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Isn’t “Working Mom” redundant?

October 13, 2013

The phrase “working mother” is beyond ridiculous.  It is, in fact, ridonculous.

Parents who stay home with their kids don’t actually work, right?  We just eat bonbons and sing Raffi songs and channel Mary Poppins.

So it feels weird to say I am a working-outside-the-home mother (a WOTH Mom:  could be something from the next Star Wars…).  I’m a teacher-mom.  I’m a mom-professional.  I’m…

Really freaking tired.

I am grateful for whatever sleep I do get.  Some nights, not much.  One night before I had to get up at 5:15 for work, one child cried every 30 minutes starting at 2:30.  One night last weekend, they slept fantastically and didn’t wake up till after 7.  So I slept too, and was a little late for my volunteering job (a small price to pay for a decent night’s sleep).

My brain is full.  At capacity.  (And they’re not even in school yet, with all their forms and lunches and myriad things to forget.)  I have my work to-do list, and my household to-do list, and my personal to-do list (like post updates on this blog more than once every 6 weeks…).

We are still ironing out the routine.  When grocery shopping gets done.  Who takes which car which day so Alan can take care of some laundry until we get our functional basement back (as it is, on Tuesdays, he rides home on the bus with a substantial laundry bag of kid clothes).  When dinner gets made, and by whom.

It reminds me a bit of when the babies were tiny, and every choice seemed mutually exclusive.  I can eat or shower.  I can sleep or go for a walk.  Always something having to slide, always having to choose one necessity over another.  At this point, having a conversation with my husband sometimes needs to take priority over sleeping.

I have exercised twice in this time period.  Some people argue that chasing toddlers is, in itself, exercise–and I don’t deny that it is a physically demanding job.  Still, I am grateful for a husband who practically chased me out of the house on a beautiful, sunny, warm October Saturday last week to go for a solo run.  It was slow.  It was solitary.  It was so what I needed.  I am grateful for such runs because they not only give me a physical work-out, but they also give my brain the space to rest and reflect and recharge.

With all this craziness, this LifeFullness, I am so incredibly grateful for the gift of teaching.

On my first day–four days into the school year, with three classrooms for three classes, no phone, no desk chair or drawers in my office space, with only a syllabus and some old lessons on goal-setting and an essay from Sherman Alexie–I stepped into my first classroom and realized:

This is what I do.  This is who I am.  This is what I have missed, and this is what I am so blessed to reclaim.

Even more so, I am grateful for the gift of teaching having experienced these past two years.  I had worked for eleven years to figure out how to leave work at work:  not to obsess or constantly plan or drown in grading or take things personally.  I’ve only been back for five weeks, so maybe these things will creep back into my mental space.  As of right now, though, I love my students.  I love planning engaging lessons.  I love reading their personal writing.  I like my colleagues and the school community.  I feel very present in that space, focused.

(Plus I get to eat and hydrate and use the bathroom at regular intervals, which is a nice change.)

And because I could work every day for twelve hours and not finish everything on the Work To-Do List, and because our nanny leaves at 4 pm, I finish what I can and leave everything else.  I drive home.  If any of the kids are up from nap, their faces light up when I walk in the door.

Our van looks like a Cheerio factory exploded inside of it.  Our office/guest room has tricycles on the bed and a single walkway that goes only to the computer desk (getting anywhere else in the room requires vaulting).  Our bedroom has laundry baskets piled with clean laundry–some of which our dear friend Cleo graciously offered to do for us, and I will never be able to thank her enough–that we have not had time to put away.  The floor under our dining room table is grittier than the sidewalk near a beach.

But the nice thing is that I don’t care.  I really don’t.  I’ll figure out all those other things like exercise and writing and chores.  Okay, maybe on the chores.

I am so much happier to be working again.  Overwhelmed.  Tired.  And feeling more fully myself.

My favorite part of the day:  reading bedtime stories (photo credit Maya)

My favorite part of the day: reading bedtime stories (photo credit Maya)

3 Comments leave one →
  1. October 26, 2013 7:13 pm

    I was home for nine years and went back to work full-time two years ago. It is hard but it does get easier. I think being at home for so many years actually worked to my advantage in terms of being organized with the meal planning and all the other house stuff that has to get done when you’re not working. I enjoy reading your blog so I wanted to pass on a Sunshine Award to you from one blogger to another, Obviously you’re busy, so if responding to these sort of things is not your cup of tea, no worries 🙂

  2. October 22, 2013 2:20 am

    Michelle – You are remarkable! A (very) skilled teacher, engaging writer, remarkable mother and parent, and good friend. I hope to connect with you soon, however, in the meanwhile, am sending my thoughts to you for nights of restful, uninterrupted sleep 🙂 I’ll be in touch, and really enjoyed your post (as per usual!)

  3. Neal & BJ permalink
    October 14, 2013 1:08 pm

    You are, indeed, blessed to have an awesome husband, precious children, and a job that you’re so very good at – and they are all blessed to have you!

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