection of personal essays from both sides of the spectrum; moms at work feeling guilty, and moms at home feeling guilty. It seemed like you were damned if you do, damned if you don’t, and so I figured if I was going to be wrapped up in turmoil and guilt, I may as well be bringing home some money in the process.

I returned to work full time, just a week after Taylor turned one, and essentially closed up shop on the clothing company, although continuing to sell off inventory here and there to friends and at the occasional craft fair.

I settled back into a routine at work, and although I had taken a different position than before, this time as a Regional Sales Manager covering the entire west coast, I still loved my job and enjoyed the daily hustle and bustle. For a brief time anyhow. After a couple of months of continuous travel, I started to seriously question my decision to return to work, as I missed Taylor like crazy. Six months after being back at work, I found out I was pregnant with Syd, and had to march into my bosses office and deliver the news. He surprisingly took it very well and as my due date grew closer, we worked out a plan for me to return to work after maternity leave, in a different role, working only part time. I couldn’t believe how well things were falling into place again, and I felt very lucky. IMG_6601

After Syd was born, I worked in the office 2 days a week, and 1 day from home, writing product knowledge materials, giving factory tours and putting together a quarterly glossy type magazine, to be distributed to all sales associates across the country. This part time gig wasn’t the most glamorous or exciting of positions, but I was thankful for the ability to keep my foot in the door and be home with the kids a good portion of the week.

That arrangement lasted for almost 2 years, until the economy went to crap and the company started doing lay-offs. My part time position was finally cut after the 3rd round of lay-offs, and I took it as my sign to switch gears and help out Art with his growing business. So I went into Art’s office 2 days a week and did all the accounts receivables/accounts payable, where it became evident that I didn’t have the stomach for small business accounting, especially when it’s your own business. Small business finances, especially with newer companies, is erratic and volatile, and my nerves were constantly frazzled seeing the influx, and outpouring of money – essentially our own money – on a daily basis. Art and I fought a lot, I nagged him about how he was running the business, he grew defensive and told me I didn’t understand how it all worked and took offense at my lack of faith in his abilities. It was a bad situation.

To make matters more complicated, I had also decided at that time to start another clothing company and open an Etsy shop, this time doing the sewing all myself, and spent way too many late nights cutting and sewing. I really can’t say what I was thinking. I started my old blog Four Flights of Fancy some where in between there too.

After a couple of years of fighting with Art and driving myself crazy sewing and listing things in Etsy, I found myself accepting a new position at a different clothing company. This time, my old boss did call me up and offered me a job at a new company he was at, James Perse, in a role I was familiar with. On top of everything, we had recently moved into a different house and I was feeling stressed about finances. Even though I actually didn’t want to return to work full time, I took it as a sign or a blessing in disguise, and figured we could use this opportunity to build up on our depleted savings account, and possibly use some of my income to build Art’s business a bit, maybe hire another employee.

I took that job, and within weeks I knew I hated it. The company was influx, and shortly after I started my role and expectations completely changed, and I found myself traveling to New York for market every 6 weeks. It was a bad situation all around, and I cried every day at lunch, I missed the kids so bad, but made a personal goal to try and stick with it for a year. I did, and then got my ass out of there as fast as I could.

If you’ve read this far, you may notice a pattern with me and leaving jobs. After I left James Perse, instead of starting another clothing line, I decided to start this blog. By that time, blogs were on a fast course track to world domination. Women were making money hand over fist, getting book deals left and right, and become television stars. With my background in fashion and my approachable sense of style for moms, I figured my course was set and I’d soon be able to replace a good portion of my full time income with monetizing the heck of what would soon become one of the best style blogs around. I even had the genius idea of maintaining BOTH blogs, my Four Flights of Fancy blog would be dedicated to family, and this new blog I had yet to create or even name, would be solely dedicated to style. I could monetize both blogs and make a crap ton of money.

That last paragraph was only mildly dripping with sarcasm. While many bloggers were in fact scoring book deals and even a select few indeed becoming television stars, I soon found out that the vast majority of my fellow bloggers were working their asses off for a small piece of the pie. Because advertising on the blog(s), and sponsored posts were still very much in their infancy and not as far reaching as they are now, I tried to secure outside writing gigs to supplement my lost income, and began writing at Disney Baby, turning out 13 posts a month.

