Thank you everyone for your support and kind words after my last post. It was a hard post for me. I think all new parents struggle with this self awareness that we aren’t always going to succeed in the same ways, and that the meaning of success is different for each parent. I’m learning this more and more each day. Thank you.
A big question I’ve been getting lately is “so, where have you been?” This is both referring to my blogging (well lack of blogging) and to life in general. I feel like I owe my readers, owe all of you, an apology for the silence. I did the one thing I said I wouldn’t do – stop writing. And not just in here, but in general. I have a journal where I write to Abby – things that happened to her, my current feelings, my thoughts at the time, balancing life. I imagine giving this to her later in life, and, as an adult her sitting quietly reading the highs and lows of my transition from me to mother. It was (and is) an important project for me. But, it has been collecting dust nearly as long as this blog has laid empty.
So, what happened you may ask? Well, after a week went by without blogging, I thought, I would be fine and simply recover, but then Abby had a fever and was home most of the week, so life became a series of snot sucking and fever checking. And just like that, another week went by and Halloween came and went. Then suddenly, we were on our way to my in-law’s house for Thanksgiving week, and the fear of driving over eight hours with a baby left me unable to think of a topic, let alone physically sit in front of my computer. Even now, the only reason I’m here is because I fell asleep on the couch at 8:30 and thought, I should find something to keep me awake for at least another 30 minutes so I don’t feel like I’m a total loser. And then we returned from our trip with a child who entered a new phase – not sleeping unless being held ALL NIGHT LONG. Then sleep training began, and now it’s been over two months and all I’ve done is make excuses, when in reality the actual answer has been in front of me all along. Here it is. The painstaking shocking truth …
Being a working mom is HARD. Basically, being a working mom is equivalent to swimming in open water with no land, raft, or safety net in sight. You spend each minute trying to stay above the water, and then finally your foot finds the sandy bottom and you’re, once again, full of hope that you’ll survive, and then a tidal wave comes crashing into you and your left searching for the surface once again. Then, when you emerge once more, stronger than the last, ready to take on any wave, a seagull craps on your shoulder, just to make sure you’re paying attention. Yep, that’s parenthood.
And, I’m going to assume that any parent (fathers, mothers, guardians of all shapes and sizes, stay at home parents, working parents, etc.) is having a tough time. I just don’t live those lives and I don’t want to write someone else’s story. I’m a working mom, and it’s hard. To all the working moms, I feel your pain. And to the stay at home parents, to the fathers, to those in other categories, despite whatever disagreements we might have, can we all just come together and agree – we have no idea what we are doing! I’m too tired to argue over who has it worse. I just want to nap, ALL THE TIME! And, let us not forget, I only have ONE child. I have no idea how people with multiple kids manage. I barely have the energy to brush my teeth some days. By the way – whatever type of parent you are, you are rocking it. Just thought you should hear that.
Repeat – You Rock!
So, as a working mom, here are a few things I’ve discovered about this new identity:
1. You live and die by daycare.
Drop off is at 8 AM. Pick up is at 6 PM. Have to be in early or stay late? Well, you better prearrange care – dad’s in charge that day or find another solution because anytime outside of that threshold costs extra. And remember, even if you’ve made the perfect plan, have EVERY arrangement set weeks in advance, ran through EVERY possible obstacle and backup plan, the world throws you that wonderful curveball of your child vomiting and needing emergency pickup. Which brings me to my next point…
2. Your child will be sick, ALL THE TIME.
People warned me. Daycare is a cesspool. Your child will always be sick. Did I believe them – nope. My child is indestructible, she will be too strong and too cute for any illness. Except that I forgot one little thing – babies are disgusting! Almost every day I see a child coughing and licking a toy, then handing it out to another kid who proceeds to suck on the toy and sneeze all of over it before handing it off to another child. Oh and yes, on multiple occasions, that original child was my own. Yep, Abby’s gross. I’ve seen her stick her own fingers in another child’s mouth, then another child’s mouth, and finally her own. What goes through the mind of a baby? Seriously?! “Oh, a mouth, I must put my fingers in there.” Anyway, in the short time Abby has been in daycare, I’ve been called three times for illness – one diarrhea, one fever, one vomit. I’m just waiting for the trifecta call in which all three are highlighted at once.
3. Your days are much longer than you ever expected, but never long enough to fold the laundry on the same day it is washed.
On a good day, Abby wakes us up at 5 am (more like 4:40 but on days you have those extra 20 minutes, it’s glorious). Then one of us gets coffee ready while the other tends to poop and tears. Then, breakfast for Abby, followed by an epic cleanup because now she chooses to feed herself, which means she ends up with banana in her hair. And now that Abby is mobile and in EVERYTHING, someone has to play guard duty while the other gets ready for work. Meanwhile, you still have to prep everything for daycare (bottles, clothes, sheets, etc.) as well as take care of the animals (if you’re like us). And, before you know it, it’s 7:45 am, and it’s time to get on the road. You’re wearing mascara on only one eye, and you have no idea if you applied deodorant or not, but it doesn’t matter, it’s time to start wrestling a 10 month into a jacket and hat because you chose to live in a place where the high one day can be 4 degrees Fahrenheit. After drop-off, you deal with your terrible commute, work all day, arrive home by 6 PM (if lucky) and start on the nighttime routines of dinner, story time, goodnight kisses, and prayers that she’ll fall asleep instantly so you can complete every task you couldn’t finish last night – laundry, dishes, that book you keep meaning to read. And then, 9:15 comes around and you’re sleeping on the couch. Yep, you’re a true party animal.
4. Someone will eventually tell you that you’re being selfish for letting someone else raise your child.
Ironically, my mom friends who stay-at-home hear the reverse of this: You’re selfish for staying at home all day and not contributing to the household. People are ridiculously opinionated about both sides of the spectrum – working full time or staying home. I’ve even heard from moms who work part-time who have been put down for their selfishness to only partially contribute or partially raise their kids. Why is it always selfish to choose what makes the most sense for your family? I work full time for a variety of reasons, and yes, money is one of them. We do need the income. But, I also enjoy working. And, my career is important to me. AND being a stay-at-home mom seems like something I would hate because I don’t think I’d be any good at it. Honestly, I think I would end up screwing Abby up more than I already do.
5. And finally, you will cherish the limited amount of time you have with your child.
On a typical weekday, I’ll see and interact with Abby for about four, maybe five hours. That’s it. In the morning she’s awake starting at 5 AM, then dropped at daycare by 8 AM. I get home a little after 6 PM and she’s in bed by 8 PM. And in those morning windows, we’re tag teaming getting ourselves ready, with getting her prepared. So, in that small window of time, I enjoy every minute. I tend to stop looking on my phone, watching television, or writing a blog post. I’m soaking in that little time I have with her – teaching her what I can, watching what she’s learned, getting amazed at what she’s discovered, and sneaking in as many snuggles as I can.
This working mom thing is probably never going to be easy. Schedules are constantly changing to adapt to the new skills Abby is developing. Soon she’ll be walking, and getting into even more items and troubles. Bottles will end in less than two months, but then we’ll need to meal plan her days even more carefully. It really is an incredible and terrifying adventure. And I truly love it, all of it (well, maybe not the vomit, and the boogers, but I guess that’s a small price to pay to see that smile).