Being a trauma mama, I often get asked via many different versions, “How do you do it all?”. My usual answer, honestly, is that I don’t. I joke all the time that my life is a perfectly orchestrated out of tune symphony. I don’t do anything perfectly, and the great thing is, regardless of whether a mom works in an office or stays at home, none of us do. But, I do have some keys to my semi-success.
1. Great supporting cast.
My husband is amazing. Seriously, I could write a whole book on how wonderful he is, and how lucky I am. I pray every day he doesn’t wake up and realize how much better he is than me and bolt. He is patient, he is kind, an amazing father and even better husband. He understands my career, and never makes me feel guilty for choosing it, even when the hours stretch into consecutive days that I am not at home.
2. Delegate, delegate, delegate.
Another trauma mama told me earlier on. You don’t pay someone to play with your kid so you can clean your house. You pay someone to clean your house so you can play with your kid. She put it so bluntly, and this advice just clicked for me. So, that is what I do. I’m not ashamed, I will gladly put it out there. I only do laundry and dishes in emergency situations, and I am okay with that. I know some domestic goddesses may shake their heads at this and pity my husband. Well, I will join you in pitying my husband, but see #3.
3. Have a back like a duck, and let some water roll off of it.
No matter again whether you are an in-home or out-of-home working mom (because, let’s face it, we all are Working), people are going to comment, and quite frankly, probably be judgmental at times. You know what, that’s okay. They are entitled to have an opinion, and you are entitled to not give a s*&# about their opinion. Sorry to be sexist, but I think this is one of the hardest things for women to accomplish. Consciously or subconsciously I think most females are raised to become people pleasers. And overall, I think that is fine because you do win more people over with honey versus vinegar. My advice, however, is that you Choose which people you want to please. I want to please my husband, my family, and friends, not the entire world and especially not the Mean Girl Mommy Army. I swear this exists, as I have been subjected to many a conversation at social events for my husband where I am usually one of a small percentage of out-of-home working moms in which I am asked, “Don’t you miss your baby? I could never just leave my child at home like that!”. I am almost always tempted to say that no, I don’t ever miss my child and yes, I leave him home alone every day with a bowl of milk and cheerios on the floor next to the dog bowl to fend for himself. A quick message to all the Mean Girl Mommies: Do everyone a favor and stop. Maybe you are unhappy or insecure in your own life, and stop that too. We all make mistakes, we all wish we could be our own version of “perfect”. We have so much knowledge and advice from our own individual experiences that no matter how different of lives that we lead, I think everyone could benefit from sharing and supporting, instead of sniping.
So many things happen in the life of my family that I am sure would drive other people nuts, but again in the vein of letting things roll off of backs, I have learned to laugh. Another bowl broken? Well, at least no one is bleeding. The dog puked and my baby is trying to clean it up? Well, maybe he will at least be a child who likes to keep his room clean. Etc, etc. This sounds odd, but in a way, I am fortunate for my career to involve life and death situations, because it puts a nice perspective on the rest of my life. When you see people die, witness the moment when breath leaves their body, have to tell their loved ones that they are no longer with us and see the realization and heartache reach their eyes, a little puke in the house doesn’t seem so bad. I mean, after all, my child is at least healthy enough to be able to climb into dog vomit and splash happily around in it.
A few weeks ago, while my husband was out of town and I was trying to get ready for a playdate with another couple and their child, I heard one of the most dreaded sounds a mom can hear… splashing in a toilet. I turn around and my child is dipping his little 17 month old hand into the toilet, licking his hand, then dipping it back in. In slow motion, I see his hand headed back towards his mouth (for I guess a second taste?), I run over and grab him while maybe mumbling a bad word or two under my breath. And then, I laughed! My next thought was, at least my toilet was just cleaned the day before (see aforementioned #2). And even more shocking than laughing about it is that I refuse to feel guilty about it. Sure, it is not ideal to have your child sample toilet water and I know some germaphobes are out there washing their hands while they read this, but if this is the worst thing that my child experiences in his life, then go ahead and hand me my medal now.
One thing that I don’t like to delegate because I enjoy is grocery shopping. But again, this sometimes comes at a cost. Later that week, I got home late and hadn’t been able to make it to the grocery store in over a week. I was starving, there was nothing to eat in the house for humans with molars, and yep, I did it. I ate a baby food pouch and baby puffs for dinner. My husband might have looked at me a little funny, but hey, at least it was low calorie, and I can’t be the only one because the food popped up in My Fitness Pal when I logged my dinner!
I tell these stories to encourage acceptance of the “imperfectness” of our lives. Let’s not be embarrassed or ashamed about our family mishaps or even think that they represent how “good” or “bad” we are as mothers or wives, because these are the stories that make our families special and unique. So share your stories, ladies! Because my kid drinks toilet water and I eat baby food.