Life as a working mom isn’t quite as relaxing as a tooth extraction without nitrous oxide. Growing up, I planned to be married, have a career, maybe a pet. But I never gave much thought to having children. Once my husband and I were settled into a home and jobs, we adopted two cats and started calling them “the kids.” Despite buying them the most expensive food on the market, they took to eating the furniture and regurgitating it on the carpet. So with a pair of ill-behaved felines who fancied themselves goats, we set out to live happily ever after. Somewhere before the “ever after” part, however, one mojito led to another, and we became the surprised yet joyful parents of a baby girl. Joyful, that is, until my maternity leave ended and I was thrown heartlessly into the world of the working mother.
The last day I was on time for work was April 29, 2008, the day before my first child was born. I can prepare everything the night before, go to bed on time and get up early; these things don’t matter. Each morning there is always some last-minute crisis to put us behind schedule. A recent delay was due to a tantrum over a pair of pants that I dared to lay out for my daughter without her pre-approval. You see, she had declared them “too crunchy” the last time she wore them. I was unaware.
Punctuality is not my only working mom challenge; I use sick time like hand sanitizer. Before children, two weeks of paid sick time was a nice benefit. After children, I think, “Great. That will get me through August. What about flu season?” I’m one sneeze away from never being able to take a day off again. My employer offers the option of working from home instead of using sick time. This is nice in theory, but like the unicorn, working from home with sick kids around is something that occurs only in one’s imagination.
We added a second daughter to the cocktail two years ago. That’s when I learned that working full-time and raising two children is the only thing in the world more difficult than working full-time and raising one child. I also learned that some things just aren’t as important as I once thought, such as sleep, “me-time,” and clothes that match. While it’s not getting any easier, I am getting better at balancing my career and my family. That is to say, I think I will schedule a dentist appointment for next week. I could really use the break.