Friday, August 29, 2008

Confessions of a Bad Wife (and Mother)

Warning: This is a post I've been thinking about for a while, and one I really hesitated about posting. Lots of wallowing and self-pity to follow.

Just when I think I'm getting my act together, things fall apart. No, nothing catastrophic, just a general feeling of being overwhelmed. I know there are some working moms out there who wouldn't have it any other way, but evidentally those moms are better women than I. If I were a stay-at-home-mom (SAHM), I wouldn't have any problem doing all the cooking and cleaning. That would be my job. But as it is, I feel like I work all day only to come home and work some more. I get home from work at 5:30, make supper (which I've usually started during my lunch "break"), feed everyone, put away supper and do dishes, give Leah a bath, feed Leah, and put her to sleep. (Ryan usually bathes Darren and rocks with him for a bit before he lays him down.) By that time, it's 8:00. I scamper around picking up the apartment. By now it's 8:30-9:00. I've been working over 12 hours. Do I feel like cleaning the toilet? The kitchen? Running up and downstairs to do a load of laundry? Um, no. So I collapse on the couch or get on the computer and relax for a bit before going to bed at 10:00 or 10:30.

I'm sure you can imagine the result of this. I don't get the laundry done until there's piles of it. I finally cleaned the bathroom last night while Darren took his bath--please don't ask how long its been since I cleaned it. (Honestly, I don't remember.) Don't get the wrong idea, my house isn't filthy. It's basically tidy (well, as long as you don't look at the pile of dirty clothes in the closet); the kitchen counters are clean. We're not living in filth. But it's definitely dirty enough to make me uncomfortable.

And more importantly, I feel like I barely see my kids. I see them for about 15 minutes in the morning before Ryan takes them to the sitter. Darren I do see in a way while I'm making supper; he buzzes around while I'm cooking. But Leah, the only time I really see and interact with her is when (and if) I give her a bottle before she goes to sleep. I can safely say that on an average weekday, I actively interact with Leah for less than an hour. I cannot express how much that bothers and troubles me. I think Darren and I are fairly close (well, as close as one can be to an 18-month old). But with Darren, I was living at home and working nights. I didn't start working full-time until he was over a year. We really had time to "bond". I never really got that with Leah. While I was on maternity leave, everyone commented that she was such a mama's girl. She only had eyes for me. Now, I feel like I'm just another transient woman in her life. I really, truly worry that she doesn't connect that I'm "Mom". I wanted a girl so badly, and now I have virtually no time to enjoy her.

Looking back, I don't know how my mom did it. Granted, until my brother and I were in school, she was at home all day, and then worked a few nights a week waiting tables. It wasn't until I was almost in fifth grade or so that she started working full-time. (And even now, she doesn't have one full-time job, she has several part-time jobs.) But she always seemed to have it together. The house was always clean. The laundry always done (though in my defense, if we had our own washer and dryer, I'd be keeping up with the laundry much better).

I'm just not sure how much longer I can do this. I truly like my job. I enjoy the work I do and the people I work with. But I love my kids. I keep asking myself, is it worth it? I have visions of myself at 70 looking back on my life saying, "I have no idea who my children are." When I came back from maternity leave, I told myself and Ryan that I would give it until December. If nothing else, I felt I owed my boss at least a year (he hired me when I was 7 mo. pregnant). In December, I said, if I was still miserable, we would talk more seriously about me staying at home. I think we might need to have that conversation again sooner.

Something's gotta give. I feel like I shouldn't have to choose between clean laundry and a little bit of free time. Really, just a little. Just an hour a night to sit down and read. I shouldn't have to choose between making supper and playing with my daughter before she falls asleep. I should be able to play with my son while he's taking a bath instead of cleaning the bathroom while I'm in there.

I just have this sinking feeling that the best years of my life are passing before my eyes, and I'm not taking the time to slow down and appreciate them.