GUEST POST BY ANONYMOUS
Hi. I work. I am a mom. Not necessarily in that order. Mary asked me nearly a year ago to write an article for this blog. The response I told myself was, “when the hell am I going to find time to do that and what in the world would I even write about?” Well, this is the article. These are the continuous thoughts I have as I think they pertain to the LemonWater community. Hang in there with me. I’ve got a busy mind!
The truth is I question every day – am I good enough? Why would anyone care what I have to say as I can’t even get my daughter to school on time, let alone have sequential thoughts that would blend into an idea that might allow someone to relate or better yet let them know they are not alone? As I’ve grown to understand myself and the world, I think we all struggle with this thought. Some of you (yes, you, definitely not me) are able to pull off an image that you’ve got it altogether. If you do for real; fantastic. I think there is a comments section at the bottom of the blog for you to leave your tips, but for the rest of us, worthiness is a daily struggle. Let me paint you a picture.
Yesterday, I was driving to work for a 7:30 am meeting. I do most of my thinking in the car as it seems to be the only place I’m alone. So en route, I realized I only shaved one leg (I was wearing a skirt) and I had a milk stain (I’m breastfeeding my 8 month old) on my shirt. I’m on my way to give a presentation to a large group of people and I can’t even leave the house “clean.” I look in the rearview mirror and see a friend of mine driving to school – she’s a teacher. She seems to be bobbing her head up and down to a song on the radio, her hair looks combed and I can see no visible signs of trauma, which is miles beyond where I am on this particular day. I first think to myself, “b*tch.” Then, “how can she pull this off and I am a freaking wreck?” She has four kids at home and I have two. I also realize I’m going to be late for said meeting because moments before I snuck out the door of my house, my four year old caught me and sheepishly asked, “mom, before you leave, can you make me some cereal,” in that cute, I’m perfect, kind of voice.
As a parent, my job is to do the basics – raise a human being to be a contributing member of society, right? Right. Sort of. There are a least one bajillion (that’s a number, isn’t it?) other things that go along with that monumental task. Teach them to brush their teeth, be compassionate, do chores, learn math, etc, etc, etc. The list is endless.
At work, my job there is also pretty basic; connect people who need help to services. I’m a social worker. I probably should have started this article off with that bit of info. I love my job. My mom used to say I’m a gentle soul. Being in the field for ten plus years, my position has changed over time and now allows me flexibility to see clients, serve on community work groups and leave early for kid activities. I am grateful to my employer everyday for the opportunity to work and be a mom. But, I have to admit the balance is something I haven’t quite mastered.
I used to read the paper, stay current on world events, regularly update myself on evidence based practices in my field and even find time to read fiction. Now, I find that by the time I have made dinner, gotten my kiddos bathed, in jammies, read to and nursed, laundry put away and the house in a somewhat decent state, that I can barely brush my own teeth before my head heavily hits it’s own pillow.
Another one of my dear friends had a baby a few months before my youngest. She was at her pre-birth weight weeks after delivery. I am 8 months out, still sporting around an extra 10 pounds. I have to admit to thinking the same thing about her that I thought about my teacher friend. Because when do I exercise? It’s hard just to find time to go to the store.
I have help too. My husband will do anything to help out. He is on board with me working and he works incredibly hard to support our family. I am BLESSED to have a babysitter who comes to our house. She does laundry (a chore I loathe) as well as plays with my children and teaches them the things I am not there to teach them. I guess I’m starting to get to the crux of this article. Is it ok for me to work and be a mom?
I have friends who do both – some stay at home and some work. I feel like work is a valuable part of who I am. I feel like being a mom is rewarding and I, personally, am better at momm-ing when I work. However, there are some things I suck at. Like Pinterest. I do not create adorable Valentine’s Day gifts, or plan birthday parties with coordinating invitations, goodie bags and themed games. I’m not sure I would do these things if I didn’t work, but I don’t know. For some reason, when I see one of those Valentine’s in my daughter’s bag, I feel unworthy. Am I good enough to be her mom? Is parenting, doing these things?
The same struggle occurs at work. I am in a meeting with a fresh faced 25 year old with budding ideas and I want to punch her in the face because she actually got 8 hours of sleep last night. Of course her ideas are going to be good and cutting edge. I am the one yawning when my boss asks if I got the report completed that was due yesterday. It’s nearly impossible for me to carry on a conversation with a colleague or community stakeholder that doesn’t involve me talking about my home life. The lines between my two worlds seem to constantly blur.
I am not writing this to get a pat on the back at work or at home. I know I’m good enough. I do. Deep down. My kids love me. That’s what’s important. My son slathers me with a wet kiss every time I walk in the door and my daughter tells me she wants to help people like I do when she grows up. I want her to know she can do what she wants with her life. She can work or be a mom or do both. In all of this, I hope to teach my children that there is balance in everything we do. We have to be patient with ourselves and each other. Thank you to the moms out there who stay home and for not judging my poorly crafted birthday parties. Thank you to my coworkers who now ignore the constant snot/drool stain on my every outfit I wear. I can do this. I can.
Thank you to this writer, who shall remain nameless. I did ask her long ago to write this post, and then when she wrote it, I waited to post it until she’d let me use her name. She still hasn’t given me permission to do that, but I’m not waiting another year to share this with you. I think we can all relate to the struggle between working and mom-ing. It is such a difficult decision and I find it refreshing to know that I am not alone in the struggle.