Friday, August 12, 2011

When Working Motherhood Destroys Your Groove OR 'You Live at Work, Mama'

working motherhood perfection

I have that disease that makes me want to be all things to all people, fight inner battles on different fronts, long for a sparkling clean bathroom with springtime fresh towels ALL THE TIME, and whip up cupcakes when I'm home on my lunch break instead of, you know, actually taking a break. It's the disease that has me folding laundry at 10 p.m. and thinking I may as well sweep the stairs since I'm already standing here when I really ought to be resting or eating or thinking or praying or whatever. It is a disease endemic to certain religious communities, certain families, certain cultures, and also to women in particular. Almost always women, I think. 

Now in my case the disease is caused in part by my particular personality, which somewhere along the line found itself fully enmeshed in a philosophy that read roughly If you aren't doing, you're nothing. I can't blame my parents, for while both are active and motivated, both also have the ability to kick back and relax after a long, hard day. An ability that I, for the most part, lack entirely. Kicking back makes me nervous and furthermore angry at myself because I could be makingdoingcleaningimprovinglearningworking, etc. Then there is the other part, which is that I am now working outside of the house and that work takes up what feels to me like a significant portion of my day.

I suppose it feels that way to the Babby, too, considering that earlier this week she told me that I live at work.

(What was that sound? Oh, just my heart snapping into two jagged pieces.)

How does this all work, though... my answer is something along the lines of 'There's no one who is quite as equipped to take on more as the one whose plate is already full.' At the expense of sleep or personal projects or happiness or fun, I have a habit of taking it all on, loading it onto the aforementioned plate, and trying to balance that plate and two others on my left arm while opening a sticky door with my right. Will all the plates tumble to the ground and shatter? Who can tell until it actually happens! Until then, I have cupcakes and clean floors and plants that aren't dehydrated and freshly upcycled chairs and dinner on the table even though I do so detest cooking and so on and so on.

I have to do all those things, you see, because they're what I'd be doing if I wasn't here at work. They're what I did or tried to do when it was just me and the Babby all day, walking around town, hitting the parks and the beach or freezing our feet off in snow in the wintertime. 

Ever since we got back from Germany until just a few days ago, the Babby has begged me or us to simply let her stay home. Every darn morning. Oh, how much more terrible it is when they're verbal and can share exactly what they don't want to do when that's exactly what you have to do to keep things afloat. Terrible, really. And so to compensate, I caulk the counters and redo floors and put the house in order and stay on top of freelance and plan my business and and and

Just hope that some dang day I'll be home again with the Babby and maybe a baby since it's not like I'll get to have the two I thought I was supposed to have and fewer money worries than there were before if I just work hard enough and make it look easy enough and exercise enough and keep it all together enough. Maybe, right?


  1. Oh - the plate juggling. Been there ... :-)

  2. I dunno know. I don't think you'd be able to kick back even if you were home all day. That probably doesn't help. Your post has got me thinking about my childhood and how my daddy was gone at age 5 and my mom worked all the time, but I can't recall missing them or being resentful of their absence. I was surrounded by grandmas and aunts and cousins and a gaggle of playmates. I worry about my own child and how we live so far from family and have zero kids on our block. I worry about trying to be everything to her while she is growing up and how that isn't good for either of us (because she needs peers and relatives and I need peers and relatives). Sorry to ramble, but this has been weighing on me lately and your post touched on it.

  3. Oh, I know. And know. And know.

    At the risk of being a bossy know-it-all, I can say that it was somewhere in the last five years that I got to the place I could let the house go a little -- a little -- to hell. I still have to work every available moment, though.


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