Working Moms

Feeling like a failure...

I can't vent to anyone IRL other than my husband because I'm embarrassed so I hope you don't mind me popping in.  My son is 8 months old and I went back to work when he was three months old.  I cannot be a SAHM no matter how much I want to. I'm an attorney and I have over $160k in student loans still outstanding and my husband's income would not cover our bills plus that...so yeah, I need to work.  Anyway we had a nanny in our home for a few months and now DH is a SAHD for a few months. He goes back to work in April. As much as he would love to stay home, we cannot afford that either. 

So that's the background. I've been doing well at work and my bosses adore me. I've been one of the top billers and doing everything I need to do but suddenly I feel like I'm drowning.  My work is insanely busy and I feel like I never get to see my son so I'm feeling like a total failure everywhere.  My husband and I have been snapping at each other for the first time in our marriage and I know it is me. I cry randomly and just want to quit my job and stay home but then I know I can't and that causes me to cry all over.  I work long hours, it's part of the job and I try to be home as much as I can.  I usually see my son for about an hour in the morning and maybe 2 at night before he goes to bed and then all weekend. I also try to work from home when I can but I don't really get to see him all that often when I do because I actually have to work. 

 So really there's no real reason to this post but to vent to people who might understand where I'm coming from. I don't want to assume that you all feel the same way but if anyone does or has been there can you please let me know what you've done to get through it? I'm debating working through the night so I can be home with him more during the day... He sleeps all night so it isn't like I'd miss out on anything with him.  I just don't know what to do. I've never regretted my career choice until now. I've wanted to be a lawyer since I was 6 years old and now I'm wishing I made other choices.  I never knew I'd be this conflicted.  

 

thanks for listening Crying

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Re: Feeling like a failure...

  • Many of us go through this, especially when you first go back to work.  Truly, it's way harder on us than it is on the baby. Baby knows his parents, and the weekends are a great time for normal family life. You're also setting a great example for your LO by showing him that moms and dads can both work and still be great, loving, involved parents.

    i would caution you against trying to work at night too much. Sleep deprivation is a killer-literally. The physical and emotional effects are well-documented, and you can't be a great mom if you're even more exhausted than we already are with babies.  That saying that you have to look after yourself before you can look after others is true. 

    I'd also recommend getting s babysitter and having a date night. Yes, it will be hard missing more time with LO but the investment in your marriage is so worth it. Your marriage is the cornerstone of your family, and happy parents make for a happier baby, even if he gives up an hour or two of his parents time.

    Good luck to you-it does get easier.

     


  • I'm an attorney too. I had a similar overwhelmed period when DD was around the same age. I never felt like I was giving enough as a mom or an attorney. I ended up taking a week long stay cation. It helped a lot. I got to focus on DD and recharge.

    It does get better, i promise.
  • No advice, just to say my DH is an attorney and we have a lot of debt as well. Right up until I had DD1 I was wanting to go back...it never crossed my mind that I would want to SAH, but as soon as she got here, I no longer wanted to return. Unfortunately, between the student loans and mortgage, we both have to work.

    Hang in there. As your baby gets older, he will start staying up later. I get about the same amount of time as you do with DD2. DD1 goes to bed a little later than DD2 so we get some 1 on 1 time. In the end it is about quality over quantity.
    "Making the decision to have a child is momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body."
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  • I can relate to a lot of this.  I'm feeling so conflicted all the time, as well.  I, like you, have a LOT of student loans to pay off (over $120K) and work as a scientist for a top pharma company... I love my job.  I love science.  I never once thought being a SAHM would be for me.  Until I had my son and had to come back to work.  I've been back for 4 months.  It's still awful. DH and I have had several arguments over me becoming a SAHM, or switching to P/T (though, my company isn't really going for that plan as of now..).. it's really hard.

    All I can say is I relate.. and, so do a lot of others.  There are many on this board who man not feel this way at all.. but there are still those of us who do.  

    As for keeping your marriage happier.. DH and I make a point to spend time together every night once we put DS to bed.  It helps.  I know a lot of the arguments we have stem from me being so unhappy with our current situation, and I take ownership of that and appologize.  DH understands how difficult this transition has been.. that helps, too.

