Workin’ Mama.

I took being a stay at home mom for granted. I could come and go as I pleased, I had enough time to keep the house in order, to keep the kitchen well stocked, dinner made, the toddler entertained. Not so much these days. I always feel as though my head is just barely above water, and that there are a lot of things that are being neglected. It’s either a clean house or a happy kid. It’s making a cup of coffee instead of prepping dinner so I don’t fall asleep at 6pm. It’s being content with a messy house and embracing the fact that things are a little disorganized right now and probably will be for a while.

…And then there’s the guilt. Letting someone else have my kid for the majority of the day. I feel so incredibly guilty that I don’t get to be the one to spend the day with him.I know he is happy hanging out with his buddy (He is watched by one of my close friends who has a son very close in age) and I know it’s good for him to socialize, but I just can’t get over the guilt of not being there for him all the time. I don’t feel like I am doing anything ‘well’ right now. I feel like I am half-assing it at being a mom, half-assing it at work, half-assing it at being a wife. Especially with all of Sam’s heath issues right now. (He is getting over a double ear infection, a sinus infection AND a horrible case of the croup. He’s on antibiotics and had some steroids so things are shaping up!)

It doesn’t help when people say things like “Oh wow, I don’t know how you do that. I could *never* do that. I’d miss my kid too much.” or “I don’t want someone else raising my child for me”. And to an extent, I can agree. I didn’t think I “could” do that. But hey, you learn to do what you have to do when you run out of other options. It really stings when people say things like that, I already feel guilty enough about missing milestones, new words and fun new skills. And part of me just feels sorry for myself for having to be at work around 6am every day, which means getting up before the crack of dawn, being in a rush whenever I am at home and not spending as much quality time with him as I should/want to.

But right now I am just trying to focus on the “Be thankful” part. Being thankful we can pay our rent, that we have reliable cars, that we can buy groceries and clothing, that we have good health insurance. I am trying to be thankful, even though that means my floors don’t get vacuumed and the dishes sit in the sink for a few days. I have to remind myself that there’s only 24 hrs in a day, and at least six of those need to be sleeping hours. Do you know how hard it is to try to go to bed at a reasonable hour when you’re married to a night owl and he’s been successfully pushing back your bedtime for the last 3.5 yrs?

Any other working mama’s out there that can share some advice? Or even just words of encouragement would be more than welcome!

I’ll be back to your regularly scheduled knitting posts just as soon as a certain somebody in California (cough, cough MARY cough, cough) receives their package, then I can show you the contents that I made for baby Hugh!

And yes, I used the word “ass” three times in this post. Can you believe it?

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16 thoughts on “Workin’ Mama.

  1. Wish I had some brilliant piece of advice to make it easier. Hang in there? You’re not alone? You took about 300 words right out of my mouth and rephrased them with a lot more grace than I probably could have mustered, especially when you got to the part about the judgmental other moms. Oy, those ones get to me. If it’s any consolation, some of the most well-rounded, creative, and level-headed people I know were raised by working parents. On behalf of all the other uber stressed working mothers out there, thanks for writing this.

  2. Oh, Ali, I totally get it… 😦 The worst days for me are Saturdays in the summer, when I’m walking to work and families are all heading to the Farmer’s market together. I used to take Avi every weekend, but since opening the store, we’ve gone about three or four times. Loïe turned one right before the store opened, so she doesn’t even remember a time when I stayed home. One way I assuage the guilt is by homeschooling. I figure, if I’m missing out on the middle of the day, at least we have a nice, long morning, plus all day Monday and Tuesday. And you’re right: it’s okay to let the housework slide now and then (or for a month or two…). It’s a balancing act, to be sure, but balancing involves a little wobbling to one side or the other more often than perfect equilibrium. Plus, you have SEL insurance! And that stuff is awesome. 😉

  3. I couldn’t have said it better, especially the part in which you say that you feel that you are doing everything half ass. Being a working mama is hard stuff, you have to find a balance & figure out what is most important.
    I find that preparing in advance helps so much (picking out LO clothes for the week, snacks, meal planning, cleaning) You can do it!

  4. Praying lady. I half ass everything, with no paycheck, and no insurance to boot. And since I have nothing helpful to say, I listened to NPR today, people have it rough. But luckily we know it isn’t forever…God knows what He’s doing 🙂

  5. Sorry Al-bug. I don’t have anything helpful to say, just that the days I work I’m a deadbeat of a person, let alone mama or any other title I hold.
    Praying for you as you learn this road however long it be.

  6. Ali, I wish you lived closer so I could give you a big hug. You are such a strong woman. Don’t be discouraged you are one person attempting to do the equivalent work of three people. You are letting the right things go, let the house go to pot, eat whatever you can scrounge together, love that sweet little boy of yours all you can, and say ass as much as you like, you have earned it. 😉

  7. I think you are doing everything just fine. I think as moms we already have that nagging sense of guilt that we are half-assing things, and being a working mom only adds to that. Just remember that God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. We’re all just muddling our way through life. One of the “upsides” to being a working mom, if you can call it one, is that when you’re pushed to your limit, it is much easier to be humble, and to see things through the eyes of others. I know as a working mom, I am much more attuned to the guilt, exhaustion and jealousy that comes with the territory. Many a well-meaning facebook post about someone’s wonderful life at home with her kids has struck a nerve and messed me up for days. But I’m learning that life is hard for everyone, and to be gentle and humble and not assume that everyone is in their ideal place in life. Not everyone is able to make the choices that they want to. So many of us, me and you included, are making the hard choices because they have to. And that is a really raw place to be 24/7. Anyway, all that to say, be gentle with yourself. Definitely worry about the house, dinner, laundry, etc. but do figure out what makes you feel a little more put together- for me, I LIKE the house to be tidy. I’d rather take a few minutes to do that, than shower (dry shampoo is my BFF). Also, going to bed at 8 or 9 does help you feel better mentally, even though it feels so boring. And don’t be afraid to say “no” to stuff. If you have to narrow your social circle to just your husband and son right now, do it. Some people thrive with tons of activities on top of work, and I’m not one of them. If you aren’t either, don’t feel guilty about that. Oh jeez, sorry for the long comment. I just want to encourage you to keep going! I just hit the one-year mark of being back at work since DG was born and I know how hard it is.

