I’ve had this topic in my head and on my heart for a while now, but today seemed like the right day to pour it out, especially now that I am reading Rachel Hollis’ book “Girl, Wash Your Face.” The book – which I highly recommend – covers a lot of the things I think new moms and new working moms (hell, women in general) struggle with, like feeling as if we’re not enough and that we’re failing, and convincing ourselves that all the while everyone else has it all figured out.
I was off from work one day last week, and after Clayton’s morning bottle I figured I would take him and Mikey out for a walk around the neighborhood. At the risk of getting into the mundane, I have a little clip on the handlebar of the stroller that is intended to hold your purse/shopping bags, but also works (or so I thought…) to fasten Mikey’s leash, so I planned to push the stroller, leash and dog attached, and not have to use another hand. Well, in the middle of trying to do all this in our driveway, our new neighbor came over to introduce herself. Mikey made a break for it (because, attention) and almost knocked the stroller over, baby and all. Meanwhile, I’m just trying to shake this girl’s hand and not seem like a total disaster (too late) when all I really wanted in the first place was to take a walk, get a little exercise for myself and some fresh air for my teething baby, and for my dog to not feel left out, which he always does these days. Obviously, it was harder than I thought.
That may be a stupid analogy, but like I said, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about our many roles and how we’re expected to balance them. The title of this blog, after all, is K8 In Balance, because I’ve always been interested in, or I guess more accurately, cognizant of, the many parts of us – our interests, hobbies, obligations, identities, priorities – that make up our whole.
Since I became a mom in March and a working mom in June, my identity, the way I view myself, and the energy I have to pour into my different “buckets”, if you will, has changed dramatically. I’ve always been a people-pleaser, and this has only intensified since I returned to work. The need to try to be everything to everyone all the time is overwhelming, but I am learning. It’s important to note is that my job has been great since I had Clayton; my current arrangement involves me working remotely two days a week, so I can see him during the day and not have to drive into the city five days a week, which has made a world of difference for me. I can’t stress enough how lucky I am to have this set-up (and I realize that many moms aren’t so lucky) and I STILL feel like lots of days I’m just barely staying afloat trying to be a good employee and the mother that Clayton deserves (oh, and the wife that Kevin deserves, because that guy’s still around, too!). All I can say is that it’s hard, and our country doesn’t make it easy for women to try to have both a career and a family. We’re all just over here trying to keep our proverbial balls in the air. And as someone who never envisioned herself as a stay at home mom (though God bless the moms that do it, because I always say that the time I spent at home with Clayton by myself on leave was a lot harder than going to the office, and I mean that), I can see why lots of moms wind up leaving work and staying home when they never intended to, because keeping those balls in the air (!) is hard, and sometimes darn near impossible.
I can’t even really pinpoint what it is that gives me stress, because Clayton is a happy, healthy, amazing little person who is learning and growing before our eyes, so clearly we’re doing something right. At work, I have taken on a lot of new responsibilities even since being back from leave, and I see a lot of growth potential for myself there. I love what I do – it’s an important part of my identity and I love getting to be creative and work as part of a team and use my talents every day for something I believe makes a difference. I guess it’s just that I feel like I’m always dividing my time. And I also can’t help but worry about how I’ll continue managing it all as Clayton gets bigger, and as we think about adding another little one to the mix (EEP!).
So, maybe this was just one big ramble without a concrete point, but I do think there are a lot of working moms out there who can relate. I don’t even necessarily have advice, I just think all we can do is try our best. Recognize that we’re enough, that LITERALLY NO ONE, ANYWHERE has it all figured out, everyone is Googling it, and nobody knows any better than you do. It’s hard enough, so why don’t we appreciate all that we’re doing well, and cut ourselves some slack? As for “having it all”? For me, it’s trying to step back for a second and be grateful. Grateful for my job, my son, my husband, and the blessings I have, that I am even in a position to be juggling all these things in the first place. Maybe, that is having it all.
So, here’s to getting out there and taking our babies and dogs for walks, and remembering that some days it will be a relaxing, Instagram-worthy stroll, and other days the dog will knock over the baby stroller and get mud on the neighbor’s shirt.