When I eventually started this blog in February of 2012, I was already pregnant with Hayden and still unaware of how much having a third child would change me, and our family. I continued writing at Disney Baby, did some contributor posts for Making It Lovely, and got a taste of income from my first sponsored post. I still remember how exciting it was to receive the confirmation email that I had been chosen to write about Kraft American cheese slices (I’m not even kidding). I could get used to this, I thought. IMG_6505

Hayden was of course born and we fell hard and fast in love with him. While I eventually stopped writing at my old blog Four Flights of Fancy, I continued to try with all my might to grow this one, took on more sponsored posts and advertising, and continued to write at Disney Baby. And while I didn’t try to start another clothing line, I did try and start a new business concept with Jules – The Craft Cabinet. I really wish we could have figured out how to get that thing really going because I loved the two events we put together. I eventually swapped writing for Disney Baby with Babble, and have taken on a few other outsourced writing gigs here and there over the last couple of years.

I could probably write an entire epistle on the complexities of blogging and how demanding it can be, but I don’t think we need another blogger complaining about how hard our job is. Plus, the reason I went into the long and drawn out story of my career path over the last 9 years was because my current feelings about blogging have more to do with my struggles with work and motherhood than they do with blogging itself.

Simply stated though, blogging in and of itself is not all that hard or complex. But maintaining a monetized blog is nothing like I thought it would be. There are so many hats to juggle, so many people to answer to, and so many roles to wear that this job can and very easily has become almost a full time gig for me. And I can assure you I am not making full time money on this. Those bloggers who are making full time money though are indeed working full time, plus more. This has slowly evolved into a monster that I can’t really manage. Maybe someone else could, but I have finally come to admit that I’m just not good at this. I’m not good at the juggling and all-consuming nature that blogging tends to have. Over the past two years, I’ve forgotten to pay bills, bounced checks, and those are just the minor things that can easily be fixed. More often than I’d care to admit, I’ve snapped at the kids because I needed to meet a deadline, yelled at my husband because he wasn’t home from work in time to help me shoot a post, been distracted way too many times by my phone, and lots of other offenses here and there that make up the bigger stuff I’m not proud of, and make up a life I don’t really want to lead right now.

IMG_2522 Our second Craft Cabinet, which was a watercolor workshop

Blogging has been an incredibly exciting avenue for women to take these past several years. It’s launched careers, given women a place to tell their stories, and opened up opportunities that countless women would otherwise never have had, usually while staying home in the process. I am one of them and please don’t mistake my frustration for ungratefulness. But in many ways I think some of us have been sold a bill of goods by the idea of blogging. We want to stay home, we want to make money, we want to excel, and blogging can help us do all that. But it’s not as easy as banging out a few paragraphs at night and shooting a post while baby naps. Don’t be fooled, it’s way more complicated then that. This is not the hardest job in the world and we’re certainly not saving lives here, but doing well in blogging isn’t as cute and simple as taking some pretty pictures and getting them pinned on Pinterest.

I look back over the last 9 years since I became a mother, and of course I see a lot of wonderful things, but I also see a lot of confusion and indecision on my part. Starting and stopping things because I never really took the time, or was honest with myself, to decide if that was really what I wanted, and what was good for me, my family and my marriage. I’ve spent a lot of time searching for the perfect thing that would fulfill me and leave me enough time to be the kind of mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister and woman I wanted to be, never stopping to acknowledge that perfect doesn’t exist, and I’ve wasted so much time.

I don’t know if I’m ready to stop doing it all and commit to mothering without working, but I’m ready to give up some things, for the sake of recapturing some sense of peace around here, and to stop wasting time. I’ve decided for starters to take a back seat on monetizing this blog. I’ll continue with some already agreed upon sponsored posts, which by the way, I feel good about and at this time will remind you to check out my Schoola post. But after my commitments are finalized, I will take an indefinite break in sponsored posts of any kind, here or on Instagram. It is my hope that by removing this area of the blog, I’ll remove a lot of the pressure of deadlines and maintaining numbers. Friends who don’t blog often don’t understand bloggers’ obsessions with numbers and followers and all that, but without the numbers, you can’t secure the sponsored posts and advertisers and other opportunities. It’s that pressure that I’m tired of dealing with. By removing the monetization factor, I’m free to post when and what I am compelled to, without worrying about lost page views or dropped followers.

I will continue with my writing gig at Babble. There have been a lot of changes at the site over the last few months, and through some negotiations and policy changes, I feel like it continues to be a great opportunity I can’t and shouldn’t toss aside. Deep within my bones I still love to work and create, and while the fears of money and lost income have diminished over the years, thanks in part to a wonderful husband and my own growing faith in God and His grace, I still can’t discount this opportunity and the extra income it provides our family.

