Sometimes I have weeks where I arrogantly think, “I’ve got this. Motherhood? Check. Career? Check. Clean house? Hahahahahahhaah.”
This has not been one of those weeks. This has been a week of morning toddler break downs, too much laundry, not enough groceries and nowhere near enough time in the day or sleep at night. It appears we have hit the season of toddler-hood that I believe is known in toddler circles as “beast mode.”
If you’ve parented a 28 month old you know this mode. It’s marked by moments of utter sweetness and cuddling and then laced with irrational melt downs that you have no control over. Yesterday morning my son refused to get dressed, refused to get in the car and wailed that he needed to go to the zoo. The zoo?
This was before we had even made it to daycare. As we pulled into the daycare parking lot he glued himself to the car seat in a way that made it almost impossible for me to pry him out. He clung to me tightly and drop off was an absolute working mother nightmare. He cried and wailed and then cried some more. When his teacher asked him what was wrong he sobbed, “I want my mooooommmmmmyyyyyy!!!!”
It’s this moment where I feel like you might as well stab me in the heart. I held back my own tears as I walked out. Maybe it’s the pregnancy hormones, but lately it’s been so hard to leave him behind. This is also the time where I feel defeated about being a working mom. Maybe I should just throw in the towel? Lean all the way out to the chagrin of Sheryl Sandberg. Become a stay at home mom.
When this fantasy takes over here’s what it looks like:
I’m in amazing shape because, duh, I’m a SAHM and I have ALL this time to work out. My family eats home cooked meals and I rise every morning to make Mr. Durtty (the Hubs) breakfast before he sets off to work. My house is clean. Or cleaner. I have a simple schedule and I know that I can be really, really good at managing the home front. I get to set the expectations. I get to manage my evaluations. I create some side business that is creatively fulfilling and helps keep me sharp. The hectic life that we lead becomes much simpler.
I think about exactly how simple it would become. I think about how I would miss the adult interaction, the challenging brain-bending projects and the regret that I would feel from walking away from a career that has yet to peak. I wonder how I would possibly provide enough stimulation for my never-stops-moving toddler. I think about clipping coupons, not taking vacations and the stress of wondering how the mortgage will get paid each month.
Trust me – I don’t mean to glamorize what the life of a SAHM is like. I know that it comes with its own set of challenges. The image I’ve painted in my head is one where I have no worries and I know that no mom’s life, no matter if she makes the choice to work or not, is that simple. I give mad props to the women who make the decision to stay home because they too are making the decision that is best for themselves and their family. There are challenges with both choices, but again and again I make the choice to stay in the workforce – knowing that it is a piece of my life that I can’t give up. And honestly? My son gets a better mom because I make the choice to keep working. Our life is crazy, but whose isn’t? Even with the rough mornings, irrational demands to be taken to the zoo and the tears from both of us, this life is my choice and our choice. I know that I am happier, more fulfilled mother and wife because of it.
Do you struggle with your decision to work or not work? How do you cope during the really tough weeks?