The Balancing Act of a Working Mom
It usually happens on Monday mornings, though occasionally it hits Tuesday morning. I am not sure where it starts, if I exude vibes of disappointment, or if my daughter realizes the routine and starts the leg grab; Mommy Guilt.
Inevitably there will soon be a whining toddler pulling the shower curtain back calling “Mama, mommy…..” My efforts to get out the door on time are impeded by the various obstacles of my toddler: crawling between my legs; grabbing my clothes and dragging them across the tufts of dog and cat fur on the floor; “I brush my teeth with Mama;” and of course her refusal to get ready with my husband “No want Dadda, MAMA!!!”
The mommy guilt kicks in, I am faced with the choice of arriving to work late but giving my daughter the small time she asks of me to get her ready for the day. Sigh, just a few moments, will it make a huge difference?
My husband assures me “It is fine, get ready, I’ve got this.” He turns his attention to our daughter “Mama has to get ready for work honey; what would you like to wear today? Overalls?”
I see my husband has the situation under control, I have stopped trying to control every parenting situation a long time ago; it is ineffective in our journey as co-parents. However this doesn’t seem to resolve my own feelings of guilt.
Does he understand the urgency I have to go and do it all, how I have to restrain myself when she hurts herself and he is the first to the scene? And how watching as he picks clothes out with her, while I get ready for a day at a job I don’t love as much as being a mom, is physically painful?
Being a working, community active mom, is just unfair. I miss the simple enjoyment of helping her: getting dressed in the morning, getting ready for dinner, putting “jammies” on and even changing diapers; I see these everyday rituals becoming more and more foreign to me as I spend more time investing in “our future.”
I wonder what I am gambling with here, every parent I know tells me the same thing “enjoy the time while it lasts, it goes by so quickly” or “no one ever wishes they worked more on their death bed, enjoy those moments.” I hear these voices echoing in my head as my little voice offers a faint and meek whisper “what if you get fired?”
Most working moms must feel the same way, as they brush their teeth or comb their hair in the morning. I think “tonight I will cuddle in a read a bunch of stories, I can’t wait.” Only shortly to remember the 3 photo sessions waiting for proofs and the 2 clients I will need to call. There won’t be much time for story time tonight after all.
Chocking back tears I think of all missed moments with my own mother, whom I lost at the age of 12, thinking “what if this is the last time you have a chance?”
I run to the bed, grab my daughter close and say “give Mama kissy lips!” She shy’s her face away as I pull her closer to kiss her. She’s giggling, quietly at first then louder, the harder I kiss.
My husbands face looks mildly annoyed at first, as though he wants to say “I told you I had this, she can’t always get everything.”
I bury my face into my daughter’s neck again for more kisses. Her laughter erupts in massive waves and even my husband has to smile. It is the best sound in the world, pure utter happiness.
She is still shivering from her massive laughter attack. I put her down and look at her and say “I love you, Mama has to go to work now okay?”
Rubbing her hair I bend down for one more kiss and glance at my husband to see if all is well. He sits smiling at our little girl, posed with an “attack shirt” for when she recovers. I kiss him and resume the morning ritual.
My husband smiles and says “don’t worry, she knows you love her.”
All is well, he has relaxed. Those few moments seemed to have given us all exactly what we needed this morning.
The right choice between being: employee, volunteer, boss, student or mom, isn’t always so easy or clear. I do all that I do because I love it and feel it brings enrichment our lives. But at what point is it too much, this line of enjoying the moment and not living life to your potential is super fine.
Most days it is a balancing act, but I can only hope in the end she admires me for it. That I do enough, to make those moments together really count and she doesn’t resent me for what she might have missed.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
A Berkshire transplant, Alisa is a: tattooed mom of an almost 2yr old girl; a photographer; singer (with her local chapter of Sweet Adelines International); writer; trained Doula (labor and postpartum support); and all around life enthusiast. She supports her family with her “day job” as a bookkeeper and fills her need for artistic expression in many diverse ways. When she is not making a mess with paints and her daughter; playing pranks on her husband; gardening; or hiking with the dogs; Alisa can be found working on her passionate dream of becoming a full-time photographer (Common Moments) and doula. firstname.lastname@example.org