I belong to a network of working mothers and we have a space on Facebook that’s closed to the outside world where we can post whatever rants, frustrations and successes that currently pepper our chaotic lives. Recently, a member posted a link to an article that revealed some statistics (as collected by a survey done through Care.com) about working mothers. First of all, I could have written several portions of that article, but what startled me the most were the following two revelations: 1 in 4 working moms cries at least once a week, and 11% are late or call in sick to work at least once a week. Before my daughter was born, I was the archetype of timeliness to work. Not anymore. Just this morning, my alarm went off, as it always does, at 5:30 am, but it wasn’t until 6 am that I pulled what sorry sack of a human I currently am, out of bed. In order for me to get to work on time, I need to be pulling out of the driveway by 6:20, and definitely no later than 6:30. Today it was 6:45, and that included skipping breakfast.
Early on in the article, the author recounts a rough evening where after a long night at the office she comes home to discover that there isn’t enough milk left in the house and that come morning, her kids would wake wanting their milk and there would be none. Fatigued, and ready raise the white flag, she “[shuffles] into the living room, [crumples] into an exhausted heap on the floor next to a pile of toys no one had cleaned up” and cries. This morning as I was frenetically getting myself together (which involved grabbing the nearest work-reasonable top, one that I wouldn’t notice until it was too late, had dried Lucy snot on one shoulder), I passed by the living room and was also confronted with a scattering of toys that had not been picked up. That chore falls under my list of responsibilities, but last night I’d made a deliberate choice not to pick up her toys because I needed to get a lasagna into the oven. And the reason it had to happen last night was because attempting to put it together this evening, baking it, and having it be ready for a 5:30/6 pm dinnertime would be impossible. So it had to happen last night. By the time Lucy was in bed, and the lasagna was bubbling in its Corningware, it was nearly 8:30. I had just a paltry thirty minutes left to speak to and hang with the man I call my husband before my eyelids would become too heavy to keep up. These days I turn to dust around 9 pm.
Motherhood itself is tough stuff, but more than motherhood itself, it's the rattling motherhood does to your life. The secondary expense. All that stuff I got done on time, had organized, remembered - well, I can't seem to get a handle on it. Any of it, and it's rattled me because I've always been the one who has their shit together. There just isn’t enough time anymore.
I’m late to work on a regular basis, I haven’t exercised in god knows how long, I eat crap (breakfast this morning was chocolate chip cookies and a Sunkist – leftovers from Lucy’s party this past weekend I shoved in my bag on the way out the door), I forget stuff, and the house is constantly verging on disastrous. Here’s the good news. My daughter is healthy, happy, thriving, and loved immensely. My marriage is solid, and we have an understanding that while most days we can only muster a quick conversation and check-in, for now it’s about survival.
I know that so much of this, motherhood, parenting, life, is all about perspective. If I take a moment to pause and examine the details, the conclusions are a lot less dramatic. Late to work for me means not getting there with time to exhale before running down to do bag duty. Am I technically late? No. But to me, it feels like late when I don’t have some leisurely time. While I occasionally replace some meals with total shit-bag food, not every meal I shovel into my pie-hole is without merit. In fact, tonight’s lasagna is made with grass-fed beef, and plenty of vegetables. And the disastrous house is not tragically disastrous, it’s just lived in and not always picked up with everything in its place. What can I say? My standards are my own prison.
Too many plates are spinning, there are far too many balls in the air. Something has to give. And not only does something have to take a backseat, but I need to pick a starting point. A place from which to reassess – find and hit the proverbial reset button. Instead I’m faced with what feels like my own personal Everest of a mission, and I have no idea where to begin. If I could just get 48 hours - 48 hours that included an acupuncture session, a full-body massage, and time to regroup, that would be perfect. Instead I’m Clarice Starling in Buffalo Bill’s basement, in the dark, pointing my gun at nothing in particular.