Last week, a co-worker leaned across the table and whispered loudly, "You look tired!" The other people at the table turned to me and stared, their gazes scrutinizing me, causing me to stammer something about how I am running a fundraiser for the kids' school. She responded with a comment on how I work full time and have three kids, so why am I volunteering?
Ummmmmmmm........"because that's what moms do" didn't really seem like the right response. Neither did "well no one else stepped up", although those both are the reasons.
The real response I should have given to "you look tired" is not completely professional or work appropriate. Yelling loudly, "Well of course I do! I'm trying to balance 20 million things at once, and I'm overloaded! I don't sleep well since I can't shut my brain off at 10 p.m. when the to-do list didn't get done, and I feel like crap because of some health issues I have! Not to mention, my job has gotten 100 times busier since the spring, yet I still only have 40 hours of week to try to finish everything!"
What I've noticed lately is that a lot of people write about how moms should take time for themselves, they shouldn't let the clutter in their house bother them, they should make more time for their kids, make more time to hangout with their friends, make more time to exercise, etc. The internet is chock full of parenting articles where someone has put into words what most moms are feeling. Then their posts are shared across the globe, with people commenting on how brilliant the writer is or how great their insight is. When all along, inside I want to shout "DUH".
I find myself measuring my worth by what these mom bloggers are writing, even though I've been feeling those ways for years! One article points out that I need to be okay with clutter because I should be spending more time playing with my kids. Well, I'm sorry but the clutter drives me nuts! I can't find the the school newsletter, or there is a pile of clothes on the living room couch because the kids dumped out the laundry basket so they could (creatively) make a leprechaun trap out of the basket, two cereal boxes, and the tie to my bathrobe.
I find myself wondering how good of a writer I am, since after only one comment on this post on my Missing the Moments, another blogger wrote an article pretty much copying what I said a few days later, and her post was shared across the internet.
I find myself thinking why am I taking on yet another role when I can barely complete the other tasks I'm already juggling? Yet I'm sure I just read an article recently about how working moms should be applauded for their effort with balancing work/life/parenting. However, I'm still waiting for a pat on the back that says "good job". Sometimes a simple "thank you" does not suffice.
With a career in higher education, I do not have the luxury of shutting down the computer every day at 4:30 and getting on with my home life. There are things I need to think about, plans I need to make, strategies I need to work out, and those can't all be fit into the 8 hour work day. At work, my brain is always on. During my lunch break, I struggle to complete personal tasks within 30 minutes because I know once I get home, there is no time to do those things. It's rush rush rush with no break until bed time.
I just read a blog where the writer talks of spending more quality time with the kids at bed time. Well, I'd love to do that but 8 p.m. is the first quiet moment I've had since 5:30 a.m. that morning, and I can't fathom laying down with three kids, and singing "Amazing Grace" three times..... yet now, I walk away with a deeper sense of guilt since some other blogger told me about her "aha" bedtime moment.
The problem is that I find I am letting myself be defined of what others feel that parenting/motherhood/working should be like, not by what my particular life actually looks like. The guilt eats at me for spending time cleaning while I should be playing, folding laundry instead of making time for exercise, sitting on the couch for 5 minutes instead of responding to the kids' 8,000 bedtime requests. I'm wondering what happened to my self-worth, and why I am measuring it by others' standards. Why I am letting some articles on the internet dictate my life and my feelings?