Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Whole Working Mom Thing

I plopped down on the couch with my laptop and a heavy sigh. I needed to, yet again, annoy all the mom's in Brock's grade with a group email, begging for help. Brock needed a new ride home from school on Mondays. I know these women are busy. I know they feel like nothing but cab drivers. I know the one extra kid, one extra stop, just one more thing to worry about, can be A LOT. Besides the emotions I feel for these women that I am bombarding, I have my own feelings to contend with every time I ask for help. A huge part of my identity is that fact that I can "do it all": career, mom, marriage, household. So, the fact that I cannot manage to simply get my own child (or any of my children for that matter), to and from school, completely on my own? It's a dagger. A dagger through my independence, confidence, pride; straight to my heart. And finally, perhaps the most painful part of the whole process: rejection.

Back when Brock started Kindergarten, I started asking around about carpool the April/May before the school year. I thought I was on top of my game. Turns out, EVERYONE had already made arrangements! Most of these women know each other well. Talk at drop off and pick up, in the classroom when they are helping out, in the lunchroom when they are volunteering, grabbing coffee, running girl/boy scouts. I work during all of these socializing opportunities. There seemed to be no one left. The willing people weren't able and the able people weren't willing. They didn't know me. They were overwhelmed. My location wasn't convenient. I know there were a multitude of reasons why people couldn't or wouldn't take on the task. Not the least of which, that it's a huge commitment! I understood all the reasons, but that didn't change that every single "I don't have room", "I'm already carpooling with so & so", or just simple lack of response felt like failure.

I once told one of my best mom friends (who resided in Florida at the time), that in all of my life, in all of my endeavors, I have never felt like more of a failure, nor more "out of place" than with the "school moms". Starting school was an absolute shock. I feel I need to be clear here. First: No one was unfriendly. The 2 school communities I have been part of, are amazing, warm, wonderful. I honestly couldn't ask anything more from them. I write this with the understanding that this is just the "nature of the beast". One of the inherent obstacles of working full time, sending kids to a private school (no public transportation) and also having 5 kids (my nanny doesn't have a vehicle that can tote them all around, and someone's always napping.)  Second: I know a lot of other mom's work. But, if I have a hard time meeting and talking to the much more present SAHM moms, then I am most certainly never going to run into the working ones! So, I am not saying, I am the only one who has ever been in this position. Millions of women are out there, with the same struggles, feelings, frustrations.

Agh, frustration. So, here I am, about to send this email. That 'sigh' I mentioned? It contained every word of what I have written above. I did it though. I hit "send" and braced myself for the onslaught of absolutely unintentional "rejection" from all of these amazing, busy, tapped out women. (I also want to mention that, yes, I truly send these emails to only the moms. Even though society has changed, and there are a lot of working moms and some SAHD's, there are still a relatively low number of men that "run the household". So, whether the men are carpooling or not, it's still the wife running the schedule, and she would be the one volunteer her husband if she could. Generalizations for the sake of simplicity.)

I continued on my computer for a moment, came back to my email, and there was a response. It had only been 4 minutes, obviously, this was a "no" email. It was from a mom I had not really "formally" met. Someone who I might not have necessarily recognized out in public, out of context. I think we had connected via Facebook due to having children in the same class, and that was the extent of our friendship.

Her response? An emphatic, "I can help!"

What? Did she read the email? She doesn't even know where I live. I cannot believe this. I sighed again, only this was a sigh of joy, disbelief and most of all, relief.

I sent her my address. I told Brock who he'd be going home with, and they took care of the rest. He rode home with her for weeks before I finally met her, face to face, at a recent 1st grade party. I walked up to her and greeted her with a hug, and thanked her. She said, "Oh, Brock is great, really entertaining. And I recently quit my corporate office job to work from home. So, I've done the whole working mom thing." It would be extremely awkward of me to cry in that moment, but I nearly could have. Someone who just understood. Someone who had felt all those feels that I described above. She had probably hoped many times before for someone to do, exactly what she did for me.

This is not an isolated incident. Another mom, who I'd met first on our tour of Visitation has been my rock. She took Brock home for the entire year, AT LEAST 2 days a week, and up to 4. She never made me feel guilty. Or like it was an exhausting chore. Honestly, I'm not sure I've ever had someone make me feel bad for it, it's a guilt I put on myself. I love hearing their stories from these daily rides home. I'm so impressed by these women, willing to give their time, energy (and, let's be honest, sanity) to help a sister out.

I actually wrote this months and months ago. We are about to embark on a new school year. Brock will be in 2nd grade. I've already established rides for him and Curtis (I think). Some new moms have come into play. I'm starting to actually feel comfortable with the arrangements. I'm starting to feel like I kind of fit in with the "school moms". All transitions are hard, I get this. But it's amazing the simple things others can do to make them so much smoother.  So. Thank you, Moms everywhere of every kind. Keep up the good work.

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