It is taking every ounce of willpower for me to write this post. If you read any further than this, you’ll understand why.
You know those people who love to tell you being a stay-at-home-mom is a full-time job, or even more demanding than a full-time job because you work way more than 40 hours and never get paid? They’re absolutely right. Even if you have one child. Especially when you have two or three.
I am that. I am the primary caretaker for my children 24/7/365. (My husband may be a loving father but he’s not the one filling up those juice cups every 2 hours).
The thing is, I also have another full-time job.
On top of regular child-rearing, I also work a full-time regular job (from home). I don’t freelance a few hours per week. I don’t work on my business here and there when I can. No, I have a full-time workload with meetings, deadlines, production quotas, and oftentimes more than 40 hours worth of work that needs to get done.
This is why I’m not blogging lately.
When I first started my job, I didn’t see how I could possibly do both things simultaneously. And yes, in the summer I have the help of my 13-year-old sister, who does a good job of entertaining the kiddos for several hours at a time. But let’s be clear — she doesn’t change diapers, she doesn’t prepare meals, she doesn’t jump up the minute she hears, “Come wipe my buuuuuuuuuuuuuutt!” from the bathroom. She’s great for distracting the kids and they love her, but she is not a full-fledged au pair. Not even close.
Also, she returns to school in late August. Last year I frantically interviewed replacements, but then Eric’s hours at work took a hit and we couldn’t afford to have anyone start. After my maternity leave, I just kind of took it day by day, seeing if between the two of us we could both work from home without any outside help. And then we just kind of… did it.
Our setup has been working fine ever since. And by fine I mean… no one died or got fired (yet). But I’m definitely starting to feel the stress of it.
It’s partly because 95% of the time I’m the one with one eye on the kids, one eye on the laptop, simultaneously making sure no one falls down the stairs and formatting my articles. I’m forced to contend with multiple interruptions in the space of 10 minutes. I have taken conference calls from dentist offices. I have turned off my camera to breastfeed during a team meeting. I have worked from cars and campgrounds. Meanwhile, I have to stifle laughs when coworkers complain about their cats/dogs distracting them and affecting productivity. Oh, REALLY?!
But working from home and taking care of kids is also my greatest joy. I am so happy when my 10AM coffee break includes sloppy baby kisses. I love that I won’t miss Madeline’s first steps. I am known to take my kids to the park for a playdate instead of breaking for lunch or hauling my laptop to my in-law’s pool so my kids can play while I work. I’m getting the best of both worlds and I’m incredibly thankful for the opportunity.
The biggest problem is I never feel like I’m doing enough in either space. I want to devote more time to work but there is no more time. Little heads peek out at me from behind my laptop screen and want to play when I can’t. If I had $1 for every time I said, “Not now honey, Mommy’s working,” this wouldn’t even be an issue because I could quit right now and buy a private island.
No matter which task I’m focusing on, the other one gets neglected. There aren’t enough hours; there isn’t enough time. And when my cup is so empty at 9PM and the kids are finally asleep, the prospect of typing more words and using more brainpower is like some form of torture. That’s why this blog, which I used to enjoy so much, has become yet another source of frustration and guilt rather than the creative outlet I want it to be.
Obviously, the solution to this is simple: get help. A nanny, some part-time daycare, something. And that’s certainly a consideration for the future. For now, I just wanted to vent a little and let you all know where I’ve been. I’m here! Frantically trying to balance two full-time jobs and usually failing miserably.