Thursday, September 11, 2008

Living the dream

I don't know how you do it.

You working moms, I mean.

Especially you working moms who are far more beleaguered than I am. Especially you working moms with more than one child, little family support and a killer commute which takes you to a job you don't enjoy for a wage which doesn't do you justice.

Because I have one only one child, a commute (including day care drop off) that takes no more than 45 minutes, a mother-in-law who saves my bacon on a regular basis and a well-paid job I enjoy.

And I am just barely doing it. Just. Barely.

But I also have a husband working 15 hour days and I'm smack dab in the middle of the Toronto Film Festival which means I will once again return home after 9 p.m. tonight.

And I'm seven weeks into a new job where I'm struggling to prove I have the energy and the smarts to succeed in a business full of smart and energetic people.

And as satisfied as I am that I am doing a good job at the office, I find myself wracked with guilt over whether I'm doing a good job at the most important job there is: you know the job I mean.


Tell me, you working moms, is it always like this?

Would you have sighed in exasperation this morning when your mother-in-law approached your car? Would you have been calculating how many precious seconds her conversation would cost you in your race to pick her car up and drop yours (with its car seat) off? Would you have smiled tightly and prayed that exchanging basic pleasantries wouldn't make you late for work again?

Would your heart have sunk with shame, as mine did, when she leaned through the car window, kissed you on the cheek and said, "I know you're in a rush but I just wanted to wish you a happy birthday dear"?

I had forgotten.

It's my birthday today. I'm 39 years old and undeniably a grown-up.

And also a working mom.

And I don't know how you do it.

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100 comments:

Wonderful World of Weiners said...

I'm not sure it ever gets easier on the heart...maybe on the brain but never the heart.

I figure as long as we provide the best possible care for our children when we can't be with them, we are doing our job.

And a kiddo that gets to be loved all day by a grandma that wants to love on them? Sounds pretty good.

Hallie :)

Mary Lynn said...

Happy birthday Kelly!

And no--you're not the only one. It's so hard keeping on top of everything. Something always seems to be falling through the cracks. I've found it even more challenging having two kids. I don't know how people manage with three or four, but many do.

So my mail never gets filed properly, the dirty dishes sometimes stay out on the counter over night, my friends hear from me a little less than they used to (though they may not notice since they're just as swamped as I am). Life may not be tied up in a neat little bow, but everything's still managing to hold together reasonably fine. And I've never actually fallen asleep at the office. In the grand scheme of things, I'm doing okay.

chelle said...

Happy Birthday!!
I have no idea how working moms do it. They leave me in awe. I also find that moms that worry, and continue to try their best are more often than not the ones that rock at it the most.

kbreints said...

Happy Birthday!

Yes, the mommy guily is a severe problem at my house-- but I know -- as you do too-- that you are doing your best.

And they love you no matter what.

common mom said...

Happy Birthday!

You're so NOT alone. Many a morning I end up at work, guilty at having told my daughter "really, I have to go now . . . just one more hug" and rushed down the hall out of school. That was, granted, after 10 hugs and kisses (just one more!), but still . . . would one more really make me any later?

When I start feeling guilty, I think back to when I was a kid - and how I thought my mom had it all together and she was perfect and could do anything and I never once felt like she wasn't there for me.

Now that I'm older, I realize how hard it all must have been for her and how good she was at hiding the things that made her worry and lose sleep at night and the guilt about not being home with us after school. I can only assume my kids know how much I love them even though I am the only mom on the block who doesn't meet them at the bus stop every afternoon.

emily said...

Happy Birthday!

It never gets easier - trying to balance, never knowing what is going to tip over and never knowing if their can be a "real" balance.

But I know who I am - and I need to work - so I try to lay off the guilt and give my girls the best of me when I am with them - without giving into them just because I feel maybe a little guilty!

I have come to the place where I know I am doing OK if I keep thinking about the balancing act and never tip too far off any cliff! When I stop thinking about the struggle I am probably off the cliff ;p)

sky girl said...

Happy Happy Birthday!

Well, I don't know how I do it. Or how you do it. Or how anyone does it.

If I had the choice, I'd be at home. But I don't have the choice so we just do what we can do right?

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

First of all, Happy Birthday.


Secondly, when I was working, the part of my day I hated the most wasn't dropping off my kids. It was the pleasantries I felt obligated to volley all the while just wanting to go to work in a wellpaid job I enjoyed knowing that I was going to be the last one there. Again. Knowing that when I got home, all I wanted to do was pick up my boys, go home and enjoy my evening. My babysitters were always family, so the obligation of conversation weighed heavily on me.

