The Mother Load

A couple of weeks ago, something really cool happened to me. The company where I had been doing some independent contracting decided to bring me on as an employee. It’s a small company for now, but they are expanding and really wanted me to be a permanent part of the team. Knowing several people who are unemployed, and with the current state of our economy, I did not take this lightly. Did I strut around my house like a rockstar for a few days? Oh hell yes! But other than telling family and a few friends, my celebration ended with that victory lap around my crib.

Recently a few of my friends have quit their jobs to stay home with their kids. When women make this decision, it always seems to be met with huge fanfare and a lot of “atta girls” for making the right choice for their families. Each one of them broadcasted it on Facebook that they would now be staying home with their kids. A storm of “Likes” followed, along with all positive feedback. Don’t get me wrong, I agree with the kudos being awarded this decision – in fact, in every case, I posted a “congratulations” and even threw in a few, “you won’t regret it’s”. I’ve been there, and while I don’t regret it, it’s just no longer the path for me.

So here I was, more firmly planted back in the workplace and seemingly more “away” from my kids than ever before. I didn’t send a mass email or post the news as my Facebook status. I simply changed my employer in my Facebook profile info and waited to see if anyone noticed or commented. No one did and that was fine, but I did wonder while I wasn’t viewing myself as a total badass for my accomplishment. Was this a case of “mommy guilt”? Whatever it was, I was pretty content to think of it as “no big deal” until… enter REALITY. (that &%$#* son of a $#*&%!!!) As soon as I was given new employee paperwork to fill out at work, all hell broke lose at home. Join me as I summarize the timeline of the first days of starting my new job:

Day 1 of new job: The vet calls to say the dog is ready to be picked up from being boarded. I show up for what I think is a 5-minute deal. I’m told that he has a serious ear fungus/infection. Here’s the short version: They ran tests. He should be OK. But before you go, we need to explain every little medical “what if” detail to you while you’re here. Oh, and here’s a million drugs for him that cost more than your car… Good thing I have my job! Which speaking of, I’m really late. No big deal. I’ll explain that the dog is like our “firstborn child” and I’m sorry the appointment took all morning. I’m sure my boss is an animal lover despite the fact that he shoots a wide variety of wildlife creatures on the weekends and posts photos of the carnage in his office. But yes! ..he’ll understand. First days are just practice anyway, right?

Day 2 of new job: Oldest daughter wakes up with a high fever. Dad has very important meetings all day and can’t stay home with her, so that leaves me. No biggie. They will understand at work. These things happen and are out of our control. I resist worrying that my “mom-ness” is showing to my co-workers. One of my well-meaning male friends says, “oh no, aren’t you afraid that right out the gate you’re looking like one of those women?” I should have punched him to calm my unsettled nerves, but instead I decide to have a beer and end up having 5. Luckily, I have a job now and we can easily afford the luxury of beer! (even though everyone knows beer is a necessity)

Day 3 of new job: Oldest kid wakes up with a high fever. Dad is running meetings all day and can’t stay home with her, so that leaves me. No biggie. They will understand at work. These things happen and are out of our control… (holy mother of God, everything is repeating, it’s the f’n Groundhog Day movie!) Except now my co-workers hate me. Did I mention I am a key person who is supposed to be working on a very important audit??! Yeah, they are probably wiping snot all over my chair in my absence. Can’t really blame them. I am starting to smell my own suckage.

Day 4 of new job: Oldest kid wakes up with a high fever. Dad is now out of town on business. I take her to the doctor and she is diagnosed with a flu-like illness (can’t we just call it the flu? you’re just as screwed as you are when you have the flu.. what’s with the “like”? FLU would be taken more seriously, dammit!) There is no treatment but she is not to return to school until the fever is gone for 24 hours, blah blah blah. That’s OK because now I too am feverish. OUTF#CKINGSTANDING. Kid takes one couch. I take the other. I doze off and have nightmares about whether or not someone at the office will be willing to pack up all my shit when I get canned… then I wake up and realize that there is no shit since I HAVEN’T STARTED THE JOB.

