Working Mom Woes

Posted on | November 9, 2010 | 21 Comments

This weekend I worked my ass off.

I got up on Saturday morning, made a big pot of Peppermint Creme coffee, flipped on the Seasons Greetings music channel, and spent some quality time with my kid. We read the same book over and over and over again, because that’s what he loves. He finishes each reading with a grin, a flourish of slamming the cover closed and sweet little blurry “‘gain?” And of course I oblige. Eventually he gets tired of whatever book we’re reading and he wanders off to do something else. On Saturday, he wandered off to play in the kitchen. So I, of course, followed him. While he played in “his” drawers… the bottom two, one with plastic spoons and one with tupperware… I played with making a giant pot of homemade minestrone. While the soup was simmering, J had his lunch and I started cleaning.

And I cleaned. Oh my gosh I cleaned. I cleaned like I haven’t cleaned since J was born. Husband put J down for a nap and then, when J woke up, Husband took him out to the park for the better part of the afternoon so I could have some Momma time. And what did I do? I cleaned. My house was spotless. I scrubbed from top to bottom and back from bottom to top. I hung decorative items that needed to be hung. I finally put up the stuffed animal net in J’s bedroom. I organized drawers and did laundry.

The apartment was immaculate when Husband returned with J. And for the better part of the evening, I felt like a million bucks. My NaNoWriMo novel was right on schedule. My son was happy. My husband had given me the gift of a free afternoon. My house was gloriously clean. The next day was Sunday. Everything just felt… right.

And right now, I would kill for that feeling. Because by Sunday morning it was gone. I surveyed the house that used to be spotless and wondered what tornado had swept through while I slept. I wanted to scream when Husband suggested we go out to eat after church and then decided to hang out with his friends all afternoon on Sunday. Because I wanted time to myself. But it wasn’t his fault that I had spent my “me” time cleaning the house.  It was my fault. It was my choice. So then I was pissed at myself for the remainder of the day. Because why would I DO that?! By Sunday evening I was an emotional basket case.

I have quite simply forgotten how to do this. I don’t know how to keep the house clean, keep my husband happy, keep my child happy, keep my employer happy, AND keep myself happy. I just don’t know how to do it. How do people do it?? It seems like once you get the hang of one aspect of your life, another one collapses. If I spend all day Saturday cleaning the house, odds are I am spending all day Sunday putting out some other type of fire. If I spend all day Saturday doing fun things with J or Husband, then I’m a nervous wreck on Sunday about how messy the house is and all crazy-eyed wondering how I’m going to go to work the next day and leave this filth just lying around.

It is so freaking hard being a working mom.

Yes, I know. It’s hard being a stay at home mom, too. But this is my blog and I’m not a stay at home mom. I’m a working mom. I’m a working hard at staying sane mom. I’m a working all the time mom. I’m a not one single second left for me unless I stay up until way after 10 o’clock to find it kind of mom. I’m operating with one foot firmly entrenched in the loony bin and the other knee deep the pretense that I can handle all this effortlessly. There is nothing left for me at the end of the day. There is nothing left OF me at the end of the day. And there are days when I swear to you, I would give everything up just to be a stay at home mom. I’m not saying they have it easy by any stretch of the imagination… but they have their kids. They have all those glorious moments. There are days when I think to myself “if one more thing goes wrong at the office, I am calling it quits because who needs this!” There are days when I think “I don’t care if we’re poor, I just want to BE there.” There are days when I wish the rest of the world would just go away and leave me and my family alone for a while; days when I think there just has to be more to life than this.

Because there does, right? It can’t just be about get up, get dressed, drop the kid off, work, pick the kid up, put the kid to bed and repeat. There is more to life than waiting desperately for the weekend to arrive. There is more to life than this. There has to be. But for right now all I know for certain is that being a working mother is killing me. And it’s not just my job. And not just because I miss my child every single second of the day. It’s not just because I’m exhausted all the time or cranky with my husband. It’s all of that. It’s because it’s just so hard to balance everything when I can’t balance ANYTHING.

You’d think after a year, I’d have a better handle on all of this, right?!


21 Responses to “Working Mom Woes”

  1. Blair@HeirtoBlair
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:07 am

    Holy shit, I could have written this word-for-word.

  2. Tammy
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:13 am

    Testify, my sister.

  3. Anne
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:20 am

    You know, this is truely a "the grass is always greener" type of situation. I remember sitting at home longing to go to work – just wishing I could take the kids to school/daycare and be responsible just for myself for just a minute.

    But, now that I am back at work, I long for the days that I could take a shower mid-day because I just didn't get a chance in the morning or to wear flip-flops, or watch my kids for more than an hour before bedtime.