    I'm sorry I don't have some better advice to help make it easier.  Time.. that's pretty much the best suggestion I've "read" through lurking/posting on this board.. how much time, I'm just not sure...

    Hang in there.. 

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  • ditto the PPs. I'm also an attorney with law school loans. We also have DH's master's degree loans we're paying back. We both have to work FT in order to pay our bills.

    I'm due in June with our first and I'm struggling with figuring out how/when/where we are going to make financial and personal adjustments in our life to spend time with the baby while still staying afloat.

    Can you come home from work a little earlier - like 5pm or 6pm and then put in 2-3 hours after your son goes to bed?

    Talk with your husband about what he thinks and any ideas he has for making your home life more efficient so you can have more time together.

    What about talking to your boss about your hours?

    Or start looking for another job with a firm that is more family friendly?

    Just some thoughts/ideas. I hope things improve for you.

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  • Thank you all... it makes me feel better just to know I'm not alone. 

    My work has been great and I actually moved to a more family friendly firm before I had my son... it isn't my firm, it is the nature of defense I guess. I have to meet my billable hours and honestly I have to hit a pretty high number because we need my bonus to save up for our new house in the future and so I'm billing a lot of hours.  Last month I billed 220 hours! UGH (this is not including my commute and time not spent billing... so I probably worked closer to 260-270 hours last month) My husband is amazingly supportive and does so much at home so that when I get home I can sit with my son and not have to do things like cook and clean and laundry.  He does this even when he was not a SAHD.  

     I am just not sure how to create more hours in my day! Again, I really appreciate all of your responses. I'm glad to know I'm not alone and not the only one that changed after having a baby. 

     

    I need a vacation! 

     

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  • I felt like this when I felt like I had no options. It helped me to make a list of the things my paycheck covers. I realized that those things are worth working for. It gave me a choice again so I felt more in control.
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  • Holy billable hours! I'm a lawyer too but I'm at the opposite spectrum.  I don't know how much you earn but I think I can assume you make way the hell more $ than I do.  I have no billable hours (all flat fee bankruptcy work) and I work 9-5 w/some Saturdays.  My hours are great but mathematically speaking I will never pay off my student loans.  No seriously, never.  My DH and I owe $320K combined in student loans and it's really a joke at this point.  A big fat joke because our retirement plans are to live off of social security (if it still exists) and live on a beach under a palm tree since we won't be able to afford anything else.

    Anyway I guess I just wanted to say that it all sucks but at least it sounds like you'll actually be able to pay off your loans and have financial security, perhaps a retirement and a happy life in the future.  (I think). Anyway even with my "good hours" I don't get that much time with the kids in the evenings and our life just feels like a big blur, so it happens to all of us!

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  • Holy billibles batman. I'm in defense too...but personal civil litigation. I'm supposed to bill 160 a month. Before dd i billed around 180 on average. Now I'm usually right around 160. The hourly bonuses are just not worth it to me.
    I've been working 74 but when I go back after DS it'll be 85 since my boss has decided he wants face time that extra hour
  • I don't make nearly as much as you'd think with those numbers... I just had an insane month, i usually bill between 180-195... I need to average 190 for my bonus so part of the reason I busted my butt was that DH is home right now so I can and then I can work less when it is warmer out and I have to get DS from daycare.( i am DREADING daycare!)

     I've thought about going inhouse... I'm going to look into it but I'm not sure if financially we can do it if there is a paycut.  My loans will be paid off when DS is 26... how depressing is that? but hey a palmtree sounds nice right? think I can move into the one next to you??? haha 

     

    You guys have made me feel a lot better.  A lot of my friends have become SAHM's and I think that makes me feel worse.  Like they are quietly judging me and thinking I'm a horrible mother for putting my career before him when that isn't the case! But mostly I just worry that DS will resent me some day.  I know he is too young to know  now but eventually he will know and I feel bad about that.  But if we want a home and no debt ...other than student loans and mortgage... this is what we need to do.  

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  • image PhillyGal34:

    I don't make nearly as much as you'd think with those numbers... I just had an insane month, i usually bill between 180-195... I need to average 190 for my bonus so part of the reason I busted my butt was that DH is home right now so I can and then I can work less when it is warmer out and I have to get DS from daycare.( i am DREADING daycare!)

