It’s around 7:30 a.m. when chaos erupts in our Valley household.
Jason is usually already on the road for work (poor guy has to commute 1.5 hours into downtown Vancouver during rush hour), while I have precisely one hour to make myself look presentable, take the dogs out to pee (hopefully outside), make some sort of sensible(ish) breakfast that my two lovely daughters won’t end up eating and white knuckle it to school, all the while praying we don’t hit a train or construction.
“Come on you guys, this is WHY you HAVE to go to bed when we ask you,” I told them both this morning, frantically throwing clothes on their beds and pulling them from their nests of warmth, limb by lanky limb.
“MOM shut the door, Tucker is going to scare the hamster,” screams Molly, 9, throwing a teddy bear in his direction.
“MOM my tummy hurts,” wails Zoe, 7, from the other room.
I catch Tucker’s glance and know what’s coming next.
“Get back here,” I scream,
But it’s too late. Again.
A puddle of pee smack dab in the centre of our living room awaits my services.
After I put away the carpet cleaner and whip up something ‘breakfasty’ that they’ll find somewhat palatable, it’s time to face the mirror.
“Don’t forget to brush your teeth!” I scream while slathering concealer under my tired, wrinkling orbs.
“Remember what happens if you don’t… they’ll all turn black and fall out!!!”
Running my hands through my hair, I know I’m really pushing the max use of my dry shampoo.
But with only 20 mins left, I spray long and hard, coughing on the fumes as the chemicals filtrate my lungs.
No matter how much under eye concealer I use these days, I still look bagged. But I guess that’s the price to pay for wanting to ‘have it all.’
As we pull into the school parking lot –five minutes late –the waterworks erupt.
“I don’t want to go…can I stay home?” asks Molly.
“Mom, my tummy still really hurts!” chimes Zoe.
This is where the gut-wrenching working mom guilt kicks into overdrive. While I’m tempted to scoop them up, buckle them back into their car seats and tell my boss I can’t make it, there’s all those deadlines, an important meeting and emails I need to respond to.
Besides, Zoe didn’t look all that sick this morning running away from me as I tried to wrangle her down and brush her unruly red locks matted with oatmeal.
I arrive at work two mins late and run up the stairs gasping for air, hoping nobody will notice. It’s here where I can finally exhale, sip my coffee while it’s hot and take off my mom hat for six hours. The morning shuffle is utterly exhausting, but having a job you truly love makes it all that much more bearable.
Coffee helps too.
It was back in November of last year that I decided to test the employment waters and send my resume out. Having been out of the traditional workforce for seven years, honestly, I didn’t think I’d get many bites. Even more worrisome was the fact that my background is journalism, which doesn’t exactly have the best reputation these days in employability. Reporting jobs are few and far between.
On a whim, I applied for three positions in communications/pr and was given three offers. Picking which one to take was to an easy choice.
Do you remember how on Mary Poppins the children make this list of all the qualities they’d like in their future nanny and then *poof* that person materializes as Ms Poppins?
Well, that’s kind of what if felt like to come across this posting.
- Less than 15 minutes from home? Check.
- Flexible hours? Check.
- Amazing staff? Check
- Creative assignments? Check
There’s also the fact that the position is already so similar to what I’ve been doing with Valley Mom. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that there’s a lovely volunteer who bakes us a fresh batch of cookies every single Thursday.
Seriously, I hit the job jackpot.
Even so, juggling motherhood with a full schedule can be tough.
Today was no exception.
It’s about an hour into my shift when the phone rings.
“Mom, can you come get me? My tummy hurts real bad.”
I tell her to hang tight and that I’ll be there just as soon as my meeting is over.
At this point, I’m not sure if I’m the worst mom in the world for sending her to school this morning, delaying the pickup so I can swing that important meeting, or the fact that I think she’s pulling a fast one on us.
I’m frazzled and sweaty as I pull up to the school (again) and head for her class trying not to twist an ankle while running in high heels.
Zoe isn’t in the office, nor is she in her classroom.
The next half hour proceeds to be a comedy of errors as I give the vice principal the wrong name of her grade 2 class. To be fair, they both started with the letter M.
“You don’t know the name of her teacher?” asks the VP and office assistant in unison.
Red faced, sweaty and defeated I sink into a chair while they go off to find her actual teacher.
“I’m sorry, it has just been one of those mornings,” I mutter, looking at my feet.
In that moment, I feel like all judging eyes are on me–that I’m ‘that mom’ who chose work over full time motherhood. Realistically, nobody was thinking that.
I am my own worst critic. Like the WORST!!! Aren’t we all?
Even when I was a full time ‘housewife,’ I worried I was being judged, especially by the ‘glamorous’ working moms. I felt like they looked down on me and my worn-out uniform of Costco yoga pants and a stained hoodie. I rarely made eye contact with this species of school moms.
Now that I’ve spent considerable time on both sides of the spectrum, I’ve come to realize NOBODY CARES! Seriously, we are all way too caught up in our own lives to give a fellow mom’s employment status a second thought.
If I’m staring at your yoga pants, it’s because I wish I could sport pants with an elastic band instead of the ones I’m wearing that are cutting into my muffin top.
Finally, my little red head comes running….yes, RUNNING, down the hallway, grinning dimple-to-dimple. Her complexion is pale, but she sure is happy to see her mom.
“I thought you forgot about me,” she says, interlocking her pinky finger with mine.
Insert more guilt here.
I spend a lot of my waking life feeling guilty. About working, about taking time off to be with my family, about dragging my kids to the gym three evenings a week so I can exercise, about ordering way too much takeout, about my serious lack of blogging these days, about not responding to a text within 12 hours, about cancelling a coffee date to watch Netflix, about being too tired to watch Neflix with the hubs, about being a shitty friend, a sub par daughter and lame daughter-in-law……
Get the picture?
I guess this is where I’m supposed to bestow some nugget of wisdom on all you working moms, but the truth is I don’t have the solution. I’m still trying to figure this stuff out for myself.
It doesn’t help that this mom guilt thing is engrained in our society and is constantly perpetuated in the media. Feeling guilty has become like a rite of passage for motherhood. Many of us wear it like a badge of maternal honour.
What I will say is that if you are stressed, overwhelmed, drained or plagued with ‘mommy guilt’… girl, you aren’t alone.
Valley moms, we are in this thing together — the good, the bad and the frazzled.