When I was a little girl, I LOVED Wonder Woman. While I didn’t have a fancy Wonder Woman costume, I did have Wonder Woman Underoos. I remember imitating Wonder Woman (aka Linda Carter) as I watched the TV….I would spin around and pretend that I, too, had turned into Wonder Woman.
I would take “super” jumps off the couch onto the living room floor and use my makeshift masking tape wrist cuffs to ward off flying bullets. If only it was that easy to become such a strong, beautiful and powerful woman!
So what made me think of Wonder Woman? I was laying in bed a couple of weeks ago because I was sick with a fever, and I could hear my husband juggling the responsibilities associated with having two kids under age five. I wasn’t really able to fully rest and nap – as I was encouraged and supposed to do – because I wanted to get up and help him. Even though I was physically tired and felt awful, I also, for some reason, felt guilty for not being able to carry out my motherly duties.
As I think back on this, I ask myself, why do moms have the innate sense to feel that they need to be a sort of Wonder Woman that meets everyone needs? And while my children come first, shouldn’t I come first some times? Why do we always seem to put everyone else’s needs before our own? Is that just part of being a mother?
After I had my first child, it took me a while to realize that my life had been reset to a new state of “normal”. I remember sitting in my boss’s office one day after I went back to work from maternity leave apologizing for not having a regular schedule, as I did prior to leave. I explained that it was taking me a bit to get the baby on a schedule (how naive I was!).
My boss (did I mention she is an experienced working mom?) smiled at me and told me that it was okay. She said, “Eva, your life will not be the same as it was before you had a baby. You will not be able to do everything you did before or do things in the same way. And, that is okay.”
What?! Not be able to do everything I did before? I am the type of person who likes to give everything she does 110% effort. What did she mean by that? I can also be such a control freak…I felt like those words could certainly not apply to me. I told myself that eventually things WOULD go back to the way they were before…they had to. I couldn’t live with the unpredictable schedule for the rest of my life – it felt like chaos!
Well, the laugh’s on me because that state of chaos lasted about three years!
Here I am four years later, feeling tired and sleep deprived and my boss’s sage advice is ringing in my ears – she was right. It has been eight months since my second daughter was born, and I’m still getting used to yet another new state of “normal”. (The funny thing is that on most mornings, the person who gets our schedule a little off track is not the baby, but my four-year old daughter! I find myself saying “let’s hustle” and “no more dilly-dallying” on those mornings that are moving a bit behind schedule.)
On most mornings, I make it into my office by 9 AM after dropping the girls off at childcare. If it’s a rough morning (today was one of those), it’s more like 9:30 AM. I’ve learned not to schedule any meetings or conference calls before 10 AM. 🙂 I’ve also learned to not beat myself up over variations in the morning schedule on work days – my girls come first. Work will still be there, no matter what time I get in.
I may just end up making the time up in other ways – no lunch break, staying a little bit later, or catching up on some things from home after the girls are asleep. I just hope the other people in my office (those early birds there by 8 AM who don’t have children) aren’t rolling their eyes and thinking to themselves, “Oh look, Eva finally rolled in!”
So, maybe a lot of moms are like Wonder Woman…putting other people’s needs before their own. I remember attending a work-related conference (before having my first child) where Dr. Marilyn Hughes Gaston, a keynote speaker, made an analogy between taking care of yourself and flight safety instructions.
“Adult passengers are instructed to put their own oxygen masks before assisting other passengers or children.” She said if you don’t do this, your child will be next to you saying “Mommy, mommy, I need you!” while you are passed out next to them. At the time, I remember laughing with most of the audience, but now I realize how much sense it makes.
Well, if nothing else comes of this post, it has made me realize that I am overdue for a little rest and relaxation. Hmmm…..do you think Wonder Woman will let me borrow her invisible jet, so I can zoom off to a tropical island for a few hours? I’d like to lie and sun myself on a white sandy beach, take a nap in a hammock under a palm tree, swim in sparkling blue water and sip the types of drinks that have little umbrellas in them. Oh yeah – and I need to be back by 5 PM to pick up the girls at childcare.
Are you a mother who struggles with balancing work and motherhood? Do you feel like you can still do as much as you did before having children?
This is an original post for World Moms Blog by Eva Fannon. Eva can be found on Twitter @evafannon.
Photo credit to Eva Fannon.