It’s 6:15 a.m. on Monday morning and I’m yelling at my kids to put their shoes on because we’re running late. Again. At this hour, most kids are still asleep, cozy and warm in their beds. But not mine. This is the only routine they have ever known. At times, the stress of being a full-time working mom is overwhelming. It’s a constant internal struggle, which inevitably breaks through in an outward show of emotion. I’m still learning how to manage all my responsibilities in the home and at work. And I’ve noticed that the same thoughts tend to run through my mind on any given day.
Morning drop-offs are the hardest part of my day.
In my career, I can probably count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually been late to work. But I stress out about potentially being late multiple times a week (especially Mondays!) Some days, my kids happily unbuckle themselves and run inside, smiling and waving. Other days, I leave one lying face-down on the carpet amidst a “Terrible Two” tantrum, while the other has my arm in a death-grip as I try to get out the door. Walking away as their lip quivers and tears start welling up in their eyes is the most heart-wrenching feeling. After five years as a working mom, it hasn’t gotten any easier. And to be honest, those extra hugs and kisses after saying the first of several goodbyes are just as much for me as they are for them.
The work-life balance is a myth.
I don’t believe that I can truly “balance” work life and home life. It’s more like a tug-of-war. While I consider myself a mom first, the responsibility of my career weighs heavily on my shoulders. I often need to stay later than expected, and I miss school events and activities. Sometimes I rush through their bedtime routine so I can finish up work when they’re asleep. Those are the times that I feel like, as a working mom, I’m choosing my job over my kids. But thankfully, I also have those magical moments when I #momsohard – like when I actually take First Day of School photos on the first day of school, or when I plan a (somewhat) Pinterest-worthy birthday party.
Am I frustrated with my kids, or am I frustrated being a working mom?
My “scary mom voice” commonly comes out when I’ve asked my kids repeatedly to finish their dinner or get ready for bed. I’m exhausted, and it’s past their bedtime. I’d love to let them play for five more minutes and allow their laughter to continue filling our house. But the anxiety of tomorrow kicks in, and my 5:00 a.m. alarm shows no mercy.
I begin thinking about how I haven’t prepared their lunches yet, how the dishes are piled up in the sink, and how the same clean load of laundry has been sitting in a basket in our bedroom for the last month. I’m just. So. Tired. But I feel guilty showing my frustration. It’s not their fault when I work late, and they have nothing to do with the rough day I had. I need to focus on directing my after-work emotions away from my kids, or keep it out of the house completely.
I’m not a Super Mom, but I do have Super Kids.
I’ve been asked if I’m superhuman. Other moms tell me, “I don’t know how you do it!” But I’m not doing anything special. My kids make it all happen. And sadly, I often overlook how independent they are and how well they adapt to an ever-changing daily schedule. I probably rely on their help more than I should, seeing that they’re ages two and five. With a little encouragement, they clean up their toys, put on their own pajamas, and choose their outfits for the next day. What’s more, they’re resilient. They know Mommy and Daddy work hard and don’t get to come home some nights. But they give us the biggest hugs and the most excited smiles when we’re reunited.
I’m blessed to be a mom of two amazing kids while having a job I love that helps me provide for them. It’s not always easy. In fact, it’s pretty hard most days, but we try our best to make it work. And that’s all we can really ask for in the end.