Thursday, January 24, 2013

Part II: Life as a Working Mom

Last April I wrote Part I: Life as a Stay At Home Mom, and I told you to stay tuned for Part II: Life as a Working Mom.  Well, finally, here it is.

My friends and family have always told me that I have a lot of energy.  When I got sick and entered chemo etc., some people joked routinely that now I was behaving like a normal person in terms of how much I got accomplished.

Well, I don't know if that's true.  All I know is what needs to be done, and it seems like the list is never ending, and that my energy levels have nothing to do with it most days.  I don't allow myself to check in with my own energy levels most days, because it doesn't matter what I feel like doing, things have to be done anyway.  Denial is a very powerful tool!

Here's what my day looks like most weekdays:

4:30am - Alarm goes off.  Feed cat, feed dog, make coffee, empty dishwasher, put on workout clothes.
5am - Friend(s) arrive to work out.  Go for a run, yoga in basement, etc.
6:15am Guzzle coffee.  Jump in shower.  Put on a dress or skirt and blouse, do hair and teeth etc.
6:45am Climb into Katherine's bed - a challenge, given that she has bunkbeds and I'm wearing career attire - and read to her for 15 minutes to wake her up at a pace we can both manage.
7:00am - Make breakfast while Katherine gets dressed.  Prepare lunches for both of us (I bring a salad to work every day, while she prefers tortellini and a piece of fruit).  Get her to record the previous night's reading in the reading log, etc.
7:50am - Out the door together.  We walk to the corner together, then she turns one way to get to her school bus stop, and I go the other way to get to mine.
8:30am - 5:30pm - Work.
5:30pm - run for the bus, hope I'm not late
6:00pm - get home (sometimes this is 6:10 because of the bus, and so my first words to the nanny are "I'm sorry!").  Walk in the door with aching feet in high heels, kick them off, remove coat, set down laptop bag.....say hello to Katherine and goodbye to the nanny.  Katherine's first words to me are usually "What's for dinner?"
6:00-6:45 - clean up breakfast dishes (if the nanny didn't) and make dinner.  I aim for something healthy, fresh, and cheap.  (Tonight it's leftovers of chicken vegetable soup made earlier in the week, so all I have to do is reheat it - wahoooo!  Katherine won't love it but it won't kill her, and I love it.)
6:45pm - Eat, seated at the table with my girl, talk about the day.
7:15pm - Katherine's "free time" while I clean the kitchen, look at the mail, etc.  (She clears the plates/loads the dishwasher.)  Check in about her homework, make sure she did it while the nanny was here, help her with anything that didn't get done or she had questions about.
8pm - Start getting Katherine ready for bed - bath or shower, PJ's, etc.
8:30pm - I get in my PJ's too, and we both read for a half hour
9:00pm - lights' out for Katherine.  Sometimes I run a load of laundry, pay bills, etc, sometimes I read or surf OkCupid.  Sometimes I fall asleep with the lights on.

Wednesday nights Katherine is with her dad until 7:30, but he often brings her home at 7.  That means that I get a whopping 45-60 minutes to myself, and I usually run an errand downtown or come home and eat something microwaved and then vege in front of the TV for 30 minutes....watching about half of a TV show, usually.

I can not believe how regimented our routines are, and how if they get bumped by 15 minutes everything falls apart.  If we get to bed late, even a bit, Katherine moves slower in the morning and is crabby with me and then we risk being late for our buses.  If I'm fifteen minutes late coming home in the evening, we're both crabby because we're hungry and tired (and I have to pay the nanny more).

Friday nights I try to do something with friends at one of our homes - order takeout here and the kids watch a movie, or potluck something, etc.  Saturdays I try to have fun, even though sometimes all I want to do is sleep, but that's my main day to go hiking or snowshoeing, or go to an event, or get together with friends, or host a party.  Sundays I clean the house, make next week's menus, and go grocery shopping and do any other shopping (my girl keeps growing out of her clothes and there are always birthday parties etc.) that needs doing.  Plus I teach Sunday school at our UU church in the mornings.  I try to be done by 3pm with chores etc. so that I can have some downtime in the evening, and then it's my movie night with Katherine and feels like the only night we don't have a million things to do....but often this is interrupted by real life, such as my parents coming over for dinner or something (and then I feel like the whole week starts from behind).

Every other weekend I don't have Katherine with me, and so instead of pumpkin patches or the science center or sledding I fit in a more adult hike or snowshoeing, or seeing live music, or going to a play.  I'm supposed to go skiing this Saturday, but I'm wondering if I should stay home and try to get a bit more organized around here, or possibly just sit in my PJs until noon instead.

If you've made it through this list, then congratulations, because it's not terribly entertaining.  It is, however, my reality.  It's not glamourous or romantic in the slightest.  I don't know how to fit in doctor's appointments or anything even remotely spontenous.  I try to fit in writing - either here, in my journal, or even (gasp!) more thoughtful pieces to work on my craft....but it doesn't happen more often than it does.

I have traded feeling like a second class citizen for being in charge of my own destiny.  I no longer have much of a garden, and my volunteering is squished to the edges too (the Sunday school thing, and I did the giving tree again, and I'm spending a half day on the school play helping out, and I'm doing the 3-Day this year and must fundraise for that...) instead of being front and center, and there is usually a giant basket of laundry that needs folding and I often hear "mom I don't have any pants" to which I have to say "honey look in the laundry room" and I have outfits that I don't wear even though they're favorites because they need ironing and I just don't have it in me to add ironing to my list (and I don't want ot pay for it at the cleaners).  I see my friends more on Facebook than I do in real life.

But it's still worth it.

I'm exhausted, but I'm happy.

For Katherine's birthday, it took every iota of energy in my being to get the presents, wrap them, decorate with streamers and banners, make sure the house was clean for the party, host all those little girls, and feed all of them.  Yesterday's after-work dinner was nearly the death of me, but I did it, and she loved it, and that is what matters.  I got the cupcakes made (by skipping the workout yesterday) and delivered them to school, and they were a hit.

I don't know how I'll date with a schedule like this.  I don't know how I'll feel after years of this - I've really only been doing it full time for less than a year.

But I'm doing it.  And I'm proud of it.  And it's worth it, even though it's difficult.  And I AM finding time for fun, even if it's not as much as I'd wish.

Not glamourous, but it's my life, and I'm glad for it.

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