Today's milestone is one month since I returned to work. I don't blog much about work here. I tend to believe in the separation of church and state. Or of work and blog. It might seem a little odd that I am willing to expose the rest of my private business to the internet masses, but when it comes to work I remain pretty tightlipped. But I do try to maintain some professional distance, even though my hormonal ramblings are on display.
Franklin Covey. You keep me mildly sane.
So I don't detail my work life much, but please don't think that my silence means everything is going swimmingly and there's no story to tell, because I assure you that's not the case. I'm happy to be back at work and a lot of it is going very well, but I want to say that it is hard. All capital letters HARD. I texted a friend on Monday to ask if getting to work on time with two kids is a miracle or if I'm just exceptionally bad at it. She assured me it is indeed a victory every time she manages to make it out the door. So at least I know I'm not alone.
There's part of me that hates that I don't share more about my working life here. In much of my life I find I need to model after others. I look to those that have gone before me and try to learn the secrets of how they do it, or at least what not to do. As I've embarked on this working mom of two thing, I've been struck by how few examples I have around me of how to do this. It's not that I don't know any working moms, it's just that they seem to be few and far between. I tend to know a lot of women from church who stay home, and a lot of people at work that don't have kids yet. I seem to be part of a relatively small group that's in between, trying to do both things. Trying. Trying. Trying...
My desk mullet- party on top, business on the bottom.
I wish that I could be a better example. Not a better example necessarily of how to do it, because I surely don't know that. But at least an open example, willing to detail my struggles out loud. But for me, the Internet is not always the place to do that. It does make me a little sad because as strange as the world of the inter-webs can be, I do think that there's a strong sense of community that can be built here. And I'd love to support other women I know are in the same boat as me, though we haven't gotten to connect yet.
So for now, without getting too terribly specific, here are my big thoughts and feelings on the whole thing:
It's hard. Did I mention that?
Because, it is. Don't get me wrong, I'm not comparing it to anything else. I'm just saying working is hard. But staying home is also hard. It turns out most of life is hard when you get down to it.
And right now I'm struggling with the "how" of it all.
How to drag myself out of bed after being up three times already in the night. How to get out the door on time in the morning. How to pack lunches for 4 people. How to plan, shop for, prep and cook dinner each night. How to wash all the bottles. How to not worry that the baby's not eating all the bottles. How to kick my brain into high gear the minute I arrive at the office each day. How to find time in the middle of all of it to escape to pump. How to get all the things done before the imaginary Flintstones bird sounds in my head at 5 o'clock. How to race home and beat traffic. How to have enough energy to play and play and play before bedtime. How to coerce a toddler into taking a bath. How to do the laundry. And more laundry. And one more load of laundry. How to not collapse into a puddle of exhaustion on the couch, ignoring my husband. How to rock two kids to sleep back to back. How to spend my night finishing all the chores that have been neglected all day.
How to not feel guilty for spending all day away from my babies. How to not worry about them when I should be working. How to not feel guilty for putting in strict hours when I used to be available all night and day. How to feel good at things. How to feel like I'm not dropping all the balls. How to keep up with all the little things that don't seem important but add up to the life that I once had: fantasy football, Halloween costumes, book club, calling my mom, Instagram photos, this blog.
A train full of tractors on my morning commute? Perfect.
There's not a lot of margin left in my life. From sunup to sundown, in between and outside, it's all about keeping the wheels in motion. Keeping everybody happy, clothed, fed. The days are a race, and sometimes it seems like I'm losing. The clock always wins.
Tick tock. Tick tock.
But there are joys. There's the early morning snuggles. The thrill of using my brain in a grown-up way. Getting to wear clothes that aren't practical for holding a baby. And then there's the money. That's not nothing. Knowing that I'm earning to support our family and provide my girls with necessary things, and fun things, that they will look back on and be thankful for. There's the idea that I'm setting an example for them. Showing them how to pursue their passions even if that pursuit is imperfect. Showing them that yes, we all bite off a little (or a lot) more than we can chew sometimes, but we muddle through. Showing them that a working mom can be an involved mom, can be a big old mess of a mom, but above all else, can still be a loving mom.
So, it's going. I'd say every day gets a little better, but I'm not sure it's on a continuum like that. In general I feel like we're making progress towards being a little bit more together and having a few more helpful systems. And then somebody gets the stomach flu and it all goes out the window and we're just hanging onto hope again. But that's life. Life is busy, messy, tiring, awesome, and for now at least, I think we're doing the right thing. Each minute is not representative of the worker and mom I want to be. But when you add them up, I'm hopeful that we're building the life we want to have. One attempt, day, failure, and success at a time.