The Working Momma Struggle
It’s finally the weekend!
I feel like I say that a lot. Like I’m always anticipating Friday night, and then when it finally happens I blink and it’s Monday. How does it go so fast? I remember not even that many years ago, being a pre-baby Momma and I would get SO MUCH DONE on the weekend. I would party, get brunch, make brunch, go to an event, work out, clean the house and still have time to be hung over Sunday morning! How did I do it? Now I feel like I’m lucky if I even manage to fit in one half-assed work out and EAT breakfast, forget going out or having friends over or (god forbid!) relaxing!
It’s been a tough transition going from an up-for-anything and down-for-whatever sort of lifestyle to an i-just-got-puked-on-and-am-still-wearing-my-pjs life. Even throughout most of my pregnancy I still managed to keep up my active go-go-go style. In fact, it wasn’t until I went back to work that it really hit home to me that things were going to be different.
My maternity leave was a beautiful daydream. Two months that passed WAY too fast, that I’ll remember for ever. Gardening, farmers markets, work outs, spending time with my little man, and I still managed to work remote almost every day. It tricked me into thinking that this would be easy. I failed to realize that I was a VERY spoiled new momma.
When I say very spoiled, I really mean it. My little man started sleeping through the night at two weeks(!) and he has been on a nap schedule since about 1 month. With the exception of a very few nights (when he was either sick or teething) he NEVER woke up during the night, and almost always slept his full nap time. Add in that he wasn’t mobile yet in those first few months when I was on maternity leave, and I had it pretty good. I had time to get my post-baby body back, I had time to work remote. I could plop him in a bouncer and hang out in my garden and he’d just watch me peacefully. I wish I would have realized just how good I had it then!
Fast forward ten months and my little minion is now approaching his 1 year birthday. He’s not just mobile, he’s running circles around me. He can take both socks off and throw them behind his bed faster than I can pick them up. He takes his own diaper off and throws it on the floor if I look away for half a second while dressing him. He has learned to wipe his nose – on my dry-clean-only jacket.
All this is just in the first 10 minutes of our mornings when I’m already running late because I slept in till 5:30 instead of getting up at 5am. If I’m lucky he sits still while I grab my smoothie and throw our bags in the car. Realistically he has half undressed himself and is driving a car between my legs as I jump over over blocks and balls and basically look like the uncoordinated version of Alicia Vikander in the new Tomb Raider movie.
I won’t lie. It’s hard. Sometimes I want to hide in a corner and cry. I definitely have a little built up negative energy at times. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Even when I’m running in circles, pulling my hair out because I can’t find my keys and I just know they’re in the bottom of the recycling bin, or shoved under the fridge – I still wouldn’t trade it. I love my little boy, and just like every sentimental parent ever says, I couldn’t imagine life without him.
Yes, I know it would probably be easier to stay home, to give up my career and focus on my house and my well-being more. I could start working out regularly again. I could take care of my garden. I could actually have a hot dinner on the table for my hubby every night – and maybe even go out with my girls once and awhile again. But that alone wouldn’t satisfy me. I need more.
Everyone is different. Some of us see success through our families, some through financial gains, some through climbing the corporate ladder. None of these are right or wrong, they’re just different.
Being career driven and having a family is hard. I want the best for my boys, but also need to feel successful at my job. It’s a delicate balance of two very consuming passions. Sometimes it feels like no matter which decision I make, I’m making a sacrifice. Go on a work business trip, and the house falls apart. Stay home with a sick baby, and miss out on a meeting that I really needed to be in. No matter what I do, there are compromises that I find myself making.
It’s not easy sometimes making these choices, for so long I’ve been used to being able to do it all, not having to rely on anyone else but myself. I have always prided myself on my ability to do it all without any help. Over these last couple of months though, I’ve been forced to admit something to myself : I CAN’T DO IT ALL.
Ugh. Even just typing that hurts me. I didn’t want to admit that I can’t do everything! But when I finally did, I realized that I’d been overlooking one of my greatest assets: my husband.
Perhaps you’re rolling your eyes right now. I probably deserve it. When I finally broke down and told him I couldn’t do it all, he asked if he could help. In fact, he really wanted to help. I was skeptical at first, for some reason all this time I’d been priding myself on doing it all, that this was something that only I could do. But then I realized something – and this is groundbreaking – it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to portion baby food and mix up formula. Changing a diaper, and feeding a baby a bottle isn’t the most complex job.
All these little things that I was doing – they weren’t all that complicated! Sure MAKING the baby food might be above his level – but he is just as capable as me at scooping it into a bug-sized container and putting it in a lunch bag! And not only CAN he feed a nighttime bottle to Mr. William just as well as me, but he really wanted to as well!
It’s been a transitional process. Going from do-it-all ‘Superwoman’ (at least in my own head…) to letting go of some of the things and having my husband take them over hasn’t been easy. I’m not still fully comfortable with it. But I’m getting better. I’m learning that counting on someone else isn’t a bad thing – in fact, I think it’s healthy. Learning to depend on my husband to help with the nighttime prep doesn’t just take some stress off of me, it also gets him involved more. He actually knows what William eats now, and how much, and what his schedule is. To me these things seemed like common knowledge, I didn’t realize that Alex had never even had a chance to learn since I’d just been doing everything.
The best part – the part I’m still not fully comfortable with – is the freedom. I have an hour every night now after William goes to bed, and while Alex is prepping the food. I can finish a work project, send some emails, face mask, look up recipes – scroll through Instagram. Whatever I want. It feels soooo good. Like I’m a little kid getting away with eating a whole jar of cookies and not getting caught.
I didn’t know how much I missed ‘ME’ time until I got a little bit of it back. If there is one thing that you pick up from this long half-vent half-rant post I hope it is that your ME time is important. Whether you’re a working mom, a stay at home mom or a dog mom. Don’t give on your ME time. You need it, and the people around you will appreciate you more when you get it (voice of experience talking here!) Don’t be afraid to reach out to a friend, a spouse, a parent and ask them for a little help. Yes, maybe you CAN do it all, but that doesn’t mean you have to! You’re no less of an awesome mom if you utilize your support network and take some time for yourself every once in a while – in fact, I’m learning that I’m an even BETTER mom, and employee, when I have some time to re-charge my batteries.
That being said, I’m going to wrap this post up, pound the rest of my tea, go get a squawking baby and start my day. Here’s to all us ladies (and the partners who support us!) working, parenting, and just being awesome in general! 🙂