Now, I think with the threat of Brian's health, how do I do all that BY MYSELF. At least before there was someone to help at home. The kids were not in extracurricular evening activities. The thought cripples me with anxiety.

KEEP BELIEVING

jakelliesmom said...

To all questions, yes.

Happy Birthday, Diva!

Laura said...

Happy Birthday!

Like you, I just take one day at a time and try to roll with the punches....hang in there!

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

Happy Birthday.

Everything you're saying is why being a SAHM was the right choice for me.

I'd definitely make sure to appreciate the MIL!

Leanne said...

Happy Birthday.

You're doing great, and yes it will get easier once you're used to everything.

Great post too, thank goodness I'n not alone. A lot of people make it look easy don't they?

Good Luck!

InTheFastLane said...

Happy Birthday! And yes, I have been there. And I do love my mother in law. Without her, I would not be working.

SciFi Dad said...

Happy Birthday Kelly!

Nowheymama said...

Great post.

Happy Birthday!

Pregnantly Plump said...

Happy Birthday!! Hope your week ends on a better note!

Mamalooper said...

I feel like I am barely keeping it together at times and I have sacrificed the paid work for now. Less Mommy guilt but it's replaced by "will I ever be back in the workforce" worries.

No perfect solution...

Chantal said...

Oh Happy Birthday to you!. I agree with "Wonderful WOrld of Wieners" (hows that for a call name), "I'm not sure it ever gets easier on the heart...maybe on the brain but never the heart." She is so right!

nomotherearth said...

Hey Happy Birthday!

It never seems to get easier, but I did console myself with the fact that when I came home to him, I was SO happy to see him. When I was at home all day every day, I couldn't wait till Mr Earth got home so he could take him for a while. It's a delicate balance, and a tough decision.

Bryan said...

Happy Birthday!!

I'm sure you're doing a great job.

and you're not getting old!!

Jyl @ MommyGossip said...

Happy Birthday!

I am commenting as a SAHM who used to work. I quit my job last year. But I can sooooo relate to your post. I always thought the day would arrive when I wouldn't care about missing the school program or rushing out the door to a meeting so early that I didn't get to say goodbye or not seeing my boys walk for the first time, etc. etc. The truth is that day never arrived.

I don't know that I learned, but I certainly tried to compartmentalize my life and give as much of my energy--what I had left after a long day at work--to my kids when I was with them. I tried to create a SAHM lifestyle for them while working. It meant using days off creatively, arranging ways to volunteer at the school after school hours and coordinating play dates with other friends and their kids. I found myself overcompensating at times and now have a history of over-the-top birthday parties to keep up with.

At the same time, I needed to work. I wasn't do it for luxury. I was doing it to help put food on the table. So, I tried to gather all of the good skills and attributes I could from my job to bring home with me at the end of each day. I like to think I am better for having done it. Still, it was a sacrifice for all of us.

The Walsh's said...

FIRST of all, 39?! I've never met you in person, but wow. You look fabulous from what I've seen on the blog. FAR from 39...

I wish I knew what to say in regards to the working Mom stuff. I'm not sure how the working Moms do it either. But then again, people ask me how I do it, with Lincoln having lots of special needs. We just do what we have to do for our family. We prioritize and make the best decision. Working is sometimes it, and we cope and deal and find a way, because the bottom line is, we know it's best in the long run.

Dawn said...

Happy Birthday Kelley! Hang in there...you're doing a great job!

Immoral Matriarch said...

Happy Birthday love!

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

Happy Happy Birthday from one fabulous 39-year-old to another. :)

I work BUT I have really cut back since having my second child three and a half years ago. I work 30 hours a week, and eight are from home. I know I have a cushy working mom's schedule and I know I am very damn lucky. Honestly I don't know how moms with more than one child work 40 plus hours a week. My hat goes off to them! It's all about organization and balance and having a kick ass spouse who helps you out.

I know you are a fabulous mom...hang in there! It sounds like you are in the midst of a crazy time. This too shall pass.

Mandy said...

Happy birthday!

I'm struggling the same struggle.

Haven't managed to post... barely feel like I see the kids before they pop off to bed.

I think I'll adjust, things will get easier.

And then we'll have a third (oh my lord).

Heather said...

Oh Happy Birthday!

I think there are days, weeks when everyone wonders how we do anything.

You just do I guess.

She said...

Happy Birthday!!!

I can't help you with the working mom thing because I'm not a mom, but I do know that taking care of myself and teaching 180 students each day is about all I can handle!

