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Sucking it Up and Admitting You Aren't Wonder Woman

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

In the last six months, I've found myself having conversation in person or via email where people ask me "how I do all that?" They're referring to life with two kids, three businesses, helping launch the Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition, working behind the scenes with breastfeeding moms, packing those bento lunches and a million other things.

I generally respond "Oh, I simply live life on the verge of a nervous breakdown."

They laugh and I laugh, but generally, I'm not joking.

There are women out there that can raise six children while running two businesses, keeping their house clean, giving their friends and husband proper attention and finding the time to work out and prepare healthy meals.

I'd like to kick these women.

Hard.

In the rear.

Ok, not really. I actually admire these women, but I wonder sometimes if they are doing it all and doing it well, or if they are also living life on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

I'm a perfectionist. Not in that I want everything to be perfect, but in that I don't like to show my flaws or admit my mistakes. I've got a little bit of Monica Geller in me. I NEED to be the host. I NEED to be the person that helps, I NEED to be the person that inspires. I NEED to be the person that appears to have it all together.

But as I grow into a bona fide adult (I'm 30 now, I think I qualify as a grown-up) I realize that life isn't about the apperance of being perfect. In fact, that appearance does nothing more than feed the fuel of making other women feel like they need to be perfect to...because if they aren't, something is wrong with them.

Jen can do it, why can't I?

Well, perhaps it's because you aren't writing out your ticket to the loney bin.

In the last month, I've realized a few things.

Instead of enjoying my time with my kids, I find myself waiting for nap time so that I can get some work done.

Instead of enjoying time with my husband, we've become roommates with a common goal of keeping two children alive.

My kids were watching way too much TV so that I had any chance of accomplishing things.

It was the middle of June and I only got to play outside with the kids once a week or so.

It made me sad. I was missing out on the very things that drove me to work from home to begin with. All because I was too busy trying to do everything. All because I'd convinced myself that eleventy billion things would fall apart if I wasn't the one running them.

And thus, I began to live life on the edge of a nervous breakdown.

Then...the clouds parted and a little ray of sunshine came through.

My publisher, (the world's BEST boss) called to say he knew how stressed I was and knew how rough it was getting now that Emmitt is old enough to get into things. He wanted to help lighten the load a bit, so he asked his wife what she thought he should do for me.

She said "every woman dreams of not having to clean."

She was right. I hate cleaning and my house, while fairly organized, is often pretty dirty.

So he has hired a cleaning crew to come in once a week for the next year. They've been here twice now and I stand amazed at the difference it has made to my mental health to walk around a house that has a few toys scattered around, but that is actually clean.

Life was starting to look up again.

Help is a good thing.

Shortly after the cleaning company started, my laptop broke. Then the borrowed laptop broke. I spent a week hardly able to work, yet still desperately trying to work. I realized just how much "wasted" time I have in my day because I neither parent nor work effectively. Basically, I sucked at both.

That's when a friend suggested that I look into getting a break a few times a week.

I've long said that I'll outsource anything but child care. I have no problem with people who use day care for whatever reason, but for me, my children are my responsibility and I've long been adamantly opposed to leaving my children with someone other than family, close friends or the sunday school teacher.

I explained this to my friend and she helped remind me that while it was true that I was the one taking care of my kids, I wasn't getting to enjoy them.

Then I realized that it had gotten to the point that Elnora knew that if Barney is on PBS, Max and Ruby are on Noggin.

Man, that hit me hard.

I had been planning on sending Elnora to Pre-school in the fall as a way to get a bit of a break, but I found out that none of our local pre-schools would accept her because she won't be three until November. That left me with the option of part-time day care.

Then I found Mango's Place.

Mango's Place is a "drop-in" child care center about twenty minutes from me. They take children 8 and under and charge a per-hour fee. You can leave them for up to four hours at a time and simply call in the morning to reserve a space. They have a structured day with story time, play time, craft time, music time, etc. They're fully licensed and have all the benefits of a day care, but with the advantage of using them when YOU want to use them.

