Last week as I was trying to squeeze in a blog post for the week, I pulled out my laptop at the dining table while Caitlin did her homework. We were chatting, me kind of chatting, because when the word strikes you, you type, when she stopped and said,
“Mommy, can you stop typing?”
Cue the dreaded mommy guilt.
I get it. I’ve been working a lot since my promotion and this is all new to them and this family as a whole. Especially Caitlin who was born to a mother too damn anxious to do more than one thing at a time. But as she grew, I grew too. I grew into a multi tasker and a writer and a kind of okay cook. I grew to be less anxious, and with time I became braver. All the things that I needed to get me to here. A full time working mom, who is still trying to launch a writing career; run a girl scout troop; be a good wife; and be a kick ass mother. But I can tell she is pretty confused at how her crazy, scatterbrained, fumbling mom, could pull any of that off.
So as the mommy guilt settled in I replied,
“Mommy has homework too”.
I went on to explain that mommy still wants to write stories on her blog. That her new job is important, kind of like school is important for her. But there are still other things that mommy wants to do, and in order to do them, I have homework. Still pushed the laptop to the side and helped her with word problems, which in my opinion are ridiculous. Who cares how many apples Sally has in comparison to Bobby, and who cares if Sally gives them to Issac so how many does Jill have? Tell me that is not an honest assessment of word problems. I helped and discussed and even joked about word problems and we made up a few of our own. Then I gave both girls a bath, and Caitlin read a story to us, and then I read a story to them, and finally when they were asleep and in bed, I picked my laptop back up.
There will always be the internal struggle of am I doing this right, am I devoting enough of me and my time to this mothering life. There will always be that voice in the back of my head that says, “give up this blog”, “you have more important things to do than type away at this keyboard”, but I know, deep down that the voice is wrong. There are a million mothers who work and mother and write or blog or dance or cook or run million dollar empires. That is life. And even if many mothers I know aren’t running million dollar empires, they are running family empires of their own, with brilliant and well rounded children, happy husbands, and sometimes the occasional Etsy shop. Some of them home school, some of them coach dance, some of them volunteer for their churches. Every mother has that internal struggle of how much time can I give, and how much can I take for myself?
A wise friend once told me that taking time for myself would make me a better mother. I can jive with that. There is some truth there. Taking time for yourself is so important. We tend to sacrifice ourselves and our time. Like I’ve written about, I’ve been doing things for motherhood for awhile. But recently I’ve been doing things for me, more and more. In the beginning, this blog was my escape, my therapy, my little slice of Megan. Then it grew into something more. It’s a major accomplishment that I”m still writing it, somewhat daily after almost four years. I’m quite proud of that.
But even with pride comes the guilt. The nights I should be doing any number of things, but instead I’m writing. Typing away as the kids play and eat chips and watch terrible television. I recently saw an old episode of Grey’s Anatomy and it was one where Meredith had just adopted Zola. And of course as any new mother knows, holding on to your old life and trying to do you new one is damn right impossible. So there she was, dropping Zola off at Callie and Arizona’s again, and she meets Callie at the door with tears in her eyes. It’s what Callie says that struck me most. She said something like, “no, no, no. Don’t. Don’t do that. It’s good for her to see you work. It’s good for her to see YOU”. That stuck with me. No matter your work, it’s good for your children to see you do it. It shows them that you are more than just mom, you are a person. Kids need to see that. They also need to see that we make mistakes. Because mistakes are okay, as long as we learn from them. So while we may be inundated with guilt, it’s good for them to see us work. It’s good for them to see us commit. It’s good for them to see us fail, to see us get up and try again, to see us work so hard toward that end goal, no matter what it may be.
Even today as I try to squeeze in time to write, while the laundry tumbles and the kids eat grilled cheese, I’m working on me. This is my homework. Even if it has little to do with my day job, it has everything to do with my all the time job, which is being a mother. So while I try to eliminate word problems from my life (because I don’t care how many candies Joey has), I’ll keep reminding myself and my girls that mommies have homework too. Because even after all this time, I’m still working on me.