Mommy Blogger – Olivia M
So, I have never really been one to write down my thoughts – mainly because I don’t ever feel like I have the time. Journaling, blogging, sketch noting – it all hypothetically sounds so appealing but after the day is done (meaning once I am physically and emotionally too exhausted to keep going on with my to-do list of things that actually have to get done) TV on the couch in a vegetative state often seems more appealing and like an easy way to actually spend some time with my husband. But today I decided to give it a go.
I am a mom of two boys who are 2 and 3 years old. My husband and I are both teachers; meaning we are blessed to work fairly regular hours but work a job that really is never ending and warrants a lot of out-of-work time and emotion. I love my job and hope to continue to learn and grow within it. I love the wild structure of my day, the diverse students I encounter, the day-to-day craziness of being in a school and the amazing team that I work with. However, each and every day it is a struggle to want to be there.
I hate the idea of someone else spending so much time with my kids. I know they are loved at daycare and enjoy going but it’s just so hard that such a significant amount of their little lives is spent with someone else. Someone who loves them but not like I do. Just as I’m sure many worried parents send their kids to my coworkers and I on a daily basis and miss their kids. I love my students and care so genuinely about their well-beings and futures but still know that I will never love them the same as their caregivers love them and know that it is not the same love that I have for my own children.
Being a working parent comes with many struggles. People often say being a stay-at-home parent is a full-time job. BECAUSE IT IS. Mat leave was a wonderful little taste of what that life was like. As much as I loved it I totally missed many aspects of my job: the fulfilment, the adult interaction, the challenges, the structure and many more. I often felt guilty about missing these things. Guilt must just come along in abundance when you have a kid. Because regardless of the scenario it feels like there’s always something to feel guilty for.
The challenge of being a full-time working parent is that somehow you have to juggle two full-time jobs and the immense guilt (surprise, surprise) if you ever want to do something for yourself on top of that time that doesn’t involve your kids. From the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep (or pass out putting my kids to sleep) I am “on.” The tremendous guilt that I feel when I need to wake my children up in the morning and hastily feed them breakfast while getting them dressed and ready to rush out the door – hardly able to be the attentive listener I want to be while they tell me their morning stories or just want to snuggle because they are still tired – weighs on me for the remainder of the day. I quickly have to change my mindset to teacher mode as soon as I get to school and somehow face the whirlpool of tasks that I am drowning in at work in the hours that I am there because I know that the second I step into the van to get the boys that mom-mode is back on.
At work I stuff as many extra-curricular activities, meetings, additional tasks as I can into the hours that I am there to try my best to be the teacher I thrive to be for my students meaning that lunch breaks and recess breaks are essentially non-existent.
At home, I feel the need to spend as much time as possible with my kids as I only get a few hours a day with them. By the end of the day I am completely exhausted. I do my best to tidy up and ready ourselves to start it all over again.
Day after day, I feel exhausted, overwhelmed, guilty and proud.
Financially, being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t jive for our family right now. But I also know it’s not for me. Despite the fact that the days are long and I feel like we are in one vicious cycle of constant go-go-go craziness, this life works well for our family. There are many cons and in many ways I would love to just stay home and focus on those but what good would that do? It’s always easier to focus on the cons but what are some the pros to this crazy lifestyle we live? I’ve listed the top five that help keep me going.
1 – Daycare teaches independence and socialization. There are hard days with daycare but overall it has helped our kids to establish and practice some great social skills in practical settings and a sense of independence to get to express who they are as individuals there.
2 – Structured days – I may hate waking my kids up to get our butts out the door but we usually know what’s coming with our day. We all work well with routine and enjoy being in the swing of things.
3 – Our kids get to hear about the work we do. We encounter a lot of interesting situations throughout the day and get to teach our kids lessons through real-life social stories that we share (without names, obviously). We get to chat with our own kids about the decisions of our students and confer with them about the decisions that were made or could have been made.
4 – Our kids get to see us caring for others. It’s so cool to see your kids build relationships and foster friendships. The ones from daycare are ones that they have had to make on their own and that’s pretty cool to see at such young ages.
5 – We value our time together. When we have time off or the weekend comes – we genuinely cherish that time.
So, props to you, working parents – be it at home with your kids, out of the home or any variation. It’s easy to focus on the hard parts of our days regardless of what path our lives take us on as parents. It’s also easy to think the grass is always greener on the other side (and sometimes it might be) but both come with their own challenges. Today was one of those hard days but it felt good to look for the silver lining in the day and realize that the work that we do as parents is always in an attempt to do what we feel is best for our families. You’ve got this, I’ve got this, and we’ve got this. Hopefully we can all start to feel that way and the guilt can just eff right off. This parenting game can be hard and we all play it in different ways but overall our goals are the same.