So I took Elnora yesterday to try it out. I dropped her off from 11:30-2pm while Emmitt and I went to have lunch with my sister-in-law and to ship my laptop in for repairs.

She loved it. In fact, as I was filling out the paperwork, she was tugging on the door to the play area while signing BOY PLAY, GIRL PLAY. When they let her in, she never even looked back, lol.

When I went to pick her up, the owner told me she had done great. She'd gone to the bathroom, she'd eaten the entire bento I'd packed for her, she'd read books, played with kids and when I asked Elnora if she'd had fun, I got an enthusiastic yes. Then the owner asked if I was looking for a pre-school.

Turns out, they are launching a pre-school in the fall in the same building and they will accept one 2.5 year old per class of ten. They had an opening in their morning class that meets two days a week. Plus, I can leave Emmitt there as well and he can play in the infant area.

There's a Starbucks across the street with wifi access.

That means I can drop the kids off two days a week for 3 hours and go work at the Starbucks. In fact, with no kids around, I can likely finish all of my work up in tha three hours. That means that when we get home, I can stay off the computer and spend my time with the kids or doing things around the house.

With that realization, I floated through the day yesterday.

I'm not wonder woman. I am NOT wonder woman. I AM NOT wonder woman.

But I'm starting to be a happy woman.

Sometimes, being a good mom means recognizing that you simply can't do everything. There's nothing wrong with asking for help. It took me a long time to realize that.

And remember...help doesn't have to mean hiring a cleaning service or paying for part time child-care. I realize how blessed I am to be able to do those things. But looking back, I can also realize just how many times I turned down an offer from a friend to baby sit or to cook a meal or to take the kids to the park so I could snag a nap.

I spent a long time trying to make sure I WAS the perfect mom and I realize now just how silly that was.

It's not about being the perfect mom, it's about being a great mom to your kids.

(Thanks for indulging me...here's hoping that this message gets through to at least one of my readers.)

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  1. Blogger Stephanie | 7:49 AM |  

    Great! Really smart insight. Clearly you've been to the edge and come back again. Sometimes life has to kick us hard before we sit up and take notice.

    I'm dealing with the same sort of super-woman struggles. I work full-time so every bit of free time I have is spent with my precious little guy. He's 19 months and we're still breastfeeding.

    I've done such a good job, that my boss came to me last week and told me that they want to move me into a position with increased responsibility - and I will need to work 50-60 hours per week. She said this to me! 50-60 hours per week! I reminded her that I have a baby at home whose age we still count in months - not years.

    So now, it looks like I am going to claim some sanity for my life and find a job- several steps down the career ladder - and work part-time.
    In some ways my heart is broken because I love what I do and I love my high income, but at the same time I am excited to be the one to feed my son breakfast.

    I think being supermom is a trap we get ourselves into when we aren't paying attention.

    Thanks for sharing your struggles with us.

  2. Blogger Amy | 7:57 AM |  

    I'm a perfectionist. Not in that I want everything to be perfect, but in that I don't like to show my flaws or admit my mistakes.

    Wow. That's me exactly. I could never explain how I was a perfectionist in my mind, but it didn't seem to bother me when so many things weren't done quite perfectly--but that's it.

    Thanks for being willing to share how you aren't perfect. I'm one of the ones who constantly wonders how you do it and have felt like I couldn't possibly measure up. Definitely encouraging for me--and a good reminder to ask when I need help, not just act like I have it all together.

  3. Blogger Cagey | 7:59 AM |  

    At my husband's prodding, since my son was 5 weeks old, I've had a babysitter (it started out as a cousin, now we have a babysitter found through a neighbor) come in for a few hours a week. And yes, I am a SAHM. In the beginning, I used that time to do errands that were difficult to do while dragging a baby or to go to the gym. Now that my son is older and loves doing errands and doesn't mind the gym nursery, I use that time for me to sit in a coffeeshop and get things done, read or knit.

    I think some folks get squinty-eyed on me since I am a SAHM and I still have a babysitter. As if they are questioning "don't I want to be the only care provider for my child?". Um, NO. I want to be the PRIMARY careprovider for my son. There's a big difference.

