When I scroll through my newsfeed some days I love what I see about parenting. I see posts about moms letting their guard down, helping each other, unveiling the ugly truth that none of us know the answer or know if we are doing it right. I see support for breastfeeding moms, bottle feeding moms, co-sleepers and cry it out-ers. I see all these videos and memes telling us all that we are all just doing the best we can. There is never ending articles about the working mom vs. the stay at home mom. Those are the ones I think have really taken a turn in recent years. Both sides growing in understanding that each side has it’s own battles, ups and downs and benefits. I usually breeze through these articles, reading a funny line or two about the harsh reality that no one probably thought was there yet everyone can suddenly relate to, get a laugh and keep going. I don’t need to read every one of these because as a general rule, I’m pretty confident with my life choices. How I parent, who I am as a wife, how I work…it’s all pretty good to me. I also have quite a positive circle that reminds me I’m doing a pretty good job. But sometimes, like all things, recognition is nice. And sometimes, you just need people to understand. And sometimes….an offhanded comment hits you a lot harder than you ever thought it would. So if you are like me, you dwell on it until you can spit it all out in diary form. You know, if your diary is the internet where you share your thoughts with the entire universe.
I am a waitress. I work nights and weekends mostly. I grew up in a restaurant so a lot of it comes natural. We never made weekend plans as a family and there was never such a thing as Friday pizza and movie night. Wednesdays maybe, but never a Friday. I have a master’s degree in education and walked that path for a short time. However when I thought about starting a family the choice was clear and the apron went back on. It’s a hard life sometimes, being on an opposite schedule as the rest of the world, and sometimes your weird availability can give people the wrong impression about your work life.
I was talking to someone the other day on a Friday. I was working and they were on lunch so I was clearing their plates. We began talking about the day before and I mentioned how I didn’t leave the house because I wasn’t ready for “my Monday” to be here and my daughter and I stayed in sweats all day and lounged. They laughed and kind of snickered and said “wouldn’t it be nice to do that on a Thursday?”.
I don’t think they meant any harm by it. Frankly, I think they were so self absorbed they were completely unaware of how the comment might sound and were just thinking about their own wants and needs. And there are those people that take three vacations a year but then after your three days off say something like “that must be nice”….maybe she was one of those. No matter, it stung a bit.
I feel a lot of times that I don’t quite fit into a box. I mentioned earlier that I love that the never ending “compare fight” between working moms and stay at home moms is coming around to a great understanding. But in that talk, I just can’t help but feel like I don’t belong in either box. There are so many pros and cons to what I do and how I do it, just like there are for anything. I said before I am confident in my decisions for my family and I do mean that. But I also sometimes wish there was another box made just for us…one that people saw sometimes. So if this is you…I see you.
I don’t get Friday night pizza night with my family. I don’t get Saturday nights out with friends where I can get a babysitter. I have missed out on more Saturday and Sunday baby showers, wedding showers, birthday parties and brunch dates then I can count. I have been on a ten minute break on a 15 hour shift scrolling through facebook looking at everyone’s Saturday fun, at the pumpkin patch, breakfast with Santa, watching their kids games, going to a theme park, water park, beach, shopping, wine tour, boat riding or park hiking more times than I can count. I have gone to the party on the weekend, so very late and so very tired but just because I didn’t want to miss out, and then I have gotten up before anyone else to serve coffee to all of those coming in for their breakfast. I work late at night and I work early in the morning. I work long days to try and work less days. I tell friends texts will have to do for now and we make endless promises to get together when we both know there is literally never a good time for both of us. I see my daughter just before she closes her eyes, sometimes two or three days in a row. I watch my house fall from the cleanliness I left it in to the disarray of a dad and daughter “home alone” for three days straight. I come home with sore feet and start doing dishes or answering emails. And on Sunday afternoon when I am ready to crash, I pull it together and gather the last bit I have so that my family and I can spend four hours together of the “weekend” doing something we ALL can do together.
There is a lot I do, a lot I feel like I sacrifice and a lot I feel like I miss out on. But you know what else?….
I can take my daughter to an 11:15 AM playgroup at the Y on Monday afternoons. I can go walk the mall when it’s quiet on a Wednesday morning. I can be a part of 10 AM mommy and me gymnastics. I can clean the house all in one day or tackle a project like painting a bedroom or cleaning the garage and still have “days off” left. I can volunteer in the classroom and I can be home most every time she is sick. I may not have paid days off, but I have the opportunity to switch my day with a co-worker, essentially not losing money. I can go on the class field trip, bring everyone to practice or have another baby over for a sleepover when school has parent teacher conferences but my bff still has to work. I can be sitting by a campfire and text a friend/co-worker and ask if they will go in early for me or cover the day completely just because I decided we wanted to spend the night and that was where it was important for me to be. I may not be at the baby showers, but I am there to help take care of your baby. I may miss the birthday party but I’ll swing by on my way home from work and help you clean it up. I may get dirty comments for saying I didn’t leave my house on a Thursday, but I have the ability to earn money and get work done when my baby sleeps if I so choose.
It’s a good life. This one I’m living. It’s hard at times to put in 40 plus hours and still be looked at like you have all the time in the world. But honestly for me, it’s a high sometimes getting the juggling act right. Not missing the play group, buying a new outfit for picture day and being able to run home on break to do my daughter’s hair for it. Making big changes at work or staying late for someone and still having your emails answered and your mailbox empty. Bringing home some good money and yet still being able to make a fort and have a indoor picnic on a Wednesday afternoon.
So if this is you, if you work those odd hours, the ones when everyone else clocks out, the early ones, the late ones, the hours that require some of the most grit just to show up to, I see you. And even if someone looks at you funny because you drop off in your pajamas on a Wednesday and you forgot it’s picture day and you’re going to get pizza for dinner….just remind them that they are late for work….and you’re headed to happy hour. Just like when people talk about working moms vs. stay at home moms, there are so many pros and cons to each. As with a working mom who doesn’t have the 9-5, there are a lot of good points, and not so good points. I’m here today to try and remind you of some of the good ones. Every single human out there is just trying to make the best decisions for their family, none of those come without some kind of sacrifice. I see yours.
**This photo was taken on a Monday after we decided it was time to put up Christmas decorations at 1 in the afternoon and crashed shortly after**