This week I returned to the workforce, at a new job, at a new company and began taking both of my girls to daycare and coming back home to work remotely, then circling back at the end of the workday to go get them and make dinner. It has been a stressful transition despite the great support I have had.
Leading up to my first day I was feeling an increasing amount of guilt and pressure. Guilt that I would not be spending my days with Mallory and that I would have less time to run the household and make it as convenient and comfortable as possible for all of us. Folding laundry, taking out garbage, getting groceries, etc). Everything I was accomplishing during Mallory’s good naps or brief bouts of content self-entertainment would now be squished into evenings and weekends. And if it doesn’t fit, it gets dropped. The floors, for example, are going to be considerably more covered in dog hair on a daily basis. I know, I know, all over the world working mothers and fathers are accomplishing this. It’s not a unique scenario, but it is still a difficult one.
On top of that I am feeling (mostly self-imposed) pressure to really kill it at my new job. Good to know I’ve still got that spark of ambition in me even after devoting almost 28 (nonconsecutive) months to my family. But it’s a difficult task to balance these opposing forces: work and family. Not to mention having time to do personal grooming, appointments, and maintaining friendships. How can I give my girls everything they need, and be amazing at my job and remain #bestwife (according to my husband) and be a good friend?
I’d think about fifties housewives a lot when I was on mat leave. The ones who stayed at home and always made dinner from scratch and had it on the table by 5:30 when hubby got home. Kids are bathed, house is clean, shirts are pressed, I’d also look tidy. Were the majority of women actually doing that? Was anyone? Were they secretly depressed? Cause that sounds impossible. Maybe it becomes more possible with slightly older children. I’ve heard from one source that once they were 3 they were “sent outside with the rest of them”. But what did they do when the children were less than 3 years old? Was everyone generally more forgiving during that time? Did these women have more community support? Were they just younger and more energetic than my 29 to 31-year-old self as a mother so far? I may need to do some reading into this (or if you know, please share in the comments) because really I don’t know.
Suppose they weren’t all doing all that and it’s TV that has given us this illusion. Or suppose they really were. The 50s are not today. It’s a different world. Different expectations of mothers, children and fathers alike. Household appliances have come a long way to making certain tasks easier but on the other hand the risen cost of homes compared to incomes causes more stress and a need to work more. Global responsibilities and issues weigh heavily upon us. The study of mental development has added infinite pressures on caregivers to make the most of these formative years.
It’s a lot. It’s so much pressure. And the judgment doesn’t help. I don’t get (or at least notice) judgment among my peers but I certainly see it on social media. There is so much criticism and judgment, it’s appalling. Life is hard enough. I can only do as much as I can do, you know? We’re just doing our best here. Nobody is perfect and we’re not going to get it all right, all of the time. So my goal is to give myself some slack, ignore the nasty judgements, take much-needed breaks and most importantly be quick to forgive my own mistakes or short-comings. At the end of the day, I know I did my best and my best is pretty great.
If this post resonated with you please let me know in any format that suits you. I’d love to hear from you.