    Like you've observed, when your child is firmly attached to you, they appreciate getting a break as much as you do! My son is starting a mother's day out program in the fall. When we went to visit, he ran toward the kids and didn't look back.

    Glad you are finding some balance!

    Kelli
    www.nursingyourkids.com

  4. Blogger Mommy's Getaway | 8:01 AM |  

    I am in the middle of the same epiphany...Thank you for sharing and letting your readers know they aren't the only ones in the boat.

  5. Anonymous Jennifer | 8:08 AM |  

    Thank you for posting this! You are not the only mom barely holding on, not the only mom who thinks if you don't do it, no one will - or at least no one will do it justice. You are not the only person to make comments about the loony bin to people who ask how you do it all. Right up to the part about your boss offering you cleaning services (don't I freakin' wish!), I could have been writing that!

    I heard once that the worst thing we do to each other, as women, is clean our houses before friends come to visit. Because what is the first thing you think when you walk into a spottless house? "Wow, my house is dirty. I'm not good enough."

    Being open about the fact that we are not perfect all the time, that we don't have it all together is just as important for ourselves as it is for other women.

    I had a similar revelation to yours in the past. And still periodically have to look at all of the balls I have in the air and choose which ones to drop so that my number one priority, my family, stays on top.

  6. Blogger Heather | 8:23 AM |  

    Oh, Jennifer. I can so identify. May God give you the power to let go of perfectionism. I'm in the baby stages, myself. Hah.
    On friday, a girl we know down the street is coming to help out for an hour-and-a-half and will come regularly through the summer. I'm nervous to leave my baby. But it will be so good to have a regular break. I still haven't worked up to leaving her in the nursery.
    Now you made me want to post about this very topic.

  7. Blogger Amy Jo | 8:50 AM |  

    They have similar programs all over here in the south, but they call them Mother's Morning Out. At first I really resisted the idea of dropping my son off, since I don't work, but when I found out I was pregnant again I started taking him twice a week. I've really enjoyed having some time to myself during this second pregnancy, not to mention having some where to take him during my doctor's appointments! Good for you.

  8. Blogger Sarahbear | 8:56 AM |  

    Oh I needed this blog. I already know in my head that I can't do everything but I get frustrated when I get comments from people about things I should be doing.

    Like my sister just came to stay with me for a few weeks. She kept talking about the messes in my house and I told her that I don't worry with certain things because I know the kids will run right behind me and mess it all back up or I'll wind up spending 4 hours trying to do it because they will whine the whole time.

    She laughed and I said...'ok, I'll show you.' So I sat on my butt all day and watched tv/played online while she tended the house and kids. After that she said 'omg, the kids were doing this and this and this' and I said 'I told you that's what happens'

    To my dismay though, she still went home and ran her mouth to my parents. Rather than telling them what a tough job it is to chase 4 kids around and try to keep house she told them that I just sit on my butt all day and let the kids do what they want and let the house stay a mess.(Mind you it was only that one day I sat around to prove a point.)

    Just worry about YOUR priorities. If someone has a problem with it then they can stay away from your house.

  9. Blogger The Lactivist | 9:57 AM |  

    Whew! You guys have no idea how scary it was to post that. Not because it wasn't true, but because the little part of me that still clings to that perfectionism screams "no!!! if you post it, they'll all stop reading."

    Then the REAL part of me slaps that little voice upside the head and says "shut it moron, they read her blog BECAUSE she's honest about this stuff."

    I guess I continue to try and take my cue from Naomi Wolf's Misconceptions. That book and her willingness to be honest were absolute sanity savers after Elnora was born. I can only hope to be able to pay it forward by being the voice of honesty for another mom.

    Heather..I just started leaving Emmit in the nursery last month. My general rule has always been "I'll leave them in the nursery when they are mobile and I'll consider leaving them with "strangers" when they can talk."

    Emmitt hit "mobile" about two months ago, but we had a few weekend trips. When we came back it was such a huge sigh of relief to actually sit through service again. Now I nurse him during the worship music and then run him back to the nursery while they do announcements.

