Catch Toss Throw: Juggling Motherhood
Within ten minutes of walking through the door, the boy slammed his finger and stood sobbing in the sunroom. On the couch the girl howled in frustration as she tried to yank the newly purchased baroque-like Halloween costume over her head.
It itches, she yelled; help me.
Do you not see me? I asked her as I held the weeping boy on my lap. Your brother is crying. I’ll help you in a minute.
You are the … the girl started. My sharp look curtailed the rest of the sentence but I knew it went something like …meanest mom ever.
I have been back at work for eight weeks. I was both right and wrong about being a working mom. A (paid) working mom. A paid in money working mom who wears heels and jewelry and, occasionally, remembers to swipe lipstick across her mouth in the office bathroom.
Those ten minutes spent with the kids after picking them up from the bus stop after school, a task usually performed by the husband, reminded me that being a stay-at-home mom is much harder than my work. Being with the kids full-time can be both physically and mentally exhausting in a way that my paid job is not.
At my paid job, I sit at my desk. I read. I think. I talk to my colleagues. I write. I go to meetings. I know that while I may be good at what I do, and what a relief that was to realize after four years away from the job, I don’t do anything that someone else couldn’t. I do not hold the safety or health of the world in my hands. The work, the actual working part of my job, is much easier than my day-to-day as a stay-at-home mom for four years.
But I still find working hard. Harder than I thought. The first few weeks I acutely missed the physical presence of the kids. It was like they had just slipped beyond my arms reach, but when I’d look around for them I was reminded that they were at home with their dad for those last few weeks of summer. And I was ensconced in a small partitioned area away from windows and sunlight, weaning myself from their constant company.
Then they were at school. Waved off by me each morning on the school bus. Off to new classes with new teachers and new routines. And, sometimes, please oh please, new friends.
It’s the juggling I find hard. I am not even going to pretend to be striving for any kind of balance between my work and home life. The scale has been taken off the kitchen table and kicked to the curb where it sits in the pouring rain waiting for garbage day. Weighing nothing but the air that settles on the two empty trays.
No. I am juggling. Catching balls as quickly as I can in my right hand, tossing them to the left and throwing them back up in the air. Catch, toss, throw. I move swiftly, staggering under the unexpected weight of some balls (when will the girl stop crying every day at school? should I be doing more to help her? what?) and dodging new balls as they fall at me from the sky (the boy did what at school? No. really?). Some days I have been known to duck, wrapping my arms tightly around my head and letting the balls fall where they may at my feet.
I am not a good juggler. I am awkward and stiff in my movements. Uncertain about my skill. I complain about the balls. Sometimes loudly.
I keep juggling. Every day.
Catch. Toss. Throw.
Brie @ Capital Mom
Photo Credit: derrickcollins.