     I've thought about going inhouse... I'm going to look into it but I'm not sure if financially we can do it if there is a paycut.  My loans will be paid off when DS is 26... how depressing is that? but hey a palmtree sounds nice right? think I can move into the one next to you??? haha 

     

    You guys have made me feel a lot better.  A lot of my friends have become SAHM's and I think that makes me feel worse.  Like they are quietly judging me and thinking I'm a horrible mother for putting my career before him when that isn't the case! But mostly I just worry that DS will resent me some day.  I know he is too young to know  now but eventually he will know and I feel bad about that.  But if we want a home and no debt ...other than student loans and mortgage... this is what we need to do.  

     

    you can definitely move in next to our palm tree.  ha.  

    Seriously though, I just get so frustrated because it's like you're damned if you do, damned if you don't.  I work less hours to spend more time w/the kids but I still don't get that much time with them, AND like I said I'm really not paying loans or making a dent in them.

    Then there's people like you who are busting their butts doing the "right" thing and working to pay them off, but like you said they won't even be paid off till your LO is 26!

    Then there's people like my friend who graduated law school w/me and hardly worked.  Instead she stayed home and now that her kids are school aged she is finding it absolutely impossible to get a job as a lawyer w/pretty much no experience.  She vents about this all the time and I'm not sure being a SAHM was really a good decision for her because now her career is suffering and she may not be able to ever get back into the market.

    So, just make the best of it!  You sound like you're doing great but might just need to try and take a break.  Good luck! 

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  • Holy moly no wonder you feel burned out. That's a lot of hours! I felt the same way when DS was a baby and I worked almost that much. But, I changed jobs because I decided I couldn't go on that way.

    DH and I are both attorneys. We have over 300K in loan debt combined. His balance will be forgiven after 10 years but there is virtually no hope for ever paying off mine. Maybe in my 60s! I left litigation for private practice when DS was 10 months old and I realized I was miserable. Now I work 9 to 5 and almost never on the weekends.

    We may live in a townhouse forever, even though I would love a real SFH. Our cars are really old and when we finally upgrade it will not be to anything remotely fancy. We don't take expensive vacations or buy designer clothes. But, I am not losing my mind and I have flexibility that I desperately needed in my job. It's still not as much time with him as I would get if I SAH, but it's something I can be ok with for now.

    My long term plan is to try to get into a fed job when my kids start elementary school. It won't be easy but I will apply like crazy and live near DC so have lots of options. That way I'd have some form of retirement and qualify for loan forgiveness eventually on a portion of my debt.
    DS: 2/17/11          DD: 9/4/13
  • Hi there!

    I'm not an attorney but often feel similar to you. I make awesome money and thus would not quit my job (frankly I also like it too much) but 99% of the time I feel that I am neither the best mother to my kids nor the best worker in my field. Frankly, something has to give - you just can't have everything. I've accepted that and made peace with the fact that my future career will look very different from what it would be had I been childless (so in my case I do know that my work suffers more than my "kid time" - but that has its own horrible guilt).

    I do want to say it gets much much easier. Once your kid is like 3 and you can do all kinds of fun stuff on the weekends without worrying about naps and he can actually tell you that he loves you and reassure that way it's much easier to feel like a good mommy :)

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  • Your baby is so young; I'd give it a couple more months and then evaluate how you feel.  All that being said, I am a lawyer too and left a lucrative bigfirm position to go in-house at a hospital when my kid was about a year old.  I took a paycut, but still make a nice 6 figure salary and I find it much easier to balance work and home.  I feel like I work "part time" now working 40ish hours per week.  So, I'd keep your ears out for something that might interest you.  There are lit positions for in-house people, but they are harder to find than transactional/regulatory positions.  Good luck to you -- you will figure it out!
  • Replace 'attorney' with 'veterinarian' and that is totally me.  I see Charlie for about 30 minutes in the morning and about an hour in the evening.... I alternate between 4 & 5 day weeks, so at least I get 3 days off every other week, but it still sucks.  I feel like I suck as a mom and suck as a vet these days.  I guess that's normal :(  
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  • When I have feelings like this, I try to remember that my mom and dad worked my whole life. We lived in Los Angeles for awhile and their commutes were like 1.5 hours each way. I'm sure I didn't see a lot of them during the week, but I don't have any recollection of ill will or sadness. It's easy to focus on the day to day feeling of failure, but try to remember the big picture. Your son loves you and, as long as you make him feel loved, he's going to be fine!