    Elnora still doesn't talk but she communicates well, so I figure fair enough leaving her. And since she and Emmitt both do so well at church, I figured why not give it a go.

    Honestly, I'm amazed at just what the thought of having the OPTION does to me mentally. In fact, I took a break in the middle of writing this response and just PLAYED with the kids for 20 minutes.

    THAT is why I'm home. At least that's why I wanted to be home. Hopefully this is the start of making it why I'm home again.

  10. Blogger tiny-dog | 10:56 AM |  

    Good for you, making changes is sometimes really hard to do. I went through this myself trying to balance part time work and part time day care (and part time guilt about both!). I've had to make several changes (add a day of day care, push back on increasing workload) and it hasn't been easy. But I agree, you know when it isn't working when you aren't enjoying your kids as much as you set out to. I also hit that point.

    One thing I did discover is that my daughter loves day care. It seems to really have done wonders for her to bond with other people and play with other babies-- she is much more outgoing and adventurous since starting. I think your kids will see the drop in day care as just a fun time for them to make new friends.

    Good luck balancing things... but don't stop the bentos! They are too cool! lol

  11. Blogger krazymommyto2 | 11:31 AM |  

    Thank you for sharing your struggles with the world. I helps to see someone who you think "has it altogether" is actually having the same problems as you.
    I am a work OUT of the home mommy and sometimes the guilt is overwhelming because I am juggling like so you said so many balls in the air. BUT I have found that having my daughter (17m) in daycare so I can contribute to our home is good for her and me. She's such a social butterfly and I know that's because she is in a loving environment even when she isn't with mommy and daddy.
    Good luck with all your "balls".
    P.S. I just love reading your blog, I try to never miss and post and I like to imagine that I'm a undercover "Lactivist" because of it. :-)

  12. Blogger evil cake lady | 11:46 AM |  

    WONDERFUL post, Jen! Bravo!!!

    Made me a little teary-eyed to be truthful.

  13. Blogger kristin | 12:17 PM |  

    thank you SO much for writing this!

    i'm a mama 2 two kids, breastfeeding one of them right now, a doula trying to get business started, the marketing director for my dad's business, a wife and very ocassionally i'm a friend...

    i find it incredibly hard to stay focussed and i never feel like i've gotten "enough" done.

    and my hair always looks like crap.

    your post really helped me realize that i'm human and i am doing the best that i can.

    thanks!

  14. Anonymous aruni | 1:35 PM |  

    I struggle with this too and I learned earlier on that my sanity was more important than being with the kids 24/7. They are now both in full time care. Our daughter is in a wonderful homecare that's like a second family and our son is now in a Montessori school...he's 4 1/2 afterall.

    I know they both enjoy going to school because on the days they have been home sick...boy are they bored. They love the interaction with other kids.

    Since I work from home, I would get nothing done and pull out my hair 10 times per day if I was at home with them all day. I would be just like you wishing they would take their nap so I could get work done. Or putting them in front of the TV and feeling horrible about it.

    I have heard it said 'you can have it all but not all the same time.' It's important to prioritize the things in your life with sanity/well-being coming first because otherwise you actually might become unfit to parent. To me, maintaining my sanity includes working and launching a new business without being interrupted every 10 minutes.

    We all deserve a break! And Yes I strongly vote for having a housecleaner...ours comes every two weeks and the fact that I don't have to think about cleaning toilets and mopping the floors and am able to focus on the things I love to do makes me feel oh so much better. :-)

    My husband and I are trying to do more regular date nights...but so far regular hasn't been that regular...more like sporadic.

    Thanks for sharing. I know many moms (working for $$ or not) feel like you do and I wish more people were honest about their experiences thereby helping other moms feel like they are from the same planet.

  15. Blogger milkfacemama | 2:13 PM |  

    This is an incredible post that should be required reading for moms! I recently moved my business out of my house (after 5 years as a WAHM) and found it helped me so much - I'm now a better mom and a better business owner! I resisted getting any sort of help or allowing anyone to give me a break and now I'm kicking myself. Things would go a lot smoother if we all admitted that this mothering thing was not something we were meant to do alone...
    Britt
    www.milkface.com

  16. Blogger Carrie Lauth | 3:41 PM |  

    Wow, wish there was a Mango Place near me! I rely on Grandparents, the Dad, occasional babysitters/helpers, and naptime, rising early, going to bed late....