So why choose to make money working for someone else, writing at Babble, than make money here on my own site? Well, you may not have picked up on the pattern in all the jobs I’ve held over the last 9 years, but I have. I have finally come to the realization that I am a lousy entrepreneur and am just better, more saner, when I’m working for someone else, through one channel. I may be good at multi-tasking, but I’m terrible at juggling all these various balls that monetizing your own blog throws at you. Perhaps one day in the future I can recommit to my space here, but right now I just feel that I’m trying to do too much, and it’s making me crazy. If the Babble gig eventually goes away, who knows, I may return to monetizing as an option, so never say never, but for right now this just feels right.

I do realize that I don’t need to make this grand announcement to all 10 of you reading. I’m not sure if anyone really even cares. But I thought it was worthwhile to tell my story for two reasons. One, I think many women agonize in silence over their choices in staying home or returning to work. Many women are judged and even bullied for their decisions, or like me, for their indecision. I at least wanted to share with anyone interested and let you know that you’re not alone. I struggled for years and continue to wrestle with my decisions. This does not make you or me ungrateful, unappreciative or a flake for not being able to make up our minds.

Second, I thought it would be helpful to be honest about blogging. There’s no need to throw ourselves a pity party, because us bloggers don’t have it all that bad, I know. But there’s so much sheltering of the truth with (big) blogging that we often paint this pretty and perfect picture that we can do it all. Be creative, make beautiful things, style pleasing Instagrams, take amazing pictures, write eloquently, be the queen of SEO, and monetize a successful blog, all with a baby on our hip and straight A students. That picture of perfect is a falsehood, and quite frankly impossible. Behind all that beauty and creativity is a babysitter or a kid sitting in front of an iPad eating gold fish from time to time. A lot of bloggers have been transparent about the demands of maintaining a monetized blog and I have always appreciated the breath of honest fresh air. Hopefully this post will be another one.

This may not be every blogger’s story, but it is mine. If I was willing to hire full time help and build the dream, life would be great. But this isn’t my dream right now, and so I’m taking a step back.

Without a doubt, I’ll still be around, and I’m still committed to producing quality posts. They just may be fewer and farther in between, or who knows, maybe without the pressure of the “numbers game,” I will be recharged with some late night creativity. Probably not though, as I have a whole lot of TV to catch up on and about 10 unread books sitting on my nightstand. Oh, and Hayden’s uncracked baby book to deal with too. We’ll just see how it goes, no promises either way.

I hope none of this has come across as self-pity or ungratefulness. I know full well how lucky (and hard-working) I’ve been to have had the opportunity to test out full time work, part time work and self-employment, and by now I consider myself an expert on trying to achieve the ever-elusive work-life balance, free of worry about finances and resumes. I’m not sure if that balance and worry-free life exists for anyone else besides millionaires, but we owe it to ourselves and our family to always keep trying. No matter how flaky, indecisive or crazy we may come across to the outside world.

And just for kicks, a few pictures of my first and second clothing lines, called Baby Taylored. Sadly, I think somewhere along the lines we deleted all the original photos of the very first screen printed line, but I found a couple here and there of Taylor wearing some pieces. Here’s one I found particularly cute, although not the best “quality.” IMG_6643 And here are a couple of photos from the hand-sewn line, photographed by Melissa Brandman. Coincidentally, these photos were taken at the same park as the ones above, taken just a few days ago. A full circle moment I suppose. Β It’s my sincerest wish for all us mothers that we continue to strive for balance, happiness and have the faith and courage to take risks from time to time. Baby-Taylored-0072 Baby-Taylored-0048



Andrea Howe

Andrea is the founder of For The Love Of, a lifestyle blog dedicated to approachable, modern living. She writes about style, her love of DIY, and living a healthier life through wholesome, nutritious cooking. She is also a regular contributor at Babble. Get in touch: Facebook, Twitter You can find Andrea on Instagram @andreavhowe and @gwynethmademedoit

  • “I’ve spent a lot of time searching for the perfect thing that would fulfill me and leave me enough time to be the kind of mother, wife, friend, daughter, sister and woman I wanted to be, never stopping to acknowledge that perfect doesn’t exist, and I’ve wasted so much time.”

