My day started with my son crying that he doesn’t want to go to YMCA camp this summer. He doesn’t handle transition well, sensitive soul that he is, and summers are always a rough jumble of our schedules that causes additional stress to fester throughout the entire family.
“I just don’t like it there, mom,” he cried.
I was washing the coffee pot and trying to corral my daughter so I could braid her hair before we all rushed out the door. I brushed off his concerns with “We’ll talk about it later.” It took all my self control not to scream “BEING A WORKING MOM SUCKS!!”
Because it does. It fucking sucks so bad.
My day ended with a flurry of hysterical texts from my husband who was stuck in traffic for an hour and a half and ended up late to pick up poor Jack from the YMCA after school program.
Our work days are orchestrated almost down to the second to accommodate drop offs and pick ups of our children. My husband has slightly more flexibility in his schedule, so he is usually the one to pick up, while I drop off Jack in the morning, sometimes drop off Emily, and have a combination of family doing random drop offs and pick ups. It’s complicated. As carefully as we construct this schedule, it seems there are days my children don’t know when they are coming and going or who is fetching them.
At random intervals throughout the day, I am gripped with panic as I try to recall where my children are and who they are with. Then I sigh and relax because I know they are going to be safe, but it is a strange, crazy, and uncomfortable leap of faith.
When I drop Jack off at school in the morning, I hug and kiss him and then get back into my car and watch him stride into the school yard. Sometimes he sees a pal and breaks into a gleeful run to go and play with them. His happy confidence inspires me to drive away.
But then I drive off and it feels like I am free falling into the day, relying on a flimsy parachute of faith that all will be well with my littles while I am apart from them.
As moms, being away from our children is unnatural at best, and a downright suck fest at worst.
So, when I am stuck at work, a 45 minute commute away, getting texts that my little boy is going to be stuck at daycare past pick up time, I freak a bit. It makes me feel sucky and angry that our society has chipped away at the family in this manner; that we have to work so hard just to keep things barely afloat. There is nothing that makes me angrier than feeling helpless when it comes to my children.
Sure, we all always get home in one piece. For that I am very thankful.
But it is so hard to relax into the evening when grumpy, tired children need feeding and bathing and bedtime routines. Lately I am trying my best to be aware of my tendency to rush and do stuff just to get to the next thing. For example, chiding Emily to hurry up and finish her snack so we can brush teeth, hurry up and brush teeth so we can read stories, hurry up and get through stories so we can all go the fuck to sleep.
It is so difficult to just be in the moment, where I want to be, when I feel pressure on all sides of me and just want to leap away from the discomfort.
I don’t want my family to work this way. And other than changing jobs or winning the lottery, both of which are equally impossible and improbable at the moment, I don’t really know how to make it work any differently.
We do our best. But since my husband started his new job in February, things have been stretched so thin that they seem about to be torn to tatters. The clock ticks off seconds of my life I am simply not enjoying, and I am keenly aware and anxious about the toll this will take on my precious offspring.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m ranting a bit here, but it is not all doom and gloom. Some days are just so hard. Some days it just really hits me how much time I spend away from my family, and how much trust I am placing in others to raise and nurture my children when I am not there for them.
I think about the cardinal Jack drew. He was so proud of it, he made copies for every child in his class and also for his teacher. “Mama, my teacher told me it was very meaningful to her, and she is going to take it home and hang it up!” he told me when I walked in the door from work.
I think about the excitement with which Emily tells me, “Mama, I climbed on the spider web on the pway gwound at school! I was a yittle scared, but it was fun!”
I think about the hugs and kisses and the sound of Emily’s breathing growing slower and deeper as I sit in the chair and wait for her to drift off to sleep.
My kids are growing to be independent, resilient, creative, and kind.
I’ve got to remember that, even when it feels like doing my best is still sucking ass.
OK. Rant over.