Being a working mother is hard. I think it's harder emotionally than anything. In case you don't know, women have this massive guilt-gland which is triggered into overdrive when children come into the picture. Most days I can assuage the guilt of working by shelling out boocko bucks for a top-notch daycare, so that since a stranger is raising my child for 9-10 hours a day, at least it's the (supposedly) best stranger in town.
Then there are days like today.
My company gets really into Halloween. Each department goes all at out with decorations. Somehow, I got roped into being one of the main orchestrators of this creative chaos. Long story short...I picked up Jocelyn from daycare at about 6:15. I really needed to shop for Halloween supplies so we can start putting or room together tomorrow. Justin worked until 8:00 p.m., which is fairly normal. So I did what I often do when I need to do a shopping trip at dinner time with a toddler who doesn't exactly understand what it means to have dinner pushed back an hour: I bought a dollar cheeseburger from the nearest fast food joint and fed it to her while she was sitting in the cart.
And of course...I ran into someone from work.
Not someone I know well. Maybe I give myself too much credit, but those who know me well know that in general I am a pretty put together person and this is not the norm for me. This person was someone who recognized me, but may not even know my name. I know hers though. We smiled and exchanged pleasantries and I walked away with a red face because I was feeding my 18 month old daughter a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger while meandering through a Walmart.
I am totally ghetto.
And it made me hate myself for a little bit.
As soon as we got home, I make sure my kid had a banana and some milk. That makes up for it, right?
The sad part is that this is the second time in a week that we've done this little dinner/shopping date scenario.
Working is rough. I feel like I don't get enough quality time with Jocelyn. I do what I can in the 2-3 hours we have together at night. You know, all that quality time in between cooking dinner, eating, cleaning up, bathing, bedtime routines, and so on.
I have it on good authority that it's important to simplify life. I've cut back on cleaning. So if you come over to my home and it's a pigsty, don't judge me. My priorities are in order. Honest.
And on the flip side, I'm not as good as employee as I was when I was childless. I still work hard and I am probably more efficient. But I can no longer pull all-nighters in a crunch like I used to. I can't be the heroic martyr. I have to set limits and walk away and deal with the consequences another time. Sometimes that means letting others take over projects I desperately want. Sometimes it means working at home when the rest of the family is asleep.
I feel guilt over that, too.
I know that many brave women went through hell to give me this opportunity to "have it all." It's an urban legend, though, this myth of having it all. There are losses on both sides. And that's just how it is. I feel like a bad mom. I feel like a bad Mormon. I feel like a second-class employee.
But I figure out how to make it work. Even if it means eating Jr. Bacon Cheeseburgers at Walmart.