Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Who Has It Worse? You or Me

Grant and I had yet another disagreement this morning about who has more God given right to be tired at the end of the day. Of course the main points of the discussion were bigger then that, but the heart of the issue is: Whose Job Is Harder? We value and respect what the other person does with the 14 hours of their work day, but when we are tired or stressed out or dealing with other issues we tend to end up accusing the other person of not being grateful for the career they have.

In my imagination, Grant should be less tired because his work day is easy like Sunday morning. He gets a shower (by himself) EVERY MORNING, has a professional wardrobe to chose his daily attire from, jumps on the bus and has 20 minutes to listen to a podcast or read a book (by himself), gets to his office and spends the next 8-10 hours in an office (by himself) where he is in charge of his day (he schedules his meetings, has conference calls, collaborates with colleagues on research he is interested in, and can help himself to a fully stocked coffee cart any time he wants), he can go to the bathroom (by himself), have a lunch date with a friend, and when he feels like leaving for the day there is no one telling him he cannot. If he chooses to work from home or a coffee shop (by himself), he is free to do that as well. His work day does not end when he leaves the office (hence the aforementioned 14 hour schedule) because when he walks in the door, he has two gorgeous children running to meet him and he must play with them. He does have to make his own gin and tonic because I am usually elbows deep in a nutritious and homemade dinner that will be ready in a few minutes. (I am a little behind because I wanted to freshen up a bit before you came home, honey! Do you like my new lipstick?) The most strenuous part of his day is wrestling with post-bath Knox who loves being nude and resists a diaper with all the strength of his wriggling little body. After the babes are tucked in bed, his work day is officially over. He gets to do so much great stuff and so much of it on his terms and in his time. And by himself. Alone with his thoughts.

If you didn't catch the running theme of my interpretation of his day, it is my envy of all the things he gets to do by himself. I know every Mama jokes about this, but I really cannot remember the last time I went to the bathroom or ate a bowl of cereal without multi-tasking. (Why does Olivia Goes to Venice need to be read at this exact moment? I am going to the bathr.....Oh, just bring it here.)

I'm sure his interpretation of my days would look similar with as much mystical rainbow and puppy dog bliss. And my days are pretty good, no joke. I can go to the Science Center, the Children's Museum, the Library, Highland Park, the Children's Institute, the Carnegie Museums, I can have a second cup of coffee while the babes play in the sprinkler, I can snuggle for hours while we read books or watch Gabba together, we can go for bike rides and walks or play at a different city park every day. We are free to do so much and our days are beautifully unscheduled in these few years before school for them and full time work for me.

But what I can't do is: have a bad day, not do laundry, be too tired to do something, skip a grocery store trip, take a break, pursue a new interest or hobby that would take me away from the babes or cost money we don't have, ever lose control of my emotions, or miss opportunities to teach Pursy and Knox something about life. I can't DO those things. Or I have to recognize that taking a few minutes to do something for myself usually comes at a price. Blow drying my hair in the morning is all the10 minutes that Pursy needs to empty the drawers in her dresser and jump in them like a leaf pile. Writing an email while both babes are awake is 3 minutes in which they have no one telling them not to use their markers on the hardwood floor. As a Mama, I have to be ON at all times. Because someone is always watching me. And if the conversation I overheard between Pursy and her baby doll "Blue Baby" yesterday is any indication, someone is always listening as well. And imitating. (if you have read my blog before you know I don't have any false ideas about being perfect so I won't quality these statements with my philosophy on grace and forgiveness- giving and receiving it)

But what he can't do is: not go to work or not work in particular jobs that would not provide for our family. Not have enough energy reserved after a day at work to play hard with Pursy and Knox. Not be constantly thinking about the direction our family is going in, where we will go to church, how we fit into our community, if our priorities are in order for our little family to flourish. He can't sleep in or work late without sacrificing something on the other end of the day. He doesn't get to see first hand most of the super cool milestones of the babes growing up (although I was at work for BOTH of their first steps, so he got to witness that biggie) He can't neglect me and our relationship, which means planning date nights and making sure there are enough hours where just the two of us are together. He can't NOT do those things.

So at the end of the day, he is exhausted from all the things he has to do while no one is watching and I am worn out from all the things I have to do while the two most important little people in my life are watching. No wonder both of us are so tired. A good tired- the best kind of tired. But tired nonetheless. And I'm sorry, honey, for yelling at you this morning because you didn't have the mental energy to take care of yourself holistically after working until midnight. I am a jerk and sent you off to work without a kiss. Or lunch, I think. This season of life is tough, but we are doing alright.

(Just admit that my life is a little harder than yours and I will be content. I mean...that was a joke, just kidding... I love you...)


  1. Hi Christy. I am a working mom, as you know, and I would wholeheartedly agree that your job is harder. I just did exactly what Grant did during his lunch break today, most likely. I went to the bathroom to pee, wash my hands, and fix my hair alone then went to the work kitchen to heat up my leftovers from last night and then sat down for a quiet 30 minutes to read this blog post, look at facebook photos, and pay a couple bills. It is bliss especially after a night of a teething 16 month old who woke up screaming, wouldn't eat a bite of the 4 different courses of dinner I prepared for him, and woke up at a romantic 5:30AM so as soon as I heard him stirring, I JUMPED in the shower so I could get out in time to get him. Your job is hard hard hard and you should know how amazing you are for doing it. I think the hardest thing about being a working Momma is feeling like I am missing watching my child grow up. You'll never have to deal with that guilt....

    1. Fortunately for our babes they only know what their normal is, yes? So Jake knows that you get him ready every morning and put him to bed every night. And during the day he gets to hang out with his friends. And my guess is, you spend less of your time thinking of ways to get a little space for yourself then I do. Since I only work one day a week, I usually dance out the door on my way to the hospital, but I do remember one day that Pursy was clinging to my leg and begging me not to go to work. Grant picked her up and as I was leaving I heard him say "Purslane, you are so lucky that you have a Mama who works. She is a good example for you of what Mamas can do". He is a wise man, that husband of mine. (let's get out little men together- if Jake can teach Knox a few things about how to deal with separation anxiety, Knox can teach him about not being a picky eater). You are a gem and doing a great job with both of your boys- they obviously adore you!

  2. I once heard a story on the news radio about a mom who "ran away" for a few days. Legit ran away. She didn't tell anyone where she was going. Her family was worried sick, to say the least. She came back a few days later just fine. They were furious. I remember thinking (BB - Before Bit) how absurd that was, how selfish it was for her to just LEAVE without any notice or any information about where she was going. I was a bit angry about it (as angry as one can be about a stranger). And then I became a mom. And it all made sense. For real. No, I probably wouldn't just up and run away without telling someone something. But I totally get why she did.

    1. This is so sadly funny. And a feeling so completely unique to a stay at home parent. Someone sent me a WSJ article a few months ago where a single working woman wrote in asking for advice on how to deal with her perception that a parent who does not work outside the home should be able to be so productive. They aren't leaving the house after all. The washer and dryer are right there and so is the broom and stove and everything else they need to get basic life things done. This woman was making the case that both she and her stay at home parent friend work full time jobs and she managed to have clean clothes and get a shower every day, why was it so hard for her friend? With no veiled attempt at sympathy, the op ed author simply made the point that a parent if young children cannot do even the smallest task without the constant awareness that if she/he is distracted for too long, someone could die. Stairs, bathtubs, curtains, clothes driers...the home is full of instruments of death and dismemberment. Hard to take a shower surrounded by napalm.