I’m so honored to welcome Cheryl today, this week’s writer in the #NotaBadMom series. Working moms, I’m thinking this one might hit home. (If you’d like to contribute a guest post to #NotaBadMom, please find details here.)
It’s a corollary to my working mom existence, one that most people don’t recognize until they’ve had to do some thorough analysis to figure out how my life really works. I don’t offer up the information quickly either, because it’s embarrassing, maybe a little shocking, and because I do think it makes me a bad mom. Are you ready for this bomb I’m about to drop?
I’m not at home with my kids in the mornings before school.
Dun-dun-DUNNNNN! (No? That music signaling impending doom is just inside my own head? Oh.)
It’s true. I generally leave the house between 7 and 7:15 am four days a week(the fifth day I work from home). I have about an hour commute to my office, and I try to get there by 8 am. I leave work right around 4 pm, reverse that hour commute, and then get in my car to drive about 5 minutes to pick up the kids from after school care. We’re typically home around 5:30 pm. After the kids have removed their jackets (and probably not bothered to hang them up), it’s the first chance I’ve had to actually notice the outfits they wore that day. Please-oh-please let them have been clean and matching.
My husband manages the mornings at home, and this has been routine for almost two years now, since he last switched to a job that had a longer commute. I used to be home in the mornings, and while I helped dress those little kids and packed lunches, I have to admit that mornings at home made me vibrate with stress. I could feel the minutes ticking away til the school bus arrived and was perpetually worried that we’d miss it, and I’d be even later to work. My bosses don’t even care that much about when I arrive–so long as the work gets done for when it’s needed, they’re cool–but it’s my own internal pressure to be on time and, well, perfect, that would cause me to snap and sometimes lose my temper in the mornings. So while I thought that being home then made me a better mom for purely superficial reasons, it probably wasn’t true.
Now, on the nights before, I make sure backpacks are organized as best as I can. I try to find lost library books, and store karate uniforms on the appropriate days. When I wake the kids in the morning, I get a brief snuggle in, and maybe a reminder or two (don’t forget your clarinet! You have Hebrew school today!). I used to pick out my younger son’s clothes, but he won’t let me do that anymore. I tell my husband that I’ve “stirred the children” (since we both know they won’t be stirred awake on their own), we kiss, and I say one final goodbye to the kids as I walk out the door. Most days, they’re still in bed.
The schedule works for us, though I’m always a bit tired from staying up later than I should. But part of me feels like I should be there in the mornings, and I suppose I’m writing this, revealing this not-so-dirty secret, to perhaps put it to rest within myself already. My kids are well-cared for, and I’m not the only one capable of doing it. They’re fairly capable themselves these days too.
Just don’t let them manage too well without me either. I’ve got to be good for something around here.