Never Let It Drop — Thoughts on Being a Working Mom

Before I start, I want to say that I am fully aware that all moms work.  I work just as hard during the summer months when I’m home as I do when I’m at school.  It’s just a different kind of work.  This is just me talking about my experiences as a mom who also has a paying job.

When I tell people that I have twins, people almost always comment on how busy I am.  When I tell them that I also have 15 other children that I dedicate my life too, they wonder how I can possibly get anything done.

I am a mom to twins.  I’m also a teacher.  To say I have a lot on my plate is an understatement…but I wouldn’t change it for the world.

What’s life as a working mom like?  Well, I can’t speak for everyone, so I’ll just tell you how it is for me…

Being a working mom means that it took me two years to complete the girls’ baby books.

It means that I only give 100% when I’m at work, instead of the 150% I used to give.

It means lists, and lists, and lists, and more lists.  I have lists on my phone, lists in my kitchen, lists on my computer, lists on my desk…and that’s just at home.  There are dozens of lists at work too.  I have long-term lists, lists for this week, and even a list for this nap time.  This blog post has been on a list for over a year.

It means getting up and getting dressed in something other than a t-shirt and jeans.  Wearing actual clothes and doing my hair makes me feel amazing, even if I’m half asleep.

It means saying no, which isn’t always easy for me to do.  I want to do all of the things, but I often have to say no because there just aren’t enough hours in the day.

It means letting things go.  Sometimes I just can’t do it all.  It’s ok that I didn’t get a blog post up on my classroom blog this week.  It’s ok that it took me 4 days to reply to your email.  It’s ok that I haven’t cleaned off the kitchen counter in weeks.  It’s ok.

It means spending the occasional nap time watching Pretty Little Liars instead of cleaning because I desperately need a break.

It means feeling fulfilled intellectually, emotionally, and professionally.  It means getting to feel like an adult for a few hours each day.

It means forgetting things constantly.  Hence, the lists.  If I don’t write it down, I’m sure to forget it.  I can’t keep track of upcoming IEP meetings & dentist appointments while also putting puppy tails in my daughters’ hair.  My mind is constantly on overdrive, and things just get forgotten.

It means we have money to pay our bills, to put into savings, and to pay for fun things like ballet classes and colored skinny jeans.

It means I haven’t opened my Google Reader in months.  Is there even still such a thing?  I want to read blogs and keep up with people, but I can barely find the time to read my own blog!  Twitter is the name of this working mom’s game.

It means doing what’s important.  What needs to be done right now?  What can I move to tomorrow’s list?  Do I really need to fold the laundry, or is taking the time to read a book more important?

It means sometimes I’m not my best self at work because I’ve had a hard day at home.  It means sometimes I’m not my best self at home because I’ve had a hard day at work.

It means that I get to be constantly amazed by children, both at home and at work.  It’s helped me to be a better parent by showing me just how lucky I am.  It’s helped me to be a better teacher by seeing the world through a mother’s eyes.

It means that sometimes I feel on the verge of drowning at any second.  There is so much to do that I constantly feel like I’m treading water.  One thing goes wrong and my whole day can fall apart.  It’s a constant juggling act.  I’m just trying to keep my hackey sack in the air.

It means that sometimes I put on Signing Time or Tangled just so I can have some quiet snuggles with my girls.

It means being proud of myself for doing as much as I can for my girls and for my students.

It means that I feel guilty a lot.  Guilty that I left my girls at home.  Guilty that I didn’t get enough done for my students at school.  Guilty that I’m not a more attentive wife or a better housekeeper.

It’s a lot, this working mom gig.  It’s not easy, and some days it’s downright impossible…but other days it’s amazing.  I get to be the mom to these funny, sweet, fantastic girls of mine.  I also get to be a part of all these other families who need my support.  I’m lucky to have a job that means to much to me.  Even though there are days that I feel crazy and out of control, I know that what I do at work and at home are important.  It’s worth the crazy to me.

Being a working mom is all about finding balance.  It’s a constant battle of priorities.  Some days, I fall flat on my face…and I’m slowly learning to be ok with that.  I get to try again tomorrow.

Comments

  1. As a working mom as well, I relate almost completely to this. The points that stood out to me the most are the ones about balance and cutting yourself slack in some areas. Like only being able to give 100% at work and doing what’s important TODAY. But all of it is so true.

  2. Agree 100000% on basically everything. Very well written (and isn’t it a sad statement that you’d have to put a disclaimer at the beginning?)

    Keep on keeping on! You’re doing great 🙂

  3. You’re an inspiration! (And I mean that in the least corny way possible.)

    It’s that “balance” you talk about that eludes me… sigh. I’ll get there eventually, right?

  4. Great post Erin! I agree with every single bit of it, as a working (outside the home) mom myself. The biggest thing I have learned is that no matter how hard it is to leave that cobweb in the corner, and not scrub your counter top this week, letting those things go is the most important part of being a working mom. Those few extra minutes on the floor with my kid are fleeting and I can’t get that back when I’m old, retired, and am no longer pulled in every direction at once. <3

  5. I could just copy and paste this post as my own only I don’t have twins (just one) and I’m fortunate enough to be working part time this year. Yet I can relate 100%. I especially feel the giving 100% at school instead of the 150% I used to give. And like you said, letting things go. And lists. Yep, all of it.

  6. The greatest gift I gave myself as a working mom was permission to not live up to perfection. My house is a disaster most of the time, my job never gets more than 100% from me, and I have given up on things like the baby book & yearly videos–but the balance that has given me has been worth it.

    So, yeah…ditto.

  7. I wish I had read this over the weekend — it would have helped pull me out of the funk I was in at the time. I was so exhausted and overwhelmed by working and being a mom and planning a birthday and taking care of a sick husband that I felt like I was failing at all of it, and it made me miserable. But I’m better now, everything worked out, as it always does, and life is good again. I’m going to save this post for next time I feel myself falling into a similar funk — it’ll be a good reminder that needing a break once in awhile doesn’t mean I’m failing at being a mom/wife/employee.

    Thanks for this post, Erin.

  8. Thanks for this 🙂 We can all learn to be a little more okay with “okay”! You’re a better mom and a better teacher and probably a better wife and friend for it!

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