I'm a mom who works outside of the house. I'm also a complete failure. I'm a failure for many reasons, but mainly because my life-work balance isn't a balance at all. Instead, it's more of a juggle. And I'm really bad at juggling, you guys. And just like I've failed at the whole juggling thing, I've failed at being a mother. So, this is my confession of sorts. The confession of a working mom failure.
I didn't set out to be a failure, of course, but I guess no one ever does. I thought I could do and have it all, and that doing and having it all wasn't a myth but an actual, achievable reality. Turns out, it is indeed a myth; a myth that is used to make moms feel like failures when they realize they can't live up to an unrealistic expectation seemingly created out of thin air. So, I set out to be a mom who works outside of the house as teacher and a writer. I wanted to be someone who was more than just a mom to two kids, but also a person of her own accord. Instead, I failed. In all respects.
My job is demanding. I spend all day teaching and every single night and weekend grading and preparing lessons at which students roll their eyes. I want to be great at what I do, so I spend hours creating intricate and exciting lessons for my students. I sacrifice hours of family time for my career. So there is no "having it all" but, instead, a "having one thing at one time, depending." That's not what I was told "success" would look like, so it's time I fess up and talk about the realities of being a working mother.
I Am Never Prepared
I made a pretty cool command center in our kitchen a little over a year ago. I love that little spot on my kitchen wall. I would write a weekly menu, write a to-do list, fill-in any appointments and/or events, and have a small spot for photos and reminders. It was perfect. I was a visionary. Alas, the board is now pretty much overcrowded with holiday photos and I haven't updated the calendar since November. My lack of preparation and organization is something I always mean to work on, but somehow time just slips away and more and more minutiae get placed on the back-burner.
I Forget (Almost) Everything
Because my organization is lacking, I'm notoriously forgetful. I forget appointments and birthdays. I often wake up in the morning screaming obscenities in my mind because I had forgotten something important. I've had to pay fines for missed doctor's appointments. When I have a running to-do list in my head — a list that is never really completed and just keeps growing and regenerating like a lizard's tail — I'm consistently forgetting things.
I Love Working
Working full-time when you have a family (hell, even when you don't) is a lot. It is draining and exhausting. I am constantly chasing Fridays and dreading Mondays. But somewhere amongst the clutter, I secretly love the fact that I have a purpose outside my home. I like discussing my work with other people. I enjoy talking about the students I have, hearing their stories, and navigating the outrageously frustrating educational system. It's all very interesting and meaningful for me.
I'm A Better Mom When I'm Working
I've stayed at home with both of my kids. I did not enjoy it. I constantly felt like I wasn't doing enough. I felt lost and yearned for adult conversations. I couldn't watch another episode of whatever mind-numbing show my kids were into at the time. I was truly miserable.
So, whenever I decide to complain about not being able to balance my work life and my family life, I have to remind myself that I've done both, and working outside the home is much better for me.
I Wish I Didn't Have To Work
I know this sounds like a contradiction, but here's a confession within a confession: I have the ability to desire two opposing things concurrently. In any case, my deepest, darkest confession is that I want to live a life of leisure. I want to be the type of person who works only because she wants to, not because she has to. I want to be able to work part-time, so I can give most of my attention to my family and still retain a part of my individuality.
I Miss Important Events
I've missed recitals, school parties, friends' birthdays, and other important events because I was either working or catching up on work. As I try to fit in everything, I realize I simply cannot do it all. It's a reality that is difficult to accept, but at least it's not some impossible dream like the fictitious work-life "balance."
I Almost Always Feel Like A Failure
It's a feeling that I just can't shake. It's the feeling of "I could do better, I should do better." It's the feeling of "I bet everyone else is able to manage their lives better." Every missed event stings and hurts and makes me feel like I'm the worst mother in the world. Every time I order take-out instead of cooking a homemade meal, I feel guilty. Every time I don't get a chance to do laundry and my kids have nothing to wear, I feel defeated. And every time I put them to bed extra early just because I need quiet while I finish some work, I feel like my children deserve better. So, yeah, almost every single day, I feel like a failure.
Sometimes I Want To Run Away
At least once every few weeks I want to run away. I want to get into my car, start the engine, and just drive somewhere by myself and away from it all. I want to rent a hotel room, order room service, and binge on Netflix without making lunch or doing laundry. I want "me" time, and not the scheduled hour of "me" time I may force myself to make. I want, like, a week of it. Uninterrupted.
Check out Romper's new video series, Romper's Doula Diaries:
Watch full episodes of Romper's Doula Diaries on Facebook Watch.