Day 5 of new job: Still wallowing in flu-LIKE (bastards) misery. Despite the fact that the oldest and I are on day 4 of being stuck sick at home, we are handling it just fine. We’ve put Barbie doll heads on top of coffee stirrers, we’re communicating by playing recorders from her Music class, and we’re considering setting fire to my youngest daughter’s Justin Bieber doll while she’s at school… NOTHING to see here..

Day 6 of new job: Kid is feeling better. I still feel like asscrack. Despite that, I try to go to work for a couple of hours. The only saving grace to being drugged up and feeling like shit was that I too incoherent to know if my co-workers were welcoming me back or openly swearing at me. “F#ck you” does sound a lot like “bless you” when you’re taking cough syrup with codeine, just so you know. I’m running way behind all day and that continues as I’m trying to run kids to activities after school. My daughter’s soccer coach makes a snide comment about how I’m lucky soccer practice isn’t on the other side of town since we’re never on time and the field is only a mile away from our house. I call him a jackass under my breath and claim victory. (I NEED a triumph.. work with me here)

Day 7 of new job: I discovered head lice on my two daughters late the night before. (apparently in all the glory of the last week, I missed the letter from school that it was going around..YAY!) I thoroughly treat the cranium critter circus on both kids and send them to school as instructed. Despite the fact that I have 18 trash bags full of bedding, clothes and stuffed animals that need my attention, I feel I should go into the office for awhile because I really need to work… ok, ok, it was because I didn’t want to deal with all the bagged lice-ridden shit! While sitting in a meeting about the audit – the audit I had all but managed to dodge, by the way – I notice some co-workers are staring at me. I figured it was just because they hate me until I caught a glimpse of my reflection in my boss’s iPhone. I still had a lone barrette on the top of my head that I had used to pull hair away in my search for lice. Despite looking like a total dumbass, I leave it so I can better see if any of those damn parasitic f’ers are jumping around on my head. I’ll have to rely on my boss’s phone to see them because I know none of my co-workers will alert me.. they all want me to die (BELIEVE ME, you idiots were having more fun than I was!) At this point, I’m hoping their wish for my demise comes true, especially after I get home and see those 18 bags of crap. I am certain that setting fire to them would be easier than de-licing their contents. (but we can’t afford new crap if I’m going to get canned, so I don’t torch it.. YET)

So after enduring a small piece of hell, I learned something that I’m sure I’ll never forget. No matter if you’re a “working mother” or not.. you’re a mother working. The load is still heavy. The reward is still great (even though sometimes you have to search for that fulfillment… yeah, total realist here). The word “mother” stays intact no matter what personal decision you make for your family, and my choice to work outside the home was the right one for me. And after the last week of mad mothering, I was tempted to wear a t-shirt that said, “You can’t really blame me for being batshit crazy, it came free with the vagina.” One thing’s for sure, I’m definitely going to start telling people about my new job! (if I’m ever able to work a full day, that is..)

“Working mothers are guinea pigs in a scientific experiment to show that sleep is not necessary to human life.” ~ Anonymous

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45 responses

  1. I did the stay at home circuit for a while. Now I’m a single working mom. I wouldn’t change it for anything at this point. And yes, 40 hour/week job or not, there are still appointments, meetings, activities, etc. ad nauseum that have to be cared for. Both choices have their upsides and their downsides. For me, I could never return to being a SAHM. I respect them loads, but I would go fucking out of my gourd if I had to go back to doing it again.

    BTW, Congrats on the new job! I hope the second week goes better for you.

  2. Oh, my!!! Well, whether you keep the job, or get canned, it sure makes for a good story. Let’s go with you’ll keep the job, become super popular and loved in the end by all of your coworkers. And, this will make for outstanding material for whoever does the speech at your retirement party.