    LUCKY you on the cleaning service! Shyeah!

  17. Blogger amygeekgrl | 4:14 PM |  

    thank you so much for having the courage to post this. i think the more moms that admit they don't have it all together and that they struggle, the more normal and ok it feels to admit that we struggle too. we as moms place such high expectations on ourselves when we really should be cutting ourselves a break. i definitely struggle with this and trying to live in the moment for my kids, and not always thinking about what i "should" be doing.

    they will only be little once. the dirty laundry will last forever. ;)

    balance is such a tricky thing. it's something we all know we need, but often so hard to find it. good for you for finding ways to balance your life and take care of everybody's needs. :)

    that mango place sounds great. need to read more about it and see if there's one or something similar near me. i was just thinking the other day that while ava is going to a summer program 1 morning a week, it would be so nice to have a little more time than that for myself.

  18. Blogger Allanna | 4:23 PM |  

    I'm glad that you posted this.
    It's way too easy for us, as women, to get down on ourselves. Why is this?

    But I'm SO, SO, SO glad that things have worked so well for you! I'm glad that your blessings came at such a good time. That's awesome that your boss is that great. (I think you're awesome, so it makes me happy that your boss treats you well. ^_^) I'm also glad that you have the option for such great childcare when you need a break.

    And it makes me feel a little better knowing that I'm not the only imperfect mom out there. Thank you.

  19. Blogger Melissa | 6:10 PM |  

    The greatest thing that I ever did to get things off my "Bree Van de Kamp Perfect Mommy" plate was go back to school. Yeah, I am tired, we're a little more broke, my brain is a little more filled with the Periodic Table and the house is not how I would like it to be. BUT, I have 3.5 hours to myself two days a week. Because of the break in between classes, I have study time, treadmill time, and just time to sit- which is a beautiful but rare commodity.

    But, Jennifer, thank you so much for posting this.

  20. Anonymous Sinead@BreastFeedingMums | 2:50 AM |  

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing this, Jennifer. I am at the point of almost breaking right now.

    I rarely am without at least two of my children and when we're at home, most of the day, most of the time they watch tv too whilst I work on my website and blog. Like you that was never my intention when I decided to be a SAHM.

    So, I've recently decided to cut back a little on my blogging and do more things with my babies. They won't be babies for long...

    Like you I am also a perfectionist especially about my house - even when my mum is calling I go crazy tidying up and bleaching toilets etc just to show I can do it all. But last week she told me I was looking wretched, not as an insult, but because she's worried about me. It stopped me in my tracks.

    I am going to admit I'm not supermum, I'm not super housewife. I'm tired. I need a break. More than anything though I need more sleep!!

    We're all in this together. And we women are our own worst enemies!

    I'm stopping now because I feel a little tearful admitting all this... but I'm taking the children out now and we are going to have a lovely day without any laptop and without looking at the mess of my once spotless house...

  21. Blogger Diane | 5:36 AM |  

    You got through to ME! I'm in the exact same boat - working from home, trying to get this little one-year-old to walk, writing a book, making baby food, blah blah blah. I am exhausted. I see the look in other mothers' eyes when I crack out a jar of homemade baby food or when they walk into my clean house. They think I can do it all, but I'm no Wonder Woman either. It is exhausting. I'm starting to turn over some of your ideas. My boss is getting me a laptop so I can buzz all over the house with it, which will be helpful. I'm also thinking of a girl I know who would love to come play with my baby a couple times a week... Seems like obvious ideas now, but geez, I haven't been thinking of them on my own here in my tornado. Thanks!!! I'm gonna look at the cleaning thing today too. Who knows?

  22. Anonymous Becky | 7:05 AM |  

    Great post. However, I must point out that the woman you mention with "six kids" running "two businesses" only appears to have it all together. She's probably as frazzled as you/us. So the idea is to not judge or assume based on the book's cover.