So, I don't know how you all do it! Really, I have no clue.

Best to you as you navigate your way!

secretagentmama said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY BEAUTIFUL!

RiverPoet said...

Lucky girl to have an MIL like that! Happy birthday!

By the way, I was the rushed, harried, full-time working mom you describe. Long commute, job I hated, lots of travel away from home for long stretches. I hated it. I had good reason for doing it, and mostly Dad stayed home with the kids, but Dad is no substitute for Mom. The kids wanted me and I wanted them, but I played the cards I was handed.

I wish you well in everything - D

Aunt Becky said...

Happy Birthday, my sweet friend. I don't know if it ever gets easier.

Miss said...

Being a working mom is the pits. But we do the best we can and we go home and love our babies.

Happy Birthday darling!

Angella said...

Happy, happy birthday!!

Vered - MomGrind said...

Happy Birthday, Kelly.

I think the guilt is the hardest thing. But every working mom faces it. While working dads don't.

I wish I had an answer.

Kate Coveny Hood said...

I think it definitely helps when you *have to* work. Because at the end of the day, we just do what we have to do.

But I do often think about what a whirlwind my days have become.

Best thing I ever did was to decide to just forget about my pickiness and preference for keepings neat. If I can cut out some of those priorities - the chaos doesn't seem so overwhelming.

Also - I've always thought that I appreciate the time that I DO spend with my children more than I would if I was home with them all day. I'm a big offender of taking things for granted. And knowing that my time with them is limited - I tend to try to really be in the moment.

Happy birthday!

anti-supermom said...

Happy Birthday DMD! I can't and refuse to 'do it all', you miss out on enjoying moments that wouldn't happen if stressing over those missed.

Look back in a month and you will see that you are doing all that you can and Graham knows that he is loved, very much.

~Jobthingy~ said...

happy birthday!

ugh. i hate that guilt. i worked nights for a while and it broke my heart not to be able to tuck the girl child in at night

Lisa said...

Happy Birthday Dear!

Here's to the best one yet....knowing you're doing an awesome job in all areas!

Meredith said...

Happy Birthday!

I was wracked by guilt and all those same questions up until a few months ago when I left my job to go on mat leave. Now that I'm six weeks in to life at home with two kids, I don't know which situation is harder! It's all exhausting and no matter what choices we make I think moms feel guilty. Good luck to all of us.

Meredith said...

Happy Birthday!

I was wracked by guilt and all those same questions up until a few months ago when I left my job to go on mat leave. Now that I'm six weeks in to life at home with two kids, I don't know which situation is harder! It's all exhausting and no matter what choices we make I think moms feel guilty. Good luck to all of us.

Ellyn said...

Happy Birthday!!

I am not a working mom so I hope it's OK if I answer your question. You sound like you are doing a fabulous job as a mom. And I agree with the above commenters that you have found the best possible care for your son in your absence.

Lastly, make every moment you do get time Graham the best it can be. He will rememeber that the most.

Anna said...

Happy Birthday! :) I hope you have a great day!

Anonymous said...

I don't know how I do it!!
And I miss her every single day.
Happiest of Birhdays!
Prudie

flutter said...

Happy birthday

Autumn said...

Happy Birthday! Don't beat yourself up. As working mothers we need to learn that we don't have to be perfect to be doing a good job.
My son may not have perfectly combed hair and he may have half his cereal on his shirt when I drop him off for Kindergarten.
But that boy knows that I love him, because I tell him every single day.
He may take the long bus to daycare after school instead of having me pick him up.
But he knows when I see him that he means everything to me because I greet him with a hug, a smile and ask him all about his day.
We do the best we can and we shouldn't have to feel guilty for having to work or even wanting to. You will always feel torn, but it does get easier, I promise.

Magpie said...

Happy birthday.

I don't know how we do it either.

Janet said...

I'm having thoughts much like this lately. It's hard, isn't it? I wonder if those who came before us were happier, content to just be moms and homemakers. I suspect not or we wouldn't be where we are now, would we?

Happy Birthday! If you figure out the trick to the balancing act, let me know.

Backpacking Dad said...

Happy birthday gorgeous. 39 is new 17.

Which makes me feel a little creepy. Or a little like Kip Winger. Which is, ya, creepy.

Ms. Porter said...

Ohhh Happy Birthday!!!! You're 39 now, you'll forget lots of things besides your birthday (just kidding).

Ms. Porter said...

Ohhh Happy Birthday!!!! You're 39 now, you'll forget lots of things besides your birthday (just kidding).

mamatulip said...