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  • image Little Jerry:

    When I have feelings like this, I try to remember that my mom and dad worked my whole life. We lived in Los Angeles for awhile and their commutes were like 1.5 hours each way. I'm sure I didn't see a lot of them during the week, but I don't have any recollection of ill will or sadness. It's easy to focus on the day to day feeling of failure, but try to remember the big picture. Your son loves you and, as long as you make him feel loved, he's going to be fine!

     

    you are right.  My parents both worked and were divorced so I had a single parent household wherever I was.  My grandmother watched me and my brother as babies and I never went to dc but I don't really remember any of that time... so that is a good way to think about it. Thanks! 

     

    Now I just have to get over my own feelings of feeling like I'm a half @$$ mom and lawyer! haha 

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  • Ok, that's a LOT of hours.  I'm an attorney too, and I do mostly M&A work.  I know what you mean with repsect to feeling like you aren't giving 100% at work nor at home.  Before DS, I was one of the highest billers at my firm (Big Law, national) and had big fat bonuses every year.  I was told before and after my mat leave that I'm on the partnership track as long as I can keep up my previous performance, so for the first few months after I went back to work, I worked a LOT at night to try and make up the hours, but then I got too tired and was very unhappy/bitter, and wasn't even enjoying the time I did have with DS.

    DH and I had a very long discussion about this and I've decided that for the time being, I'm going to put the pursuit of partnership on hold.  I'll still concentrate on things that'll further my career (e.g. marketing, developing my own client base, work on the big important files), but I'm not going to put in so many "grunt work" hours.  I think that's a good compromise.  I figure I can get back on track once DS is a little older; and although financially it sucks not to have the big bonuses, I can only do so much and I need to be happy.

  • I'm not an attorney, I'm an accountant, so I know about billable hours!!

    HOLY COW to all of you!!  AND Hats off! I can't say I was in the same boat because I joined the military to pay for part of school (that was insane too)! With that said I got into some extreme debt taking care of my elderly father afterwards.

    So 1 year before we decided to have our first child I sat down and did a budget putting an INSANE amount toward this debt. One of the things we did was chose to downsize where we lived (if that's at all a possibility) for a short time (24 months - our house was rented out anyway). So I put $3000 a month toward this debt for 18 months. We scrimped/coupon clipped/cut back/stopped going out/whatever. 

    If that's something you're able to do when the kids are young!

    If you're in the boat that you mathematically can't pay off your student loans this lifetime,, shoot -- I'd throw in the towel!

    And always remember -- Your children will always be proud to say "my mommy is an attorney" and you STILL found time to spend with them!! It's really impressive.

    I just thought I'd give my 2 cents and an idea if it helps. 

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  • I read this on my phone a couple days ago (I think) while pumping.  I wanted to respond but didn't want to log in and mess with the mobile Bump app...Anyway, I'm at attorney also and had to comment because holy crap that's a lot of hours.  I don't know how you do it.  After my first born I did not work as hard, I just didn't.  I work and DH is a SAHD, always has been, and we've missed my bonuses which I'm not getting now, and which I won't get for a while since we just had twins, but we've figured out ways to make what we do have work.  And what we have is time. With each other, with our kids, and without my work constantly dictating my schedule.  It's hard because I was always the associate that would jump and do anything, any trip, any file, any project but now, no.  And you know it's made zero difference in the type of projects/cases I get, the way clients interact with me and the way I'm thought of at work.  I've even gotten two professional awards in the last two years.   My practice has gotten better because I'm not just going insane billing billing billing but working on files thoughtfully and strategically.  This tactic may not work for you but it's an option.  You may have to change firms, which is another beast altogether, but there are places to practice law where working the hours you are working is not the only way to advance. 

    I've been where you are now and it's so so hard.  With a baby at home I just couldn't do it anymore.  It was hard.  Still is.  But we made it work.  Good luck!

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