By now we’ve all seen the viral post about being the default parent. If you haven’t seen it stop reading and come back after you have.
The last few weeks have been crazy busy in my house. So busy in fact that this post was supposed to be written last week and I actually ran out of time to get it up. I am on a committee at my church that has recently required lots of night meetings and weekend commitments on top of the incredibly high level of stress that I’m under at work. Add to that sick kids (one who got her first ambulance ride to the hospital-she’s OK!), sick me, sick nanny and you’ve got yourself a recipe for disaster.
Kitten had a Halloween parade at school that I was going to try to make it to, but at the last minute I got called into a meeting. I knew the morning of the parade that I couldn’t go but lied to her and told her I’d try my best, knowing I’d be sending the nanny in my place. Mom guilt #1. The nanny sent me a text of Kitten walking alone in the parade. She looked like the saddest little M&M that ever existed. Mom guilt #2. I sent a message to my fellow mommy bloggers about how horribly crappy I felt about missing the parade. A stupid fricking Halloween parade that she probably won’t remember next year. I sent Honey a text saying I was the worst mommy ever. I sat at my desk and cried.
Why is being a working mother so hard sometimes?
A few days later on Election Day I sent a text to two neighbor friends asking about where our street voted (first time in the new house). I got a string of texts back from them about mommy guilt. Friend #1’s daughter was sick and she had a big project at work that she couldn’t miss. She entrusted the care of her two-year old to her 14 and 11 year old daughters for the morning until her husband could get home from work. And she felt like crap about it. Friend #2 forgot there was no school on Election Day until the night before. I wonder why. I shared my sad sob story about missing the damn parade. Friend #2 said it best when she responded by saying that being a working mom feels like Gumby. We are constantly being pulled in different directions and never feel like we are in the right place at the right time.
Take today for example. Honey is home sick with a stomach bug and the girls are home from school today with the nanny. I am at work. Which means that I am paying someone right now to care for my entire family. Mom guilt #3.
What is the solution to this Gumby feeling? How do we support ourselves and each other when we get to that point when we feel like we’re not doing anything right? I wish I knew the answer. I know I speak for myself and my friends when I say that I truly could not do half of what I do without my spouse as a partner. I know he feels the same push/pull of home and work that I do. I think a lot of it has to do with the way parenting has changed in our society over time. This post lays it all out there pretty well and is worth the read if only for the validation.
So here’s my first thought: stop beating yourself up. As parents we are all doing the best we can, with what we have, where we are. I can’t be at the parade because I have a job that allows us to afford our daughter’s tuition at the school she loves so much. I have a job that allows me to drop everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) and rush to the hospital to meet my daughter’s ambulance. No one questioned my need to be there when it truly mattered. Maybe that’s the point. The
work/life balance Gumby pull only works if you understand what the truly important things are that need to be balanced and work from there. I think as parents we all need to take a deep breath, realize we’re doing a great job, and support each other as we get through the Gumby years.
I’m available by text to assuage any guilt ridden Gumby feelings that may come up.