Confessions of a Working Mom: My Story
I started this blog with the hope that I could help someone out who may be struggling with guilt, who may be overwhelmed with a work/life balance, who maybe can’t figure out a good routine for housework or maybe even just let someone know that they are not alone.
As a working mom, I’ve hit roadblocks and I’ve been faced with impossible decisions. I wanted so badly to have it all together and be picture perfect for the world. For a while, I thought I had things figured out.
Well, I’ve got some confessions to make. I’ve gone through hell and back. Twice. I lost my mom a few years ago and that’s when things spun out of control for me. I stopped talking to friends. I pulled away from family. I divorced my husband.
I came out as gay.
So, you can about imagine how that year went for me. If you can’t, let me enlighten you. It was awful. Imagine, for a minute, being in a ten-year relationship, having a marriage and a child, only to realize and accept that you are gay. At almost 30 years old. It was terrible for me. It was terrible for him. I still carry guilt to this day.
Guilt over taking 10 years away from someone. Guilt over taking 10 years away from myself. Guilt for putting Ember in a situation that will, no doubt, one day set her up for bullying.
It was a lot. I was ashamed and I pulled away from everyone.
Who would have thought I would change my whole life before a pandemic?
At the time, I was working about an hour away from my home. I worked 12-hour shifts and rotated days and nights. Shortly before Covid-19 hit and not long after my separation, I changed jobs and now drove an hour and a half to work. I needed a full-time day job.
I changed babysitters like I change my underwear. Granted, I probably wouldn’t want to keep someone else’s kid from 4:45 in the morning until 8:30 at night, either. When Covid-19 spun out of control, I was required to work overtime. A lot of overtime. I was now working five and six 12 hour shifts a week. Trying to drive home to get Ember, sleep for a few hours, then do it all over again. The babysitter at the time, a good friend of mine now, let Ember start spending nights there. School nights. Thank GOD for her. That allowed me to stay in the city that I worked in and sleep.
I wasn’t raising my child, anymore. She was.
She would feed her in the mornings, get her dressed, brush her hair and get her on the bus to go to school. She would get her off the bus in the afternoon, do homework and feed her dinner. This woman was even going to my house to let my dogs outside and feed them.
She was doing all the motherly things that I should have been doing.
Schools eventually shut down which made things easier for me a little. Ember’s dad lived near where I worked, so Ember was able to stay there while I worked and I even spent nights there.
It was April of 2020 when I met Leslie. We took the chance and met while in quarantine. I spent the night there one night and we haven’t been apart, since. In August, school started back up and I was struggling with trying to figure out how I was going to juggle my job and Ember. Do I go back to our previous schedule of 4:45 AM drop offs and 8:30 PM pick-ups? I was still working a ton of overtime so the drive would be done multiple days a week. Leslie lived thirty minutes from my hospital, so we made a risky decision and decided to move in together. I would enroll Ember in school in her town. We arranged childcare and Ember and I moved in.
We called the u-Haul, guys.
Life was good. We fell into a rhythm and things worked out, until they didn’t,
After two years of battling Covid and losing, I had to get out of the hospital. I was losing more patients than I was saving. All the while, listening to family and friends tell me it was all a lie. While being celebrated and called a hero, I was also called a liar by the same people. My heart and my mind couldn’t take it anymore. I couldn’t stop thinking about my patients. I was bringing work home. Leslie and Ember were miserable right along with me. I was always working and never saw them and when I was with them, I was depressed or angry.
I was passed my breaking point. I needed therapy. I needed anti-depressants. A lot of them. I was sick.
Life changing opportunity
So, when a job opening at the clinic my hospital is associated with came up, I asked to be transferred. It was a lateral move and I started immediately.
This was, now, the best decision I had ever made.
The job was 8 hours a day and five days a week. I could now be home in the evenings to do homework and cook dinner. I had time to spend with my family. And the best part was… my patients were ALIVE.
I quickly learned that the routine I had been accustomed to was no longer going to work. Working five days a week left little time to get the housework done. Before, I had a day during the week when I was off, and Ember and Leslie were at work and school. I was able to get the house scrubbed top to bottom while they were gone, so the house didn’t get out of control. You see, I’m a homemaker at heart. I enjoy cleaning, organizing, fixing lunches and cooking dinner. I enjoy taking care of my girls and my pets.
On my old schedule, I was able to devote an entire day to getting everything for the week done. Sometimes, I would get two days. It was different than having a weekend off with Leslie and Ember home. I was able to turn my music on and just spend the entire day cleaning and preparing. Having the weekends off with them leaves me little time to devote to just cleaning because I like to be with them.
Old routines weren’t working
I was waking up at 4:30 in the morning to get everyone packed up and ready for their day. I had to take care of the animals and clean up the messes that you, no doubt, get from senior dogs. I had to leave the house at 6:30 AM to get Ember to her babysitter and then get myself to work. Leslie had to be at work even earlier than me. When I got home from work, I was jumping headfirst into trying to clean up and prepare dinner. Straight after dinner was bath time and bedtime.
I thought that having evenings and weekends off would give me more time to keep the house in order, but man I was wrong.
Our laundry was piled to the ceiling in the living room because all I had time to do was wash them and put them in a basket. On weekends, I was waking up at 4:00 AM and cleaning the house for HOURS. I couldn’t get any relief from mess. Ember would ask me, time and time again, if I could play with her or go swing with her and I had to tell her no every time. There was always too much to do. I was overwhelmed. I couldn’t think of anything other than getting the house cleaned or about what I needed to do next and my relationship started to suffer.
I had to find a solution
So, here I am friends. I am here to tell you about that solution. I love to listen to podcasts. It’s something I can do while driving to and from work and while cleaning the house. I searched for a podcast hoping to find another working mama who was struggling with the same things as me. I needed tips for the working mom who lacks a presence at home, the knowledge of practical cleaning and ways to make all of these things easier. I never found it.
Instead, I took bits and pieces from everything I was learning and I made a routine that works for me.
…And I did.
It’s so strange to me because I still catch myself walking room to room looking for something that needs to be cleaned or picked up. What I learned was a total game changer for me. My home life is less stressful and I feel more at ease. Things are getting done and my family, as a whole, is in a better place.
I wanted to get my story out there and help another mama who needs someone to relate to her. The only advice I could seem to find while online and listening to podcasts was geared toward the stay-at-home mom or the work-at-home mom. These people are busy, too, but it’s a different busy. Those routines don’t work for those of us who work outside of the home. While I didn’t have a child throwing things everywhere all day long that I was constantly having to pick up after, I had a child who would throw everything around in the mornings and at night that I didn’t have time to pick up after. Working mom’s need helpful routines, too. So, this is why I am here.
We will do this together, friends.