  3. Being a working mom is harder than I thought once my son got into school. Ya sure there were doctor’s appointments but now I have things such as field trips (which I can’t go on), fundraiser pick ups while I am at work, having to take my break to go home and deal with a crisis if need be. Having to take the only day I had to use as a free day for work…. my medical day because my son got sick … but like all you other mothers.. I would never change it for the world. It is frustrating at times but at the end of the day that hug from them as they are going off to bed makes it all worth it

  4. Oh my word….I almost wet my pants I was laughing so hard! I have been dealing with my job, my 8 year old daughter who has soccer, now has orthodontist appointments. My boyfriend and his son (aka non husband and son)!! Lately I get the calls from school telling me my daughter has a stomach ache. It worked the first 2 times – doesn’t work anymore. Doesn’t stop me from feeling bad though! After reading your post I feel better and wait to hear many more stories that I can relate too! Thank you for being a real and funny WORKING MOTHER!!

  5. I have no children, but reading this reminded me of a TON of friends who are working moms and do the the same daily ‘shuffles’ you write about. I am going to send this to them, right after I log into this wonderful blog. I love this–you go girl, and enjoy yourself by doing whatever you need to do. My mantra is “You can’t be happy with others unless you are happy with yourself”.

  6. You rock! I can relate to everything you wrote, especially the part about the beer. Both of my kids are in college and your post brought back flashbacks. I love reading your blog and your photos are great!

    • VERY good question and point. In this case, his stuff was more important. He is vice president of a company and there was a serious emergency. Had nothing to do with him being a daddy versus mommy, etc. It was just honestly the week from hell for ALL of us. 😉

    • Thank you, HO. You know I love ya! We’re redoing this site soon and also plan to have a list of blogs and sites we dig. Would love for you to be a part of that. You ROCK! 🙂

      • You’re welcome! Love your stuff, you are very funny! My site will get about a million page views this month, hopefully some of that will rub off on you =) I remember what it was like trying to get readers to my personal blog, it was hard!

  7. Lice, sick kids, the vet? Your version is much funnier than mine but with a similar cast of characters. I was home with my kids for a long time before slowly slipping back into the work force –and it has taken almost 2 years for my family to adjust to my working status. “No I can’t run to Target while you are at school to pick up (fill in the blank).”
    2 weeks ago I got a call from my neighbor who was worried because one of our dogs was howling. I rode my bike to work that day and didn’t have enough time to ride home to check on the dog. It turns out while poochie was looking to see what she could steal out of the garbage, the door closed behind her and she was trapped. When my older daughter got home from school, she let her out and all was fine and dandy. No shortage of drama.

    • It never stops, does it? Thanks for your comments. My kids are actually sick AGAIN. I don’t have the energy to blog about it though. LOL

  8. I enjoyed your post. It is interesting to read about the view your culture has on stay at home moms. I live in Denmark where everybody works – the concept of stay at home moms is virtually unknown – and in a very complicated way it is both hugely desired by the tired-ass working moms and and also a bit frowned upon.
    I am currently unemployed and while looking for my next job I am at home. If only I could rid myself of the shame of not “contributing to society”, I am absolutely loving it! I have never had so much time to myself. The kids are in school and I spend my days baking, meditating, reading, gardening etc.
    I blog about motherhood too and recently wrote about the concept of not having any alone-time -with two small children even taking a private dump is considered a luxury. (http://www.cindafuckingrella.com/?p=658)
    Well. I can go alone to the crapper now. 🙂

    Oh – and December through June we had less than a week all in all of us all being healthy – meaning 7 months of constant motherfucking, goddamn sickness. I had pinkeye for 3 months. This family had a total score of 12 rounds of penicillin in 4 months. So you’ve got nothing to complain about. Try living in this bastard-climate… 😀
    All the best,
    Cindafuckingrella

  9. I returned to the work force after seven years at home (on my a$$ my husband would have you believe). Due to my limited employment history I went through a temp agency and was given an assignment immediately. Two weeks in I discover my husband is emotionally involved with another woman and then I got sick…extremely ‘flu-LIKE.’

