I recently had a new co-worker spend part of a day shadowing me on the job. As we were in the car together headed to do a home visit, we began talking about our lives, and found we had so much in common. We are both working full time, supporting husbands who are in school with a major career change and we are both parents of young children.
In short, we are both exhausted, and relieved to find someone else who is in the same situation. It was pretty nice to be able to talk about it with someone who understands. As we talked about the juggling we do on a daily basis, my co-worker said, “sometimes I think about my mother, who was a stay-at-home mom. So much has changed, and my life is so much different than hers was.” I had to agree. My mother worked part time as we were growing up so I’m sure she felt some of the stress that I do. Still, my dad always carried the insurance, brought home the paycheck and spent most of his day at work. I fill that role in my family now. I talked with my co-worker about mommy guilt, about trying to get children up and out the door early in the morning so they can get to daycare and you can get to work on time, about financial stress and trying to balance job responsibilities and family responsibilities. This is hard work, and I feel like I don’t have many other women in my life that I can observe to see how they do it. My upbringing had me surrounded by traditional stay at home moms with husbands who work. When that has been the model you have grown up with, and you find yourself living a life very different from that, it’s hard. It takes major flexibility. It takes reinvention of gender roles. It takes a lot of love, and patience, and time to settle into a routine that works. It takes even more of all of this when you are living far away from your family, with no natural support built in to help when things get really stressful.
For a long time I struggled with this, and I have to admit I still do, at times. I don’t like how frantically busy I feel all the time, but I’m getting used to it. When I start to feel overwhelmed by my life, I hold my head up and say, I am supporting my family. I am providing health insurance, and money to pay the bills. I have a job that provides me with good, meaningful work. I have a wonderful husband who is studying hard to get a degree he really wants. He cooks me delicious meals and takes on the lion’s share of the parenting. I have a happy, healthy daughter who is shuttled between home and preschool and somehow she will survive, even though she is in full time daycare. I may not be able to do all the canning, homesteading, crafting and homemaking I thought I would do, but that’s okay.
This conversation with my co-worker got me thinking…I need more of these kind of women in my life. It helps so much to talk about what we deal with on a daily basis and how we survive. Any of my readers (oh, the hordes of readers I have! all, what, 10 of you?) know of any such support group? Do you have any tips/words of wisdom to offer?