Me to my 16-year-old son:
“Have you finished your homework?”
“Did you talk to your teacher about the missing assignment?”
“Have your friends heard from colleges yet?”
Me to my 3-year-old daughter:
“Shhhh…. the baby is sleeping.”
“Hold on; I’m busy.”
“Not now, my hands are full.”
Me to my 5-month-old son:
Well, not much, but I spend most of my day carting him around like a football while I have the above conversations with the other kids, wondering if it’s 5:30 yet so I can get the two little ones ready for bed.
When one falls asleep, the other wakes up. When one wants to play, the other wants to sit and eat. When I’m ready for bed, the teenager is just starting his night. We get up at 5am for the baby, but have to stay up until 11pm for the oldest.
My daughter starting crying today when I told her I couldn’t play dollhouse because I had to put the baby down for his nap and my heart broke a little.
There is not enough time for each of them, and I feel it. Mom guilt is written all over my face. It’s a three-ring circus, and I’m a clown crammed in the little car, along for the ride.
For example: There is currently honey yogurt smeared from one end of our dining table to the other. There is an entire bag of cotton balls and a 50-pack of cupcake liners dumped onto my dining room floor. Why is this? Because they are Unicorn’s cupcakes, of course. I have changed the baby’s shirt at least 10 times today, and, just when I was starting to unwind tonight, my oldest walked in the door requesting dinner and two seconds later the baby woke up. Have I mentioned I’m a Type-A neat freak plus an introvert who needs quiet time to recharge?
As my friend Libby recently wrote on FB, “I love going to the spa for a little pampering these days. Oh wait, I meant dentist.” So if mothering is so bad that a trip to the dentist looks like fun, why do we do it? And why do some of us do it full time, or, as in my case, the majority of the time?
I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can say for myself that it’s because I love it. No really, I do. And not in the way the mom quoted in Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique, despair evident in the font, meant it when she said: “I’m lucky! Lucky! I’M SO GLAD TO BE A WOMAN!”
I have my own law practice, and I feel like I’m pretty successful at it. I even have periods of time when I turn clients away because I have so much work. But why did I leave the dream job I started training for at age 17 and finally got at age 27, only to quit at age 31 when Rachel was born? Because having my own practice allows me the flexibility to pick and choose when I work, with whom I work, and how much I work. And I need that so I can focus on what is my first and foremost priority–caring for my family. Does that mean I’m giving in to the feminist mystique? I don’t think so, but who really knows how much of who we are derives from societal influence or something more organic?
I recently thanked my husband (on Facebook, no less) for taking the day off of work and watching the kids so I could get some time away from the house. He appreciated the gesture, but also noted that I was thanking him for something I do every day. That’s true. But you know what? That’s the deal we reached when we married. It doesn’t “have” to be that way, but it’s what works for us.
And that should be what it comes down to: what works for our respective lives, gives us happiness, and fulfills us as human beings. And if that choice is about as much fun as a root canal at times, so be it.