As any working mom knows, some weeks are tougher than others. There are some days that go smoothly and you think, “Wow, I can do this!” But then there are days when you have an early morning meeting and need to scramble for bus coverage. Or you have to explain to your oldest child why you can’t volunteer in the classroom like Aidan’s mom. Or you have to swallow the guilt as you bring your slightly sick child to daycare, don’t say mum about the cough she had all night, and keep your fingers crossed that you don’t get a call three hours later to come pick her up.
I’m having one of those weeks. Don’t get me wrong: I love having a career, but there are times when the challenges and the logistics and the guilt (there’s that ugly word) that come with balancing work and family can be very overwhelming. Not to be dramatic, but sometimes I imagine this is what it must feel like to be drowning: you fight and try your best to stay afloat, yet you keep sinking.
I know this is a hot button issue and trust me, I don’t want to get into a working mom vs. stay-at-home mom debate because, honestly, we all work incredibly hard, we all love our children and we’re all good moms doing what’s best for our families. But since I’m struggling this week, and I have a feeling I’m not alone, I wanted to share the 10 reasons why I find it hard to be a working mom:
Every day is like an episode of “The Amazing Race.” That’s how I view weekdays: like a race against the clock. No matter how much I prep and organize the night before, it’s always hurry, hurry, hurry, from morning to night, and there’s never seems to be any breathing room. We’re always rushing, and it’s a very disconcerting and stressful feeling.
Forgetfulness. Yes, I make lists. I have an iPhone with reminders. But when you’re managing four different schedules and have a lengthy to-do list in the office, something always seem to slip through the cracks: a forgotten play date, a missed work deadline, the library book that’s past due.
The house is a pit. With two kids and a dog who sheds, my house is pretty disgusting most days, but it’s a challenge to find the time, or energy, to bust out the vacuum cleaner at 9pm and start cleaning. Yes, I know we could hire a cleaning service, but they are expensive, and we’re finding it hard to rationalize the cost. So right now I just ignore the mess during the week then spend precious time on the weekends cleaning.
Your child calls you by his teacher’s name. This happened a lot when Buddy was in daycare. He’d come home and say, “Miss Marcy, I mean, Mommy …” Innocent slip, but it still hurts.
It’s hard to feel like part of the school community. Sure, I can take days off to chaperone a field trip or volunteer in the classroom, but it’s not something I can do regularly. I can’t help but feel that I’ll never really get to know my son’s teacher, or many of the other parents, by occasionally popping up here and there.
Your child does something new and exciting – and you realize it wasn’t anything you taught her. I’m not talking languages or counting – I mean life skills. Just recently, Mimi took her napkin and very confidently toddled over to the trash can to throw it way. Sure, it’s a simple act, but it was impressive for a 16-month-old – and it was clear she was taught to do this at daycare, because we certainly hadn’t showed her how to do that.
Honest kids = guilt. Lately, Buddy has been asking me about why I can’t see him off on the bus more often in the mornings, or why he can’t take the bus home from school, rather than going straight to his after-school program. And he was visibly upset that I wasn’t able to chaperone his recent field trip. Ouch.
It’s a cliché, but you never feel like you are giving 100%, whether it’s to your employer, to your kids, to your husband and – most importantly – to yourself. When I’m at work, I’m thinking about my kids, and when I’m home, my mind will inevitably drift to a project I’m working on.
Forget about family dinners – or eating before 6:30pm. Most weeknights we eat in shifts: kids first, then parents, but rarely together. Believe me, it’s not by choice; it’s simply the reality of our schedule. I guess that means my kids are destined for teenage pregnancy, drug use, flunking out of school and a lifetime of crime, if you believe the research on the importance of “family dinner time.”
Feeling like you never see your kids during the week. This is the one that hurts the most. We’re home together for an hour in the morning, but I don’t count that as “being with them,” since all we do is run around, trying to get ready for the day. Fast-forward to the end of the day: we’re home around 6pm and the kids are in bed by 8pm, but in that time we’re cooking dinner, eating, doing baths, reading books, etc. So that probably equals, maybe, an hour of “quality time” a day, divided by two kids. Yeah, I have a tough time with this one.
My guess is that most parents have probably experienced some of these emotions or situations at one time or another – regardless of whether you’re a mom or a dad or if you work inside or outside the home.
So, all you moms (and dads) out there, time to weigh in. Do you find some weeks are harder than others? How do you juggle it all?