How does your heart heal when you return home and find that your daughter has been crying all day since you left? That she stopped when you scooped her up and nuzzled into your shoulder offered little consolation. How am I meant to get up tomorrow and do it all over again?
As a stay at home mom for the past 8 months I thought I had it figured out. Balance. I was a mum during the day, a wife at night and somewhere in between my daughter's naps I found time to see myself.
Now, I play a different sort of working mother during the day. One that works for and not with her girl. Someone detached from whoever I was to whatever I have become. I did not return to my career but accepted a job to help finance this new family. I am not alone. The current economic climate is no doubt sending more and more parents back to work. This generation might be well schooled but they are now paying the piper.
And, guess what? Paying the piper is not easy. I stifle every maternal, emotional instinct and summon every ounce of mother lion courage to leave the house each day. And yes, I'm terrified. Absolutely terrified. That I'll miss something, that she'll hurt and I won't be the one to heal her, that something will happen and I'll never forgive myself for either missing or preventing it. I thought I was scared of her forgetting me during the day but now I want her to play with joy, without looking for me. I leave every day and as I press the call button for the elevator I know that I'll never get these days back.
I know, I know. I sound all a bit over the top and dramatic. The answer as far as I can tell is that you just do it. Simple. You just do it. How did I get up and go to work each day 18 months ago between throw ups and all day morning sickness? You think you can't but you do it. When your eyes were so tired they would sting in those first few weeks, you would still rather hold your baby for 3 hours and just stare instead of napping. You push through the exhaustion. You just do it. And, those nights when after rocking and singing and running the faucet, the baby would still be crying so hard that you yourself begin to weep - how will we get through? Will this ever end? It did. We just got through. Day by day.
And so, I'm striving for balance. I run home and get just under 2 hours of mummy time. Followed by another 2 hours of being a wife before passing out. It's all me. It's just that when I lie in bed at night and run through a checklist of my day and see how I did, I wonder where *I* went?
Ahh, balance! Or perhaps...Ha! Balance! In a quest for balance I find guilt. Yesterday when Olivia was asleep, I went and worked out for 30 minutes. Grunting my way up the stepper I felt bad that I wasn't spending that time with Tom. This week I have a work holiday party - if we attend I will miss my precious post-work time with Olive and not see her before bed. Does that make me a terrible mother? Yet, the thought of a glass of wine and the opportunity to get dressed up with my husband is appealing.
I don't know how to do it. How to find that balance. How to feel balanced enough to lie in bed at night and feel that in ticking the "(working) mother" box and the "wife" box, that the *me* box is still legible and not addled with guilt.
Motherhood seems to be like plate spinning. Is it possible to find balance? Or in paying the piper are we in danger of paying a higher price?
This song has been on a running loop in my head the past
two weeks - good luck getting it out of your head now...