Hello friends! I’d like to introduce myself over here as Allison Cooper, mother, writer, blogger, lover of leggings, coffee and HIIT workouts. I love my kids more than this world, but it's also true that sometimes I count down the minutes until bedtime. Before you start judging, hear me out.
First, motherhood is different for everyone, no matter which path you walk. You can be a work-from-home mom or full-time working mom, a single mom or a parenting-with-a-full-village-surrounding-you at all times mom. None of these scenarios make motherhood less difficult, less magical, or less exhausting. We’re all on level playing fields here, doing the best we can for those we love. Some of these mom days whoosh by so quickly that you forget to eat, have reheated your cup of coffee five times and yet it’s somehow still cold, while other days are slower, filled with temper tantrums and resistance to homework — these are the “countdown the minutes until bedtime” days, and they are more challenging days to get through.
Taking a peek into my life, I’m a full-time work-from-home mom who wrangles her kids every morning to be at the bus stop by 7 a.m., pushes the stroller back home with a fussy toddler inside who just wants to get out and play, helps her climb up the front steps to our apartment building with my left hand holding hers and my right being used to balance the stroller that’s hoisted over my right shoulder. Once we finally make it up the 12 steps half an hour later (because ahem... toddlers), I pretty much feel like a superhero and take note that my right bicep is growing increasingly more toned than the other. When we finally get inside our tiny New York City apartment (thank goodness for elevators), our day really begins, and often times I’m already exhausted.
When I talk to my mom, for instance, about feeling overwhelmed, feeling mom guilt, and counting down the minutes until bedtime because I just need a moment to think, she can’t relate.
I grab the remote, turn on Nick Jr. and am so thankful that Dora The Explorer is on because my little one has something against Max and Ruby, pull off her winter coat and shoes, place her in her high chair and grab her some breakfast. I know that I need to use these upcoming, uninterrupted 30 minutes of my life wisely to get started on work, because I won’t get another moment to really focus on anything until nap time, hours later. The first time I glance at the clock is whenever I open my computer and do a quick, mental calculation of how many hours I have until bedtime.
I don’t do this because I don’t want to spend time with my toddler or my son whenever he gets home from school, I do this because at the same time I’m glancing at the clock, I’m also taking a cold hard look at the to-do list scribbled down in a notebook next to me. I have a lot to get done and not a lot of time to do it, which is my norm most days.
I hate that sometimes I’m too busy to stop and smell the roses.
Toddlers are busy and as much as I try to roll with the punches, I have numerous “oh crap” moments throughout the day when I know that the clock is ticking and I’m not getting enough done. It can be stressful and while I’m thankful to be at home with my kids while I work, everyday is an obstacle course fit for an Olympian.
I think a lot of it is because today’s parents have more daily pressures on us than the generations before. When I talk to my mom, for instance, about feeling overwhelmed, feeling mom guilt, and counting down the minutes until bedtime because I just need a moment to think, she can’t relate. She didn’t have those feelings thirty-one years ago when I was a little babe. She had less stress and never felt a need to wish the day away because she was worried about a deadline or needed a moment to deep clean the oven in peace. Things were different and I’m kind of jealous.
And it also breaks my heart. All of it. I hate that sometimes I’m too busy to stop and smell the roses. But I also relish in those moments when it's not like that, like when my daughter fell back to sleep on my chest the other day after she woke up from her nap. I breathed her in so hard that I could almost smell the new baby smell again and it was honestly magical. But there are those devastating moments where I find myself looking at the clock and knowing that I need bedtime to come, like now, so that I can have some peace, an uninterrupted moment.
So this is my truth, and I’m sharing a little piece of it with you. Bedtime often means that I can think clearly, write an entire article without having to refill a juice cup and even pee alone and some days I just need that sooner than others.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.