I don't know how they do it either, working mums. I don't know how YOU do it.

Happy Birthday, Kelly.

Denise said...

I am a wimp. And could not do it. So I quit in 1995.

Sometimes I think about going back. Especially when my "wants" outweigh my "sources." :o)

Jenifer said...

Happy Birthday!

You know I have been home for three years now and I still wonder as much as ever if I am doing a good enough job. It somehow comes with the territory no matter if you are working outside the home or not.

OHmommy said...

Happy birthday girlfriend.

I don't know how you do it. Have a glass of vino and call in sick tomorrow. LOL.

womaninawindow said...

Barely.

Happy Birthday. Why not take in a movie?

Karen MEG said...

Aww, happy birthday!!!

Work, well I'm adjusting to it again with a new project. Working at home sounds lovely, but I never learned how to juggle very well. It's just killing me.

I so hear you on this.

I don't know how YOU do it ;)

Brittany said...

Happy Birthday, dear!

Vodka Mom said...

virgo's rock.

Lisa@verybusymomwith4 said...

Happy happy birthday!
I have no clue how working moms do it. I am happy if I can get dressed in the morning!

KathyLikesPink said...

I hope you were able to find a quiet moment to enjoy your birthday! (And the rest of your life!)

wheelsonthebus said...

Happy birthday!

Mr Lady said...

Happiest birthday wishes, sugar!

Blessings From Above said...

Happy Birthday!!!

Mental P Mama said...

From where I sit, it looks like you are doing a fantastic job! And Happy Birthday! I've been 39 for almost ten years now, and it's a great age;)

Stomper Girl said...

Happy Birthday Kelly.

I work nights so that I'm there in the day for the kids and my partner minds them when I go. My family support is really only available in a life or death medical emergency. So I made sure my kids had a day or two at creche each week as a sanity day for me, where I got me-time and time to do necessaries without a small person slowing me down.

Also I think we do it with a lot of flying by the seat of our pants, controlled chaos and a side-order of guilt; my youngest tells me all the time he hates it when I leave for work 3 nights a week.

You're doing fine, you are obviously a happy and loving family.

Tracey said...

Happy Birthday sweetie!!! Hope the day brightened up!

Kellan said...

Happy Birthday, Kelly! You are a great mom and living a great life - you are doing just fine and you will figure out how to balance it all, because you are just that kind of person - determined and ambitious and smart and fabulous! Hope you had a wonderful day - that is a precious photo! See you soon - Kellan

JCK said...

Happy Birthday, Kelly! You don't even have to question it, but you are a better mom for doing it. It sounds like you have officially joined the working outside the home moms. Everyone speaks as you do. Everyone always trying to find the balance.

I wish for you some fun and peaceful moments for your birthday.

Jen said...

Happy Birthday!

This is such a toughie. I'm weighing the pros and cons of going back, and its just, so, hectic. That is the one thing that scares me about going back, the managing, the rushing, the being late. And it seems like as my kids get older that things get more hectic even without me working. I wonder...

Starshine said...

Happy Birthday! I just stumbled on your blog via two other blogs. :) Hope you had a great day.

Glowstars said...

You're probably like most of us - we don't! But, somehow in the rush of it all, we look back and found we've gotten by. I guess when they said that we could have it all we didn't really realise what all meant.

Elaine A. said...

You forgot it was your birthday?? Oh girl! Get yourself some cake NOW!

I hope you had a Happy one!

And yes the working Mom thing is hard. Been there, done that. Got the wrinkles...

Mara said...

Happy Birthday! And yes it is so stressful but well worth the pain. Keep up your great work.

Mara
http://24stepstogo.blogspot.com/

Parent Club said...

Happy Birthday!

Moms are never happy; we stay home -- we feel like we're not doing enough. We go to work -- we feel like we're not doing enough.

But really, we are all just trying to do our best.

Jaina said...

Happy birthday!!!! I hope you get the chance to do something for you, in an amongst the busy-ness. :)

Motherhood for Dummies said...

happy birthday.

The guilty was something I couldn't handle. When we had our daughter I was planning on going back to work and did. I loved my job, the pay was good, we needed the money, and I figured it would be good for me to not be stuck in a house all day. But after a few weeks of work and trying to find someone to watch our daughter, I just couldn't find someone I liked. I just didn't find someone I was comfortable with, so I ended up quitting and staying home. I couldn't believe how the money seemed to work out and we didnt need it. I love staying home, but there are still days where I wish I had a part time job or something. But things might have been different if I was able to find a good sitter.