    Wow. Andrea, I am a new reader and just wanted to tell you that this post spoke to me SO much. My oldest child is 4 1/2 and I’ve spent that entire time jumping to and from magazine editor jobs (I think I’ve now had four stints at the magazine I left when she was born…!) trying to find the perfect balance of full-time vs. part-time vs. freelance…and never being entirely happy with any of these choices. I also started my blog (thesparklylife.com) about a year after she was born thinking that it would be a great way to…well, you know how that goes… πŸ™‚

    I am so glad to hear that you’ll still be posting, albeit less frequently. (I spent half of the time I was reading this post thinking, “Oh no! I just found this awesome blogger who is just like me and now she’s quitting blogging!”) πŸ™‚

    Anyway, I’m so glad I found you and I’m really looking forward to hearing more. Thanks so much for an amazing post! πŸ™‚

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Hi Alyssa, thank you so much for finding me and leaving such a nice comment. I am sorry you haven’t found the perfect balance either, but can certainly relate. I’m finally coming to terms that there is no perfect balance, and it’s a constant act to even out the tipped scales, but worth the effort in trying I suppose. Best of luck to you and please stick around for my posts here and there XO

  • Thanks for sharing your story. I think it one that a lot of moms, myself included, can relate to. At the end of the day, you have to do what makes you and your family happy.
    I’m glad that you’ve reached that place that makes sense for you right now.

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Thank you Bridget, for reading and leaving a comment. I’m so glad so many of us can relate to each other, it feels a lot less lonely when we do.

  • Avatar Natalie says:

    Thanks so much for sharing this! I often feel guilty for “letting my blog go” during this stage of motherhood.. it seems like a lot of women who started blogging 5+ years ago are expressing a desire to return to a simpler version of blogging- a simpler life in general! Blogging has become so much more than it used to be, for better or worse. I appreciate your honesty and pray you’ll find peace going forward with this decision. The Lord is guiding your steps!

  • Avatar Pat Schwab says:

    Enjoy the extra time you will have with your kids without so many deadlines and pressures on yourself. Look forward to seeing you around still.

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Thanks Pat! I’m hoping that with a little extra time I will be able to be a little more creative without the pressure of creating a pinnable project πŸ™‚ I know my daughter definitely misses our crafting time together. And of course I hope to carve out some time to just “be”

  • Avatar Abby says:

    Andrea! This is perfect, thank you for sharing. So true about the kid with the iPad and goldfish! At my house it’s Daniel Tiger on Netflix and animal crackers!!
    It’s OK to be OK. I wish you the best and really hope to see a few posts still. I hope you remember me from the farm in San Clemente…I stopped working for them for similar reasons you just posted about.

  • Avatar Lisa says:

    This post spoke to me so much. After being out of the work force for six years, I’ve been job hunting for the past year for monetary purposes, not because I want to be back at work, all the while knowing that work + everything else I already do will make me insane (I already feel insane from my schedule). In the middle of reading your post I stopped, emailed my job coaching group that I was dropping out for a while because as much as we might need the money I just can’t make this work at the moment.

    I started my blog years ago when my babies were little, because I was lonely and needed a creative outlet. I’ve kept it up, but daily blogging has receded to 2-3x a month. I used to be obsessed with numbers, and had more readers, but one day my analytics stopped working, and for a year I didn’t get around to fixing it…and it was pretty freeing, honestly. I write about whatever I please whenever I want and don’t really care if anyone beyond my sisters and the few hardcore readers I have left comment.

    As long as I’m breaking my lurker-dom, I have to tell you I love reading your food entries. I’m in SoCal too (I met you briefly at the Craft Cabinets and at a Mom 2.0 thingy in Dana Point), and I’ve really enjoyed the recipes and local food sources that you’ve discussed (am calling Primal Pastures tomorrow!). Your blog brings me great enjoyment and I appreciate your hard work!

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Hi Lisa, of course I remember you! So nice to see you around here, and I hope you find some peace in your decision to put things on hold for a bit. It’s such a hard call to make because it’s never black and white, always so much gray in between, but all we can do is follow our gut and definitely have some faith

  • Avatar Janene says:

    After 17 years of full or part time teaching, this is the first year I won’t be returning to a classroom. It was an agonizing decision to make and I could relate to every emotion you mentioned in all your job endeavors. We are our own worse critics and we put too much pressure on ourselves…I’m wishing you peace and joy in this new freedom you may enjoy without the pressure of monetizing your blog. I blog and turn the posts into books at the end of the year. I went this route when scrapbookng became too much of a chore. There is such freedom and peace in letting go:)

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      I hope you enjoy your new found freedom free from the classroom! What a blessing. So nice to hear from you Janene

  • Avatar Anne E-R says:

    What a journey! Enjoyed this read very much, A!

