An Ode To Working Parents Everywhere
You may have heard that I have a small side business going taking professional family photos. It seems like ever since the weather has warmed up I’ve had a job or two on the docket and photos to edit on my computer, and at times I have felt like I have too much on my plate. But JDubbs is really supportive in this venture and so he understands if I need to take off as soon as he gets home and hole up somewhere quiet to get my work done. Overall, it works well.
But sometimes with a busy family, there just isn’t enough time in the day and not enough hands to help, so I find myself sacrificing my work for familial obligations–and that can leave me a bit cranky. Sometimes I have no choice but to just leave in the middle of a chaotic scene because I have somewhere to be, and I feel guilty that I am leaving JDubbs in a lurch, abandoning my kids when they need me, and going to a shoot with my mind on other things–and probably some key element to my business left on the kitchen table because my mind was elsewhere. It’s times like that that I think, How do working moms do it? and I feel grateful that this side gig is just something I do for pleasure and a little bit of money, not to cover our health insurance or the cost of daycare. Like the other day…
I had a photo shoot scheduled five minutes away for 6 pm. I am familiar with this spot and so I didn’t need to get there too early–just early enough to check out the light and figure out where we’d begin. We are lucky enough that JDubbs works a mile and a half from home, so he is usually home by 5:10 at the latest–NOT the norm for most families, I know. This particular night was no exception, so I had about a half hour to change my clothes, put on makeup, get my gear, and head out the door. When JDubbs arrived I was in the middle of emptying the dishwasher, and Jax was in the middle of an impressive Whinefest about why he needed a cookie NOW even though he hadn’t finished his dinner and WHY did Em get one before him?! (oh the injustice!). The notion that her plate was spotless and she had eaten every last green bean completely escaped him, and my calm, rational explanations were falling on deaf ears. JDubbs assessed the situation in two seconds and, with his usual direct, cut-the-crap approach, told Jax to eat his dinner. More whining ensued, only this time at a higher decibel. I, affronted, told JDubbs to try to be compassionate, while JDubbs, having just walked in the door and not in the mood to deal with Jax’s drama, ignored me. He told Em to get her shoes on to walk to the end of the driveway to get our trash can (a worthy expedition when your driveway is as long as ours). Jax’s whining then became deafening as he demanded not only that he have a cookie but also that he wanted to get the trash TOO! I took this as my cue to go upstairs and change.
I had been upstairs no longer than two minutes when little Miss Em came up to see what I’m doing. She started pulling clothes off their hangers and pulling shoes out to try them on. Wear these, Mama! as she pulls out my knee-high rainboots. Wear these, Mama! as she finds a pair of black platform high heels. Then she insisted on trying them both on, simultaneously, nearly killing herself and I was still not dressed. I called downstairs to JDubbs, who was now offering Jax a cookie just to stop whining (but I CAN’T have a cookie! I didn’t eat my DINNER! I have to eat my GREEN BEANS FIRST!) and asked him to please come get Em before she destroyed our bedroom. I then had ten minutes left before I had to leave, and I hadn’t even gotten my camera bag ready. Looked for the black shirt I planned on wearing, found it in the laundry, had to come up with a completely different outfit–my “professional” clothes are few and far between–and then I was down to five minutes. Brushed my teeth, realized I must get my gear ready, so now my hair was staying in the ponytail it had been in all day and no, I would not be putting makeup on. Good thing these clients are friends of ours so they’re used to seeing me like this.
Get to the car, realize I have the wrong keys. Get back to the car, I don’t have my purse. Get back to the car, get ready to back down, when I realize that my family of three, who has successfully stopped whining and headed down the driveway to get the trash, is now heading up the driveway at a snail’s pace because only Jax could touch the trashcan. Of course. I was supposed to leave two minutes ago.
Head down the driveway, now Em will not walk–I must carry her. JDubbs is trying to help Jax, but he wants nothing to do with it. JDubbs finally gets Jax to agree to let him help “push” the trash can while Jax “pulls”. We walk up, I say goodbye to the kids, and suddenly they realize that I will not be home to put them to bed. Chaos ensues, tears are streaming, Em has entangled herself fiercely around my legs and has somehow simultaneously attached herself to me and is climbing into the front seat to come with me. JDubbs finally just has to take her from me and I wave goodbyes and promise I will come tuck them in when I get home, but all I get are glares of accusation and betrayal–how dare I have something else to do other than put them to bed!?
I drive away feeling terrible because a) I kind of agree with them and have Mommy guilt that I should be at their beck and call at all times b) do not have my head in the game for this photo shoot and probably left my camera at home c) was bitchy to JDubbs when he had just gotten home from work and didn’t even get a second to relax and d) I look like crap. I take a deep breath, force myself look ahead to the shoot, and think, How the hell do working moms do it? I say moms because I think moms have a higher level of guilt at being away from home–a glaring generalization but, based on my experience, may be true–but I think that all working parents are undoubtedly superheroes with strength of will and stamina that I simply do not possess. I am so grateful that I am able to stay home with my kids every day and do not have to balance the incredible juggling act that being a parent and having a career entails. Experiences like these make me realize that there is more to going to work than people may truly understand!