I’d like you to meet Margaret, one awesome, hard-working momma and talented lady. This post is a part of a blog series of stories of working moms. I’m excited to share 13 stories from real working mothers. I also really would like to hear YOUR story and I’d love to hear it. Keep the conversation going in the comments & on social media using #wellcraftedworkingmoms. Margaret supplied many of the photos in this article including the stunning photographs by Lacey Monroe. Additional images are by Macey Snelson of Moments by Macey.
I met Margaret a few years ago at a bloggers meet-up. We grew a relationship as she volunteered on a few projects with Portland Bloggers— first as a photographer in our Strike a Pose meet-up and then as a photography teacher at our Photography Workshop. I too volunteered to help in a creative meet-up group that she ran. We’ve enjoyed a few playdates with the kiddos and have stay in touch over the years. Margaret is one of those people in your life that you know that someday you’re going to look back and say, “I’m so glad we met. They have changed the world and I got to be a small part of it.”
Margaret isn’t just inspiring or giving or talented. Margaret is also a great friend, a kind person and a empathetic human being. (Hey, even Beyoncé thinks she is awesome.) No, but seriously. I’m so proud to say that I know Margaret and learn from their example. They are doing amazing things in this city and beyond.
Margaret was unable to attend the photoshoot with the other working moms and, even though sick and cuddled up on her couch, they let me sit with them for nearly an hour talking about working and motherhood. It was a wonderful interview that I am excited to share with you now.
Meet Margaret, a working mom
Margaret is a mother two, Riley (age 7) and Beck (age 6). The two are 14 months apart. Margaret was in school before becoming a mother and really didn’t work until the kids were around two or three years old. Margaret fell into the photography business and it eventually became a full-time job. Currently Margaret is working as a freelance writer and photographer full-time.
Margaret and the father of her kids divorced around two years ago. The two co-parent their children.
“Nothing’s really changed that much in regards to our parenting. Aside from that we live in different houses.”
Margaret has shared about their journey with divorce and co-parenting in their online writing. (“Why everyone says we’re doing divorce right” and “Learning to Trust Another Woman with My Kids Is Harder than I Ever Imagined” are two examples.) Margaret and their ex-husband are currently partnered.
“Everyone always talks about kids having to live through their parents divorce in such a negative way,” Margaret explained, “they say, ‘Oh! Now they’ll never be okay because they have a one-parent home,’ but it can actually be really good for the kids. AND for kids to grow up seeing that families and relationship don’t just work one way.”
A typical work day in the life of a freelance writer, photographer and mother of two
(At the time of this interview they lived approximately 30 to 40 minutes away from their previous home and the kids, but they are moving closer at this time so this schedule will shift some.)
On a typical week when Margaret has their two children with them the family gets up at 7 am to leave the house for a long commute to their school at 7:30 AM. Margaret usually ends up dropping by the kid’s dad’s house to pick up forgotten items or to pick up their father so that they may all ride to school together.
Margaret then usually go home and dives into writing assignments for an hour, editing for an hour, and then another hour typically goes towards reading and answering emails.
“I kind of just switch between those three things,” Margaret said of their work day.
The kids get out of school by 2:40 PM and they likes to get most of their work done by then.
“I”m not really big into making food. I like to cook…I’m just so tired by the end of the day,” Margaret said of the dinner preparations. Margaret’s partner will often make dinner for the family.
When my kids are adults and look back at their childhood, I want them to know…
“I really want them to do ALL THE THINGS,” said Margaret about their hopes for their children.
Margaret shares that their daughter has had her life planned out since she was four including everything from how she planned on paying for college and medical school (modeling) to how she planned on having twins and hiring a nanny so she could do her job as a doctor.
“To my children, they don’t see it as if you have to make a choice [between working and parenthood],” Margaret explained. “It’s so different from how I grew up.”
“At the end of the day, I hope that they understand that while having and raising children is really important, that taking care of themselves is also really important.”
Margaret hopes that their kids learn to take time for themselves that that they know that, “It’s not selfish. If anything, it is a selfless thing. If you only want the best for your children you should be at your best when you are with your kids.”
Maternity Leave, Childcare & Mom Guilt… oh MY!
I absolutely had to ask a few questions about some of the topics that often come up for the working mom such as maternity leave, childcare, and the challenges & joys of working. I love the answers so much that I felt it was best to just put it in their own words. Read on to learn about the ups, downs, ins and outs of Erin’s working mom experience!