    For juggling the balls. There's a story about determining which of the balls you juggle are glass and which are rubber. You must decide which ones can drop and be trusted to bounce back (these balls are chores, casual relationships, etc.). You must also decide which balls are glass and cannot be dropped at all costs (relationship with spouse, children). Only after you have evaluated all your "balls" (so to speak) can you juggle most effectively. I found the link for the anecdote about this....unfortunately the first one I found (google) was from a divorce site but here it is http://www.divorceandkids.com/Parent%20Tips/tips.htm

  23. Anonymous Peggy | 7:48 AM |  

    I admit that I was one of the ones wondering how you did it all!

    For me, I keep going back to two sayings that I used when I was getting my Ph.D.:

    "I need my sanity more than I need this degree!" (then go for a walk)

    and

    "This isn't open-heart surgery, no one will die if I don't get this done today."

  24. Blogger Renata | 12:47 PM |  

    Two years ago, I asked a mother of 7 (now 8) kids on how she did it. She answered me that she has learned that she needs to relinquish things and to accept her limitations. We then talked about how people often see her as superwoman. It really annoys her when she gets comments like that. Around that time I read the following from Elizabeth Elliot in her book, "Keep a Quiet Heart":
    "Wow," said one, "it takes a special woman to have that many children." Special? Not really. Millions have done it. But it takes grace, it takes strength, it takes humility, and God stands ready to give all that is needed."

    Regardless of how many kids or whatever we are doing, God stands ready to give us all that is needed.

    I'm with you on the childcare responsibility thing. We also live away from family. But we have some trusted friends with whom we will leave our kids (or at least one) with every now and then. We haven't done it more often because our kids have caught so many colds in the last year.

    I have learned that I can't do what many other moms can. Although I don't like that, I have a 4 year old who is frustrated with not being able to do all he can. I see how my heart is so much like his sometimes. But I realize I am more at peace when I do what I can rather than trying to do all the other things I want to do. I am one of those moms who can't manage another job other than caring for my kids and husband and cleaning an 850 sq ft apartment. I often have to pry myself away from my computer because I can't manage. But that's where I'm at right now and if I want to enjoy this time, I have to suck it up. Thanks for sharing.

    By the way, your boss and his wife ROCK!

  25. Blogger Ahmie | 4:19 AM |  

    *hugs* I love you. My family of origin has dealt me a rather crappy week emotionally (short version - I had to find out from my uncle 400 miles away that my little sister had a baby 8 months ago 10 miles away from me and my jerk estranged father whom she lives with couldn't be bothered to so much as send me a birth announcement email - mind you, this is the same man that told me when I was 16 and we'd had an argument [over me taking it upon my driver-liscensed self to visit my dying grandmother in the hospital instead of waiting for his permission] that he wasn't going to tell me when my grandmother died until after the funeral and then he wouldn't tell me where she was buried, so really I guess I shouldn't be surprised by anything this guy does and just be happy my mom had the sense to consent to the divorce, but it still stings... and I digress).

    Anyway, I get that similar "Ahmie, you're handicapped but you have SO MUCH mental energy, I don't know how you do it" thing very often. The truth is, if I DIDN'T exercise (or exorcise) that mental energy, I'd be in the loony bin myself from spending 8 hours a day alone with a preschooler. Especially since it's physically very difficult for me to get out of the house with him by myself (seriously, how insane am I to be adding another kid to this family??). I'm hoping to improve on that and get out to the new library that opens in a few weeks a few blocks away, but way too many weeks have gone by where the only time I've been out of the house is to go to church and maybe the grocery store.

    Can you find out if that Mango place has any sister-companies up here in Cleveland? Or how I can use some of this "incredible mental energy" I have to help them GET one open up here (on the west side, please ;) )? Giant Eagle is starting to be one of my favorite places on earth because of that darn Eagle's Nest.

