“To live for yourself is to live selfishly” -Wyclef John
Almost 4 years ago my identity changed. My identity changed from Megan to mom. Even though I got a new identity, I didn’t get a new life. I am a mom and I work full time, along with my fulltime household chores. IT SUCKS! Don’t get me wrong, my job doesn’t suck, I don’t hate my job, I don’t hate the people I work with. It’s actually quite the opposite. I enjoy my job. For the most part I like the people I work with, I mean I am only human so of course there are a few exceptions. As much as I enjoy my job, or even if I didn’t enjoy my job it really wouldn’t matter, it still sucks. If I was only a full time worker somewhere there would be no issue, however I am a full time employee to someone else, and a full time mom, and it sucks!!
Most jobs have sick days or PTO, which is all well and good, but what happens when you have yourself, two kids, and a dog, not to mention your extended family. Hopefully for the most part all is well and it makes no difference. BUT . . . What happens when one kid gets teeth and spikes a fever. A fever means they have to go home from daycare and can’t come back for 24 hours after the fever is gone, that’s at least 2 days missed from work. Then the other kid catches something at daycare and you have to take them to the doctor the next week. That means interrupting work to try and schedule an appointment and then leaving work to bring them there. By the time you get them from daycare, get to the doctor, and pick up whatever prescription it happens to be this time it’s too late to drop them off with a relative and get back to work so you just go home. Then you have to stay home the next day as well. At this point you have to hope that 1. It goes away after two days, 2. You don’t catch anything, 3. Nothing happens with any relatives (someone ends up in the hospital, having a baby, having their car break down and needing you to come get them), 4. Nothing happens to the dog (she gets in to something, needs to go to the vet that’s only open the same hours as your work, gets bit at doggie daycare, etc.), 5. Nothing goes wrong with your house or your car where you need someone to come out to the house and need to be home . . . And the list could go on. So I’ll say it again, while I enjoy my job it’s sucks playing both roles.
Just a little background on me so you know whether or not you want to hear my opinions on the topic.
About 6 years ago had you talked to me about having kids I would have told you not a chance, YET. I didn’t know how to be a parent. I was still figuring myself out and trying to find a way to get a dog and be a good enough dog parent while working full time. I didn’t think I would be a good parent because that wasn’t something I had really thought about yet. I would have never thought about being responsible for another human because I was enough work as just me. After meeting someone, moving, getting settled, I got to a point where I said “Okay I would be okay lifestyle wise, financially exedra if I had a baby at this point in my life (really not thinking about the parenting piece at that time). I swear within minutes of thinking this I was pregnant. After slightly panicking, I was okay with it, but still didn’t realize what was coming my way.
I was raised with a sister, so I didn’t know much about boys. However, knowing what I knew about girls and what a brat I was and how bossy my sister was I figured the unknown had to be a better option. When I found out it was a boy I was slightly relieved. After having my son, I was lucky enough to have no post-partum issues. I adjusted to the mom thing pretty well, at first. I didn’t struggle much during the first year. After the first year I started to struggle. It got harder to leave for work on time because of all the things that needed to be done in the morning along with the temper tantrums that came into play. I started to feel like a bad mom because I would pick my kid up after 10 hours at daycare, get him home and in the tub, fed, and then put him to bed. I struggled to keep up with my housework. I struggled to grocery shop, go places, enjoy my little one in general, or have any type of social life. I wasn’t happy very often.
My job at the time was slightly unforgiving to “mom” situations. There was no “5 minutes late”, it was a huge struggle to be gone for a day if my kid was sick, there was no flexibility in work hours or sick days if I needed to be home with my kid. If I missed any worktime, my workload was doubled and waiting for me when I got back, and so were my overtime hours (except I was salaried so no overtime pay). It wasn’t worth it to take vacation days for that very reason, which did not help my work-life balance issues.
