A little of your time, mommy

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Tali broke my heart last night. I don’t think I’ll ever forget it.

One of the most difficult jobs a mommy has is balance: balancing career, mommyhood, cleaning, cooking, time with your husband, self care, quiet time, and everything else.

Different days have different sacrifices; sometimes our family is put on hold for work crises. And other times work is put aside for quality time with the people that matter most. Other times, we assume what our child wants most only to be reminded that the simplicity of their wish comes down to desiring our love, attention, and affirmation.

Yesterday morning, I left the house while Tali was still asleep and went to work, the usual. Work was busy, satisfying, and fulfilling. After work, I met Tali (daughter), Tucker (my husband), and Parker (son) at community group, an event we have every Tuesday night with our closest friends. We share a meal, the adults talk pleasantries, and the kids play; they play HARD. These kids have known each other their whole life.

After we got home, after what I would consider a long, satisfying day, I told Tali we need to get ready for bed. (It was about 9:00 PM).

Tali then suddenly cried, “Mommy, why haven’t you played with me today?” I opened my mouth to explain how we’d talked in the car on the way home and how she played with her friends tonight and had fun and how it’s late, but the words just felt empty to her emotional plea. “Mommy, I want to play with YOU, don’t you want to play with me?”

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Even after playing with her friends, spending time with daddy and Parker all day, what she really needed to feel satisfied was a little bit of my time, a little memory and token of my affection to carry her off to sleep that night.

In that moment, I didn’t know what to do. We’d been up really late the night before. I was exhausted and still needed to get her baby brother down for bed. If I gave her “10 more minutes” to play then it would turn into “ . . . but last night you played with me!”

Instead I hugged her, told her “Mommy is so sorry. I love playing with you. Tonight though we played with our friends and now it’s bedtime. How about mommy reading you a book?”

That moment really stuck in my mind, and has all morning. I think I’ll even ponder on its meaning for a few years, while Tali probably woke up without even a glimmer of it.

Our babies need us. They need our time. They need us to put down our email. Put down our phone. Place the world aside to show them that they are worth our undivided attention. Keeping them “happy” and “busy” with playdates and activities and other things aren’t enough. They need US. They simply need us.

And honestly, we need them too. We need them to remind us what’s most important in life. It’s the people in front of us. It’s the simple things in life.

The Working Mom: Tonight I can’t ‘do it all, be it all’

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Let’s be honest. As working moms, there is SO much pressure on us to perform the impossible: be a dedicated employee staying late, but be the dedicated mom that leaves work early to not miss one ballet performance. And you know what? I’m not buying it. There is no such thing as balance. As working moms, we manage, and do our best as an employee, a parent, a student, a wife, a friend, an athlete, a volunteer, and the countless other things we are and do. But, even knowing there’s no such thing as balance doesn’t relieve us of the guilt we feel to do it all and be it all.

I wake up. See my daughter for about 15 minutes. Commute to work. Stay at work late. Get home late. See my daughter a couple hours. Get my daughter to bed late. Eat late. Clean up late. Pay bills late. And fall asleep sitting on the couch trying to make time for my husband.

Let me just tell you how my “balance” has gone these last few weeks:

– Most nights I go to bed late late because I get home at 7pm after picking my daughter up, and I still need to cook, feed her, spend time with her, and get her in the bath and off to bed. Then, after bedtime, begins the “adult” stuff like bills, cleaning, organizing, etc.

– Last night I was up a lot because my child wanted milk, and my husband was sick.

– This morning I got up early to check my work email, try to remember to put stamps on the bills, water the garden, and get ready before my daughter woke up.

– This morning I struggled to stay awake on my drive to work.

– The last few weeks I’ve been working overtime about three nights a week.

– The last few weeks I’ve forgotten bills, car oil replacements, lunch dates, doctor appts. and more because the overwhelmingly long checklist in my head and the few hours I have to fulfill them.

– The last few weeks I couldn’t sleep because I had a cold and my hips hurt when I lay down due to pregnancy and being in the third trimester.

Y’all, I’m exhausted.

They say…

“They” say I need to cook healthy and meal plan (that’s how to love my family and stay on a budget). They say I should go to bed early and get rest (if I want to take care of myself). They say I need to exercise every day (that’s to stay fit). They say I need to practice a hobby every day (that’s for future growth). They say I should be there for my family, but I should also stay late to meet a deadline (to be both a good mom and employee). They say I should limit my kid’s technology time (as a responsible adult). They say I should have her potty trained (if I’m any kind of parent…). They say I should move into a good home in a good neighborhood, but I should also not spend too much on a house loan and be saving money (for the future of my family).

Tonight, I can’t “be it all, do it all.”

Tonight I’ll eat pizza or mac and cheese because I stayed at work late and hadn’t had time this week to meal plan.

Tonight I’ll add water to the soap to make it last a few more days because I can’t seem to remember to buy any when I DO finally make it to buy groceries.

Tonight I’ll let my daughter play on the iPad past her bedtime because emotionally I need a little quiet time before trying to get her to bed.

Tonight I’ll sit in my chair and cry once she goes to bed, because I was too stern with her the third time she wanted her diaper changed in 15 minutes, but yet I hadn’t seen her all day and should have spent time loving on her.

Tonight, I’ll know that it’s okay, this is normal, and “this too shall pass.” That the hard mixes in with all the good, and the good memories and sweet moments remain as our strength.