When did you go back to work after having your children?
“I think Riley was two when I got my first photography gig. Then it just kind of grew into a business where it was mostly word of mouth and people were passing my name around. I was like, hmmm, this is something I guess I could do. When we moved [to Portland] I started doing it completely full-time.”
Margaret shared that they have looked for a more traditional full-time job in the past but it was too difficult to work out the schedule.
“I never worked a full-time job. I don’t know what’s that like,” they said.
Margaret is currently working full time hours, however, they splits their time in between running their photography business and freelance writing. The freelance life gives them flexibility to pick the kids up and have days off.
“I don’t get paid time off, but I still get time off,” they added.
What type of childcare solutions do you use in order to work?
“School is really helpful for childcare,” they said through a laugh, “It’s free!”
Currently the children are in school for a large portion of the day and that allows Margaret to work and not have to search for additional child care.
“It was kind of hard when the kids were in pre-school because pre-school is only a few hours a day and it is, like, not enough time to do anything,” she said.
On days when the kids are not in school Margaret and the children’s father coordinate schedules so that one of them are able to care for the kids.
In addition they have a babysitter and their paternal grandfather to help throughout the summers and in the evenings.
“Child care is expensive!” Margaret said of traditional child care services, “I didn’t understand how expensive it was until I looked into it for two kids. I was like…NO, no!”
What challenges do you have as a working mother?
“One of the challenges is the fact that I show up pretty late to a lot of things and people just don’t understand. There was a time when my son would wake up throwing up every day before school and that would just throw off the whole schedule for the day,” Margaret said of the challenges with working in motherhood.
Margaret continued, “What I’ve learned is to be more realistic with my time and scheduling and being really straightforward.”
What joys do you have as a working mother?
“I think that with working I have a purpose more than just raising kids. I think with working I feel like my own person. I know I’m still my own person with my children, but I’m also their caretaker…working is more about myself,” Margaret explained of the joy in working while being a mother.
Margaret continued, “I love too that it gives me the opportunity to miss my children, because I’m not around them all the time, it gives them the opportunity to miss me. But, also, it gives my children the freedom to be their own people and that they don’t have to find their identity in their mom or their dad.”
“I think that working also helps me respect myself more,” said Margaret, “I was able to be a stay at home mom and I had post-partum depression. It was hard to get out of the house with my kids so close in age. There was always someone pooping or screaming, like getting to Target felt like we conquered so much,” they said.
Margaret looked back on those first few years, “I remember being really unhappy and then beating myself up for being unhappy about the fact that I had to stay at home. I remember my clothes always being covered in spit up, and milk, and food… and I would smell.”
“It never felt like I was taking care of myself,” they said of that time, “I learned that you don’t have to sacrifice yourself to be a good parent. That you can have both.”
“I don’t know if I agree with the thing of like ‘you can’t have it all,'” Margaret said, “It takes a lot of maneuvering and work, but I feel as if I have it all. I feel like I have the best of both worlds.”
How do you fulfill the other needs in your life (going back to school, working on a dream business, seeing friends, being creative, etc.) while working and being a mom?
“I get that question a lot. People asking how I do as much as I do,” said Margaret.
“I just make things a priority. I make sure that I see multiple friends throughout the week,” they explained. “I try to make my schedule flexible enough that I can have an hour when I need to see people.”
Margaret stresses that they find it important for people to be around peers. They try to fit in time with people with which they have things in common. Not necessarily other parents, but people whom they share common interests. Margaret doesn’t quite believe that people don’t have time for it.
“I think you make time for things that are important to you,” Margaret said, “Doing social things is really important to me. It is a priority for me.”
How do you prioritize your family and children as a working mom?
Margaret explains that their whole adult life has been as a mother. They don’t really know another way. They puts her family first.
“I don’t cancel all my things for my kids,” Margaret said.
Margaret explains it is moreso that they are making choices that will benefit her children. That their children are thought of in their choices.
“I don’t think putting your kids first means that you have to sacrifice. I don’t even think what love is, that it is a constant sacrificing,” Margaret said. “It’s knowing when to let it in and when to let it go. I wouldn’t necessarily say that it’s a sacrifice.”
Read more from Margaret:
Thank you! A huge thank you to Margaret for sharing their story as a working mom and participating in this series. Does their story resonate with you? Share in the comments below or on social media with #wellcraftedworkingmoms !
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