Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Working Mom

We've covered a lot of Domestic Enemies in our time and now we're setting our sites squarely on those enemies that seem most determined to furck up the program of those moms who work someplace outside of their houses (in addition to the full time job that is taking place inside of their houses).  Both Kate and Lydia have been both full-time working moms, part-time working moms and stay at home moms.  All three are completely exhausting and bring with them their own distinct piles of crap. 

There are issues like germs and night waking and meltdowns that every mom deals with.  And there are a couple, like daycare and co-workers who don't get it that are unique to the working mom. Many thanks to our friend Gertrude for sending us her thoughts on some of these concepts.

Childcare: The working mom's life may seem well-organized and smoothly run but in reality it is all a house of cards for one reason.  It doesn't matter if it's an in-home daycare, a center, a nanny or a Montessori, when when your childcare situation falls apart - it all comes tumbling down.  Because as much as you may think you work for your boss, you actually work for whoever is taking care of your kid while you're at work.  You are in the palm of their hand and if they decide to make a fist, you will be squished to jelly.

Your babysitter gets the stomach flu and misses three days of work? The new teacher doesn't believe in toys from home and now your son refuses to go to school because his bear can't come too? TFB, mommy, it's not about you or your job or your pesky need to meet your financial obligations.  It's about keeping your childcare provider happy so they will continue to take loving care of your precious offspring.  And let's state this for the record: It's not that they don't deserve a metric f-ton of respect and consideration.  It's the hard to swallow fact that your daycare provider has all the power in your relationship and all your money.

Every once in a while it gets all kinds of whack, and that thought crosses your mind that, "hmmm, maybe I can make a change." Let's just stop right there. Finding new childcare is perhaps the third deepest pit in hell.  Except it's a lot more expensive and the waiting lists are longer. And it takes forever and requires you to use up all your vacation days.  And of course its incredibly hard on your kids and causes enormous amounts of The Guilt to creep up on you and kick your ass sideways. We're also pretty sure The Guilt has been taking extra sideways ass kicking lessons, too.

The Guilt: Every mom is well acquainted with this but working moms get it bad and all the time.  And it's a sneaky thing, it creeps up on you in a sneak attack and stabs you with a shiv in the kidney when you're supposed to be keeping it together and wearing your big girl pants.  You lost your first tooth?  I forgot it was library day? I was the only mom not at the awards ceremony? Cue the anxiety and the feeling like schmidt and the desperate thoughts of "What would it take for me to quit my job so I could be there all the time? I would be willing to sell my hair and the other unshiv'ed kidney and downsize to a single-wide..." And then you realize that every choice represents a sacrifice that your poor child will ultimately have to answer for and you sob in the car by yourself because you're the worst mother ever and f*cking Sarah McLaughlin came on the radio.

Co-workers who don't get it: You know what's lamesauce? When you're trying to deal with a sick kid, The Guilt, problems with daycare, your husband being surly because you can't miss your 10am meeting so he has to stay home and you're trying as hard as you can to act like a grown up and do your job and then one of your co-workers decides to be an ass hat and make some comments about how some people always have to leave early.  Hint hint: You. Because your children have to get picked up by 6:30 or your daycare provider will flip the flip out and that can't happen.  It doesn't matter a whit about gender, age, marital status or if the co-worker in question has kids or not.  Either they get it - or they don't.  When they don't, they make a bad situation infinitely worse.  And you can't throat punch them because apparently that's "creating a hostile work environment". Whatever. It's only hostile for a second. And then you get to go to a nice, nurturing, non-hostile hospital. See? Win-win.

Time: Public enemy number one for the working mom. Getting ready in the morning? A daily cluster of Gaaaahhhhhhh!!! that never gets better no matter how hard you try. Because there's never enough time. Example? Take last week when there was one of those rare warm, early Spring days. All afternoon the beautiful sunshine made moms everywhere dream of being The Greatest Mom Ever and taking the kids to the park. But wait - you don't get home until 5:30 and herding them to the park is typically an escapade of at least 30 minutes, which means you won't get there until almost 6.  But then there's dinner. Which means you're eating dinner at like 7:30 and that's if you stop on the way home and get fast food or a rotisserie chicken.  And then the kids have to go to bed by 8 or they morph into wailing, whining banshees. And there's bath time, which you could skip but then they won't go to sleep because the routine is messed up.  So it's be Greatest Mom Ever for an hour (because you know once bedtime is announced the title becomes Meanest Mom Ever) and deal with the insanity afterward...  Or just go pick the kids up and stick to the routine because everything flows better and besides it gets dark by 6:20 anyway. Thanks, Weather. Thanks a lot.

Germs: We all hate being sick and having sick kids. But children always seem to get sick during a week when mommy has a bazillion other commitments at work. And then the phone rings and it's the school nurse on the other end -- on speakerphone, of course -- saying things like "fever and puking" and "lice" and then your whole office starts scratching and demanding that you leave. Immediately. The upside? When you have a crapload of work to get done, just say the word "impetigo" -- no one will bother you. Which leaves you plenty of time to debate with your husband about  whose job is more important today and toss a coin to decide who gets to stay home and clean up puke all day, and who gets to deal with the crazy people at work.

Well, right up until one of you gets sick.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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