    The grass is always greener…

    I have decided the solution is to win the powerball. Then I could stay at home, yet still afford part time daycare or a part time nanny for my own free time and sanity. Oh, and a cleaning service too. On that note, I am going to go buy a powerball ticket right now…

  4. Katie Jones
    November 9th, 2010 @ 3:03 am

    Lady, I give kudos to you and all the other working mamas. I'm a SAHM and although it is hard, I def think what you guys go through is MUCH harder.

    Its true, keeping the house clean, doing laundry, cooking, and (gasp!) making yourself look somewhat presentable are things that we will always strive for and never reach perfection…

    I think as long as you are striving for it, you are good. : )

  5. amy
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

    Doodah, i think that things will look better soon. I remember pulling my head up when Walker was almost two and thinking, wow. Here i am. i feel sorta "normal".
    Then, of course, i got pregnant again, but about two months before Aub was two i remember feeling the same thing.

    Be patient with yourself. 'Kay?
    Oh, and you could always try some motherwort….its the best for the specific stress that mamas face.

  6. lauren_vanhappy
    November 9th, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

    I agree with basically all of this. It's hard to keep sane when everything is falling apart. But look at it this way, if everything were perfect what would we be living for? Always having something you want to do or need to do means that you are still alive. 🙂 And posting blogs that don't make me feel like every woman that's not SAHM is evil! That is something that I am thankful for! 🙂 Thank you for your honest posts!

  7. Caroline
    November 9th, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

    Thank you for posting this. I have been a SAHM for the last year and a half but am currently working hard to get back into the workplace. And I'm scared to death of it. I really am. I really look forward to putting my "professional me" back on and finding myself outside of "A's Mama", but I worry about how my boy will look at me/ act/ feel when he only sees me for a couple of hours a day. I'm glad to know I'm not (will not be?) the only person who feels this way.

  8. MrsPatterson
    November 9th, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

    I know exactly how you feel. And I agree 100%. No, it's for sure not easy to be a SAHM, and I know there's the "grass is always greener" argument. As a working mom, I do appreciate having a kid-free lunch hour to do whatever I want or need to do 5 days a week.

    But I'd also love to be able to crash on the couch a couple days a week during the afternoon nap to catch up on my DVR, or be able to go to the grocery store on a Tuesday morning when the store isn't packed to the gills with other frantic shoppers, instead of trying to squeeze it in sometime during the weekend.

    I totally hear you.

  9. Family Sized Fun
    November 9th, 2010 @ 1:54 pm

    oh girl i feel your pain
    even though i am on the other side of the fence
    i AM a SAHM (2 WILD toddlers)
    and i don't clean like that
    and when i get "me" time?
    it still takes me an hour to leave the house from the guilt
    and i DO have those glorious moments
    but a whole lot of the time there is so much screaming and crying and whining in between that, well, bleh.

    i know there is always a debate between working and staying at home
    i am an equal opportunity opinion haver
    as in, i think you are just screwed when you first have kids
    no matter how easy or demanding they are
    or your husband is
    or your work is

    being a GOOD wife/mother is hard no matter how you spend your days

    as much as i fantasize about having a job or whatever to get me away from the house and kids?

    as much as i cringe when i hear what working moms get to wear and buy since they have their own money?

    as much as i KNOW it isn't EASIER to be a SAHM (or anything or anybody else, for that matter)

    i do find consolation in knowing it isn't easy for any of us
    and recognizing that makes us better people for each other

    hang in there. i don't know if it gets better but we get better at it.

  10. Toni
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:23 pm

    Amen. I've also been a working mom for over a year, and it's not easier. I keep hoping that if I get a more flexible job that I enjoy, it will be better. But I wonder if that's the case?

  11. KSBA
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:38 pm

    I'm on even another side of the fence. I work from home, full time, with the kids. I get 5 glorious hours a week where the kids are both at preschool / sitters, in which I go so crazy with stuff, meetings, office, etc. that I'm exhausted when I get home. I have one 3 hour block with just the baby, and I try to not drag him to too many places. But, my house is never clean, we eat left overs a lot. My hubby feels like I ignore him. I remember when my daughter turned 2, there were 2 glorious months where I felt like I had a handle on things, then oops, #2 on the way. So, I'm holding out hope, that in a year, I'll get to feel that glorious feeling again! Don't be too hard on yourself, we've got the rest of the world to do this to us!

  12. Dre
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

    Sigh. I have been doing the working mom thing for almost 4 years now. I still feel worthless and not able to get everything done to the level it should be done. And my kids don't even have "activities."

    I just talked with my OB/GYN yesterday and found out that she and her partner have FOUR kids. And I know that woman basically lives at the office and the hospital (she stayed after her 24 hour regular hospital rotation to deliver my second son). She said yes, it is easier when they can wipe their own butts and put on their own clothes, but the activities are killing them… trying to get four kids to four different places. Please, I need someone to tell me that this gets easier. But for now, I am just happy that it is not just me that is struggling with this. So thank you for writing about it.

