Saturday, August 6, 2016

Working girl

Our kids are generally good sleepers and they more often than not occupy their own beds, but this is what many mornings have recently looked like as we get settled into our temporary home.
It was my fourth day as a working mom.  I had gotten home, tossed my heels to the side and immediately felt that I've-been-in-heels-all-day ache, confronted the boxes still stacked high, tip-toed over the half concrete, unfinished floor, dodging all remnants from that day's chaos.  I was going to calm Archie, who was crying, dealing with his own exhaustion from teething pains.  As I picked him up, he projectile vomited all over me, himself, and his bedding.

The demands of wife, mom, and employee hit me, mixed in with all the regurgitated Gerber sweet potatoes and milk.

As a mom, working full-time and trying to get her family settled from a cross-country move kind of feels like finals week in college, only the week is far longer than 7 days.  I've been running on little sleep, a lot of caffeine, and I rush out the door in the morning hoping I didn't forget anything and making sure I zipped up my pants.

I'm 26 with 2 kids and a salary, but I seem to be reliving a taste of those days stumbling out of my college apartment, juggling a typed paper and a Starbucks double shot.

You would think, based on my description of my first days back at work, that I'd be miserable.  But I'm not.  I am exhausted, yes.  But for the first time in a long, long while I can breathe.  The structure and schedule working has put into my life has helped leaps and bounds in dealing with anxiety and balance, not to mention being at work has thrown me into all sorts of uncomfortable situations, all of which I've had no choice but to face head on without hesitation.

Typically, when put into a new setting I'm painfully shy.  When walking by people I don't yet know well, I'd put my head down, I'd wait to be spoken to before speaking, but I made a promise to myself that this time, I would dive into the cold water head first and not have fear and worry dictate my days. Personally, that's a real challenge, but I have to say I've been succeeding thus far and for this one (out of many) reasons I'm happy to be returning to an 8-5 schedule.

The kids?  Yeah, I miss 'em.  Who wouldn't?  (Have you seen those cheeks?)  But after spending the past almost 3 years at home with them and rarely doing the whole solo mom outing thing, I think this transition has been good for all of us.  I deliberately chose a job where I know my kids could visit me for lunch and would be welcomed with "aw's" and big smiles, and if needed, they could hang around the office for a while without consequence.    Ella and A get to spend their days with the most wonderful, kind, hilarious, soul I know, and it's already been a joy to see them develop close relationships with others aside from Tim and me.  It's because the kids spend the day with this wonderful soul that I'm able to jet off to work at peace.  (Thanks, Bridgey!)  Also, Tim works from home, so the kids are able to see him if they need daddy.

The whole stay-at-home moms vs. working moms thing?  I've put it to rest.  Having made this transition and noting how all the pieces have perfectly fallen into place, I've realized dwelling on that issue is expending energy I need to love on my kids and do my job well.  Over the past 3 years, Tim and I have been through enough change to understand life is full of seasons, so maybe one day I'll be a stay-at-home mom again.  Who's to say?  As of now though, I'm working, my kids are babysat and everyone is still laughing come 6PM.

It ain't all pretty.  The respect I've gained for working moms and single moms has shot through the roof over the last week.  What a demanding daily schedule it is.  My morning has a routine from the moment my alarm goes off (buh-bye snooze button!) to when I walk out the door regardless of how many times Archie woke up crying throughout the night.  I pray that my babies won't be cranky come 6AM, and we'll be able to do breakfast and outfit changes without protest.  Earlier in the week, my prayers were answered in a different way when Ella screamed for 5 straight minutes not wanting to put her shorts on.  She was upset with me for going to work.  She yelled "Go!" right in my face.  It was one of the hardest moments of motherhood I've faced yet, but I realized that with this transition I'm being handed new and different ways to grow in patience.

Around 10:11AM every day, my heart reaches for my kids before my head even has a second to think about missing them.  And being a mom, I know that will never go away.  In three days when Monday morning hits or on a random day 30 years from now, my heart will ache in hopes that they are laughing and smiling and happy.  But I enjoy working.  I like the challenge and appreciate the opportunity to grow.  So while I miss them, I never feel guilty, because I've chosen not to.  This is a decision I've made while considering my well-being and the common good of the family.

There will be many more days with aching feet and tired eyes, maybe even another day like yesterday when I woke up with just a half hour to be out the door, and these days will teach me how to juggle it all. But I'm doin' just fine.

Now, please excuse me.  I need to look into if double shots come in bulk.

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