Saturday, January 26, 2008

Jurl Interrupted (That Means Having a Breakdown, Right?)

For me the worst part of being a lawyer is being a mom and the worst part of being a mom is also being a lawyer. The last couple of weeks work has been crazy. I've been leaving my home each morning before my children are awake and coming home once they're asleep. It's depressing.

Nights when I have made it home before bed time were even worse because I continued to work and, as I may have mentioned, my three year old is always up my butt, so while I'm working on my laptop she's trying to "help" me by whacking on the keyboard. After pushing her little irritating hands away for the 400th time I finally yelled at her to "let me work!" She then tried to get my attention by climbing all over me, knocking over my Diet Coke in the process. I totally lost it. Sam apologized ten times, saying she just wanted to help me work. I responded like any insane person, "Don't you think I want to spend time with you! Don't you think I'd rather play with you! But I have to work!! (somewhere in there I started crying) I have got to get this work done!" Her little face crumpled, big fat tears slid down her cheeks, and she retreated into her own room leaving me feeling like the worst mom in the world. Worse even than Courtney Love.

As if this wasn't train wreck enough, my seven month old comes down with another respiratory virus meaning no day care. It's terrible when your first reaction to your baby being sick is "oh, crap. What are we gonna do with him?" Bad mommy! Then the debate with my husband over who's ditching work begins and this time around I had to dump it all on him.

These moments where my job and my children need me at the same exact moment make me feel trapped like a rat. On more than one occasion this week I sat in my office paralyzed by emotion, unable to type another word or answer an e-mail. I just sat with my head in my hands wondering what the hell am I doing? Where is this ride taking me? A low point was when I started singing "Cat's in the cradle with the silver spoon, little boy blue and the man in the moon, when you coming home dad I don't know when, but we'll get together then son, you'll know we'll have a good time then..." Pitiful.

When my job starts to get in the way of what is part-time parenting to begin with, I start begging my husband to let me quit and do something else like write my book. Although, if he ever agreed to let me quit I'm not sure what I'd say. Truth is, I can't imagine not working and I'm almost as scared as my husband to think of going down to one salary.

The reality is my job isn't that demanding all of the time, but when it's busy it is really busy and I routinely struggle with meeting my obligations to my firm and being there for my children.

I realize most mothers face this same dilemma everyday. My own mother worked two, sometimes three, jobs when I was growing up and she never seemed to complain. I don't know why I seem more challenged by the grind of my life than a whole world of working moms who seem to take it in stride. Perhaps I'm just weak? Maybe the difference is I know I could get away with making less money because I have a husband making pretty good coin (thank you Lord)so I feel extra guilty for continuing to work full time. Maybe this is all just part of my mid-life crisis. Maybe I just like to bitch about stuff.

So what's a working mom to do? Just keep on working? Keep on feeling guilty? Keep on singing depressing 70s tunes to rub salt in the wound?

Well, I don't have any answers tonight, but I'm comforted by the fact my baby seems to still recognize me, while my daughter has pronounced me "best mommy in the world" (after I let her have the fourth Popsicle of the day). However, I'm determined to figure out a better plan and I'll share it with you as soon as I know what it is.


Anonymous said...

Just keep being the best mother that you can be and make up for it on your down time.

Anonymous said...

Hey, no kid gets through childhood unscathed! Just tell them to send you the bill for the therapy!

Just kidding--you're a great mom and person. Hang in there.

Sua Sponte

ATLGAL said...

I'm with you, jurl. Right there in the same boat as you currently, so I feel you 100%. But as you said, our moms worked too and I don't remember being even a little bit bothered or damaged by that fact. I was a latch key kid for 2 or 3 hours a day, every day, for years, starting in second grade, and I still managed to get out of high school, college and law school w/o a complete nervous breakdown, alcoholism, or knocked up. All that came later, of course, when I started being responsible for myself, with nobody else to blame... I'm sure my mom was wracked with guilt about the latch key thing but she never let on if so, and therefore we just thought it was normal. In retrospect my parents were really good and just showing a brave face, and although I know they must have had anxieties and doubts about parenting, working and parenting, and how to get it all done, they never let on that anything was difficult or hectic or hard, and therefore my brother and I just never knew if anything was hard. And damn, my parents were in their TWENTIES throughout my elementary years! Can you imagine? Maybe they were too optimistic and too young to feel the pressure? Or maybe they were just better people and parents than me- which is actually quite likely, in fact. But long story short, I don't feel like I was a damaged kid just b/c my parents both worked. A fact/memory that I cling to when I'm running in the door at 6:45 pm, harried and stressed, in hopes that I will get to spend an hour with my screaming, hungry, tired baby before I put her to bed, while all the while I'm convinced that her 16 month old self is focusing all of her energy on resenting me for being her mother. But in the morning she smiles and hugs me and blows me a kiss, so I hope that, like a puppy, she forgets all the reasons she has to resent me and just loves me unconditionally b/c that's what a baby does. I hope the true resentment phase is at least 3 or 4 years away...

Claudia said...

Sh*t. I can't read your blog today without crying (again) about the fact that my maternity leave will soon come to an end I have to go back to work in a few short weeks. Ugh!

Angie said...

New to your blog. What a dilemna. I am blessed to be able to stay home for NOW! It was a sacrafice (and a huge financial one, mind you) that hubby and I discussed would last until both boys are in school full time. I have 1-1/2 more years left. Never regretted my decision (well, not NEVER. I do miss vacations, nice restaurants and being able to afford nights out with babysitters at home, but that will come again) even though we are still earning LESS than we did 7 years ago when we had dual income.

As for the rest of your blog. TOO FUNNY! You made me laugh out loud at your reasons to watch dancing with the stars. And Zima?? - do they still make that?