A year ago I felt like I was drowning. I was a full-time working mom with two kids two and under. I had a husband who was always on the road for work. So, essentially, I was a single mom, too.
Most days I was on survival mode. I would wake up to shower, wake my two boys up and then run them to daycare and then head to work for 8-9 hours. Around 5 p.m., I would leave work, rush to daycare to pick them up and then try to keep them occupied while I cooked dinner.
There were only 3 hours most nights for quality time with my kids before bed, which included eating dinner, baths and all the other to-do items before settling in for a story and some last-minute snuggles. Then I was off to do dishes, laundry and pick up toys.
To be good at one thing, I felt like I had to sacrifice at another. The demands I felt were much different than the ones my husband felt.
I wrote a blog post about what is what like on a rough day. With some readers, especially single moms, it really resonated with them. With old-fashioned readers, I was criticized for working in the first place. Some people chastised my husband for being lazy, not realizing he wasn’t home (something I left out at the time so I wasn’t publicly telling people I was home alone with two small children).
Even though some comments on the post were uplifting, others were downright hurtful. At one point, I had to just stop reading them. Today, I found out that the post was the most-viewed story for GateHouse Media, the parent company of Rockford Parent and the Rockford Register Star, in 2014. Almost a year later, here is where I’m at today.
As a perfectionist, I still feel mediocre. There are never enough hours in the day to be what I want to all the people in my life. That’s just life. I’m sure I’ll feel the same even when I’m an empty nester.
I can still never get out the door. That will probably only get worse as time goes on and my toddlers turn into teenagers. Today, I’m rushing as my kids try to dress themselves and don’t want to leave the house because “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” is on. In the future, I’ll be calling their names as they hit the snooze button for the umpteenth time. And I’m sure there will be wardrobe battles then, too.
I still spend the day at my desk missing my kids. I still only get a few hours at home for quality time with them, but I know I’m not alone. All working moms, even ones with kids in school full time, wonder what their kids are doing while they are at work. It has gotten easier now that my oldest is in school part time for early childhood education. He needs to be at school so there is less guilt, but I still miss by baby at daycare, too.
When I get home from work, I still have to prepare dinner. Even with my husband home, that responsibility falls on my shoulders if I want my children to eat a non-burnt meal. He once cooked macaroni and cheese and forgot to add water, no joke. But I do splurge and order pizza at least once a week and sometimes have my husband pick up food to break up the week and give me a little more time to get down on the floor and build a tower out of blocks with my babies.
My kids still find whatever I’m eating, even though it is the exact same dish, more appealing.
I don’t count down the minutes to bedtime as much as I did before. But there are nights all parents do this. I found myself doing this more when my husband was away because I was a single parent those nights and all the household responsibilities fell on my shoulders. Single parents really deserve a lot more credit than they get.
With my husband home again, I do have more “me time.” Although I still do fold laundry and all the other chores, I have help. My husband picks the kids up and he helps around the house so I have more time with the kids and with my husband, and once the kids go to bed, I can catch up my DVR recordings and Netflix.
When the weekend rolls around, I still clean and grocery shop and fit in all the other things adults who work full time try to squeeze into the weekend. That’s life, with or without kids.
I still wonder on Sunday nights how the weekend went by so fast and find myself wishing it was Friday. There is a reason for the saying, “Working for the weekend.”
I still struggle with work-life balance all the time, too. There are lots of days I want to call in and just stay home and cuddle with my kids. I hope, however, by working that I’m setting an example to my boys to finish school, go to college and work hard. I’m proud to say that I’m working in the field I got my degree in. Even though that job means I work 40-plus hours a week and can’t spend all my time with my boys, it also helps pay for our mortgage, provides healthy meals for my family and warm clothes that fit my ever-growing kiddos, as well as money to expose them to social and cultural activities.
So to all the working moms who feel like they are drowning, just remember you’re not alone, it does get easier, and like I said before, you are doing the best you can.