How to be a good mom
There’s a million ways to be a good mom.
Handing your 2-year old one M&M after another in an attempt to keep her quiet while you’re on the phone conducting an interview for a magazine article that is overdue is probably not one of them.
It’s not one of the ways to become a great journalist either, but when it comes to motherhood and work, sometimes it’s about survival.
I’m thinking about this today as I sit in a coffee shop office after dropping my daughters off at their new part-time daycare perch for the first time. I’m thinking about motherhood and career and the proper amount of sacrifice and wondering if I should feel guilty about not feeling as guilty as I think I should about getting a break from my kids to get some work done … if that makes sense.
Does it make sense?
Since Rosalee was born five months ago, I have continued to work from my home office, struggling to keep my career afloat and my children entertained and happy three minutes at a time. And while it’s been wonderful to be home with them, it’s also been maddening and exhausting.
To have a career you love and babies you love at the same time is a gift and a struggle of distribution.
To have a husband with a full-time job and a ranch to run when he comes home at night makes our life look like “remember you have the babies tonight because I have a meeting” and texts about grocery lists and the triumph of finally finding the lost mermaid toy the toddler has been obsessing about. It’s about piling in the old pickup to “help” fix fence and Daddy getting in just in time to read story after story before falling asleep in his work clothes in a tiny bed next to his daughter and her pile of stuffed animals because he’s exhausted while I’m upstairs nursing the baby and finishing up the day’s emails on my cell phone.
It’s a familiar narrative.
We’re not unique as a working family trying to make our dreams and our ends meet. But turns out there’s a lot of wondering if you’re doing anything right in between those lines of the happily-ever-after story.
Because once you put those dreams in motion, what comes next is the messy, wonderful, unpredictable, frustrating, fulfilling minutes piling up to create a life.
But why is it so scary to admit that it can be exhausting?
I know from experience that I can be tired and grateful at the same time. Aggravated one minute and proud the next. Content in the moment while really looking forward to when the toddler can put her boots on all by herself and the baby pops those bottom two teeth already.
When I pictured myself as a mother I had expectations that I wouldn’t use M&M’s as bribery as often as I do. But that was back before I met the kids who created this new version of me who loves them fiercely and fully, but still has work she wants to do.
And you know now that I think of it, I can only wish the same dilemma on my daughters one day.
Happy Mother’s Day mommas!
Jessie Veeder is a musician and writer living with her husband and daughters on a ranch near Watford City, N.D. She blogs at https://veederranch.com. Readers can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.