I was lucky enough to figure things out, get it together, find a new job and a new outlook and adjust my time management enough to get into a better state of mind. My new job is much more flexible and forgiving. I find time in the morning just for me, even if that means waking up before the sun. I focus more on my kids (yes plural now) and I include them in everything. I was able to go from struggling as a mom to LOVING my new identity simply by making some changes to my routine, my mindset, my attitude, and my lifestyle.
I really do love being a mom. Yes, I get tired and frustrated and sad and scared and all those things, but day to day I LOVE having these tiny people that just want to be involved, in EVERYTHING. I get to be responsible for creating good people that can add value to the world, and that’s what I intend to do. I get to be responsible for two tiny humans to know how to stay healthy and live happy, so I know I need to do what it takes to set the example, because believe me THEY ARE WATCHING.
Anyways, now that you know a little background on me, you can openly take or leave my opinions. So though I can honestly say I love being a mom, I can also truthfully tell you that being a parent sucks. When you are responsible for the wellbeing, education, growth, future, and a number of other things of a human who is counting on you 100%, you analyze EVERYTHING, and take on 100% of their stressors.
Parenting is not the same as it used to be.
Working full time on someone else’s clock while being a parent can be exhausting. Even when your work is good you still feel guilty not being there. The further you advance in your career, the worse you feel about not being there and the more critical it is for you to be there. So what do you do? The struggle of work versus family continues:
Having kids and working full time is generally the following progression:
- The Decision: Do I work to pay for daycare or stay at home?
- The Goodbye: Dropping kids off at daycare trying to remember to tell the daycare everything important for the day, making sure you sent enough diapers, formula, extra clothes, bibs, blankets, etc. so that your kid is comfortable all day.
- The Guilt: Realizing your kid is spending more of their day with someone else and they are just fine. Wondering if you are making the right decision
- The Drama: Get frustrated because the daycare is doing something (likely relatively insignificant in the long run) that you don’t care for, and let it eat at you because you don’t want to be “that parent” and ask about it. Debate if you should leave work and stay home.
- The Acceptance: Realize your child is doing fine and learning new things, including socialization while at daycare and feel good about your decision. Continue to try and move up in your career.
- The Sickness: You get the call from daycare that your kid spiked a fever and needs to be picked up. You guiltily tell your boss that you need to leave and won’t be back for two days. You pick up your miserable kid trying to figure out what’s wrong while letting them watch movies because their sick. You feel guilty for letting them watch that much TV in a day and then feel guilty for not being at work while your kid is just sitting there. You wonder how you are going to make up being gone for two days and bum out that you have now lost 2 days of PTO to sit at your house while you kid watches movies.
- Kindergarten: You praise God because you are done paying for daycare!! That’s a good $650-2500.00 a month depending on how many kids you have and where you live. Kindergarten is full days now (not like it used to be) so you don’t have to worry about midday transportation, BUT school doesn’t start until 9am and gets done at 3pm. You work from 8am – 5pm. How do you schedule this in. Do you pay for before and after school programs . . . goodbye daycare money saved ☹ Do you take time off work, hire a nanny, find a new job, find a friend? Stress!!
- Elementary School: Still a wicked school schedule creating issues, but you figured that situation out last year so you’re not as stressed. Your kid is coming home with homework you don’t remember how to do, and learning interesting things from all the kids at school. Should I have forked over the dough for private school? Do I need a better job? Should I be focusing more on my career? You have now added to the struggle of getting home from work, bathing, feeding, dressing, and tucking in your kids to trying to find time to help them do homework! Why aren’t the days just a little bit longer.
- The Sickness Continues: New place, more people, new germs. You get the call from the school nurse. You pick up your kid. There goes some more PTO days. How am I going to catch up on my 200 plus email when I get back to work. It’s the end of the month I need to do the reports, I am the only one that can do them and I am not there. Should I just bring my sick kid to the office and get them done?
