Before I proceed in what I imagine is going to be an emotional post (maybe just for me), I wanted to let you know that this was inspired by a bloggy friend of mine Rebecca and this amazing article she shared with me.
As much as I offer the facts on being a working mom, I rarely ever talk about my feelings on the subject. And the truth is that my feelings change almost daily if not minute by minute. Some are due to an article or a blog post that I’ll read by another mom, while others are based on what is going on in my day or my own head in that very moment.
The truth is that I’ve (mostly) made peace with being a working mom. I get a lot of pleasure by the work I accomplish during my day in the office and I (usually) love getting dressed each and every weekday morning in something other than my sweat pants even if it’s because I have to. I love my career and I love my job. I love the time I have to myself and the break (cringe) that I get from my family. All in all I think that it is the right choice for me.
And that’s what I keep telling myself when I read a post by a mom who spent the day coloring with her kids, went to Target in the middle of the work day, crafted during nap time, and had dinner on the table before her hubby came home. I tell myself that when I get a Facebook message from a friend who woke up at 9am because her toddler decided to get up early (I haven’t woken up after 7am since about 3 years ago). I tell myself that when I realize that I will never make any playgroup meetings because every last one of them is scheduled for 10am on Wednesday.
I tell myself that when I’m so stressed and overwhelmed at work that by the time I get home I can barely remember to take the keys out of the car ignition before heading inside, much less tackle a screaming toddler out of her car seat because she wants to play with the buckle, figure out and cook dinner in under 30 minutes that covers at least most of the growing toddler needs, let the dog go pee, (if I can remember) kiss the husband, entertain the toddler while simultaneously keeping her away from the boiling water on the stove top because the hubs has to go take out trash and fix a leaky something or another in the house, feed everyone dinner, clean up the kitchen post-dinner while the hubs gives our toddler a bath, and tackle said toddler into bed.
I remind myself how much I love being a working mom when Jon is out of town and I want to scream and beg for mercy by 8am because between taking a quick shower, letting the dog out, feeding the dog, waking up the tot, wrestling her into clothes, begging/pleading/threatening/arguing/making deals for her to eat something for breakfast, putting the dog in the crate for the day, wrestling everyone into their coats to head out the door and actually remembering to put on mascara and change out of my slippers, I consider it a win that I didn’t completely lose my cool or bawl my eyes out at drop off. Those days I am not sure if I would rather that we just stayed home altogether or if I can’t wait to drop her off and get into the office so I can get a cup of coffee and eat breakfast myself.
I do my best to remember how powerful and almighty it makes me feel to say that I’m a working mom when weekends are a constant internal battle between spending some actual quality time with my family and tackling the 5 million things that we can’t even begin to imagine doing on a weekday due to two full time jobs. I whisper to myself that I have it all because I get to hang out with this tiny little human being who adores me and calls me (and her two favorite daycare teachers…yes I cry at that one too) “mom” while holding a Director position at a growing company.
There is a constant guilt and pressure that I put on myself to be the best at work and at home and realizing that neither can be accomplished to the (insane) standard I’ve set for myself. I struggle rushing through the morning to be in the office early only to sit there and feel guilty for not spending those extra 10 minutes just playing with my girl instead of snapping at everyone to get their coats on already and get out the door. I stress over the last 15 minutes of the day, realizing just how much I still need to get done at the end of the day but won’t be able to because the hubs is traveling and I have to be at daycare by 5:15 to pick up P if I want any chance of making it home before dinnertime (my daycare is really really really close to home but it takes at least 20 minutes to encourage Peanut to actually leave). I take a beating from myself every time I get a phone call from daycare that Peanut has a fever and needs to be picked up – a part of me can’t believe I need to leave the office to take care of it and the other part of me can’t believe that I am even questioning not being there for my little tot.
But as in many things, there is a flip side to all this – the reason that I do choose to keep working (aside from the monetary etc needs). Like the days when I have a super successful meeting about a completion of a project that I initiated, led, and saw to its finality. Or when I get to run an errand during lunch completely child free, followed by a lunch date with my husband.
There are a ton of times when I read a post, not unlike Rebecca’s, that I am reminded that I would most likely never be able staying home with my kids. Just seeing a recap of her day brings me to a near-anxiety attack.
I long for a day at the office when it’s day 4 of being at home because of weather/cold/stomach bug and I’ve run out of things to do with the toddler. I question my own sanity when my entire day has revolve around conversations about poop, play-doh, and Nemo. I wonder if I will ever be able to look at a letter, number, or a color again without hearing a tiny little voice yell out “blooo, bloo, blooo! Mommy, blooooooo!” I cringe over and over again when she is frustrated by whatever I am doing wrong. I can’t help but roll my eyes at “noooooooooooooo mommy, noooooooooo.”
I love the fact that P has made amazing friends and has teachers that she truly loves at her daycare. As heart breaking as it is in some aspects to watch her call some of them “mama” it’s also heart warming that she loves them so much that she feels like she has another home there. And I know that I wouldn’t be able to be as patient and creative as they can be with a curriculum and all those activities they have planned on a daily basis. Peanut is tv-free the entire day, learning all sorts of things in a very happy, loving environment and that makes me happy.
And so I move forward. I put one foot in front of the other. I get dressed and head into the office every Monday. I make to-do lists that are long and outrageous for my weekends. But it’s what works for us. Although not without a side of guilt.