I live in a state of overwhelmedness.
I am not alone. Though I am a newly evolved creature, only evolved in our modern times, there are many of us.
You see us everywhere, though you don’t know it.
Racing from our homes early in the mornings (earlier than many of you even have to be up)…
Dropping our children at day care (preschool, elementary school, etc….insert any of a number of locations, or several different ones as the case may be)…
Rushing to soccer practice (ballet, baseball, gymnastics, football…pick your poison, or more likely poisons)…
Racing around the aisles of the local grocery store as if we were at the roller derby (glancing at our watch and then making a crazed beeline for the checkout while biting back a naughty word we never would have said in public a decade ago)…
We’re everywhere, (doing an endless list of duties) though you don’t recognize us.
We look like everyone else (well except for the slightly glazed look to our eyes that sets us apart if you pay attention).
Perhaps there is a bit of a frantic, harried air to us, if you know what you’re looking for (Who am I kidding? We probably look frantic or completely dazed depending when our last cup of Starbucks was consumed–easily identifiable, well at least as half cocked!) .
Who are we?
We are working mothers–a new breed of mother. An exhausted, overwhelmed, and often discouraged group of women.
Synonym for working mother?
What this means in reality is that I am tired all. of. the. time.
I never feel like I am giving enough to anyone (and that is usually, sadly, true), and so most days I feel like I suck.
I suck at everything.
I suck as a mother. I suck as a wife. I suck as a person. I suck as a contributing member of society.
I have an invisible F plastered to my forehead. F for failure. F for fool–for I am a fool to think I can do so much and somehow do it all well.
There are simply too many irons in the fire, and that means that something is going to burn–or so often, lots of somethings.
It’s not that there are more balls in the air than anyone could possibly handle.
The problem is me, the juggler. The finger does not get pointed at the ball, it is pointed at me. When that ball hits the ground, I hold the blame. Me. No one else.
I’m not the mother I want to be, the wife I want to be, the teacher I want to be–and I am certainly not the “me” that I want to be.
I can’t be, and I know that in my head, but the heart… well that is something else entirely.
And as if living under that perpetual shadow of guilt isn’t enough, then there are emails like this one from my 6 year old’s teacher:
Dear Heather and Aaron,
Lily has left her backpack in the car today. It seems that she has a habit of misplacing things. Please help her to become better organized and ready to go.
It’s the end of May and my 6 year-old forgot her backpack for the second time this year, and I get a “you’re a crappy Mommy” note from her teacher.
I get one when I don’t have the opportunity to read with Lily because of one of my son’s late night baseball games.
I get one because I forgot to sign her folder on a night we really did read.
I get one because Lily, wanting to read on her own, misplaced her “book baggie book,” and, for a couple of days went to school without it because things were too busy at home to search the house from top to bottom and find said book that somehow ended up at the bottom of the toy bin.
I get one to encourage me to come have lunch with my daughter, because the stay-at-home Mommies do that and the children of us sucky working mothers are feeling left out.
I get one that encourages me to volunteer in the classroom like the stay-at-home mommies do, after all, it’s not fair that only some mommies do it all.
I seem to get one for ever real and imagined shortcoming this teacher believes I have.
Every time I get one of these notes, I feel the judgment being passed on my parenting. I feel the pointed finger and the scowling face. I feel the recriminations.
But the thing is, I already feel guilty most of the time. I don’t need her help in that. I feel guilty for the things I miss, the things that I am too busy–or too tired–to do, or to do as well as I wish I could–when my kids tell me about a last minute project at 7:00 at night and we have to scrounge around the house to try to make something work, when my daughter is a living painting and I can’t get off of work to see her, when my son has his “graduating from 5th grade Awards Breakfast” in the middle of my fourth period final and, instead of going, I have to settle for pictures.
I don’t need a disparaging note to make me feel like a crap mother–too often I already feel that way.
I am not alone in this. I think all working mother’s exist in this state, though to varying degrees I’m sure. It doesn’t matter that we are doing what is necessary to keep our families afloat.
It doesn’t matter that we struggled with low level depression through the “stay at home” years, and this is a necessary component to our emotional well being.
It doesn’t matter that by working, I’m able to provide my children with the big house with the pool. Or that I’m able to pay for football and gymnastics and camps and lessons and all the things that they otherwise wouldn’t be able to do.
When my children turn sad eyes to me because I can’t go to their presentation, all the reasons for doing what I do, don’t seem enough. When a teacher (who has never had children herself by the way), points out my failings, all the benefits in the world fall short.
All I can do is do the best I can, and pray that it is enough. That my best will be good enough. That the good I am able to do, imperfect though it is, will outweigh the dropped balls and the metaphorical “scorched dinners.”
I may not be able to be the room Mommy, but no one loves their children more than I do.
I might see my husband like a ship passing in the night (much less having an actual date with the man who started me on this whole path to insanity!), but he knows (I think) that everything I do is because I love him and our children.
And it might take me a decade to write my book (hopefully not–I’m shooting for July), but it will get done.
At the end of the day, all I can do is the best I can do–and hopefully love makes up the difference.