Mekhismom said...

Well you are doing it - sounds seriously challenging but you are making it happen. Kudos to you and all of the other mothers working outside of the home.

Kami said...

First of all, Happy Birthday and second of all, I hear you! I don't know how working mom's do it, not at all.

That's why I work at home, cause I couldn't hack it with a real job!

jen said...

it's unbelievably challenging, isn't it? am thankful for the choice, but the choice brings it's own set of issues.

happy birthday.

Nap Warden said...

Happy Birthday! I think Motherhood is hard, no matter how you slice it:)

Karen said...

Happy Birthday, Kelly! Life has it's ups and downs, and you've got that fabulous little boy to pick you up when you get home from a down day. I'm sorry you're stressed.

Zoeyjane said...

I cannot believe that you forgot your birthday. That's all I can really say. I count down to mine for about a month, thinking something great is going to happen. Every year. And nothing ever does.

But I still would've known it was the day of.

Happy belated, busy doll.

mommypie said...

I don't know if it's ever gotten easier, or if my daughter and I have just gotten used to it.

You do what you gotta do, right?

Happy birthday!

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Happy, happy birthday!

I did the working mom thing, and it was hard, the juggling, the guilt, etc. But the SAHM thing is hard too, the brain death, the isolation, etc. So when my working-mom friends tell me that they are struggling, I say that there is a positive side to both decisions, and if you gotta work, there is that paycheck at the end of the week.

That picture of you paints a thousand words (three of them being "You are hot"). You look so grateful. Gratitude is good.

Hetha said...

Happy Birthday!
You fellow Virgo, you. Mine was last week. I had nearly forgotten about it, but hubster planned something special which served as the one and only reminder.
My hat is off to working moms, I can't even imagine how single working moms get through their days.

Beck said...

39! Dude! I had you pegged for a decade YOUNGER than me!
I don't know - I'm home with my kids, and that's no magical cure for guilt either.

Working mum said...

I'm like you: one child, one well paid job, one MIL and I just manage. In fact Working Mum is how I define myself and my existence. I don't know how others do it.

btw I'm 39 this week but after an 8 hour day I have to go back to work to do an Information Evening. I'm soooo a Working Mum!

Melisa said...

Happy belated b-day! Hope it was a little relaxing! xoxo

Laski Gal said...

Just reading. Listening to the advice and drinking it all in.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!

April said...

You're allowing your MIL to have her own relationship w/ her grandchild that I'm sure makes both of them happy. I look at it as, the more people that love my children, the better. And you're very very lucky to have it be a family member. Then, you don't have to worry if your child is being loved. It's a given.
So you can focus on work at work, and your family at home. That's how I do it.

* TONYA * said...

oh hon, no, you can't forget your birthday. You're fabulous. I don't know how YOU do it.

Tootsie Farklepants said...

Happy belated birthday!!

I DON'T know how you do it and my hat is off to you!

Whitenoise said...

Belated Happy Birthday, Kel. :-)

Oz said...

Happy birthday!

I think we all just do it however we can, one messy day at a a time -and you're doing a great job.

CC said...

Happy happy birthday!! (a little late)

I wish I had family near by to help out! But I have hardly any commute, which I wouldn't trade for anything!

Threeundertwo said...

I don't know how anyone does it, frankly.

Happy Birthday!

Kimmylyn said...

Happy Birthday!!!! I am so sorry that I am so late.

I hope you had a great day.

And I have to say that it never gets easier..the working and parenting thing. I am ridden with guilt daily. Esp when I miss a milestone. It truly sucks. I have no advise because it has never gotten easier..

Sass E-mum said...

Happy birthday! Bit late but, when this working mum goes on holiday she leaves the blackberry at home and doesn't blog 'quite' so much.

I only miss one bathtime a week - and couldn't do it at all without a husband who can cook and a very fabulous childminder.

As for being late - chill. Don't let the guilt grind you down. Most people cut corners somewhere and you'll be bringing as much (if not more) energy and creativity to the table as the best of them.

Kelly O said...

Happy belated birthday (unless you celebrate your birthday month, as I do -- in which case, happy birthday month).

I hear you on the working mom thing. On my worst days, I feel I half-ass everything -- kids, career, relationships, exercise, personal growth. On my best days, I only half-ass a couple of them.

caramama said...

Happy belated birthday!!!

I don't know how we do it either. Work is kicking my butt lately, which is why I haven't been able to keep up with my blog reading. But it should get easier soon. It's got to!

I hope things are getting better for you. Good luck!