I had knots in my stomach all day.
I wanted to post something earlier – like yesterday – but life sort of got in the way of my creative juices. And by life, I mean work, sucking it straight out of me.
I have always been a working mom. It’s necessary in our household, and I like having a job that allows me flexibility, good benefits, and the luxury of going to work, doing what I have to do, and leaving it behind at the end of the day so I can come home and play.
Lately however, as work stuff becomes more complicated and less enthusiastic, the nagging feeling that things are going to change (maybe for the better?) has been weighing heavily on my spirit. To make matters worse, I have recently been experiencing a severely nasty case of working mom guilt that has me thinking hard and trying harder to figure things out.
It is time for me to stop underestimating and over compensating. I’ve decided that I have to just start standing up for myself and what I believe to be right and true – and saying it out loud. But it’s not easy.
I’m sure every mom feels it at one point – the tired, stressed, lumpy throated remorse that comes with the thought that there isn’t enough time in the day and we aren’t doing enough for our kids. It’s all I can do to get through the nightly routine before I crash in the rocking chair with the baby in my lap. And I have Mike to help – I have no idea how single moms do it. But we do it – we all somehow conjure up some kind of super human strength that allows us to run, run, run, from early morning until late at night. And when the house is finally quiet, and I have the time reflect on everything that’s been accomplished, and the lists have been checked off, I look at those sleeping faces and sometimes all I want to do is cry. I’m not normally an overly emotional person, but my gosh, I have been so sensitive these days.
Coming into work on a Monday morning to an email stating that I would have to travel for two weeks did not help my mood either. In fact, it sent me into a tail spun panic. I am not in a position where travel is the norm, or necessary, or expected. But with the current state of affairs happening in my department, I knew I would be contributing some knowledge to the cause…It’s nice to be needed. But need me from my office. I am in no position to travel and leave Mike with two energetic boys, one of whom is still nursing. Not that he couldn’t handle it (love you babe!) but it would be a struggle. Did I mention it was Two.Weeks!? And maybe it’s just me – because I have friends who travel – and I know dads who stay home, and they do it just fine. And if it was the opposite situation, and it was Mike who had to go away – would I feel the same? I don’t know…I think I’d be ok. Is that contradictory? (yes.)
The reality is – working moms can’t please everyone. Either work or family is going to be let down at some point. And choosing which to invest most heavily in is a no-brainer. But sometimes it feels like a risk – which is just so unfortunate.
I have great work ethic. I am passionate when I have challenges that are motivating. I am incredibly positive and thoughtful and use “collaboration, influence, teamwork, and agility” (all that lovely corporate lingo/jargon) when needed.
So after two days of anxiety – I scheduled a meeting with my boss. It took coaching from my best friend, and talking with Mike, and texting another friend, and running the scenario over and over in my head before I could even hit send on the email. I had myself so worked up about making the statement that I cannot travel, and Google of course gave me all of the worst case scenarios (including this scary article about what your HR reps won’t tell you! Thank GOD I don’t work in HR). Yes, I thought I could be fired.
And after a short and reassuring meeting, it all turned out fine. I am staying put. No plane ticket needed. No lonely hotel room. I will be working remotely, still adding my valuable (my word-ha!) insights to the team, but coming home to my much-loved, much needed family every night – just like I always do. Despite my fears, and apprehension, I did what I needed to do – what I knew was right for me, and I asked for it. And it turned out to work in my favor. Lesson learned. Use your voice. Mom voice, work voice, whatever voice it takes – and make things happen for yourself, because no one else will.
So working mom-guilt be damned. There aren’t enough hugs and kisses in the world to give my kids before and after a long workday, but despite that fact, they know they are loved. And I know I am needed…and while I have to, I’ll give as much as I can to the 40 hour grind. But when that whistle blows (for some reason when I wrote that I imagined Fred Flintstone riding down a dinosaur’s tail to his car…) – I am out of the reach of emails and at home reading stories, and tucking in, and savoring every second of the short amount of time the weekdays allow us to have together.