    Not sure if or when I will get another assignment, but know that this sure has not started on the right foot!!

  10. I you get those tshirts printed up, I want one! I feel for you, darlin’. I am glad you have an understanding boss and I hope an appreciative husband. I hope that is your last hell week for a very long time, but since I also have small humonoids to care for I know it won’t be. Good Luck and Good Life.

  11. I just went back to work after 13 years … and can totally relate! I had to cancel a parent/teacher conference because my husband can’t pick up our oldest from school. Three kids three different schools, three different starting/ending times.. makes for awesome schedules. I actually have to work overnight tonite, then work tomorrow.. and HOPE that the kids all are happy in the morning so I’m not late for work. My job is awesome, but my husband’s job pays the bills.. so I have to compromise.. and drink Beer!

  12. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am a working single mother of two. The guilt never stops, but I would lose my mind if I had to stay home with my children. I love them totally but need the work in more than one way. It is nice to know I’m not alone!

  13. “It came free with the vagina.” I laughed SO hard! I am not sure which “category” I fall into. I work from home as a Web Designer, so I guess technically I could be considered both right? SAHM or working mom, either way, it’s incredibly difficult. I feel your pain 🙂

  14. OMG- almost wet my pants. I am a sahm who is considering doing “something” now that both kids are back in school albeit 1 is only half a day. But what you have experienced is exactly what I envision what would happen to me if I had a paying job. I started a blog yesterday. We’ll see how that goes. But I honestly don’t want a week like you describe, but it’s probably coming my way.

  15. This brought a smile to my face as I am right there with you. I teach 7th and 8th grade special education (read: emotionally disturbed adolescents) and am going on over a week of not being in my classroom. It started off with a call from my dad (who takes care of my 6 month old) that his back went out and I need to leave work to come pick them up/ take him to the doctor. The next day I had to stay home to take care of the baby, partner took over the day after but no classroom for me because of our best friend Mr. Inservice! Then I go to the doctor for a cough I’ve had for weeks (that my daughter caught at Gymboree and passed to me) and find out I’ve had an ongoing asthma attack and need to take off the rest of the week. Thank goodness for tenure and the fact that no one else wants to do my job or I’d have been sacked long ago!

  16. After doing this same thing for roughly 22 years (my youngest is 17), I understand it all! Luckily, I was able to transfer into a position 19 years ago that was a bit more forgiving and kid friendly, so if there were the calls from the school, I could leave to go pick them up…usually these calls were followed by an emergency room visit as my youngest has this tendency of breaking bones, getting concussions, and various other medical emergencies…*sigh*

    My worst time period was roughly eleven years ago….in February…the first week of the month, my brother was killed in a car accident so I had to take a week off to get a funeral planned and everything settled with my parents (all the while being very thankful for friends that helped with my two children); made it back to work one day and then my oldest got the flu so I had to take the next week off of work to stay with her. I would run to the office to bring things home to work on and then have a co-worker pick up the results…she got better by the end of the week so I finally made it back to work the following Monday – for all of three hours when the daycare provider called to let me know that my son was sick. All apologies at work and off I go…for another week..*cry* Finally! I can go back to to the office and do real work instead of plunking along in my house with two puking children! Uhm, no…Tuesday of the following week, I came down with it…ok, it was probably earlier than that but I was SuperMom – and totally in denial that I was sick. After passing out at work, I was delivered for a quick trip to the ER by my boss and then tucked in to my bed by my boss’s wife. I was so rundown from everything going on that month that I managed to stay there for a week and a half…and my ex-husband and my boss’s family took care of my kids and checked up on me. Who does that???!!!

    Needless to say, I’m still with the same employer and I’ve taken my share of extra babysitting duties for my co-workers during similar situations. I wouldn’t trade a minute of any of it….well, maybe the getting puked on time periods, but I couldn’t imagine a life without my kids or my job.