  8. Oh Ali, I am so sorry. I too, never wanted to be a working mama, but God decided otherwise for me and for you too, in this season. May God give you peace and help you to bite your tongue when others judge. God knows you heart and we all know how much you love Sam.

  9. I’m not a mom, however, I completely relate to your guilt. Being a woman is really difficult. We are burdened with seeing all the not perfect things in our lives. As I’m web surfing now, I’m looking at a sink full of dirty dishes and dust bunnies. I’ve tried really hard to keep a stunningly clean house and cook perfect meals and be excellent at my job. The problem with trying to be perfect at everything, is that you burn yourself out. I’ve burnt myself out more times than I care to remember and I have to say that I wasn’t good to anyone. Ali, be kind to yourself. Sam is a happy, thriving and adorable little man. He’s your top priority and you are doing an amazing job. So the house isn’t shiny clean. When my nieces come over and they see my dust bunnies and they say something, I tell them straight up, keeping a super clean house isn’t my top priority. If they have an issue with it, then they could do something about it. Surprisingly, they grab the broom and start cleaning. I’d equate Sam going to daycare as him going to school. You wouldn’t feel guilty about him going to school and learning without you, so don’t feel guilty about him going to daycare. People and their “comments” can go suck an egg. Those types of people get a “bless your heart” response, whether out loud or in my head. Ali, don’t feel bad. Be proud of all your accomplishments because there are so many.

  10. Hang in there Ali. Trials stink but are ever so necessary. If there is one thing that I have learned in my short life it is that one truth. The interesting thing about being sanctified is that it is NEVER the way you would have chosen. His purposes are at times unknown but we trust Him knowing that his plan is perfect. Fight on!

  11. Ali, I love you. You have an amazing gift to bare your heart on your sleeve, and I admire it so much. I also admire how many plates you’re spinning right now, and (despite not having kids yet) I sympathize with constantly feeling like you’re just keeping your head above water. Me too, sister. I constantly have to remind myself it’s just a season; it hasn’t always been like this, and it won’t always be. And I hope you won’t mind me saying, but I think the world of you for working; sure, it’s not ideal (neither was the Cross!), but there is sweetness and beauty in your doing it, and your commitment as a wife and mother shines through your willingness to do whatever it takes. Love you.

  12. Oh sweetie, I have so been in your shoes. When my kids were small and I had to be away from them to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table, it was tough. And for all the same reasons, I was so guilty too. I hated other people being there for the great stuff, and me only being there for dinner/cranky/bedtime. The upside is that as long as your little guy knows he is loved and cared for, he will not hold it against you later on. My kids are all grown now, and sometimes I’ll say how awful it was to be away working — they’ve all reassured me that they understood why, and they were never mad at me. It’s not easy for working moms, and it’s definitely harder when they’re small and changing every day. Don’t worry too much about the house. Clean what you can in 15-minute increments when you get the chance. Eventually it will become a routine and you’ll catch up.

    I do know that feeling that everything is “half-assed” in both work and home, but this too shall pass, and you’re doing what you must for your family. Give that little man a big hug and remember that every moment is precious, so make the most of it when you can, and deal with it the rest of the time. Many hugs.

  13. Thank you, everyone for your kind comments. Sorry I havent replied sooner, but we have no internet at home right now so I haven’t had a chance!

    I really appreciate all the prayers and encouragement, it means so much!

  14. I don’t have any tips or brilliant advise either, but I totally empathise with you!
    I also work 8-5 M-F, for me, it’s about trying to make sure I have time for chores on saturday morning so I can play/be present with my family the rest of the weekend. if i get a wild hare sometimes I’ll even start cleaning up on friday after work so I have even more of saturday free.!
    the rest of the week, my house is a disaster, my livingroom is a laundry hamper, etc… but I can deal with that if I get to spend my evenings enjoying my family!
    I honestly don’t think it ever gets any easier (hoping it does once he starts school!), but I just try to prioritize and let some stuff go (mainly friend time… *sad face*) if I have to!

  15. Carpe diem! Seize the day! After my husband was killed at 43, I’ve known every day of life is a gift, even when it sucks.
    I have discovered not to rely on promises for tomorrow, or the religious afterlife. It influences the things you might do and removes the free spirit/thinker in us.You are an intelligent person who appreciates love. You are strong, stronger than you probably realize.
    Live your life as best you can today. It really doesn’t get easier, especially as we age, loved ones die, illness abounds, and bills need paid, but LIFE IS AMAZING, if you let it.
    Let it, Ali! Don’t get bundled up in other’s beliefs or standards, or a “way to be.” Know your own heart, and live YOUR life.
    Much love and luck to you and your precious family,
    Aunt Candy

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