Do you like Working Mommy?
This has been the running joke between The Husband and me for the last two months. I ask the question at midnight, when I am still on the laptop and he wants to turn out the light. I ask him in the morning, when I call his office for tech support. I ask him at dinnertime, when I serve frozen pizza (again).
Stay-at-Home Mommy seemed like a pretty good gig for The Husband. So why does he like Working Mommy anyway?
The Husband likes her because he knows me well. He knows that as much as I fear missing out on my children’s childhoods, I am equally terrified of disappearing into them.
Producing something tangible and valuable is an exhilarating contrast to the unpaid, amorphous world of mothering. Plus, Working Mommy gets to wear cute shoes when she meets a client.
To clarify, I am only working part-time—way more hours than I have childcare, but way less than full-time. But 1 large design job + three small children=crazy. The blog has suffered. Dinner has suffered. My sense of humor has suffered.
Blogger Liz Gumbinner wrote a wonderful post called Grass: Greener on Mom-101. (If you are not already reading MOM-101, you should really start.) Liz, a full-time writer, writes about the tiresome battle between so called stay-at-home moms and working moms.
Personally, I’ve attempted to balance on top of that fence, jumping back and forth, trying to decide which side is really greener. I dislike the labels. We all know that stay-at-home moms work really hard and working moms love their children just as much as the stay-at-home moms.
After my first was born, I tried to be Supermom. I worked full-time running a business and full-time running after my toddler. Granted, I was self-employed so my super-awesome schedule allowed me to work nights and weekends.
My flexible schedule also allowed me to masquerade as Supermom with my toddler during the week. We visited all the best San Francisco museums and snacked on homemade flaxseed kale muffins. I was so tired I barely remember any of it.
The thing is that Supermom really doesn’t exist. She is drinking too much coffee at breakfast and too much wine at dinner.
During that time, riddled with new-parent guilt, I felt my son’s childhood slipping through my fingers. Every distracted minute was a slippery speck of childhood that disappeared forever.
I built something beautiful, but hiding in the coat closet to answer client calls was fairly ugly. I’m not sure I would do it again. I know for sure that I couldn’t do it again with three children.
After my second was born, I sold my business, shed my ego, and surrendered to motherhood. I knew that being a stay-at-home wouldn’t be all cherry pie and giggles, but it had to be better than the coat closet.
And it was. And it wasn’t. My time at home with two little boys was equal parts bliss and terror—blissful gratitude for being able to share a fleeting precious time with my children and terrifying anxiety at what I was, or was not, becoming.
After an official year of stay-at-home-mom status, I climbed up on top of the fence again. I wanted to grab hold of that illusive work-life balance that couldn’t be found visiting the same playground day after day. I picked up freelance graphic design and copywriting work again. I gobbled up the work like a starving refugee. I couldn’t get enough. I hired sufficient childcare this time. I was born again into the adult world.
Productivity was intensely intoxicating.
Then I fell off the fence. I moved back home to Santa Barbara, sadly left my clients, and happily returned completely to my beloved little people. We all waited for the debut of our third.
In hindsight, I couldn’t have worked until now. A third baby is a game-changer even for the most capable parents. And three months after my third was born, my father died. The question of working or not working in Santa Barbara became irrelevant.
This fall, I peered over the fence into to world of start dates and end dates, and paychecks and proper grammar. I announced to my—don’t judge—life coach that I would take one design client a month. The next day a friend of a friend called to hire me for a large project.
And so here I am. My design project is wrapping up and I am submitting my first blog post in nearly a month.
I haven’t forgotten that Supermom has dark circles under her eyes. In fact, they look a lot like the dark circles under my own eyes. So after my project is completed, I am putting Working Mommy and Raising SOS to sleep for a while. You see, I have started this other really, really long blog post. The kind of blog post that has chapters and belongs in hardcover. Not surprisingly, I have a lot to say.
In order to give the big blog a chance, I need to put my little blog on hold. I have finally learned that I can’t do it all. Besides, Halloween is over. It’s time to pull off the red cape.Filed under: Me