Last night I went to see the movie "I Don't Know How She Does It" with Sarah Jessica Parker. I have to say that the whole thing hit a little too close to home. It details the obstacles of being a working mom, and I have encountered all of them.
A working mom faces so many areas of criticism, most of it coming from other women. We really are our own worst enemies, but this should come as no big surprise. The cattiness starts around 4th grade and really goes until we are about 75, or so I hear. The usual arguments are if you are a working mom, you are allowing someone else to raise your kids. I have been told that I am missing the very best parts of being a mom. The Stay-at-Home mom is told that they are wasting the best years of their life and are not contributing to their household income in any meaningful way. They will never recover from the lost work experience and sit around all day doing nothing but eating bon-bons and watching TV.
I have been both, and I can say that each of them have advantages and disadvantages. Dave and I have decided that for our family it is best if I work. I need to be connected to other people and when I am a SAHM I tend to spiral into out-of-control anxiety and depression. I am a better mother when I come home to my kids than when I am with them all day. I think even the kids would agree with this. And who are we kidding, the money is important, too.
The problem with working is that there are so many things that need to be done, and such a short amount of time in which to get them done. You really do have to work twice as hard to be seen as an equal, and God help you if you need to do a kid related activity. I used to work at a job where I traveled up to 10 days of the month. The kids were 3 and 8 at the time and it was just too hard. I would wake up and not know where I was. One hotel was the same as the next and I found myself in all sorts of situations that now keep me up at night. I once had the school secretary call me when I was in Dallas to tell me that Colin fell into a puddle and his pants were soaking wet. I was able to orchestrate a mission to get him new pants while still participating in a meeting. It is not quite as bad as getting a text alerting me to a lice outbreak, but still a critical mission none the less. I might point out that Dave was sitting at his desk in the same state as the wet pants and nobody thought to call him.
The Equal Rights Amendment helped women get opportunities that we have never had before. The only problem is that while we picked up more responsibilities, we didn't share any that we already had. I am very lucky that Dave helps so much with our kids and household, but even he will tell you that the majority falls on me. I am the one that is responsible for making sure they are where they are supposed to be, and that they are in the care of someone we trust if we aren't there. I do the laundry and cooking. I make sure that projects are done and they have what they need for school. In short, I am a general running this thing we call the Murray house.
The sheer volume of things that need to be taken care of with two children can be overwhelming on a good day and then when you add in a job/career that also helps to fulfill you it becomes a huge balancing act. At the end of the day, I am exhausted and cranky. It is hard to imagine that I will be able to get up and do it all again tomorrow. I think it must be the same feeling a boxer has when he is down for the count. I have tried all different ways to make it easier and have found that there really isn't a shortcut here. As it turns out, if given the opportunity, I really wouldn't change a thing.