Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Working mom: is it working?
Things are really busy at work, lots of deadlines, long days, late nights. These stretches come and go, but I never seem to get past them without going through the ritual of doubting everything about how I'm living my life, raising my children. The time they spend in daycare is so much more than I prefer, our trips to the park on a sunny fall afternoon are way too infrequent, the meals I put together last minute during the week always seem to fall short. I wonder if I'm really making it work, or if I'm just cruising through most days hoping the wheels don't fall off. You don't get a second chance at this parenting thing. If you are short changing your kids during their crucial developmental and formative years, you don't get a do-over. How do you know what is right for them? For you?
Working parents have it really tough. I know I only have this one perspective, but sometimes I think it is the worst scenario of any of the parenting options (part-time work, stay at home work, stay at home full time parent). At the end of a work day, I might have 2, maybe 3 hours of time with my kids before bed. I miss them like crazy during the day and look forward to seeing them and making the most of that time. Yet that time together doesn't play out like I'd like it to most nights. In the short period of time between when I pick them up and bedtime, we have to get home, make dinner, take baths, and read books. The usual routine most parents go through. But C and Iz are usually very needy after being away from me all day, wanting to just be held (especially Izzy) and to play. This makes the never simple act of fixing dinner at the last minute almost impossible. And before I know it, I am shutting the bedroom door to get 2 minutes of time to myself to calm down and get some perspective. After just one hour with the kids I don't get to see all day! Worst Mom ever. That's how I feel.
The reality is that I am worn out from a busy and stress-filled day and my kids don't get my best self. They get a mom that is tired, irritable and short on patience. It isn't fair to them. I don't know how to do it any better and I feel so completely frustrated that one or the other - either work or my kids - always gets the short straw. I try my best to make sure my kids come first - but during these busy stretches, I really don't have much control over it. I get through the deadlines and refocus on the kids - take more pictures and more trips to the park, make earlier pick up times from school, and have an occasional stay at home day. Of course, then I am not giving my best self to my work - you get the picture. The push/pull is such that I feel like I am always doing a sub par job in some aspect of my life. I don't see it getting any easier as the kids get older and have their own events and schedules to squeeze into the day (plus homework! Oh my, I'm dreading that already).
I know that the scale will tip back the other way in a few weeks and I won't dwell on these things. I'll have less on my mind at the end of the day, we'll have time to play and relax, and our evenings will transpire more like I imagine them. But even if it's not in the forefront of my mind every day, the question is still there. Is this working mom thing working, and how do I know??
Note: the image above has nothing to do with this post. It's what Izzy and I wore on our feet today, and I just thought it might help lighten up an otherwise downer of a post.