Good Enough

As a work-at-home mom, I struggle with this question every day:  Is what I'm doing for my family and my work actually good enough?  And I know that this is a question that every mom struggles with in one form or another.  Are we devoting enough time to our kids, our spouse, our work?  Do we have to sacrifice one for the other?

And honestly, we aren't making it easier on ourselves with the amount of judgement that gets passed around on social media.  Remember that open letter to the mom on the cell phone?  Ugh.  That one pissed me off.  It struck a cord because I've been that mom on the phone.  Checking work email or catching up on gossip to de-stress (Is that even a word? #itisnow) my brain.  But it's not as if I'm denying my children.  We're at the park for goodness sake.  Really, as if we don't judge ourselves enough already, must we open up the forum to everyone and their mother about what a great/crappy job we're doing?  Blah.  I digress.

Anyway, I knew after having my first child (Av) that I wanted to be around to see the day-to-day stuff.  All those milestones we look forward to as parents as validation that we are "doing it right"... taking her first step, hearing her first word, taking her to school for the first time and being there when she got home.  But I also knew that I had to work.  99.9% for the money (duh) but also to keep my mind engaged and up-to-date on the trends within my industry because I knew this phase of my life wouldn't last forever.  When I got pregnant with my second child (Iz), I cut back on work and my client load to slow things down for when I had two crazy kids keeping me up at night.  It wasn't until after Iz was in pre-school at 18-months that I started really ramping up on work again.  And now, with Av in 1st grade and Iz heading into kindergarten in the fall, I've been taking on more work again.

Lately, with all this work, I haven't been the most attentive mother.  I haven't been able to ooh and awe at all of their artwork and puzzles and tests because I've been locked in my home office typing away on my computer.  I haven't been the most patient mother and I've raised my voice far too many times because I'm stressed and strapped for time.  I'm not proud of this stuff but it's my current reality.

Last week in particular was just rough.  Working through the day and again after putting the kids to bed until midnight just so I could get enough work done to do the regular things like drop-off and pick-up and eating dinner with my family.  I'm lucky to have a hands-on husband that will take most of the load when I'm busy with work.  But there were tears last week.  Tears over work and the guilt of not being there for my kids.  I can't leave my clients in a lurch because they pay me to take care of their business.  And I know my kids will be fine.  This busy and stressful time for me will be just a blip in their childhood memories, but it doesn't make it any easier to take as their mom.  I want to do better.  Be better.  Be more patient.  Have more time.

This past week reminded me of the last time I had a breakdown about this same struggle.  Two years ago, while driving both my kids to pre-school, Iz said to me "Daddy do his work, then Daddy do your work so you don't work.  I want you."  It made me so sad to hear my then 3-year old ask me to be more present in her day-to-day life.  She missed me and I wasn't there for her.  I tried to explain to her that Mommy and Daddy do different things for work, so it wasn't that easy.  Turns out my then 5-year old Av was the voice of reason to her little sister.  She yelled "Iz!  She needs to work!  She needs to make pennies so we can go shopping!!!"  Truth from the mouths of babes. (Although her idea of shopping involves more toys and jewelry whereas mine includes food and necessities!)

So obviously this is a cycle I go through.  This is my reality.  I'm a working mom masquerading as a stay-at-home mom.  And sometimes, it's exhausting.  Even if the kids don't realize how lucky they are now, I do.  Sometimes I need a reminder, usually my husband saying those exact words to me.  But I know deep down that what I'm doing is for them.  I know how lucky we both are to be able to share this time together.  I know there there so many people that have it much much harder than me.  That this life I have is not a real struggle in the big picture of things.  I just hope that when they grow up, maybe with kids of their own, they'll be able to look back and understand why mommy kept locking the office door to work, or didn't t look so closely at the drawing they just made, or made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for dinner.  I hope.
Thank goodness this little one loves peanut butter and jelly!
Do you go through cycles of mom guilt too?  How do you deal?

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