Way back in February, my boss at the store where I work got hit by a car. She shattered her knee and was out of commission for surgery and rehab for three months. During that time, I got temporarily promoted to Lead Stylist to cover some of her hours, adding about 25-28 hours a week to my schedule and became, briefly but memorably, a Working Mom. Of course, putting the words "working" and "mom" together under any context is the opposite of an oxymoron, or a "tautology," which is what came up up when I Googled "what is the opposite of an oxymoron." Because we all work our asses off no matter what we do. But that's a rant for another day.
Working is a subject I talk about with my mom friends all the time, especially reentering the workforce and how to manage the responsibility, the guilt (that comes from pretty much every aspect of our lives, warranted or not), childcare (cripplingly expensive). The store where I work part time is often a place where women find a first job after full-time momming for several years. A couple have quit after a week or two because the guilt overwhelms them that first time their daughter gets sick at school and the mom can't drop everything and pick her up. One woman quit because her husband was giving her a hard time for not finishing household chores. They later worked it out.
My boss came back this week, and I go back to part-time employment. I would be remiss, however, if I didn't pass on my experiences to other women in similar situations.
And so, this is what I discovered:
You can unload the dishwasher, but you are unlikely to have time to put the dirty dish back-up into the machine from the pile in the sink for several hours, if not an entire day.
Your dog will lack interaction and exercise, and act out by eating a tray of cookies and hiding your socks.
Your children will cry because you cannot go to their swim lesson and Facebook while they swim in a different room.
You will forget that you forgot to forget a forgotten card/permission slip/field trip day/variety show tryout/meeting promise/action-item follow-up/orthodontist appointment/birthday party/pre-school craft day.
You will realize that your family will need to be in four places at one wildly inconvenient time, that you cannot possibly get everyone where they are supposed to be, and you will consider how young a child can safely Uber.
You will find the energy to make food that has no more than three ingredients, because a fourth ingredient will either put you over the edge or require a trip to the store, and you can’t even.
You will scan your week and find a free hour on Thursday, and that will be your only free hour.
You will ask people to care about things in your absence that they won’t care about and you’ll still have to care about them.
Sleep. Exercise. Shower. Eat. Work. Friends. Leisure activities. Family. Pick three.
Your first thought when you wake up is "What day is this?" because that’s how the Tetris pieces that are your day coalesce into your consciousness.
You will stay up way too late because it’s so enjoyable to be watching TV with your feet on the coffee table, and also you’re too tired to move.
You will have three cases of Girl Scout cookies in your coat closet that you don’t have the energy to deliver. You will get Facebook notices from people who ordered cookies that you will ignore. Your husband will ask you about the cookies and you will get defensive, because the cookies are now both literal cookies and a metaphor for all impossible tasks.
Your oil will not get changed.
Your car will not get washed.
You will ask people that you’re not even that good of friends with for help and they will help you.
You will get money for doing things.
You will find yourself showing up to places on time sometimes because you’ve had to think so hard about your schedule, and it will make you feel like Chuck fucking Norris.
You will be amazed how much you can get done while the kids are at coding class for an hour, when you realize that Ulta, Subway and Costco are all in the same strip mall.
You will discover ordering Starbucks on your phone, and you will be on time for work more often, with the bonus of also being fed and caffienated.
You will experience the pride the comes from doing a job well, being on a team, the value of paid work.
You will miss your kids.
Ha! Just kidding.
Well, a little kidding.
You will put on grown-up clothes and talk to other grown-ups.
Younger women will ask your advice on a variety of topics and you will give it.
Your boss might be 24. You will probably love her. #notallmillenials
There is no “have it all.” There is only Tuesday. Get through it, hopefully with your dignity intact.
Every day, you are out there killing it. Get that tattooed somewhere you can see it.