  13. KLZ
    November 9th, 2010 @ 2:54 pm

    Soo….here's the thing. We are really mean to ourselves. Let's resolve to have given something up by this time next year. Like a day a week of work or pressuring ourselves to make home cooked meals for every meal.

    Just something. As long as it's not bathing.

  14. Jennifer
    November 9th, 2010 @ 3:31 pm

    I totally wrote about finding the balance yesterday. First, I think you have to aim a little lower. We are NOT home all day so there are things that are just not going to get done. We have to learn to accept it. Yes I have days where I freak out because the laundry isn't folded, but you know what? I would rather read a story to my kid than fold the laundry. The laundry will always be there. Story time won't. Second, you have to have help, and the right kind of help. We can't afford a maid (so my house is a disaster), but my husband helps a LOT with my kids. Because I LET him. I let him do things his way so he doesn't mind helping. So what if I could put twice the amount of dishes in the dishwasher, at least he tried.

    It is rough. I completely understand. And we all have those days where we wonder if we can just keep hangin' on, but then they pass and we move on to the next thing. Right now you just need to keep hangin'.

  15. Raising Madison
    November 9th, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

    It's so hard for both sides of the fence. My heart breaks for you because I can understand and sympathize with what you must feel.

    I'm torn daily because I do love the time I get to spend with Madison. But I never get a break either. It never fails I'm still cooking and cleaning and doing the laundry on the weekends. And then there is the days where she is so miserably cranky that I would give anything for 10 minutes of silence because I just don't feel like sitting on the floor and stacking blocks for the millionth time.

    Oh and there's the fact that while I am home with her, we're so broke that I can't do anything with her. I can't run out and on a whim take her to the zoo or something like that because we can't afford it.

    And most days I'm just resentful that I'm at home in my sweats and not working, using my brain, drinking coffee without Nick Jr. on in the background and actually eating my lunch rather than shoveling it done while I try to coax her to each some sort of vegetable.

    But then I think about when I do go back to work how much I'll miss. And then I realize that none of us have it easy and there are great parts to both working moms and stay at home moms and there are parts that just plain suck.

  16. CrunchyVTMommy
    November 9th, 2010 @ 6:22 pm

    Another woman here to co sign on this. I love my job and am very happy with my children's care BUT of course I miss them but then I would miss the money too.

    SO I just do little things here and there to make my life easier. My husband hired a mother's helper which I was reluctant to do but that has helped tremendously. She entertains my toddler for a few hours while I pack snacks for the upcoming week, start Sunday dinner, etc etc. And I love it because I am still home with him. She just plays defense and keeps him from climbing into the oven or something.

    I just try to do little things to get ahead while she is here so that during the week all that I have to do after work is snuggle the kids.

    Hang in there. Awesome post.

  17. Momalegal
    November 9th, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

    Wow. You just wrote a post that echoes my life. Wish I had the answers. Some days I feel like a million bucks & get it all done; but most days – not so much. I feel like I'm never going to achieve that balance, so I do what I can and pray for a weekend with no other obligations.

    Great post, btw. 🙂

  18. Anonymous
    November 9th, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

    My husband and I are planning to start a family after the first of the year, and I already feel anxious about everything you wonderful mamas are discussing. My question is why aren't we as women fighting for ourselves and our families? I wish I knew what we can do to demand a better quality of life and work/life balance in the workplace.

  19. erobell
    November 10th, 2010 @ 1:18 am

    Oh Lady…did you hit the proverbial nail on the ACTUAL head!

    I took a few moments away from the screaming battle that my husband and I were engaging in (moments after putting the kids to bed) and was lucky enough to read your post –

    I have been a working mom for 6 years and I can't feel 100% satisfied two days in a row in any two areas of my life – ever.

    dont' know if I am even making sense b/c I'm punch drunk tired…up since 3 AM and I have a good 3 hours of work ahead of me…

    good post – hang in there and maybe take some solace in knowing that you are doing a GREAT job and you ARE NOT alone!

  20. Mama Fisch
    November 10th, 2010 @ 3:10 am

    Funny I am responding a whole day later because I am you. I am a working mama who just can't seem to get it all done. But, ironically my OCD tendencies have settled and I have started to come to peace with all of it. I HAVE to exercise every night so I do. I HAVE to have some time to work every night and I do. My husband helps, if asked, so I do. It is such a rocky road but I think it is like a marriage, the ebb and flow. Some days it all falls in place and other days (like today for me), we scream "UNCLE" and eat ice cream.

  21. Shelley
    December 10th, 2010 @ 7:22 pm

    Um, are you living my life?

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