And during that time the debate between being a stay-at-home-mom vs. working mother raged on. I am a working mother and I make no apologies for that. The Mrs. Cleaver ideal still persists: the perfect mother, waiting at home with a plate of homemade cookies and tall cool glass of bottled milk.
Back in reality, I stared at a seemingly self-generating pile of laundry, debating whether I should fold clothes or write a post. Writing involved collapsing onto the couch in a pair of old sweats, so it won out. Even so, I always pictured myself as a working mother – it was never really a question for me.
My grand life plan was to get my degrees, establish my career, marry Mr. Right, move into the perfect suburban house with a white picket fence and start our family – one at a time. That hysterical laughter you hear? That’s fate. I was so close! But, life often has its own plans and our nurses often stated that children are life’s way of sharing that it is not possible to be in complete control.
I experienced a brief stint as a SAHM at the beginning of the year. I enjoyed every minute of the unexpected additional time I received. But I knew it wouldn’t be forever.
How do you juggle it all? How do you balance it all, manage it all, handle it all, do it all, fit it all in, find time for yourself? These questions are not selective to me as a mother of preemies or twins. They are for any parent. In the words of several colleagues, “Wine. Always wine.”
They have a point. Family and the office each have their own individual stresses. There have been many times when I longed for the relative quiet of the office and intensely missed the muppets as soon as I got there. There are tantrums to be dealt with in both worlds… Sometimes you need that glass of wine to remember to sit back and enjoy it.
This evening the muppets were playing on the floor in front of me. I had my work laptop open to a document. The longer I stated at a particular sentence that needed editing, the more nonsensical it became, until it made as much sense to me as I’m sure I do to the muppets.
As I wrote and rewrote a blog post for my work world, Destroy happily toodled around on his Giraffe tricycle. Suddenly, Search pushed him off and tore down the hallway using the Giraffe as a walker. Destroy waddled after him as fast as his arms and legs would let him. When the tricycle topped over, Search simply moved on to a new toy. (He was determined to solve the puzzle of the square block and shapes container.) But Destroy was inconsolable over his fallen Giraffe. Try as he might, he could not right it.
To him, that capsized toy was just as incomprehensible as my grammatically inaccurate sentence. That glass of wine became a life philosophy – for working parents the world around. Maybe those two worlds aren’t as far apart as I once thought…
The essay will be edited. The laundry will eventually be folded. Someday I’ll feel I’ve mastered my job and the muppets will continue to grow up. I’ll find time to enjoy a glass of wine while listening to the laughter of children. I’ll collapse on my couch in a pair of comfy old sweats as a Project Runway marathon teases Tim Gunn with my life’s mantra at a commercial break. “Make it work!”
Are you sure you can handle it? Yes.
What tips do you have on mastering all the little details of the everyday rituals? (More specific than “Find the coffee.”) How do you juggle it all? How do you balance it all, manage it all, handle it all, do it all, fit it all in, find time for yourself?