Most people are baffled when they realize I am a part time working mom of quadruplets. I have absolutely no doubt that if we had only one baby (or even one baby at a time) that I would be a full time working mother, and it would be perfectly fine. For seven years, I practiced school psychology in an urban school system. Yes, the job was often taxing and usually thankless, but it was part of my identity. I always hoped to be a model of female independence for my children by continuing to practice.
Having quadruplets put a kink in the whole powerful, working mom gig. Even with a post graduate education, working in the public school system is not lucrative. At all. The cost of full time childcare would easily exceed my income, which forced us to consider the options. A few of my colleagues were able to work out part time positions so I approached my then boss about becoming part time as well. At the time, our district and my boss put the kibosh on part time employees because it’s a complex process. Yet, it was the only option for me. Either I transitioned to part time employment or I quit working to be a full time stay at home mom. When I announced our pregnancy news to my boss and proposed working part time, I recall his gobsmacked expression. He joked that I “pulled the quad card.” I guess I did. Perhaps if I was only expecting one baby my proposition would have been quickly and harshly denied. It took several months for my part time position to be approved by the district, but it was just before the quads were delivered. I am forever thankful for it.
Working in the school system affords me school holidays, including a two week winter break. I savor family time, but it is also a reminder why I am a Part Time Stay at Home Mom (PTSAHM). Raising quadruplets is an immense task and being home with them 24/7 can really get to a person. During my two week “break”, I found myself becoming increasingly impatient with both the quads and George. It seemed that they bickered almost constantly. I heard frustrated squeals because I was on the other side of the gate, someone took a toy, someone was pushed, someone had a coveted toy, there were no more snacks…you name it, there was plenty cause for turmoil. After two glorious weeks, we had enough togetherness; I was plenty ready to go back to work. If you’re not convinced that anyone would want to go to work and leave their children, take a look at this-
Breaks from work make the benefits of working part time glaringly obvious to me. I earnestly believe I am better as a wife/ mother AND as an employee from working part time. I get the best of both worlds. I have opportunities to raise my children and witness their growing up years, yet I also keep up with the professional world. Two days per week, I spend time having adult conversations, dressing in something besides yoga pants, and practicing the craft I spent years in school learning.
I also see how I need to miss both home and work so I yearn to return to each of them. When I’ve been at home for days on end, I’m ready to tackle the office. While I am away, the quads benefit too. They are with fresh faces that teach them new things and present new experiences. They learn to obey and respect adults besides their parents as well as new skill such as imitating monkeys or naming colors. Likewise, at the end of a long workday, I can’t wait to see the four little people who will greet me shreiking “Mommy”, sticky fingers, and open mouthed grins. While being a PTSAHM was probably not something I would have done on my own accord, I am so happy I became a PTSAHM.
Sometimes it feels as if our home is filled with bickering and screams, but there are also plenty of sweet, quiet moments to savor.
I absolutely respect mothers who work full time as well as those who stay at home full time. No matter how you approach it, motherhood is an immensely challenging task. However, if you find yourself dissatisfied with your scene (full time working or full time home), you may want to consider the possibilities of part time employment, and you may be surprised at the outcome.