The Working Mum
I’m sure we are all too familiar with “the day from hell” when as soon as your day starts, whether that be at 6am when your baby is your human alarm clock, or at 7:30am when your toddler toddles into your room demanding snacks, waking up to an explosive poo, or feel as though you’ve only been asleep for 5 minutes.
I didn’t realise that when I agreed (wholeheartedly because I actually love my job) to go back to work having an almost 1 year old & almost 3 year old that the days from hell would become more frequent and more intense than I could ever imagine.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am absolutely besotted and obsessed with my gorgeous boys, but like all mums and dads, I definitely have my share of the shit storm days where I am literally counting down the minutes to bedtime, which always seems to be dragged out on those particular days.
My day usually starts at 6:30am when Xavier is screaming like a banshee immediately demanding his morning bottle or breakfast as soon as his eyelids open. He is literally not quiet unless he is eating or drinking and I beg that he doesn’t wake his brother up until I’ve at least had a shower. I move his highchair to the bathroom door so I can watch him eat, however this is also right outside Zach’s bedroom so I have a stash of extra snacks and food to keep his banshee like squeal to a minimum. That means getting in and out of the shower 4-5 times to attend to the snack monster.
Xavier is also not content unless he is being held or at eye level with me. He constantly climbs things to be able at least in a position that if he jumps/moves forward I have to immediately stop whatever I am doing and catch him to avoid him plummeting to his death (probably a bit OTT there, but you get the gist.) So here I am around 7am getting dressed, tidying up all the food Xavier has thrown at me/onto the bathroom floor/fed the dog and I have barely even been able to complete one single thought since the moment I woke up. I am on autopilot.
By this time, Zach has usually woken up and is demanding breakfast while also throwing a meltdown because I won’t let him watch TV. Months ago, we became a TV free household, and over the holidays we slowly fell back into the trap of putting the TV on to keep Zach quiet/calm/ distracted if we needed to get something done. I saw an instant shift in his behaviour and decided to go cold turkey again, which has not been as easy with am almost three year old or “threenanger.” I didn’t believe my friends when they said 3 year olds are worse than 2 year olds but I have completely eaten my own words.
I usually try to give Xavier a second breakfast or some toast when Zach eats, to keep him occupied so I can try and make myself look half presentable and not like I’m literally hanging on by a thread to get to work every morning. I realised at one point that I had been wearing my work pants back to front (the entire time!) I have pretty much perfected my morning routine and compiled it into 20 minutes (make up AND hair.) Half way through this routine, Zach has finished his break and Xavier is trying to escape his highchair so I reluctantly let them free range the house, dreading the chaos that is to come. I have negotiated intensly with Zach that he needs to drink out of the blue cup instead of the orange because it’s dirty however he is not happy with this outcome and demands I clean the orange cup for him to use. At this point, it’s easier to actually comply with his request than to continue the argument. I also remind myself that giving in to his demands won’t make him a spoilt, ungrateful child because I’ll teach him this lesson at another time.
I’ve already had their child care clothes out the night before, so all I have to actually put the clothes on them right? I swear to god, my kids would happily go to child care butt naked - literally. The way Xavier carries on when I’m dressing him, makes me genuinely consider just dressing him in his clothes the night before - but then all the snacks/breakfast/dribble make that impossible. Getting both kids dressed is a fine art (hats off to parents of twins) because I feel like I’m actually completing a HIIT workout. So the shower that I had earlier that morning, is completely wasted because I’m a sweaty mess after dressing my kids.
Zach is also at the age where he is craving independence (at his will of course, so I always offer to help and usually get told in a stern voice “I can do it myself mummy”) so getting dressed takes FOREVERRRRR and usually results in me helping him because he’s frustrated he’s put two legs in the one hole 10 times. I get dressed as the very last step before we leave the house to avoid any dirty hands, vomit or dribble. I’ve already put the bags in the car, tried to clean up from breakfast, make the beds, put the dog out for a wee, fed the cat, packed my lunch, attempted to tidy the toys, put a load of washing on, hung out the load of washing from last night, watered my indoor plant which I think I’m slowly killing, packed my keep cup with an instant mocha sachet in it (which I hate but feel necessary at this point in time) brushed the kids teeth, wiped Zach’s bum, changed Xavier’s nappy a few times, put Zach’s shoes on, vacuumed up breaky crumbs and taken the bin out. All within 2 hours. I’m not gloating or saying I’m super mum, but when I sat down to write this blog, I made the list of everything I could think of that I did in the morning and I was blown away by how much we actually do to get out the door on time.
Once the kids are in the car, for the 5 minute drive to child care I am trying to express how much I love them and how much they mean to me because I feel guilty for shipping them off and not spending every waking moment with them. They do not care for this conversation and prefer to play “tricky ta” which means pretending to give each other a toy and pulling away laughing hysterically at each other. I’m also anticipating that the drop off will not go smoothly, based on past experiences. The transition period for a child starting child care is heart breaking, exciting and completely emotionally exhausting. For some reason, Zach decided to regress with his drop off’s and kick and scream at me to stay with him. So for the last 3 weeks since I’ve been back at work, I have left my children crying, then I’ve cried on my way to work (which is a very short drive, so I have to try and make my eyes look normal before I get into the office.)
I often think why am I doing this, the mum guilt is so intense and so over powering that I literally have to use all my mind power to stop the tears from flowing.
Picking my kids up from child care, is the greatest part of my day. I literally have butterflies in my stomach when I leave work and I am so anxious and excited to see them I usually don’t remember how i actually got there. Their faces light up when I enter the room or yard and Xavier sprints (crawls) to me and Zach runs from wherever he is in the yard to give Xavier and I a big hug and kiss. This feeling makes everything I do throughout the morning and day, worth it. They make the day hard, but they also turn my day around with one smile or giggle.
Mum guilt is a real thing, you doubt yourself whether you’re doing the right thing for yourself, your family and your kids. You constantly try to think of ways to make the days easier, or shorter to get to them quicker and the love you have for them multiples every second of every day.
Being a working mum is something I am very proud of. I love my job and I am very lucky to work in a supportive and family orientated environment where I know I can put my kids first, but I also make sure I give 110% when I am at work. I also have a very supportive and hands on partner that makes my life so much easier. I love that I am letting my children be independent and find their own way in a loving and supportive environment that is child care (I may look like a crazy, obsessed, helicopter parent to the educators, but they never make me feel that way) and I am again contributing financially to my family which was always a very difficult part of being on maternity leave for me, I feel like I have a bit of my pre-baby self back.
Shout out to all the working mums and dads that go through the same mornings as we do - we are all legends!