    And I'm right there with you on that whole mentality of "I won't outsource my children's care"... but the household definition of that has definately loosened in the last year or two! MY main sanity saver has been living close enough to my church that I have congregation members as walking-distance neighbors, one of the teens (now a college student) and I adopted each other (well, actually, our entire families adopted each other) and she's been known to be here more often than at her own home, playing with my son (who thrills her by calling her "Auntie") and discussing everything from Harry Potter theories to parenting ideas (even though she's not planning to be a parent for probably nearly a decade herself, she enjoys discussing the topic). And she's fantastic at playing devil's advocate (sometimes a little too good - we were going back and forth about the above issues with my father on my own blog's comments last week).

    What really helped me move on from the childcare outsourcing thing was remembering that our ancestresses (even just a generation or two back!) had other SAHMs very nearby, often just next door, to lean on when they were losing it with their kids and needed adult interaction (or a nap, or a bath, or whatever). Our current culture doesn't give us much in the way of "automatic local community" - we have to put a lot more effort into seeking it out and creating it than even our parents did. As much as the internet connects us to others, it has the tendancy to put up a barrier between us and our physical neighbors who may not share our philosophies of life as much, and can be a whole lot messier to deal with day-to-day. We're losing that skill I think. Time to work on it ;)

    Again, bless you for being open about this struggle. You AREN'T Wonder Woman, but you ARE a Wonderful Woman!!! *hugs*

  26. Blogger The Lactivist | 5:57 AM |  

    If you want to check and see if there's a service like Mango's place near you, the term seems to be "Drop in child care."

    There are actually two places like this down here, but the other only takes kids two and over and their web site shows pictures of the facility. All you can see are rows of video games, tvs and computers.

    Yeah, if I wanted her to sit in front of that stuff all day, I'd keep her home. I didn't see any TVs at Mango's Place, though I think they have one somewhere...

    Anyway, loving the conversation!

    I think one the points that has really stuck out to me has been the goal of being the PRIMARY caregiver rather than the only ONLY caregiver. I'm not sure when/how I got it in my mind that one meant the other, but it doesn't.

    Even if I leave the kids three days a week, three hours at a time...that's 9 hours. That hardly counts as me not being the primary caregiver.

    Also, I spoke with a friend in her 40s with grown kids and with my mom. Both said that there were at least six or seven other at home moms on the street when their kids were young and that it was common to call one up and say "I need to run to the grocery store, can you watch X?" and the mom would do it.

    Of course when I grew up, both sets of grandparents and one of my aunts lived within a 5 minute drive. We spent a TON of time at each of their houses.

    Our neighbors, who we REALLY like, are planning on having kids in the next year and she's devoted to staying home with them. My cousin, who lives here in my small town also plans to stay home when she has kids.

    Now I just need to have all these people have their kids so that we can swap watching. Of course their kids also have to get old enough to make it easy to swap...hard to drop two kids on someone with a newborn. ;)

  27. Anonymous Anonymous | 6:36 AM |  

    Thank you thank you thank you! We need more people to realize that it simply isn't possible to be super woman. I am so inspired that you have found something that works well and makes your family happy :)

  28. Blogger wildheart4vr | 11:48 AM |  

    For the single parent your forced into the role of having to do it all. I have a son so I have to be mother and father to him.

    Case in point I went to Wal Mart the other day and bought him his first stick of anti antiperspirant.That is a milestone that is normally reserved for the father component of the family.It was great to share this milestone with him, but his father was and will continue to be absent.

    I have had to do it all for the last five years because he got drunk one night and tried to kill someone ending him up in prison doing a hard five years in prison.

    It didn't take him long to screw up in jail either and about two or three months ago I lost the child support I had been getting. I couldn't have had that happen at the worst possible time because my apartment had caught fire around the time I found out I lost the child support.

    I oh yeah let's add school to the mix, my son getting pneumonia and myself recovering from nasal surgery. How I kept it together through it all I have no clue. I am glad I found this post and this blog.

    Thank you Jennifer.

