Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Reality of a Work at Home Mom....or Maybe All Moms!

Once upon a time, oh about 6 months ago I was grasping at anything that would help me balance my new life with a toddler and a baby, and working from home, and maintaining some sense of order...of a milder version of the chaos, and I found this...

And I laughed.  Out loud mind you, at how far from the truth this picture is of a work at home moms life.  Now don't get me wrong.  This article for Work at Home Moms offered some great tips...but seriously?  I do not sit on my pristine couch while looking super cute in my trendy dress, sip wine, snack on blueberries, have books perfectly stacked on my coffee table, while my children play independently in their rooms, and work from 9-3 everyday at home.

Not.  At.  All.  Most days I hardly even work during the day at all.  I sit down a midst children's requests and needs.  I carve out work time if I can during the day, but keep my expectations low, because more often than not, my desire to work during the day will not work out in my favor 9 times out of 10.

If I do work during the day I am training little ones over and over again the whole time I'm doing so.  Multi-tasking is my middle name, and I look frazzled, and sometimes bedraggled.  I take "play" breaks to give my children time with me.  In fact working during the day more often looks like this:
Me standing up while checking emails for work and responding to any time sensitive emails.  5 minutes in Abbie goes potty and yells "Mommy there is poopy on my toilet paper!"  which I then in turn go and wipe, wash hands and return to emails.  5 minutes later Alex is pulling on my pant legs wanting to be picked up, or in a cupboard, or in the fireplace, or taking a bath in the dog bowl.....  A few more interruptions, and more often then not this results in frustrations of me giving up and just working after they go to bed.

This was my working reality this morning (working at Abbie's desk while the kids played in her room).

Some moms who work at home work do so during nap time.  Nap time is hard at our house, because Alex is not a consistent napper and has proven himself time and time again that the minute mom gets an agenda to do something....his timeline will then kick in and overshadow mine.  It's a battle that's easier to just set aside myself, let go of me, and take care of him.  So time for work, at least for me.  On a daily basis I make a choice at nap time, do I A)  Go fold the pile of Mt. McLaundry that has been there since last week B) Get a bit of work done not knowing when I will get interrupted, because on any given day a nap could potentially only last 30 minutes, or do I C) Let myself have a break.  Some days I do A or B, and I almost always regret it, because at the end of the day if I didn't give myself a tiny window of a break, I turn into angry mom beast by about 4:30PM.  Patience wears thin.  I begrudgingly help the kids, or do household things, and for what?  What am I teaching them if I am impatient and angry all the time?  What example do I set if I am begrudging every part of my day?  No child wants to grow up in that house.  No husband wants to come home to that house, and so I take the good with the bad, knowing the pile of laundry may not be folded and put away by the time Dave gets home from work, but accepting that he doesn't care, and he would much rather come home to a happy wife.

Like today for example.  I had been trying to fold the laundry in the laundry basket since Saturday...I think?  Maybe Friday.  I forget, but anyway, I had a moment.  One moment of quiet...both children were playing.  Content. Not demanding anything from me at the moment so I seized and tried to conquer,  Only to have my moment be stolen!  Stolen by what started as a squawk, and ended in a 10 month old boy crawling feverishly towards my legs, pulling on my jeans and crying at my feet until I picked him up.  I can't fold laundry with one hand.  Some moms probably can.  I can't.  Or at least I don't care to.  I'd rather wait and do it when he is in bed.  Sigh....laundry will have to wait.  Again.

But then bedtime happened tonight, and that little boy knows how to take my heart from it's most stressed out overtired state and melt it in mere moments.  We were sitting in Alex's room.  I in the rocking chair, Dave and the kids on the floor reading a bedtime story.  Alex was in his usual pre bedtime state- crabby, cranky, just done with the day, and he got off Dave's lap and looked up at me, and I asked him if he wanted to nurse and he sprint crawled to me and wanted to be up in my lap.  Before I laid him in bed, I picked him up with his blankie and cuddled him to my chest and he rested his head there and snuggled into the crook of my neck, and all was well in his world....all was well in MY world.  He babbled his sweet little boy sleepy babbles and snuggled in, and was at absolute peace resting in his mamas arms.  I sang him a few songs, and he babbled songs back to me, and my heart melted.  It's in those little moments we have...those tiny glimpses that God gives us to remember the reason we are a mama in the first place.  It's those moments that help me keep pressing onward.  They help remind me that what I do matters.

And the reality that happens in my own home, may not even be close to the reality that happens in your home, but you know what, it doesn't matter, because this isn't just a work at home mom reality.  It's an all mom reality.  What mom hasn't wished for bedtime to come to be "done" and have a moment of peace in her day?  What mom hasn't been forced to juggle and multi-task and look strung out at some point or another...even the put together moms have strung out, unglued moments....I know it.  I just never get to witness theirs like they do mine :)  What mama hasn't felt "suffocated" sometimes by taking care of the needs of little ones so much?  But we do it, and we press on.  And we stay home, or we work away from home, or we work at home, and we find a way.  God helps us find a way,  And everyday we muddle through, and we squint our eyes to try and see purpose in whatever it is we are doing right now, and somehow in those moments, those tiny glimpse moments He gives us peace that what we are doing is more than ok.  It's great.  He's using us to do great things in these little ones lives.

The other day I read an article that stood out to me, because its title is an everyday thought in my life right now:  "When Does It Get Easier?"  And so because I really do want to know right now "when does life get easier?"  I clicked and read, and was humbled, and disappointed all at the same time.  The author didn't give me hope of a time frame that life would be more simple, but the author was so right-  It might even get harder as our children grow and need different things...emotional support, help with math homework, bullies at school, and the list goes on.  It might not get easier, but it does get better.  Us moms....we get better at what we do, and I would like to take that one step farther to say for me personally, we get better because we trust Him more.  We start to acknowledge that life is not perfect.  We let go of our "Grass is always greener on the other side" mentalities, and embrace what color our own grass is, and we plant roots, and water that ground, and realize our grass was always green in the first place.  We are blessed.  Right now.  Right here in whatever reality He has given us.

So I have a feeling that my reality as a work at home mom really isn't that different from any other type of mom.  I'm just going to keep on pressing on, and do my very best with the reality He has given me.  I hope you'll join me too.