The last five months since returning to a part time work schedule have been a total blur. It seems like I just started rearranging my schedule to get child care in order and to make sure someone could drop Caitlin off at dance. Maybe it's because I'm forever rearranging my schedule. A life working retail is anything but consistent, and even with the best laid plans, it takes one domino to make the others fall. Sure the closing shifts are hard on all of us. Working on the weekends has taken some real adjusting. And while we continue to do it, while we continue to change and adapt to whatever this week's schedule brings there is one part of this whole working mom thing that I hate...
Third Party Parenting.
That's what I call the fact that it is taking an entire village to raise my girls these days. Both Grandmas, Auntie and Uncle, even our neighbors. We are all in this together. We are all working to make sure the kids are getting from point A to point Z on some days, and for the most part it works. And for the most part I'm thankful. But it bugs me that on some days, I have no idea what is going on.
In the last five months I have missed note after note home about awards ceremonies, class events, yearbook sales, and carnival donations. I missed teacher appreciation week entirely, and that's pretty sad because I was the room mom last year. It was a very fly by the seat of your pants second half of the year, with me running around last minute trying to put together teacher gifts and carnival donations. I had to rearrange schedules to make award ceremonies, and had to ask the Grandma's to fill in for me at the year end talent show. Thankfully my neighbor recorded it on her phone, and I cried big ugly tears, because I missed it. By the last day of school I felt like I had missed it all.
Now it's summer and I just know there will be more cases of Third Party Parenting. I'll be working and someone else will be in charge of my girls. Be in charge of separating them when they argue, and makings sure they don't always eat ice cream for breakfast. Someone else will make sure they don't wear pajamas all day, and make sure they share the Barbie Dream House. Sometimes the girls will enjoy that their Grandmas bend the rules, and that Daddy will resort to ordering pizza. Most nights they won't even think about me at work, while they are playing in the sprinklers with ice cream cones and cans of Pepsi.
But I mind.
A few weeks ago when the Hubbs and I were discussing my work schedule and who would do what, and how many things I could accomplish before having to be at work at one thirty, I told him I was so tired of the third party bullshit. He laughed. He was like, "What's third party?", so I told him. I told him I was tired of someone besides me being in charge of the girls. Being in charge of the rules. I was tired of not knowing what was going on because I forgot to check the backpacks for notes. I was tired of forgetting to pay the dance dues and forgetting to buy sandwich baggies, again. I told him that parenting from afar, parenting with a third party was total and complete bullshit.
He told me I just don't like being in control. He told me I have to relax. He told me that I have to "Let it go". He told me to have faith in the system.
I won't say that he's right. I'll just say, it's still total bullshit. As much as I once complained about the monotony and complexities of being a stay at home mom, I really felt I had a better handle on my life. I felt like I was being the best person I could be, for me and for my family. Before going back to work, missing a note or forgetting a date on my calendar was a hiccup. Today it's a derailment. I know there are women who do this everyday, full time. They are successful working mothers, but I just wasn't built that way. I'm not a super hero, I'm not a saint. I'm a mother, who had finally accepted her flaws, only to discover that she has a brand new set of them.
Some would say to embrace this third party. To take comfort in the fact that my girls are surrounded by this amazing group of people who love them. And I'm trying, I do feel lucky that they are love and cared for. I'm hoping that I can let go of some of the additional anxiety this summer. That maybe without two schedules to follow, I can find balance in my work schedule alone. That we can find some balance as a family. Or maybe we will just fly by our seats, which has become our normal.
I guess I should embrace Third Party Parenting. Because for what it's worth, my kids are happy and healthy and loved. Their third party parents buy McDonald's and Subway. Their third party parents have swimming pools and fudgesicles. Their third party parents let them stay up late and watch Ghostbusters. My girls have no idea that third party parenting just about kills their mother with guilt, because they are too busy having fun.