Standing around with two of my best girlfriends at my daughter’s 4th birthday party, I found some validation, enlightenment, and perspective (as much as one might muster amid a horde of tiny, rushing, screaming humans).
When you have two working parents, and two children, there are many different things you have to try to balance. It’s not easy. It’s exhausting. It frequently requires a tag-team effort.
Yes, there are the meals that go uncooked, the house that goes uncleaned, and mass chaos but on top of that there are other considerations:
- Determining which of us is less likely to face career retribution from staying home or leaving early to take care of kids;
- Figuring out which one of us is actually more tired and frustrated (competitive self-pity);
- Delegation of triage procedures for toy-related injuries;
- Which series on the DVR to delete because we’ve never managed to catch up;
- Which children’s program is the least annoying;
- Setting a date and time to actually have a conversation not involving scheduling, kids, or finances…
and the actually managing to do it;
- Locating and/or remembering what presents were hidden where and who they were for in the first place;
- Figuring out who gets to eat the treats we deny our children for health reasons (aka taking one for the team)!
Can you relate to any of this? Parenthood: a wonderful journey requiring frequent comedy breaks and a massive sense of humor!
My niece has inspired a new list for me this evening. I will call it “Things I Don’t Get”…
1. Why anyone would need an additional belly button tattoo right next to the original: was the first one lonely?Didn’t it hurt enough the first time?
2. Skinny jeans: they certainly don’t make anyone skinny!
3. 18 self-checkout machines manned by 3 employees staring at the 26 people in the regular check-out lane for who shopping in the first place was a big enough ordeal without bagging it all too…
3.5 Ditto for airport self service kiosks;
4. Entertainment venues offering children’s parties where parents are not free;
5. The existence of caffeine-free diet soda in general (and how I have managed twice now in two weeks to buy it);
6. Why they can’t make in rewards card that accommodates a plethora of vendors;
Clearly I am getting old, rigid and easily confused, but honestly it wears me out just thinking about this stuff.
The first item on my list is really just to razz my sister about her crazy kids…though yeah, STILL don’t get it.
Those articles that shout “you too can have it all” must be outright lies…or just belong to someone else’s reality.
It has been well over a month since I have written anything more elaborate than a Facebook status: partially because I haven’t had time and partially because I get ashamed when I see myself falling behind and would rather fall off the map than admit I see an inability to get everything done as a weakness instead of just a practical reality.
In the past few weeks, I have had a loved one unexpectedly hospitalized (way scary), giant projects at work, the birth of a new niece and travel shoved in with general survival. Add in several anxiety attacks, occasional bouts of exercise, toddler tantrum remediation and obligatory social occasions and you have…
It’s the way it goes. You roll with it or fight it; the former has benefits of conservation of energy, the latter allows room for the illusion that we have much control.
I went away for a hiring event (one I worked my arse off to plan and execute) for one of my company’s locations. It was many long hours on my feet, and my blister’s blisters had babies over a 4 day period.
My sainted hubby had the kids alone while I was gone. Both kids and the dog got sick at the same time. After 4 days of business travel I flew home, got off the plane, arrived at my house (after an hour stuck in rush hour traffic) and took over for the weekend.
Today I went back to work wondering
If I really did anything this weekend beyond herding crying children, wiping gooey, snotty faces and hiding in the bathroom (which doesn’t work by the way).
And yet? I have a job to go to and a reason to work hard. I have the children and family I always wanted. We’re not rich, but we have a roof and clothes and help should we need it. I have reasons to laugh daily. Everyone made it through their various illnesses, and I am still here to write about it all.
And while I wish I were writing more, perhaps I should just be grateful I can write at all, and be pleased when I can eek out more than a fragment in a bathroom stall (ew!) or during bouts of insomnia.
Or maybe at least I can be willing to accept that I am human, I can only do so much, and be thankful for those things that I do manage to get done…and accept that for me, if I am spending time cuddling my babies (and yes, they are not technically babies, dangit, but they are my babies) and providing for their welfare as best I can, I’m doing okay…and maybe work on trying to better fit some of the other bits in there too and not be so hard on myself.
