I have struggled with something for several years and it’s getting stronger and stronger. I will assume a lot of working mothers deal with this, so I am not alone in this struggle. But sometimes I feel like I am being looked at as if I am being “dramatic”, or “ridiculous” for feeling like a failure. Maybe they are right.
A friend posted something on Facebook that left me with a profound feeling and a heavy chest. http://momlifenow.com/2016/02/02/naked-love/. Although I do not proclaim to be a spiritual person, this spoke volumes to me and made me realize the very tiny, important, impressionable moments that I am not giving my children. I have a 17 year old that I have not applied this to, I was there when she was little, I did all of the mom stuff, school events etc. She has turned out great!! My other two “littles” have never experienced that “mom”.
Yes, I give my kiddos lots of hugs and kisses and they know that I love them, without question. But I do not believe that is enough. Everyday we are molding their very little beings, personalities, motivation for the future, how they will raise their families and treat their spouses, even what kind of housekeeper they may be someday…. It all matters, and for that to be fully effective I think I need to be more present in their lives.
Some days I feel like I raise them over social media, Facebook and Snapchat. They get snippets of my time, minutes of my undivided attention, and very little quality time. It’s like summing a movie up into a III Act Play. Skip all of the important stuff and squish as much as you can into an abbreviated version of the real thing. I think a lot of you will recognize this very typical “day in the life of…”
ACT I: Morning ritual. “Good morning girls, (in my sweetest voice), it’s time to get up (gently rubbing their back and legs to simulate them awake)”…10 minutes later…”GIRLS (in a firm voice)…it is time to get up, lets go…”….. 5 minutes later…”OK GIRLS, this is enough, your not going to have time to eat breakfast! Get Up Now!”…sound familiar? Please say yes! Now we are running late, and from that point it’s mostly yelling, running around, threatening to take away their toys if they don’t find their shoes and brush their teeth. It is not a happy time and usually sucks the life out of all of us before our day even begins. Then we go and do what we all have to do, work and school.
ACT II: The kids get out of school and are bused to yet another “facility” where they are monitored by other adults that work very hard to show my kids (among hundreds of others) guidance and limited attention. Now, after dealing with a day of work and 45 mins of interstate traffic (shoot me now), I get to pick up my very tired little girls who are running at me with open arms yelling “mommy!!!, guess what happened today!”, it’s all a murmur and blur as I am still wearing my weary face and can’t understand a word they are saying. I round them up with quick side hugs and shuttle them out to the car, because we have places to go before we get home.
ACT III: Now it’s 6:30 and we are doing one of our many after-work activities that keeps us away from home even longer (groceries, gymnastics, this, that, and the other thing). The kids are in the back of the van fighting with each other because they are exhausted from a long day and just want to be home, and my frustration is further building and generally explodes in a rant or yelling fit, all because I want is the same. By 7:30 or later we roll into the driveway where the dogs greet us hungry for attention and food and the kids are hungry for the same.
We walk in the house and drop our stuff at the closest piece of floor to the door, adding to the total disarray, ok down right disgusting excuse for a house. The very first question out of everyone’s mouth is “what’s for dinner mom”. Now that seems to be a logical question, but it seems more and more the question comes out “ARE we eating dinner tonight mom?” You can only imagine the enormous blow to your emotions when you hear those words, knowing you are doing something very, very wrong. I sigh very heavily, almost aggravated at the question, and tell them “I don’t know, we will figure something out”. Cooking seems to be one of the banes of my existence, laundry being the other. But before the thought even finishes about dinner, everyone is talking over each other about their day, knowing that “she who gets dibs,gets the longest time”…It’s usually the oldest because she commands it.
It is now 8:00 or so and still no dinner. We now have to prioritize the importance of the evening tasks (a) dinner, (b) baths, (c) chores, (d) homework. Inevitably it is a sandwich for dinner while we do homework, then maybe…just maybe one kid gets a bath (the other will have to go another day…or two). Forget reading before bed…who has time for that? While they are eating I hear, “but mom you didn’t paint our nails like you promised”, “you said we would watch a movie tonight!”, “you always say you will do something then it never happens”…….. I let out another VERY heavy sigh feeling utterly defeated.
Its 9:00 bed time. Technically, 30 minutes later than we had originally decided in parenting school that we would allow, but whatever, pick your battles. After 45 minutes of “were thirsty, still hungry, my belly hurts, i’m not tired…etc”, they finally fall asleep. My husband is relieved that I finally have some time for him. We sit down exhausted from the day and as he looks lovingly over to me to have our first conversation of the day, …. I am sound asleep.
CURTAIN CALL: Heaven forbid one of the kids wake up in the middle of the night with a bad dream, or sick. Because (in a voice even I don’t recognize) “mommy doesn’t have time for this, I have to get up in a little while and go to work!”. Then I get a sad look and a little whiny voice that says “but why can’t you stay home mommy, I need you”. Somehow I have to explain to my little 6 year old, in her very tiny understanding of the world and say in a tired aggravated tone “because honey I just have to work that’s why”, when all the while what I feel I am really saying is, my work is more important than you needing me.
Some moms say, “well gee, you already got them to this age! They don’t need you as much anymore why do you need to stay home?” Well, because they do need me. They need me to keep a clean house, to keep laundry done and put away, cook healthy food, go to the grocery store and run errands, take care of myself, my health and mental health, then when I pick them up from school (not daycare) and they are happy and wanting to tell me about their day, I can give them my undivided attention. I am not aggravated, short tempered and have nothing emotionally left to give them. I already did my work when they were at school, and now my time belongs to them…and my spouse. In the end I feel accomplished from my day, and in control of my family and life. I had this once upon a short time, and it was blissful. At that time I only had one child and our family unit worked nearly flawlessly.
ENCORE: Life makes up of a series of cogs in a machine… family, home, work and fun. When the home cog breaks, the rest suffer, then before you know it, the machine does not work properly.
So what is my plan to change my situation? I have no idea. We have been a two parent working household for so long it seems an almost hopeless situation. I could quit my job, but what about insurance? My husband is self-employed so no benefits there. So, my saga continues long after this rant is over…
FOOT NOTES: Please know, this is not an “anti-working-mom” blog in the least. This is what I need for my family, it’s how I feel, what my heart is heavy over, and the direction I want to go in. Only you know what your family needs and how to fulfill that.
CREDITS: Thank you to all of the moms that let me vent, cry and whine about my problems. It’s not easy no matter your path. I love you all!
Quote of the day: It doesn’t take a village to raise kids, it takes a family.