  29. Blogger Amber | 2:28 PM |  

    Thank you for this blog. It is nice to know that we can admit our imperfections, and still get through the day. I am so happy for you and your cleaning service and child care arrangements. I am blessed enough to be able to take my children to work with me, as I run my father's office, which is in his home. The kids think we are just going to grandma's every single day. There are days though, that I reach out for help with them when I am busy and need to run lots of errands and can't drag two kids (ages 2 and 1) all over town. I wrote a letter to the local high school requesting a junior or senior with an interest in early childhood education when I decided I needed help on a regular basis. We now have a recent high school graduate (starting college in the fall for elementary education) who loves our children (the feeling is mutual). She lives a block away, and is affordable. This is her first "real" job, and we pay her just over minimum wage to help out with the kids while I am home but busy, and she makes slightly more when she is alone with the kids. So although her job is priceless, because she is younger she is willing to work for less. We have paid for her red cross cpr training and are discussing sending her to become a certified lifeguard because the kids love the pool. She has been a great addition to our family, and has helped get my sanity in a closer range now.

  30. Blogger heather | 2:53 PM |  

    Sign my name to your post too. I am the worst perfectionist and lately have been wondering if I might lose my mind soon. I've got 4 kids 4 and under, a business, and my husband is gone alot in the military and with school. I am seriously on the verge of some kind of breakdown!

  31. Anonymous Lee | 5:58 AM |  

    Hi Jen,

    AMEN!!! Sadly, It took me until 37 to make the determination that I'm not wonder woman.

    The gift I gave myself was to contract with a virtual assistant for many of the administrative tasks related to my business.

    Once I signed on with Katie, I got my weekends back.

    Money well spent and I'm supporting another WAHM.

    Lee

  32. Blogger Elizabeth F. | 7:01 AM |  

    Excellent post! I think most of us moms go through the same thing while trying to balance kids, household and paid or unpaid work/volunteer commitments. We are only human! It took me 7 years and 3 kids later to get it through my thick head, and now
    I'm ok with taking naps and letting the house not be perfect.

    What an awesome boss you have!! A cleaning service-wow!

  33. Anonymous erika | 3:03 PM |  

    "I'm a perfectionist. Not in that I want everything to be perfect, but in that I don't like to show my flaws or admit my mistakes."

    yup.. me too. so are you REALLY saying that if I take my 2 year old twins to some sort of day care program a couple of times a week and only have to care for my 5 month old son, i don't totally suck as a mother?!?! maybe there's hope.. now to find someone i trust with my twins... hehe...

  34. Blogger Ethel | 2:44 PM |  

    This post sounds our own reasons for paying my MIL to watch the twins for up to 20 hours a week. Honestly, by paying someone to watch our children for a little while we get more real time with our children later. It's not for everyone - but we find that we can spend three hours trying to clean and watch children at the same time, or we can pay someone to watch them for us for an hour and spend one hour cleaning and two hours just with our children, really paying attention to them. I admire parents who effectively balance child care and housework, but it's not for us. We may be able to change how this works as the girls get old enough to really help, but right now any "help" is really just play and practice, and that can be frustrating when Daddy is really trying to get something done so everyone can go to the park together.

    Plus, they love their grandma!

  35. Blogger Mother Laura | 12:05 PM |  

    Congratulations on these decisions, which took true courage and humility and acceptance of grace...I am so glad for you and your family and thank you for sharing your struggles to help all overburdened moms find the same peace and liberation.

  36. Anonymous Katy | 5:42 PM |  

    Thank you so much, Jen! I'd been having a hard time reading your blog lately because every time Robin Neorr comes up I feel guilty that I, after a similar incident, haven't started up a Michigan Breastfeeding Coalition. I'm working part-time, going to playgroup/mother's group twice a week, managing my church web site, and directing a choir, as well as struggling with some really stubborn anemia. I really wish I had it in me to do more for breastfeeding right now - but I don't. And I'm cutting back on mother's group just to have one quiet day at home a week.

  37. Blogger The Lactivist | 5:46 PM |  

    Oh Katy, don't beat yourself up over it!

    It's not everyone's battle to fight, you know? Even if you had something happen directly to you (I remember your case) it doesn't mean that you are obligated to take up the battle for everyone else.

    We all do what we can, but maintaining our sanity is an essential part of the process. ;)

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