How do women do this? How do they sleep and function? Or do working moms always have a bit of anxiety in their stomach and a racing heart beat?
In October, I left for a weekend conference and my husband arranged a few days off to cover the parental responsibilities. Tomorrow, I’m going to a full day conference, and brought on my dear friend to watch the kids for 8 hours, all day. This is a first for me.
I know my friend. She’s been watching my daughter for almost a year when my son goes to preschool. I’m not worried about her capabilities or that she’ll mistreat my children. I’m worried my children will be complete terrors and she’ll never want to watch them for me again. My husband somewhat regularly encourages me out into the world without kids, but I’m always called back within 3-4 hours with a desperate plea for help.
Besides that conference back in October, and the birth of my second child, I’ve never had more than 4 hours alone without children. First of all, who wants someone else’s children for more than 4 hours? Second of all, what I am going to do for more than 4 hours? Third of all, what about nap time.
What do you mean, nap time? Nap time is that one time of the day that stresses me out the most when I think about putting my child in care. Sure, I typically say it’s just easier to wait till there three and then you can find a daycare spot (because good luck finding childcare for under 3 in this town). And truthfully, those two daycares who told me I didn’t deserve a daycare spot still sting at my soul when I consider finding childcare. That left me feel worthless in a way I never imagined. But, what really stresses me out is the terror that someone else might have to go through to put my children down for a nap.
Sounds silly, right?
Arguably putting my children to bed is one of the most stressful parts of my day. It haunts me for the past 4 years with a minimum two “try-to-convince-them-to-sleep” scenarios a day, I can’t imagine having someone else deal with that regularly. I can barely cope with regularly and one of my ethos is this need for people to have warm, secure, and welcoming jobs…. caring for my children doesn’t really feel like it falls into that category. Instead, it kinda just feels like a reason someone might never be a child care provider again and want to run away from me.
I don’t put my kids in full time childcare because that mid day sleep thing stresses me out. It keeps me up at night, and I don’t even have the ability to conceptionalise how that could work for my kids and someone else.
What if I like it?
This is my other fear about tomorrow.
I’m not the biggest fan of motherhood. I find this work incredibly lonely and unfulfilling. I dreamed of it looking entirely different, and mostly I’m overwhelmed trying to convince my children to sleep while balancing the social pressure of loving life. I don’t like going to the park by myself with the kids. Arts & Craft time makes me cringe. And why can’t they ever pick up their own damn toys. Top it off with a husband whose never home for dinner, or to tap out for a shower at the end of the day, and motherhood is just not my favourite thing right now.
But I know that my life right now doesn’t mesh well with a full time or part time job. I can’t rely on my husband for any childcare, any sick days, any pick up, or anything else. He’s gone most of the time, comes home for 12-14 hours, and out again. Weekends don’t’ exist in this line of work. The only CN wives I know who go back to work say its the lost of years of never seeing each other. I don’t want that either.
If I like it tomorrow then I’ll be sad that I can never have it – it being the traditional 9-5 job I thought I’d have by now. A job that maybe meant making a difference in the world in the ways I imagined when I eagerly signed up for a post-secondary education and shipped off to Missouri. It being the perfect career life that I was promised as youthful teenager. Nobody ever talked about how we’d balance family life because the career prep teachers in High School were men or eager young women without families. They didn’t know. They just knew that we could all dream this dream, and maybe we’d figure out the kid thing later.
Tomorrow will go okay.
The racing in my heart will stop, and eventually tonight I will fall asleep. There is always coffee in the morning for survival. My husband will be home and take the kids to my friends house and preschool. They will enjoy their day, and probably not drive her so incredibly crazy she’ll never want to watch my kids again.
I’ll be alright.
I need time to mourn the career ambitions I imagined I’d have by now.
I need time to mourn the family involvement I imagined would fall into place.
I need time to mourn the constant disarray I struggle to make sense of because its freaking hard and there’s not enough counselling sessions in the world for this anxious mama.