Work is a little intense right now. Yesterday was the day I had to be in the office. Yesterday was not a day that I could phone it in.
Of course it is the day that things at home went from organized chaos to just plan chaos. Isn’t that always the way?
I had to somehow be at work and take Big A to school early. I had planned to ask the babysitter to take him. Usually, I would take him while she stays home getting Little A ready for school. Inconvenient, yes. Cause for collapse, not so much.
But then a weepy child appeared at my side way too early in the morning complaining of ear pain, belly ache, and neck pain. With no fever, there is no way to tell if her information is accurate. What this child would do for a few Mommy snuggles amazes me. As we sit there snuggling and diagnosing, my head starts swirling in a million directions and I can feel my sympathetic nervous system kick in. How do I care for her and get to work? Is my babysitter available? Would I need to come home in the middle of the day? What if she is sick tomorrow and misses all the Halloween fun? When will I find the time in my schedule to get her to the doctor?
Extra help. Sick kid. Critical work commitments. Check. Check. Check.
This in itself wouldn’t make me collapse. I have been a work outside the home Mom for a long time and have become adept at juggling kid schedules, sickness and work.
As I am consoling a weepy kid, trying to get myself ready in a professional way, communicating with the sitter, and somehow packing lunches is when I noticed Big A’s lunch box was missing.
“Hey, where’s your lunch box?” “Um, well, ah…I have to look for it in the lost and found.”
The lunch box sent me over the edge. This was the latest in a series of absent minded moments from Big A that are wracking up big dollars in lost items.
I start a chant in my head. (I am a calm parent. Breathe. Don’t curse. I am a calm parent. Breathe. Don’t lose your cool. I am a calm parent. Breathe. Ask him what is causing him to lose so many items. Maybe he is feeling rushed through his day. Breathe. Show empathy. I am sure he doesn’t want to lose his stuff.)
In a barely controlled tone of voice, kind of high pitched and a bit choppy I ask “Hey, What’s up? You’ve lost a lot of stuff lately.” I don’t get a satisfactory answer and just as I am about to launch into a lecture I stop myself. (Now is not the time. This can wait.)
I declare healthy school lunch bankruptcy and tell everyone to buy lunch today. (I spend 30 seconds berating myself for not packing lunch. I decide we will all live.)
Ten minutes before we all need to head out the door, me to work and Big A to extra help, I am putting on make up in the bathroom. I have an audience of two. Big A is looking forlorn about his lunch box and I realize maybe I didn’t do the best job of reigning in my irritation. (I feel bad sending him to school with a less than stellar start to his day.)
Five minutes to go and I check in on my pending patient “Hey Bug, how are you feeling? I think you should stay home from school today with the babysitter. Maybe I can come home early.” I see the lip quiver and then comes the demand “I am going to school today.”
Sigh. There is no fever, no congestion, no vomit, and no diarrhea. Realizing I am dangerously close to missing my morning meeting, I concede and send her to school. I spend the rest of the day watching my phone for a call from the school nurse.
As I try to collect my items to head out the the car, Little A starts crying that she wants to get picked up from school as a walker. She thinks the bus ride is going to be too noisy for her in her state of unwell.
Two minutes till “go time” and I am fumbling with the laptop to write a walker note.
(I am stifling hysteria. I am a calm parent. Breathe.)
Big A interrupts my train of thought to try and get a status on some of his pending open items with me. This kid has a lot of nerve making demands on me after the lunch box incident. Trying to focus on writing a walker note, I let him know we will deal with “all the things” LATER.
(I am so frustrated I could cry. I am a calm parent. Breathe. DON’T curse.)
I let everyone know it’s “go time” and to head out. As I prepare to leave with them I realize I haven’t eaten breakfast, didn’t pack any snacks, and don’t have lunch.
(It’s going to be a hungry morning.)
Barely on time, I open my car door. Crap! My coffee.
(Back into the house, reheat the cold coffee, pour into a travel mug, and head back out.)
I am feeling rushed. I am feeling stressed. I am feeling alone.
(I feel like I am going to collapse under the weight of working motherhood)
I open Voxer and start talking to a friend. Poor thing. I leave her this somewhat scattered, stream of consciousness message about my morning and manage to choke out a request. Say a prayer for me and send me some encouragement.
Asking for support is key to surviving working motherhood. It is important to have the courage to ask for what we need.
Once I start driving and the silence washes over me, I start to take some deep breaths.
Still feeling unnerved from my morning I utter out loud “I am going to collapse under the weight of working motherhood.” Saying it out loud triggers me. I put on my coach hat. I ask myself “How does this serve you?”
What I have learned is that negative thoughts never serve us. Life is one giant reframing exercise so I start to evaluate my thoughts. Which ones need to be reframed.
If I am being objective, working motherhood has served me quite well.
Long before motherhood, there was a girl with grand personal aspirations and she worked hard to pursue them. I am proud of the effort I have put into my professional growth over the last almost two decades. I have a zest for studying human behavior and an unquenchable thirst for learning new things.
My career in Organizational Psychology and Performance Coaching is most definitely what I am called to do. I use my expertise everyday at home to develop and coach my children toward their own personal successes.
I have learned many valuable lessons throughout this nine year journey of working motherhood. I have learned how to: take myself less seriously, establish boundaries, identify what matters the most (my family) in my life, and use my time the most productively just to name a few.
And in a time of financial crisis, I was the sole source of consistent income for my family.
Working motherhood has taught me lessons in non-judgement, self-awareness, vulnerability, and confidence.
Working motherhood has taught me I can do hard things.
I would love to hear your thoughts on life, motherhood, work, and doing hard things. You can leave a comment below.
PS. I believe all mothers are working mothers. I believe all mothers work hard. I don’t think any mother has it easier than anyone else. I believe women should support women, that “we rise by lifting others.” I have NO tolerance for “Mommy Wars” so please keep that in mind when you leave your comment.