It’s around 7 in the evening, or what I like to refer to as the “witching hour” in our house. I’m attempting to herd our four-year-old and one-year-old into the bath, silently praying that tonight will be peaceful — a night without fighting over bath toys or spraying each other’s eyes with soapy water. When it’s time to get into pajamas and read books, it takes all of the energy I can muster just to get them onto my lap and read a few stories before kissing them goodnight and tucking them into bed. I then trudge my way downstairs to a sink full of dirty dishes and an inbox full of client messages. I scan my to-do list, categorizing each item into things I need to do now and tasks I can push off until tomorrow, because I’m just so tired.
You’re on yet another work trip, this time overseas. I’m thrilled that your conference went well and that you’re networking with some really great people. I love how passionate you are about what you do, and there is truly nobody else who roots for you as fiercely as I do. I am your biggest unconditional supporter. To have watched your accomplishments and celebrate each one alongside you is priceless — I am so proud of you. If I’m being honest, though? And I hope it’s ok that I am…sometimes I get jealous.
You see, lately my mental load is crushing. As I lay in bed each night, I’m too busy to sleep. I’m thinking about our four year old’s impending tonsillectomy and making sure that I have the paperwork finished to file with our insurance. I’m thinking about our one-year-old’s preschool schedule and how stressed I am at drop-off because he still hasn’t fully acclimated. As he screams for me when I leave, the guilt consumes me. Sometimes I even think of turning around and plucking him straight from the teacher’s arms. Just like you, I really love what I do — but I’m not able to fully relax while I’m away, knowing he’s upset.
I think about our soon-to-be teenager and the very real way that social media is impacting her daily life as she struggles with navigating friendships during this crazy, in-between stage where both nothing and everything make sense. I think about her impending doctor appointment for some health issues she’s faced lately. During her blood draw, I recall the memory of holding her hand as she sobbed in fear while simultaneously hand feeding our one-year-old stale puffs that I found at the bottom of the diaper bag, just so he wouldn’t completely lose it.
Sometimes I get jealous that you have structured working hours where you get to leave the house on a regular basis, surrounded by people who value your thoughts and opinions. You get to eat lunch on a rooftop lounge, uninterrupted by tiny people who are needing your undivided attention. You get to do things like travel for work trips without the thought of how it will impact someone else’s schedule, because nobody needs to take time off in order for you to chase your dreams.
Sometimes I get jealous because the truth is, it’s not just about being a working or stay-at-home parent. I, too, have contemplated returning to a full-time position outside the home instead of working around our kids, but the responsibilities and the calling of motherhood are so fierce for me. I am in love with the flexibility of this life I’ve created and the balance I’ve achieved between my career and our family. Sometimes, though, I find that the elusive work/life balance I strive so hard to achieve doesn’t, in fact, exist.
I stress about my lack of sleep and about sleeping too much. I stress about who needs new pants, jackets, and shoes — whose permission slips need to be signed, if it’s my day to be the parent at our youngest’s co-op, and what our four-year-old’s party favors should be. I stress about our impending parent/teacher conference and how we’re going to navigate the world of a psychological evaluation and potential Occupational Therapy because our son is showing hallmark symptoms of Sensory Processing Disorder.
Sometimes I get jealous because even though I know that you have your own mental load to bear and are the most incredible partner, it doesn’t seem like the weight of the world is on your mind like I feel it is on mine. I put so much pressure on myself to make sure that I am there for our kids in every possible way, even if that means sacrificing other things in the process — like structured work hours, hot coffee, and maybe even a bit of myself.
The truth is, I harbor so much guilt.
Am I spending enough time with the kids? Am I spending too much time with them?
Will our oldest be upset that I have to miss her cheerleading game because I have a networking event scheduled?
Will our youngest be sad that I’m not there to tuck him in tonight?
Is it ok that I’m building my own businesses while our kids are this young? Am I going to regret this stress in a few years, or am I being a good role model for them?
Will my hard work pay off?
Is it enough? Am I enough?
Dear husband, sometimes I get jealous. You see, raising kids — even though we’re on the same team — is tougher than I ever imagined, especially without family close by to share the load. I am so grateful for this life and for our little family, but sometimes I have moments where the baby is crying, the preschooler spilled his juice, my clients are angry — and I just feel defeated. I want to be present for our family while honoring my own dreams and ambitions, but sometimes it seems like too much to ask of the universe. I have so many balls in the air, and there are times where I feel as though I’m dropping them all. I often find myself growing jealous of the other side of the fence, as well as the structure and alone time that I so desperately crave. The truth is, though, there is nowhere else I’d rather be than here, with our family, even if it means that our lives are a little more hectic. Thank you for being patient with me as I figure out my new dream, because motherhood has forever changed my values and goals, albeit for the better. I am so grateful for your unconditional love and support — but sometimes, I get jealous.