When Motherhood Attacks

Being a working mom is easy! Except when it's not. The key is to compartmentalize. Except when you can't.

Let me explain.

Early on in my motherhood journey, I tried to bring my whole badass self to the office every morning. Loving mother, devoted executive (or was it devoted executive, loving mother? To-MAE-toe, to-MAH-toe...). I would mix strategy decks with playdate planning, diaper orders with conference calls. I had everything on my mind all the time.

And slowly but surely, I began to lose what little sense I had left...

It didn't take long to realize that the key to doing anything well was to give it my complete focus. Multitasking was a myth. In essence, all I really accomplished was to do a half-assed job at both of my full-time jobs (don't let anybody fool you - being a mother is a full-time job whether you work in or outside of the home). So, I learned to compartmentalize. Once I dropped the kids at day care, it was work mode. Read the paper, catch up on emails, finish my makeup and hair on the train (it happens) and presto! I became The BadAssExecutive from 7:30am until I stuck the key into my front door later that night. I make sure to religiously call the day care to check on the boys roughly mid-morning each day, then it's back to the grind. When I'm at work, I focus on work. When I'm at home, it's all about the family. Sure, I may run a second shift some nights after the boys are in bed, but on the nights that I'm home for dinner, bath and books it's a Blackberry-free zone until lights out.

And then there are days like today.

Well, today and any federal holiday that is recognized by the schools, banks and postal service but not 9/10th of corporate America. Take Columbus Day. Both the daycare and preschool were closed, so I had 2 boys and 2 full-time jobs to juggle at once. On those days, you put on your cape, charge up the Blackberry and hope for the best.

Today, I got into the office revved for yet another I'm-not-sure-if-I'll-get-to-eat-and/or-pee type day. Hair and makeup on the train (again), grabbed egg whites on a bagel on the way to the office and hit my first conference call before the clock struck 9. By 10:15 I got "the call". You ladies know what I'm talking about - that call that no working mother ever wants to get:

"Your kid is running a fever"


Lucky for me, I married a keeper (and he was closer to the house and not at the mercy of the LIRR schedule), so The Hubs took the sick kid shift. After the check-in call to confirm that Victor was playing normally but running a temp of 101, I hung up the phone and attempted to go back to work. I could focus on my day because my son was safe at home with my husband, with a pediatrician's appointment at 10:45. Right?


As much as I'd like to believe that I am Mary Kay Sunshine, The BadAssMama is a bit of a pessimist (shocking, I know...). My life is a semi-constant state of waiting for the other shoe to drop. I know that the boys have had their flu shots, but maybe it was already brewing. Will he have to be hospitalized? Will the antibiotics trigger a sickling crisis? Did Angel already have the "fever-cough" virus that's been spreading like wildfire, or was that just allergies? Will he get it next? Are we going to be in sick-kid-limbo for the next 10 days? (so much for compartmentalization).

And, as luck would have it, I had a late client meeting with a VERY important client from the West Coast, so there was NO way that I was heading out of the office early. So the torture continued until nearly 8pm. Victor is still running a fever, and I have yet another don't-think-I'm-going-to-eat-and/or-pee type day tomorrow.

Yes - it IS easy to be a working mother...except when it's not. The key is compartmentalization. Except when you can't. Some days, you just do your best to keep your head above water and pray for a lifeboat.
Robbie said...

Sorry you had such a tough day! For a few years hubs and I worked opposite schedules and while we never got to see each other it made the inservice/sick/school closed days easier to manage.

Skyraven said...

Hi Badass! Thanks so much for writing this. I can TOTALLY relate to everything except the hubby part. I'm a single working Badass (lol) and any emergencies that come up either have me running around like crazy or have me calling my father (superhero) for help. As long as I've got peace of mind, I'm ok. Except when I don't. Lol Thanks again and take care. :)


Kathy said...

There are times when even though I do not work outside the home I still feel like "sybil" juggling all my roles and personalities. I have the hardest time accepting that if my children are in the care of my husband, their father, I can un-plug a bit and do the task at hand trusting that all will be well. After all doesn't he do that each day when he goes to work. Crisis after crisis he knows it will be fine because I'm there. Yet since I'm mom I feel, on my crazier days, as if I'm the only one in the world who can comfort a sick child. I marvel at your abitly to do both and thank you for illustrating a common feeling in motherhood whether you work full time in the office or at home. Thanks! It was great to meet you yesterday at the Blogher writers conference!

Carys said...

You can't have it all...you really can't.

Nia/Chic Working Mom said...

This sounded like most of my days as a working mom. I also have a "keeper" who helps a lot or who did. I was recently laid off after a corporate merger so I don't have to look forward to manic Monday any longer. I'm planning on pursuing my writing FT from home so I can have more work/life balance. My life will still be hectic I'm sure but hopefully not geared by outside forces as much.

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