  • Avatar Lana says:

    Thanks for sharing your journey. I guess we never stop trying improving ourselves and our lives… It may sound all erratic and indecisive…but it beats being stuck and not doing anything about it. As far as blogging goes… I personally dislike blogs that become too “professional”… It feels like I’m reading something that somebody with a lot of money wants me to read…so…even if you post less frequently, I know I will still enjoy your posts.

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Thank you Lana, yes, I wholeheartedly agree. I was raised with the idea that if you aren’t happy, instead of complaining about it, do something about it. While that’s sometimes easier said than done, we owe it to ourselves to at least try and change when we have the chance. Thanks for reading.

  • Avatar Abbi says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. My son is 14 months and I let my job of 9 years after trying to make the part time thing work for a few months. If I don’t work then we save no money so I need to figure something out that doesn’t keep me away from home for 12 hours a day but I’ve been severely dragging my feet. Some days I can’t believe my lucky stars that I’m at home with my son and other days I feel ashamed to crumble in tears over my isolation and a perceived loss of potential. I can’t seem to pull the trigger on applying for anything… Or really doing anything at all… That might give me a different outlet. It feels like everything has some unknown risk (duh) and it’s been paralyzing. I’ve also found it to be so difficult to articulate my feelings or find anyone to talk about it! So anyway, it was validating to read your story even though I know you have no perfect answers. Thanks again.

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      I agree, it’s hard to find a sympathetic ear that will understand without judgement, as it’s often so complicated it’s hard to fit into a short conversation. Which is why I finally decided to write out my whole LOOONG story πŸ™‚ Glad you could relate and found some solace in knowing you’re not alone. Good luck to you.

  • Avatar Kallah says:

    I love this. Thank you for sharing with such honesty and humility.

    I think what we mama’s can forget is that the season in which our children need our attention and supervision pretty much 24/7 is really, relatively, so short.

    I realized at one point as a very young (22 year old), very insecure SAHM, that whether I paid some other girl to watch my kids, or paid a daycare, or did it myself, it was still a full-time job – no matter how you slice it. I could pay someone else to do it instead of doing it myself – but it is NOT half-assing anything to decide to “just” be a mom when your babies are young.

    I don’t know how I will feel when my YOUNGEST is over the age of 5… but for now, I feel content giving each baby a 4-5 year commitment of being their primary caregiver and babysitter. I really love it – I would miss them horribly – and to me, really, this season is SO SHORT!

    Isn’t the main thing to intentionally choose what makes YOUR family happy in each season of life?! I think that’s why you are so right that this is an area of life in which a publicly shared opinion of what is “objectively” right or wrong is so inappropriate. Its just about finding peace and balance in your own family.

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Yes, I’ve finally stopped caring what other people will think, because eventually you’ll realize that what others do doesn’t really matter to you either! I used to look at what everyone else was doing and use it as a mirror against my own life, and it formed some of my own decisions. Stupid, but live and learn and I’m so glad I’m finally at peace with that!

  • Avatar Sonja Franck says:

    It’s kindof funny, I’ve never read your blog before but read your IG description and was intrigued. I had a conversation last night with a neighbor who works away from home and as a stay at home mom with three small children I’ve been thinking about many of the “gives and takes” of both situations. I think this story shows a woman that’s true to herself and that is so admireable. We’re all looking for the balance. Thanks for sharing all your insight!

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Ha, I’m glad I was able to intrigue you Sonja! πŸ™‚ Thank you for your kind words and taking time out of your day to read XO

  • Avatar Karen says:

    What a great post. I have been a sham mom since my first was born, my youngest i snow 6. Sometimes I wonder if it would be easier financially if I would get a job, but I know that this is where I need to be. My youngest has apraxia of speech, oral motor planning and other things yet to be identified. I was hard enough to send him to school, since he can’t tell me about his day or if something happened…. Every mom has to do what is right for their own family. I am fortunate that I have been able to stay at home even though sometimes financially it is hard. Why can’t us moms just support each other instead of making each other feel guilty or question the decisions we have made.

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      I have found that of course it’s always “easier” to have the extra income, but then it’s “harder” in other areas. We just have to decide at different times which hard and which easy we want, and what is most important. Back when I took the job at JP, what was easier was to have some stability in our income for a while, and then when things balanced out, it was definitely easier to be home with the kids. Oh, if money didn’t have to be part of the equation!