- You then drag your sick child to an office full of stressed out workers rather than keep them comfortable in their bed while they are not feeling well all so you can get the work done that no one else knows how to do and you know it needs to be done. Your child is miserable all day and you have now gotten 10 plus people in the office sick and they are all out next week creating more back up in the workplace.
- Middle School: Your kid copped an attitude with a teacher and now has detention. You have to find a way to pick them up after that’s over. Sports teams are getting more serious now, but your kids still can’t drive so you spend the majority of your time fighting to get your work done in order to leave in time to pick them up from school and transport them to hockey practice. You then get to sit at practice just to drive them home after.
- High School: This becomes a whole new reason why parenting sucks that we would need much more time for!
As the parent you have the constant struggle of wondering. . . .
- Is my child safe
- at school, at the cabin, outside, at sports, at a friend’s house
- Is the school feeding them decent food, and are they eating that food
- Are they sitting in front of a screen all day (this is a newer struggle)
- Who are their friends, and who is influencing who
- When he comes home and blames timeout on a friend is the friend going home to do the same, does his friends parents now think that my kid is a bad influence and I am a bad parent
- How did my tiny human get hurt by another kid at school, did he start it, did they, was it play fight or is the other child violent
- What am I to think when he is playing with this kid the next day
- Will they sleep at this sleep over or will I have a cranky kid all day tomorrow
- Was that person’s house clean
- Do they have a pool, are they watching the kids close enough
- Why does my kid keep forgetting 3 letters in the alphabet
- Betty’s kid knows their ABC’s in 3 languages already
- Who is the new person responsible for my kid, will my kid like this person
- Oh no, my kid just said that in public, these people think I am a miserable parent
- My 3 year old has a broken leg, child services is going to be here I know it
- Am I behind because my kid isn’t in sports yet
- How come her kid can make it through the night without pull up’s, will we still have to buy pull-up’s when he’s 7
- Am I working too much, am I not working enough, do we not have enough money to give them a good life, are they too spoiled
- Am I making the right decision
This list is endless and could go on forever. Every bullet point is more and more proof that being a parent sucks. Taking on the responsibility for, the struggles, the stressors, and the complications of another person or person(s) is insanity when in reality most of us can’t manage our own stressors, struggles, and responsibilities alone.
All this being said, I will leave with the following thoughts:
If you find yourself wondering all these things and more for your kids, you are doing it right. This is proof that you give a damn. This is proof that you are taking it upon yourself to create good human beings. If you are going through the same struggle with balancing your old identity and your new one, your career with your responsibility, your you with your them, we have your back! We are all in this together. Find a team, build a team, create your co-parents and help each other. This is life now. We can’t just stay at home and for some of us we can’t just continue working. Build off of each other’s strengths and make up for each other’s weaknesses, that’s why we are all here and all so different, so we can help. If you are struggling to find balance, step back and regroup, find your priorities and the things that you can live without. You are killing it because you care.
I am a firm believer that one should good through the same screening prior to having a child as they would when completing the adoption process for a dog. There are background checks, home visits, trial periods, and paperwork required and then you are kept on file. If we want to raise good people, we need to be good people. If we want to see this world progress and our children successful we need to be successful. If we want balance and bliss, we need to find it ourselves. Certain people should not raise children (this is my opinion). There was a time I was not sure if I was fit to be a parent. I had no idea I could be good at it, and no idea how much I would love the combination of the struggle and the pure joy that come with it. I learn every day. Don’t count someone (or yourself) out because they (you) care too much or are simply struggling to do what’s right. Team up and raise simply awesome little people.
Point being yes, if you give a shit it sucks because your heart wants only good things for someone else.
Congratulations on being a good parent! No matter how hard it gets, and how many times you wonder if you are doing it right, you are!
We all do the best we can with what we have, and we team up with others to fill in the gaps. Mom, dad, stepmom, stepdad, grandma, grandpa, foster parent, etc. you were given this job for a reason, find it, embrace it, and own it.