Every day I wake up and start a challenging day of constant running around. I do the school run which is always hectic and sometimes downright traumatic in the form of feeling like my child is doing everything to sabotage me getting to work on time. Then I get to work and work a full 8hours, body separated but mind ever focused on my daughter. Mad rush home,then starts the second and third and even fourth shift. I have a side business,a husband,and a house that never seems to stay clean for very long. I’m convinced that while I am out,random people have access to my flat and just come over to fuck everything up. So I split my time between caring for a four year old, cleaning the house, working on my side business and remembering that before all this started I met a man that I loved and became a wife.
Sound busy enough?
Well ever so often I cross paths with a condescending stay at home mom and I’m reminded of what a shit person I am.
‘Oh I could never leave MY child she says’
‘Oh we made sacrifices so that I could homeschool’
‘I don’t know how YOU do it,I could never’
Don’t get me wrong,I have no issues with stay at home moms, even though I can’t quite decide if I hate them or envy them; but I honestly wish some of them knew how privileged they are.
My house is a two income household, and no amount of cutting down on luxuries will change that. As it stands now I struggle to see where my luxuries lie. We don’t have DSTV, we don’t drive expensive cars (we actually only have one), we don’t wear designer clothes. If your husband earns mega bucks which allows you to stay at home, or if you live in an area with a lower cost of living to allow you to take care of your kids, please don’t make the mistake of thinking that we all share the same financial circumstances.
I’m almost 5years into this motherhood thing and the guilt is real. Some days it stands in the corner, and other days it’s all up in my face and I cant breathe.
Working moms are spread thinner than the last knife point of peanut butter on a piece of toast. We have to conduct ourselves at work as if we have no kids. We sit in meetings keeping our eyes open with imaginary toothpicks because we got like two hours sleep last night. Some of us are pumping ourselves like cows in bathrooms or in our cars. We need to look professional even though we had 10mins to get dressed. We don’t dare take off sick because all our leave days go to cancelling when the baby is sick. We get home to realize that sadly, the magic cleaning fairies didn’t pop in while we were gone to organize everything. Besides the usual shit show that is domestic life and wifehood we also have to coordinate meetings, make sure our deadlines are met and that our clothes don’t look like we just fished them out of the clean laundry pile without ironing them first.
The ever elusive me time.
After a long week a work we get home on weekends and feel completely tapped out. We have nothing left to give. We SHOULD have nothing left to give. But we’re working mothers, and our working day never ends. So we drag ourselves out of that self pity to attend parties on weekends and plaster on that fake smile over a glass of wine when actually we’re day dreaming about that one day we will get to paint our nails and actually have them DRY before having to attend to the next task. We dream of not feeling conflicted all the time while we’re at work. We dream of a world where taking off to look after our sick children doesn’t feel like we’re one step away from being dismissed.
You see, this is the thing… While we’re at work we’re not supposed to be mothers. We are on conduct ourselves as valuable contributing members of society as if our kids were on pause somewhere. We’re supposed to offer to work overtime while magical fairies pick our kids up from school. When we’re at home…. We’re expected to conduct ourselves with the ultimate grace of motherhood and arrive home and spend quality time with our children until they close their eyes, because you know, they’re only little for so long.
But alas, we have shit to do.
After the second day you realize those clothes ain’t gonna wash themselves. While watching an episode of Paw Patrol or Peppa Pig you realize that you’re the mom and dinner ain’t gonna cook itself.
I didn’t go back to work because I WANTED to. I’m not at work everyday because I love dropping my crying kid at school so I can sit in meetings and forget she exists. While there are women who enjoy their work and their contribution, and for those women I say well done for having a professional passion and a curious mind.
The point that I’m trying to make is, it’s not so black and white.
Many of us don’t choose to leave our children for 5 days a week. In a perfect world we could all work from home and provide for our families. But life in this country rarely ever offers the ordinary mother this option. I’m struggling enough as is bringing myself around to the idea of adding another child to my family, and should it come to that, I definitely cannot quit my full time job.
So while you’re sitting on your pedestal judging me for ‘abandoning’ my kid and ‘robbing them of their childhood’, take a second to consider the fact that I’m doing the best that I can. Take a second to consider the fact that no woman in her right mind would consider taking TWO full time jobs and not even get paid for one of them. Take a second to think about how we wept on that first day of school and for many days and weeks thereafter as we dropped off our precious bundles at school. Take a second before you make that comment to think of how heart wrenching it it is for us to miss out on the ‘firsts’ in our children’s lives while we work.
Working moms…you’re doing your best. Your child will not hate you or be traumatized because you had to work full time instead of being able to serve them every meal and change every diaper.
I see your struggle. I walk this road with you. I see you dragging yourself home after a long day at work, perking up as you pick up the kids and then jumping into your domestic duties as soon as you get home. I see you going to bed at 11pm every night just so you can watch one episode of your favourite show and enjoy a glass of wine while the kids are sleeping. I see you coordinating every at work while coordinating the lives of your family members and trying to remember when ‘dress up’ day is.
I see you. I am you.
You’re not alone. And you’re not a shit mother.
You’re doing the best you can and that’s enough.