  • Avatar Sara says:

    You know what? You nailed it. Every mom has their own internal struggle. Compounded by the stigma that society places on our decisions. It could even be generalized to every woman. I know I spent the better part of a decade before I even thought about kids struggling with the identity I created for myself with the career path that I felt chose me more than I chose it. Looking for a tribe, I thought I’d join the blogging community, but 5 years ago it seemed tough to break into the community filled with early adapters and I found I loved reading and commenting much more than producing my own content. I even met you at the first Camp Mighty, but was much to shy and unsure of myself to have that trip make much of an impact.

    I wish I’d figured out sooner that our careers don’t define us. Now as a mom I’ve had the privilege of working part-time, which has been a challenge at times, and also a blessing. My son is almost exactly the same age as Hayden, so I’ve enjoyed following you as a veteran mom. I’m learning that no matter what I plan for our next few years life may just have its own path.

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      yes, I spent too much time being defined by my career. wish I would have figured that out sooner. thanks for the comment.

  • I have a confession to make. I’ve envied you from afar since we wrote together at Disney Baby. You always look gorgeous, have a huge following, and just seem to be…well, perfect. Thank you for sharing this and making me realize how parallel our paths have been. I’ve been feeling so many of these things lately and you articulating it all is giving me so much to think about. Congratulations on finding your truth at this moment and embracing it. I have no doubt those little smiles in your life will be a bit brighter…and I hope yours will be too.

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Oh Amy, i am so far from perfect, I know you know that, but thanks for the kind words. I’m glad my words gave you something to think about and ponder XO

  • Avatar Michelle K says:

    Oh, this post is so timely! I have always said that I don’t mind working while my kids are little, but I want to be home as soon as they start school. Well, here I sit on the eve of my oldest starting Kindergarten….working full time….and will probably be here for the next few years at least. It breaks my heart, but I know God is in control. We are working really hard to pay off our debts so we can go without my income or at least have a reduced income. It’s just hard when I bring home about 70% of it. Thank you for sharing your story!

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      I wish you the best of luck in paying off your debts and being able to follow your heart and stay home with your little one. XO

  • i am not a mom, yet, but your words resonate with me so much as I work full-time at a really good job, but my heart wants to do my shop/blog full-time… but the thing is, the day job is ‘easy.’ dependable paycheck, good income but i don’t know down the road if it will be flexible when i have kids…

    but then, working on my shop/blog will likely be just as much, maybe more work, as the day job… it doesn’t mean that I will be home, necessarily. Granted these are decisions to be made a little bit down the road but with the changing landscape of blogs and shops, it’s something I consider.

    And just to let you know, I always have enjoyed your blog and writing style. You are honest and funny and I look forward to your inconsistent posts πŸ™‚

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Oh yes Erika, it will be just as much work I’m sure. Hang tight would be my suggestion…when the time is ready, you will know. I have known with absolute clarity each time I was ready for change. It’s a lot of back and forth for a while, and then bam! All of a sudden it’s like a megaphone. Thanks for reading. XO

  • Avatar Chloe says:

    Hi Andrea,

    I discovered your blog through instagram and have been an regular reader. I just want to thank you for your honesty! this is such a refreshing and real piece to read! yes! you are such an encouragement. Your post also reminded me of a blog post I read this morning by pastor and blogger tim challies about distractions and how we need to make the best of our time and it sounds like you are doing just that! press on, sister!

  • Avatar shayne says:

    I am so thankful you wrote this post. I don’t have my own blog and wasn’t as far into my career as you were when I had my son, but I’ve experienced many of the emotions and much of the confusion that you have.

    Towards the end of my pregnancy, I started to question whether I would be okay returning to work, but didn’t think I actually had a choice because I made the higher salary and carried our insurance. And sure enough when I went back, I was miserable. I still loved my work, but I hated being away from my son, I hated commuting, I hated my breast pump, I hated having so little time with my family. Two months later, my husband got into police academy, and I had no choice but to leave my job, since their was no childcare option that would meet our needs, even if we had been able to afford it.

    I’ve been home full-time for a year-and-a-half now. My husband has TWO full-time jobs. I’m a freelancer blogger/writer/editor, and have steadily taken on more work as time has gone on (though I still don’t have help with childcare). I still love my job and I’m so thankful to be home with my little guy, but doing both is just hard. No matter what, either the work suffers or the family suffers.

