Friday, September 21, 2007

(Trying not to) cry over spilled milk

D: I have been a working mother for exactly half of my children’s lives. People are always asking me how ‘it’s going’. I usually shrug and tell them that it’s hard to be away from the boys. Maybe I mention how tired I have been, trying to get everything done. But lately it’s all the other answers to that question, the ones I usually don’t give people, that keep echoing in my head. It’s the answers I don’t want to give, because quite frankly I’ve never been a complainer.

But the more people ask, the more I want to tell them the truth. I want to tell them exactly how exhausted I am all the time…navigating my way through a work day, trying to stay alert on less then 5 hours of consecutive sleep. I want to share my feelings of inadequacy because I can’t seem to get enough done during a work day… I can’t seem to truly feel satisfied with the work that I’m doing…I can’t seem to get ANY where on time. I want to tell people about the measly two minutes of rest I give myself each night after work, alone in my car with my eyes closed in the daycare parking lot, before the insanity of our evening routine consumes my next 3 hours. I want people to know how hard I truly work to compensate for lost time while pumping my breast milk 3 times a day or leaving early when the kids are sick.

I recently read somewhere that for every highest height that motherhood offers, there are the lowest depths of mommy guilt right around the corner. If the guilt of being away from my kids isn’t bad enough, the stress of settling for mediocrity at work is a killer. I am learning that even someone like myself, a go-go-go type gal, can get stretched too thin…pulled in too many directions at one time. The problem with motivated, career focused women becoming moms is that we become motivated, kid focused women while still trying to keep up our standards at work. I haven’t figured out how to find this balance yet…thus the emotionally turbulent blog rant.

I think I want to share these things because I wish that I would’ve known how I was going to feel, being a working mother. I’m pretty sure it wouldn’t have changed my decision to go back, but it may have helped me prepare for it a bit more.

Now for the funny working mom story that sent me over the edge…

Yesterday on my way out of the office I grabbed my precious 13 ½ oz. of breast milk from our shared office fridge (do you think other people in the office think that’s gross?). I tossed the bottle in my tote bag and, having a few minutes to kill before my bus comes, I went around the office to bid farewell to my co-workers. It wasn’t until 30 seconds before I had to head out the door to catch my bus that someone pointed out to me that my tote bag had been leaking all over the office floor. Upon investigation, I find deep in the bottom of my breast milk soaked bag, the bottle with the cap slightly unscrewed and only 3oz of milk for my babies remaining. Not only did I get disgusted looks from my coworkers, but while on the crowded bus (that I nearly missed because I was frantically trying to clean up the mess) everyone around me thought I smelled like spoiled milk.

Breast milk…yet another casualty of the working mother.

Posted by Walker Lockhart @ 2:38 PM

Read or Post a Comment

Hi Dana,
I really found this post useful to read. I loved your insight and although I am a SAHM now I wonder what my life will be like if I worked outside the home and your straight forwardness on the realities is good to know as I am constantly in a state of flux on when/if/how/why on the "going back to work" question.

Also, I thought the spilling of milk story was funny, I know it must have been depressing to have that loss but seriously, it was funny.


Posted by Blogger Archana, mama of twins @ Friday, September 21, 2007 8:59:00 PM #

Wow- I totally hear you... it's so hard to make it all work. I'm glad I found this post!

Posted by Anonymous Selfmademom @ Sunday, September 23, 2007 6:37:00 PM #

This post really hit home. I'd like to offer some reassurance to you, from someone who has been right where you are.

I am an asst. principal at an elem. school, which involves A LOT of paperwork, meetings, discipline, etc. I took a sabbatical until my kids were 14 months old. My first year back, I constantly felt like I was just barely treading water. Many times, work was simply an exercise in frustration because I just wasn't getting it all done. Plus, I rushed out of there the moment the last bell rang to "rescue" my kids from daycare. (That's how I felt at the time.) This year has been so, so, so much better. First of all, the kids can talk to me, so I feel like we have a lot more quality time in the afternoons. Also, they really like daycare and can't wait to go to "school" each day. But most of all, I feel more confident in my abilities as a mother and feel like I know when my kids are happy, and they genuinely seem to be. That has made it so much easier.

Posted by Blogger Amy @ Tuesday, October 02, 2007 12:58:00 PM #

Hang in there!

My identical twin sons are now (almost) thirteen. Things don't really get easier but they do change and each stage does go by so very quickly.

Take care. Dani

Posted by Anonymous Dani @ Thursday, October 04, 2007 9:04:00 AM #

I think this is such a great story. I think about it quite a bit as I prepare to have twin girls in December and to read your version is really helping me prepare for going back to work and what to expect - logistically and personally. I find myself working late trying to meet deadlines or being in meetings or even making up for long lunches or appts. This obviously will come to a dead halt going back to work after the twins. I appreciate you putting your thoughts out there - it was really meaningful for me.

Posted by Blogger katarina @ Friday, October 05, 2007 3:01:00 PM #

Hello! I've been reading your blog word for word and today I feel like you could be MY twin! I have a 2 year old and twin 4 month olds. Your blog makes me feel like you've been following me around and writing about MY life/feelings/struggles/and of course triumphs! Like you, I'm not one to complain- focusing on all the super cool things about twins is obviously so much better for countless reasons- but I appreciate your candid post about the stressful times. BTW- I have nightmares about spilling my breast milk and I broke a sweat reading about you spilling yours. AHHH!!!
Thanks so much for sharing this!

Posted by Blogger Abby @ Wednesday, December 29, 2010 9:01:00 AM #
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