I woke this morning before 5am, as is becoming normal for me. I went into the bathroom, starting to get ready to take a shower and I realized my iPhone was at 1% of battery life. Instantly panicked (as anyone as phone-dependent as I am quickly becomes at this status) I brought my phone over to the outlet in the bedroom and plugged it in. I started checking my email, etc. and the next thing I knew, ended up working on a blog post for www.mischiefofminions.com (my other blog, more kiddie-focused: feel free to check it out!).
My husband discovered me still there when he woke up 40 minutes later.
“Um – whatcha doing?” he asked.
I may have mentioned before that I am fat. It’s not much of a secret. I don’t like to use that term, hate it in fact, but it is a medical reality. And I am struggling once again in attempt to fight it.
My inspiration is simple: I don’t want to be this big. I hate it. I sometimes hate me because of it. And that is not a good example to be setting for my kids.
When I went to a doctor recently because I seem to struggle with losing weight – even when I eat the right things, I was put through a battery of tests that basically said there isn’t a darn thing wrong with me. The dietician looked at food logs I presented, then back at me, perplexed.
I may have mentioned previously that I am not a skinny gal. It’s a battle I continue to fight: at times my efforts are pretty hardcore.
Like now, for instance.
A working mom’s best friends are sometimes drive-thru windows and at least partially pre-packaged meals at least once or twice a week.
Not an option. I have a very limited diet and need to prepare my own meals. It sucks.
What becomes harder? Walking into the house and preparing a meal that will feed me and making additional options for everyone else…far tastier options.
It’s not just the cooking. It’s the dang dishes and the clean-up. It is a giant pain in the hooey.
What I need is a personal chef and housekeeper. For that matter, a personal trainer would not run amiss.
But if I had those things, I also probably wouldn’t need to work the hours I do, etc., etc.
Ah well. Night 3 of home-cooking included cooked cabbage. Not the tastiest item, especially without lots of butter and salt. My family’s option included pasta, which I can’t have.
I’m not bitter, not really. I ignored my daughter’s comments about my soggy lettuce. I tried not to smell the delicious carbs. I ignored my husband’s pitying look. I am eating what I should and hopefully it will lead to better things.
That said? The lovely cabbage smell? The kind of smell that sneaks up on you in hallways of random apartment buildings?
Yeah, they won’t be running away from that anytime soon.
Today, for a training class, I found myself back on a commuter train, going into the city with the other thousands of public transportation takers into the city.
And you know what? I found I’d missed it a little.
Usually my commute via car is about 45 minutes. Typically this time is used for making appointments, coordinating the pickup of children, the occasional touch base with sisters or friends and avoiding traffic bottlenecks.
I got to close my eyes!! And they have apparently instituted quiet cars during rush hour! I could have wept with joy.
And on the way home? I did the same thing!
I am not saying I want to return to my city commute: it’s too far from my kids should I need to get home in a pinch. But for one day?
There are many ways in which my life has changed while trying to balance a family, kids, and a career. I now find myself:
- Listening to books a la .mp3 while commuting since keeping my eyes open with a real book seems impossible;
- Writing blog entries on my cell phone mornings at two a.m. while waiting for my small son to fall back asleep;
- Watching the first 10 minutes of one television show on the DVR over a three evening period because I keep falling asleep before the 11th;
- Sneaking into my children’s rooms to watch them sleep because I get such little time with them during the day (and occasionally waking up in their rooms);
- Catching up on the lives of my family via Facebook since so rarely are we able to even speak on the phone at the same times;
- Not having any kind of consistent social life outside of the minions;
- Getting little quality time (read: any time) spent on hair, makeup, or general beautification unless I am willing to get up at 3am (sorry world);
- An almost constant craving for Sleep, Sleep, Sleep (Um, have I mentioned sleep?) has supplanted almost all other desires.
And honestly? I am so grateful for the two little Berserkers I have that as long as they remain decently clothed, fed, and (reasonably) happy, nothing else matters. There is nothing I am unwilling to do in that pursuit, no job I would not undertake, and I am sure that is true of you too.