    Kudos to you for keeping a sense of humor about the whole thing….sometimes, that’s all that it takes to get you through those situations!! 🙂

  17. I have to say that I loved reading this. You had me cracking UP! I’m a stay at home Mom, but I’ve been substitute teaching since the younger of my two children entered Kindrgarten (2006). And I’m working on becoming a certified high school cheerleading coach. It’s my way of staying with them AND working. I work as much as I can, but sometimes I don’t have enough work, (beginning of the year, around the holidays, and of course, summer). I’ve been contemplating going to work full-time in a “real” job, as my husband would say, but I have the fear of missing things. My daughter is a high school Freshman cheerleader, (my son still in elemenatary school…one more year), and I don’t want to miss out on anything or have to continually ask for time off from work to do things with/for my kids. This way I can accept a job or decline it based on my schedule for the day, such as a field trip. My daughter just had her first homecoming last weekend. That was a big deal, but oh so time consuming between hair appointments, pictures before the dance at a friend’s house, dinner, then the dance. Then there was an after party. Luckily her best friend’s parents offered to drive the four girls in that group, to the after party, but they invited them to sleep at their house so we didn’t have to come get them at 2am. So that was nice. I just don’t like to ask for time off for things, so I’ve sort of found a way around it. Anyway…I really wanted to say that I love reading your posts and wanted to share my “fears and hesitations”, too. BTW…you should write a book.

  18. This post made me want to stand up and pump my fist for us working moms. The first 6 months at my current job were a nightmare because they were also my son’s first 6 months of daycare (aka “the petri dish” according to our pediatrician).

    Now that he’s in second grade, we’ve hit a smooth stride, but it still ain’t easy. Plus, I’m a single mom, so there’s no one else to step in and help during the week. I do have the luxury of a doting “Granny” to the little prince and she keeps him some weekends while I catch up on sleep, laundry, drinking… etc. Without that, I’d have lost what was left of my sanity long long ago.

    Much respect for MOST stay at home moms (there exists a set that really irks me – I describe them below), but just cuz I work doesn’t mean I have any less of a mother-effing work load OR that I’m any less of a mother. And if one more of the self-righteous, visor-wearing, mom haircut sporting, showing up at school in the morning in their tennis clothes killing time before going to the courts (I live in a semi-affluent area – good for them that they have that luxury, but get the hell out of my way cuz I gotta go to WORK), gossiping in front of the school, bogarting parking spaces so no one else can park and get the hell out of there in time to make it to work without breaking the speed limit tells me that I need to put my son in more after-school activities, I cannot be responsible for my actions. He goes to extended day and we get home at 6. I cherish my Saturdays and refuse to spend them siting in the bleachers cheering some (insert sport here) team alongside said Stepford Wives and listen to them complain about how between tennis games, pedicures, hair appointments and little Johnny’s soccer, football, baseball and underwater basket weaving practices, they just don’t have time to take a family vacation! (I’m not talking about all SAHM’s… I’m talking about the ones who give the rest of y’all a bad name. You know who they are.)

    Whoa, where’d that soapbox come from?

    Anyway, keep it up, girlie! You’re gonna be fine!

  19. Holy Hilariousness! This is my first visit to your blog and I will be back (or I might never leave). As a fellow working mom who considers herself the founding member of the 1% club (if there is a 1% chance of something weird or inconvenient happening, it will happen to me) I can so appreciate your first week of work!

    And your Bringing Sexy Back remix – pure awesomeness!

  20. Way too funny! Although I am not a working mom, (out side of the home that is) I do work very hard. I have a 5 year old in kindergarten and 3 year old twins. (all girls) We are moving into a new house next week and my hubby, who works full time has yet to pack a box. I deal with stolen lunches, missed busses and general kid fights. I love your blog!! It reminds me that I AM NOT ALONE IN THE WORLD! LOL 🙂

  21. Pingback: Booty Got Blow | Little White Lion

  22. When I told my boss I was pregnant a couple years back, he said: “Enjoy your vacation now!” I thought he was kidding, but I now see how very much he wasn’t.

