Dear Working Parents,
I’d ask you how you were doing but I already know.
Surviving on leftover Halloween candy and cocaine caffeine.
The usual. I’m with you.
Over the past couple of weeks at work, I’ve: prepared and presented a training seminar, start preparing for another training seminar I will be facilitating next week, traveled out of town to attend a court ordered mediation on a litigated insurance claim I’m handling, attended two additional mediations virtually, and had days packed with back-to-back meetings and teleconferences.
Then there’s what happened at outside of the 9-to-5 which included filing insurance and home warranty claims for a plumbing leak in our house and talking to multiple representatives from those companies, responding to potential clients for a business consulting company that I work with two other members to help run, searching for a new bed for my son since he has refused to be contained to his crib any longer, trying to find him new shoes for his big ass feet that keep outgrowing all the other shoes we bought for him, and maintaining the cleanliness and order to our household (just kidding with that last one!).
Occasionally, I find myself scrolling through my Facebook news feed feeling extra salty. I’m sick and tired of parents who appear to have found the time to get their shit together.
Why does her house look clean in that photo? Maybe there’s a Photoshop app for that? Doesn’t she have three kids? That window looks spotless. How does she have time to work and Windex? Can she afford a housekeeper? Maybe she steals her kids’ adderall. I need to get friendly with her again in case I need a hookup some tips.
It’s a constant battle not to compare myself to everyone’s social media feed. To do so leads to a perpetual feeling of worthlessness. I compare myself to moms who look like they’ve never had a cookie, let alone multiple kids. How does she have time to keep fit? Is it the adderall again? I need to know!
I know that this constant season of business is not unique to just working parents. I have no doubt that stay-at-home parents face similar challenges in trying to figure out where the hell their day went.
However, I am going to address this post directly to working parents (outside the home). I feel like we are under a different set of pressures that come from our jobs, our children, our bodies, our feeling that we always have to have a properly rested face to present to the world.
I’ve had to make some adjustments to my life since transitioning into a full time working momma.
No new friends, no new friends
Barring a move to a brand new place or an earthquake swallowing up my current bestie circle and leaving me as the sole survivor, I’m quite sure that I’ve made the last new friend that I will ever make.
You who are trying to be my friend: Stop it. I don’t want to hurt you. Plus, you don’t want this mess. I take an average of 3-5 business days to respond to a text. If you keep me out too late, I just get cranky. I hate shopping if it’s anywhere outside of the Amazon Prime. My main topics of conversation are my son and the Lord of the Rings movies.
I just don’t have the time for more social obligations.
Making it clear that I don’t have time for your/this/their shit
No, I can’t make it out tonight. No, I can’t take on that project. No, I really don’t have time to listen to your marketing schtick. I don’t even bother apologizing anymore when I say no. I’ve moved past the point where I feel the need to apologize for being respectful of my own time, especially when so many others aren’t.
I once wandered into an Internet forum where someone was explaining why she no longer said the “no” to her son. I thought she was a troll until I read her very impassioned argument for NEVER using the word no. Then I just realized she was one of those Internet Crazies that I’ve always been warned about.
No is the best word in the English language. I dare anyone to try to pick a fight with me on this. Why do you think so many languages all have the same word for “no”? My knowledge of the Italian language has deteriorated significantly since 2011, but I can at least count on this one word to communicate my wishes that I don’t need Google Translate for.
And, frankly, I’m of the belief that if more people understood the meaning of “no” and raised their children to understand that word, there would be less of a reason for #MeToo.
Balancing the effort I give between work and home
I feel like the messaging constantly directed towards working parents consists of giving all you can at work and home all of the time. I’m sure I am not the first person to figure out that this is not sustainable.
Sometimes I give 100% of my energy to work. I exceed expectations on all my metrics, I return phone calls promptly, I best attorneys in settlement negotiations on litigated files. Basically, I kick ass.
Then I go home and feed my child cheez-its and milk for dinner because I’m just too damn tired to get creative with the limited groceries I typically have in stock at home.
Sometimes I expend all my energy being the best mom that I can be to my son. This includes playing with him, reading to him, giving him baths, cooking his food, washing/drying his clothes, putting away his toys, singing to him, letting him use me as his personal jungle gym, and laying by his crib for two hours while he kicks it and refuses to go to sleep.
Then, the next morning, I’m 30 minutes late to work because of the whole no-sleep thing and I’m screening calls because it’s THAT customer and I just can’t even with that person at the moment.
On rare occasions, I’m able to give 100% of myself to work and 100% of myself at home to my husband and son, all in the same day. And when I say rare, I’m thinking that this last happened on a Tuesday back in April.
Point is, if you have those days where you give 90% of your energy to work and 60% at home or 60% to both because you’re just that damn exhausted – it’s okay. Just like with any diet or exercise plan, you’re entitled to cheat days.
But here’s the thing – managing a work/life balance is not something that I have perfected at all. There’s the guilt that often comes with the territory when you have to leave your child with someone else all day while you go to work (even though there’s tons of research that shows that having two working parents actually benefits your kids).
On top of that, I let myself get overwhelmed too often and have to force myself to take a step back and reevaluate my priorities. It’s difficult when everything seems or actually is a priority – how do you prioritize a bunch of different priorities?
This is where my village comes in – what do you guys do to manage your duties at home, work and to your children?