In my last blog, I told you that I’d started a new job. I know I owe all of you an update about it, but that’s honestly not what I want to write about today, so you’ll just have to keep waiting for more news about that. Instead, I want to tell you about mom guilt, overcoming it, and then getting hit HARD.
I was sure that I had eradicated my mom guilt. Thanks to reading that book about how successful women spend their time, I’d actually added up all the hours that I spend with Harley. Clocking in at well over 30-40 hours per week, it was clear that I was putting in as much time into being her mom as I’d put into a full-time job. Nothing to feel bad about. Obviously, that time would be reduced with me starting to work out of the house, but there were still many MANY hours spent together, throughout the week and over the weekend.
I did get a first pang of guilt, though, when I started taking Harley to early care. Beyond feeling bad about leaving her at school for so long, I wondered how she’d cope with yet another bunch of teachers and activities before the ‘real’ school day started. A couple days in, she told me that she didn’t want early care, she wanted to do the car line – yes, her awesome school does curb-side drop off that’s sorta like drive through, but only right before the school day starts.
I was devastated, as if she was missing out on some amazing experience because of early care as compared to car line. If she had whined about wanting candy, or to bring a toy to school, or to open her window or whatever else, I wouldn’t have even thought twice about it. But because it was something that I felt bad about, of course it was way worse. Within a few days, though, she was just as excited as before care as the car line – after all, being among the first kids at school means that she gets to play with any of the toys she wants without waiting or sharing. Plus, all the teachers told me how much they adore her and how much fun they have together at the start of the day.
A week or so after that, I was really feeling good about Harley being at school. She’s happy there, it’s a great environment, she’s thriving. Good stuff. I could focus on my work without stressing about how she’s holding up or what’s going on. Or so I thought.
About two weeks into the job, I got to do something really cool. I was helping a client who was filming to be on TV, making sure he looked good during the interview and sounded great with his soundbites and whatnot. It’s a fun part of the job, and I adore this client. I had just arrived at his house where the filming would take place when my phone rang and it was the school. Harley was fine, but she’d had a couple of pee accidents. They wanted us to pick her up from school, give her a bath, and bring her back.
First, can I just say, WTAF?! I mean, yes, it sucks when kids have accidents. But she’s THREE. They are going to happen. It’s not like she was covered in fecal matter. Wipe her down and get her back in the game.
When they were adamant, though, I was screwed. I was a long drive away from the school, plus in the middle of important work I couldn’t just skip out on. So, I called Dean and told him what the school said. He was as confused as I was, but as I was trying to talk to him, the TV van pulled up. So I just told him that I couldn’t do any more right now and he would either need to get to the school and collect her, or call them and figure it out. Thankfully, he got a Lyft and picked her up and brought her home. The interview went well, and the client was super happy.
Afterward, I got back into my car and called Dean to see how Harley was doing. She was crying, but okay – just emotional and upset. We hung up and I had to go back to work for other important stuff. But honestly, I was on the verge of years – emotional and upset.
It reminded me of the Shonda Rhimes book, the Year of Yes that I’ve raved about. In it, she talks about success and balancing work and family life. And her comment was that whenever you see her succeeding in one part of her life, she’s failing in another. When you see her writing scripts or winning awards, she’s missing bedtimes and snuggles. When she’s attending her kid’s school play, she’s missing the last taping of Sandra Oh on Grey’s Anatomy. There is no balance, there is no winning at this. It’s just doing the best you can in the different parts of your life.
So, on that day, I felt pretty awful. I also did the Shonda Rhimes thing and consciously decided on some emotional eating. I went to Starbucks and got a Java Chip Frappuccino. It was delicious. It also helped with pushing the feelings down and covering them in food.
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Today was “drop everything and read” day at Harley’s school. After reading, we went with friends for lunch and some play time. You know, like all the good moms and daughters do. 😜 *** I really did get lucky with this kid. She drives me crazy, and has started doing this whining thing that could make me an alcoholic at this rate. But truly, she is kind and funny and social and way too smart. I just have to remind myself she’s only 3 – the irrationality and incessant talking are totally age appropriate, albeit exhausting.
Realistically, Harley was fine. She’s sitting next to me on the couch as I type. She and I are super close, and she knows that her parents are always there for her when she needs her. She is happy, well adjusted, confident, and generally awesome. That doesn’t change the fact that I can sometimes feel all the mom guilt, but that’s MY problem more than it is hers. I know that there will be more such moments in the years to come. It’s par for the course. It just helps to remind myself in those moments that I’ve been there for Harley so much, and our bond is super strong. Part of why I took a job out of the house was because she truly doesn’t need me 24/7 anymore. We are both ready for this step. It won’t always be easy, but it’s really the right thing to do.