Last week, my mom and I went on the hunt for pajamas for my toddler. One would think that since it’s still over 90 degrees outside daily in the Sunshine State, stores would carry copious amounts of lightweight, short-sleeved pajamas for babies and children. Not so. We visited four different stores then once I was tired of getting my son in and out of the car in the humidity, we decided to end the search. As we were leaving Wal Mart, however, we ran into an old neighbor from my childhood and started to talk.
“He’s so big!” she said when she saw my son. “Weren’t you just pregnant?”
“It feels that way,” I answered. “He’s 16 months. How old is your grandson?”
“He’s two now,” she said, and pulled out a picture to show me.
Then she asked me a question that rang in my head until I fell asleep that night… “So, is it hard? Juggling working and being a wife and mom?”
This woman was a military wife, a mother, and a nurse. She has to know the answer to that question. But I answered gracefully. “Actually,” I said, “I miss him when I work, but it hasn’t been that bad.”
And then I heard this from the devil on my shoulder: Liar. Liar. Liar.
Let’s forget about being a SAHM, WAHM, WOHM and any other acronym you can throw out. Let’s just start off with the mother part. It’s hard work being the carrier, caregiver, nurturer, provider, feeder, diaper-changer, playmate, bather, reader, teacher… to another living soul. Of course it’s hard. If I screw this up, my kid could end up lying on a couch in some shrink’s office years from now talking about how every night he was so damn hot because his mother couldn’t find him short-sleeved pajamas.
When you factor in being a wife or girlfriend or fiancée or significant other and when you factor in owning or renting or living in some type of space you have to keep livable, and when you factor in the inconvenient fact that you have to eat multiple times a day and you have to fit in a few hours of sleep, you might just lose your ever-loving mind. So, I think most mothers would concede that parenting is hard. But let’s take it a step further.
When a wife/mother works outside the home, a lot of other conflicting and inconvenient factors come into play that make the answer to my neighbor’s question a resounding HELL YES: Pick-ups. Drop-offs. Daycare. Sickness—lots and lots of sickness. Trusting someone ELSE with the safety and welfare of your children. Finances. Bosses. Co-workers. Late hours. Commutes. Separation anxiety. Transitions. Guilt. Jealousy. Time. Time. Time. I’m sure I’ve missed quite a few.
But here’s the thing. Whether you’re honest and admit that, “Yes, it’s hard sometimes” or you’re angry at the thought of someone NOT knowing the obvious answer to that question, or you truly don’t think it’s hard because you’re one of those Supermoms that no one else can compete with, or you’re like me and you lie, I hope you can agree with me on one thing:
“Some days, it’s very, very hard. But even on those days, it’s so worth it.”