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Mommy Stress

I was e-mailing with a mom I know recently and she was telling me that one of her children was having trouble adjusting to mom going back to work. Why don’t you write about the transition from stay-at-home mom to back to work? she asked me.

I’d like to, but I’m just too darn busy!

I’ve been taking on more work these days, feeling like I need to pull in a bit more money, and knowing the satisfaction I get from jobs that can actually be finished — as opposed to raising children, which, I’m told by moms of grown kids, never ends!

I have always had this ambivalence about working. On the one hand, when we decided to have kids, my husband and I agreed that we didn’t want to be a daycare or nanny family. Never mind that I wasn’t earning enough to do more than pay a nanny; we wanted to have a family a bit more in line with what we’d had. So I had this mental picture of myself raising the kids and being fine with not working, doing my thing when I had time. Then, in my mind’s eye, they went to kindergarten, and I would get something like my old life back.

Yes, you may laugh at me now.

I have, in fact, been working since my kids were born. The first work is the one that our society often forgets to value, though I don’t think that we actually don’t value it. We just take it for granted: the work of running a household, raising kids, and being part of our community. Stay-at-home moms – and these days grandmas and dads and others – have always been incredibly important to keeping our community running. Schools, for example, have never been separate from their communities. It’s only now, when we expect both parents to work, that we’re surprised that school employees can’t take care of the whole job.

The other jobs I’ve been doing revolve around my creative life: writing, publishing, graphic design, music, and all the work that I do (sometimes for pay) for all the great organizations that keep the creative life alive in our community.

Lately, though, I’ve started to take more work that is really “for pay.” Not that I don’t enjoy doing it — I really do — but it’s not work I would volunteer for. My volunteer load is awfully overloaded right now! So these days I have actual clients who expect that I will answer their e-mails and do work on some sort of schedule. I have warned them, of course, about my crazy life, but that doesn’t stop them from expecting that I will actually get to doing things I promised to do and not forget all those details that I am always forgetting in my Mommy life. That’s only fair, and I try to keep up my half of the bargain.

But then June comes rolling into town. At the beginning of May I started to put both kids’ end-of-the-schoolyear events on the calendar. It was shocking enough at first, and led me to tell my son’s violin teacher that he just wasn’t going to be able to make the scheduled recital. He was supposed to be in two places at once; I was supposed to be in three!

And though my daughter’s in homeschool, which by rights really doesn’t have to follow an academic year, her public homeschool program also has end of year events like her little graduation ceremony and swim day. My calendar for the next two weeks has me being in several places at once, most of the days. Help!

I don’t know how it works in your family, but in mine, a tense parent leads to a breakdown of pretty much everything we’ve worked out to keep things running smoothly. And for whatever reason, a tense Mommy is the worst. I’ve already upset a friend/client I’m working for by getting stressed out at her, and I’m trying to tell myself: Pull Back. Slow Down. These two weeks will end.

Did I mention that I invited my mother-in-law to come for the week to see recitals, performances, etc.? Good thing I really do like my mother-in-law! I’m hoping she still likes me when the week is out.

So I think I will write that article, but not this week. Or next. Perhaps one of these days, when both of my kids give me a kiss and run to the schoolbus with their lunch boxes flying.

You may laugh at me now.

Posted in Parenting.

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