    I’m hoping to take off a week in January to help my sisters with their new babies. Since my company won’t approve PTO unless you already have the time accrued, I have been making choices about when to come to work that I would not have before.

    On November 1st, if no disaster strikes, I will be able to put in for that PTO. And if I have any spare time around that, I’ll come and punch that well-meaning coworker in the face for you.

    Life doesn’t stop–our babies don’t stop–just ’cause we’ve gotta show up somewhere else for a while!

  23. I’m a sahm almost. i keep kids at home which can be super hard too because I don’t get paid when i don’t work. I’m in school doing internet classes to be a pharmacy tech and your story is one of my biggest fears about going back to work for the first time in 4 yrs!

    • I work at a pharmacy as a technical writer! Pharm techs are in big demand – that’s a great field. Try not to worry. My story was crazy. It all worked out in the end though. Good luck to you!

  24. You have much respect doll. I tell ya’, it’s always amazing to me the double standard on this planet, that so many (mainly MEN) like to deny and make ya’ feel you’re losing your marbles or you’re ‘just jaded and paranoid’, yeah, whatever. Bottom line is, I’ve NEVER seen an article written by a man claiming any ‘daddy guilt’ about being at work and away from the kids all day. Must be nice! Women carry the weight of the world on our shoulders in a way men will NEVER understand. Bravo to you for you decision, no matter which path you decide to take. Only each woman knows what feels right for her.

  25. I love reading these just makes me feel like I am actually real and not in a dream when my life goes like this. Thanks for sharing even in a crazy life.

  26. Can you please notify me of the t-shirt when availiable(I’ll order one in black with white writing as it will stand out better & NOT need to be washed as much) I’m in Australia,not worried bout how long it takes for shipping 😉

    I do hope you managed to “share” the cranium critters with some (if not all) of your loving collegues?! it’d def help with the sympathy vote….

  27. Wow. I’m not sure how you didn’t drown yourself in the toilet after a week like that. I’ve been a stay at home mom and now I work full time. Both have their unique challenges. Staying at home for me led to loneliness, depression, lack of self worth and a lot of fighting between me and my husband about money (He was working up to 70 hours a week so that I could stay home). On the other hand, we never had to worry about who was going to take care of the kids when they were sick, take them to appointments, etc. And my kids and I enjoyed a lot of time together that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Once my youngest was in kindergarten I went back to work full time. It was a difficult time of mommy guilt, especially because I was working the evening shift and rarely saw my kids. Things soon evened out as I was able to switch to a day shift position but of course then came the shuffling of who’s job was more important when one of the kids was sick or needed to be taken somewhere. Usually my job lost out because my husband made more money. It really does get easier as they get older though. We are in a good place now and I don’t think I would want to stop working even if I had the chance. I don’t understand why there is such a struggle between working moms and stay at home moms about which is better. Like you said, they both have “mother” in the title so they are both hard!

  28. So happy that I read this (not happy you went through it, but knowing I’m not the only one does make me feel good!)! I am back to work after 5 months maternity leave – I have a 6-year-old, a 6-month-old and a 13-year-old dog. Any & everything that can go wrong WILL. I’ve already had to take 3 sick days and countless hours for doctors/vet appointments. Sometimes it’s really hard to keep sane and keep your kids/boss happy!! Somehow we all manage to do it and make it through to the other side but it’s so nice to know we are not alone!

  29. When I was raising my kids, I was so glad I stayed home, and wondered why anyone would want a job. Now that I am raising my grandkids, I look forward to mondays and getting out of the damn house.

  30. I applaude you for being a working mom.i wear the title with pride ( that and I would go crazier than a shithouse rat if I had to stay home even though I love my daughter dearly.)

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