    As a freelancer, I’m essentially self-employed, and I have to set my own schedule, decide how much work I’m capable of taking on, decide whether the money I make from working more is worth the pressure and stress and how it affects my son and husband, etc. Needless, to say there’s a lot of guilt happening around here.

    There are many days I question whether I would be happier working full-time, whether it would have been significantly better for our family financially and whether I made the right decision. Most of the time, I feel like no one understands my position. I simply don’t know many other moms who stay at home full-time and work from home (full-time or part-rime) without help.

    Ultimately though, I know God has put me where he needs me most, and same goes for you Andrea. I for one know that you have reached the lives of a lot of people who truly appreciate what you’re doing here on your blog and on IG — sponsored or not. Keep on keeping on lady — we are in this together. πŸ™‚

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Oh, thank you for sharing your story Shayne. I always love hearing about other women’s paths, and it’s always so amazing how each and every one of ours is different. Thank you for reading and sharing your heart. XO

  • Avatar Erin Redmond says:

    I hear you. damned if you do and damned if you don’t. I missed working while I stayed home with my two kids and felt a pang of guilt every time I saw old co-workers/friends get promoted or get some amazing position at a new company. I felt like I had to explain myself to others why I was not working because I didn’t know many stay at home moms. It felt weird, even though I knew I was doing the best thing for my kids, staying home with them when they were babies.

    Now that I am working I feel guilty leaving my kids at daycare. It’s hard I miss having play dates with other moms and spending all day with them, but I also missed working and contributing to our family’s finances and future. It is also hard to do anything while at home with the kids so I totally understand where you are coming from. You have a great blog, write really well, and I love your candidness on every subject! Do what is best for you!

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      There are always pros and cons, aren’t they? Thank you for reading and sharing, I’m so glad so many of us can relate to each other.

  • Avatar Amy says:

    A friend of mine shared this post with me, and boy, can I relate.

    I have a 5 and 2 year old, and worked until I got laid off a year ago. While the layoff was company-wide, it was, similar to your case, a result of choices I made to have less travel and responsibility and more time with my kids.

    The layoff was a blessing; I had always wondered if I might like staying home, but was too scared to quit my job. The last year with my kids has been enlightening, and it gave me motivation to start blogging more regularly.

    That said, I’ve learned that I’m probably not cut out to be home full time. I miss work, which I feel guilty about, like I’m choosing to be away from my kids. It’s been a long summer, and even blogging has started to feel like a chore I’m neglecting my kids (like the commenter above, with Daniel Tiger) to complete.

    I’ve said I’m going to wait until fall to make a decision on work, but it’s paralyzing me.

    I really, really appreciate you sharing your experience – especially the truth about blogging. As a small blogger, I often envy those of you with paid writing gigs and making money with your blog. But nothing is all it’s cracked up to be; and I’m in total agreement that the one sure thing is that there is no one right answer.

    Thanks again, and good luck figuring out your next step!

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      I’m glad you found some solace in this post, and I hope you can come to a decision you can feel good about, soon. It sucks to be in that limbo zone. been there, done that. making a final decision is Malagasy so freeing

  • Avatar Kathy Welsh says:

    Even though I am not a mom, this post really resonated with me. So much is expected of women in our society, and it is so good to hear another woman speak honestly about her struggles with juggling family and work and defining success.

    I want you to know I love your blog, especially the fashion and DYI posts. I’ve received much inspiration from them! I look forward to each one and am very glad you will still be blogging…

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post Kathy, “even though you’re not a mom” πŸ™‚ I think as women though, we can all relate to the unique pressures we feel to compete and excel, and how it feels when we fall short of our own or other’s expectations. Thanks for reading XO

  • Avatar Karri says:

    I can relate on some level. I keep taking on (and overcommitting myself with) volunteer positions and commitments and then I realize that, crap, I don’t want to do this. The time is too short that my kids will want to spend with me, so since I am able to stay home, I need to take advantage of this and actually BE. And perhaps tackle some things I really want to tackle in my spare time vs busying myself with stuff that just stresses me out.
    So thank you for sharing.

    • Andrea Howe Andrea Howe says:

      Oh man, the volunteering thing is such a viscous cycle! We want to help but then it’s always so much work than we anticipate!

  • Avatar Vanessa says:

    I’m really proud of you for listening to your heart this time and knowing what you need vs. what you want. It’s a tough distinction to make. I struggle with it all the time. Part of me wonders whether my blog could be financially successful if I were to put more time and resources into it, so I start working on it only to find that I do not have more time or resources, that I’m stretched painfully thin as it is with work, commuting and the precious few hours of family time in between.

    There’s always that longing to improve, though, so I go through these crazy bursts of creativity and the dips of frustration when I realize that yes, only 10 people ARE reading my blog, so why waste that precious little free time writing content for it? Oh, it’s a vicious cycle.

    I think you’ve built a nice community here, and you will always have more than 10 people stopping by when you update periodically. I love your writing and voice, and I’ll read as long as you keep writing.

    Best wishes, xo.

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  • Avatar Amy Anderson says:

    Love this article! It was from the heart – the best way to write . . . and such a fun way to learn more about you and your path.

    I have so many thoughts. My first one is that when I was in high school (you are only a year older than me based on your recent reunion), and even in early college, we didn’t have to hear anyone’s opinions on these things, because the internet just wasn’t as popular. I *really* miss that. That’s the part of this blogging job I hate. I feel like I’m constantly inundated with opinion after opinion on everything, not just motherhood. And I feel bad for parents . . . it must be frustrating, tiring, and annoying (not to mention hard to avoid).

    Also I think that (full-time) blogging definitely suits a certain personality type. For example (years ago) I worked at the CDC, and I got a part time job at the Gap because I was bored (don’t ask). I started my blog while I was working, right after I graduated with my MBA, which I also did at night. I’m kind of crazy like that. My best work comes out of being overloaded. And I don’t say that to gloat or act like I’m better than anyone else – I’m not – but like any gig/job, certain personalities fit better than others. Basically if you aren’t insane, blogging is very stressful. And even I get overwhelmed regularly!

    I have so many more thoughts, but . . . . as far as I’m concerned, I think you are a fabulous blogger, and from what I can see, a fabulous wife and mother. I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog, and I’m happy that you share yourself with us. And to touch people in some way is the real success in blogging, at least for me.

  • Avatar Amy T. says:

    Oh Andrea, I’m so glad you wrote this and so glad I read it! It is so refreshing to hear a blogger talk about the reality and complexities of blogging. Sometimes I feel like like it is so glamorized and it’s not always addressed that we work hours upon hours to make it happen. I was gun-ho about blogging (and looking to make a crap ton of money, too!) and after I went to my first big blogging conference, I was kind of turned off to it. I didn’t want to constantly work with companies in order to make an income and that seemed like the only way to do it. I wanted to write what I wanted to write without anyone dictating it. So I slowly started blogging less and working on my Etsy shop more; and I found way more joy in it, plus an income (praise God). Blogging can be totally thankless, but those that do it do so because they love it (myself included). I am constantly trying to find the balance between work and being a mom, and probably always will be. The truth is, not working wouldn’t make me happy and neither does working, sometimes. We can’t have it all, but I wish there was a way (and a non-complicated one at that)!

  • Avatar Georgia says:

    I think you are a lovely person Andrea! I really love the honesty and sensitivity of your posts.
    These are precious qualities and I wish you’ll find fulfilment and success to anything you decide to do in the future.
    Gxx

  • Avatar Cori says:

    Thank you for writing this post! Echoed my own (more meagre) experiences in part. the wrestling with what is the best thing to do work-wise. the wrestling with whether I keep persevering with my blog or not. i gave my blog up in the end as i found i was often living through the blog in an attempt to document my life in a way that was effortless and stylish rather than putting down the iphone / DSLR and actually being present in the moment with my daughter. and i still struggle on the work-front: is this job fulfilling enough? should i do less hours? what about the loss of income? etc etc.

    and hear hear to your point on placing less judgement and guilt on others for their choices!

  • Thank you for sharing your story. I left my career just over a year ago so that I could focus on my two girls. I am so grateful to be able to experience the unique life stage that being a mama to toddlers is. I also learned a lot from my time as a working mama.

  • Avatar Erica says:

    I’m wondering if this has to do with you deleting the fiber one post. I read your cleanse post and then the following post was how to make crap with fiber one bars and I was basically like what the heck?!? so much for practicing what you preach. It made me feel like you had no credibility, just trying to make money with this sponsored post and honestly, it made me angry. I don’t blindly follow everything you say here of ig but you have a lot of helpful info and that was totally muddied by that sponsored post. Sadly, it made my trust in you and your “honesty” and “telling it like it is” falter big time.

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