It is a constant battle: balancing a full time job and being a full time mommy too! It seems that something always suffers - forgetting my daughter's nap map for preschool, not realizing we're out of diapers until it is too late, or having McDonalds for dinner AGAIN!
My idea of a perfect day as a perfect mom: I arise before my husband and children. I begin my day with alone time with God in prayer. I awake each of my children with snuggles and tickles! I awake my husband with a hot, fresh cup of coffee with just the right amount of cream and sugar - just the way he likes it. We all enjoy a well-balanced, home cooked breakfast together as we discuss the day ahead. Each child is dressed in clean, matching clothes (with two matching socks) and has neatly combed hair and freshly brushed teeth. We have a family prayer circle before we leave in which my husband leads the prayer and prays for each member of the family. Then each child, along with my husband, leave the house with a lunch consisting, again, of a well-balanced, home cooked meal. Organic and not pre-packaged. Hugs, kisses, and "have a great days" are exchanged.
In a perfect day, I would find an hour to exercise, dinner would be in the oven, everyone's beds would be made, and the house would be completely clean. I would volunteer in my child's classroom or serve meals at the church. Maybe I would visit the elderly from our community who are residents at our near-by retirement home. I would call my grandmother. I would bake cookies for the neighbors. I would take the dog for a walk. I would recycle.
My house would be clean and organized. I would be able to find everything the first place I look. The floors would be swept and mopped. The laundry would be all caught up - washed, dried, and hung up or folded in the right closet! I would have all counter tops and table tops visible and clutter free. The sinks would shine! All rugs would be shook, all plants watered, and all dishes washed immediately after being used. In addition to household chores, I would find time to read a chapter or two in a good book while sipping green tea (decaffeinated, of course)
In my ideal day, I would look put together. On the outside, I would have neat, freshly-ironed clothes - stylish and accompanied by just the right accessories. My hair would not be frizzy, but a soft, natural wave. I would have a fresh manicure, neatly applied make-up that brings out my eyes and highlights my cheekbones.
On the inside, I would be calm, cool, and in control. I would not grow anxious about anything. I would think things through carefully before making decisions, I would not forget anything. I would smile a lot. I would only speak kind words and never raise my voice. I would praise my children and discipline firmly but gently.
Dinner would be a wonderful family affair that we would all look forward to - a time to share the details of our day and discuss what was planned for the next day. I would bath each child, read each child a story, help with homework, tuck each baby in with kisses and prayers, and clean up the kitchen from dinner time. I would cuddle with my husband on the couch while we watched one of our favorite television shows together and laughed about the cute things that kids had said and done that evening. I would then go to bed and get at least eight hours of uninterrupted sleep. And the next day, I would be refreshed and ready to do it all again!
Oh, the perfect day! Are there really even enough hours in a day to make all that happen? Obviously things won't always go so smoothly. Reality is that there are days with sick kids, flat tires, never-ending "to do" lists, burned dinner and spilled milk. Almost every day it is apparent that someone has wiped their nose on my shirt usually by 8:00 a.m. And eight hours of uninterrupted sleep?? Oh, that would be amazing!
My days don't even begin to look like this "ideal" day for lots of reasons but the main one is I have some place I have to be between 7:30 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. I am an elementary teacher. I work full time at a job I love AND I am a mother of three which I, of course, also love! I wouldn't want to change anything about either job, but I am tired and often feel pulled in many directions.
And so, it is hit or miss. Some nights I do resort to Happy Meals for dinner and my baby boy has been known to wear his sister's socks to day care. Some nights I can barely drag myself to bed after the kids fall asleep and therefore, the dinner dishes wait for me in the sink. Some days I spend my lunch hour refilling a prescription or rushing home to throw something in the crock pot for dinner. My bed is rarely made during the week but then again, I am usually so exhuasted that all I need is a pillow and a cozy blanket even if it is wadded up in a heap on top of me.
Sometimes I come close to having it all together. I celebrate on mornings when everyone has slept in their own beds all night. I love days when I have managed to pack healthy lunches for everyone. I have an extra little skip in my step on days when my bed is made and the laundry is put away neatly. I love days when I leave work and my classroom is clean and organized and all materials are ready for students the next day. I'm super proud of myself on days when I have a plethora of patience for my students, as well as my own three kids. I enjoy them all more when I have gotten enough sleep! And we actually do have the family prayer circle every morning before we leave for the day.
In spite of the craziness, I am proud, that I am showing my kids (especially my daughter) that you can have it all. You can have a career AND a family. You can love what you do at work and at home. It is a constant balancing act and some days I do feel like I am allowing myself to be worn thin. But at the end of the day, flopping into my unmade bed, exhausted and proclaiming 'I have nothing left to give,' the blessings of the day flood my thoughts; an amazing, supportive husband, three smart, healthy, children who make me laugh every day, a job I love with colleagues I consider friends and students who greet me with hugs and crayon drawings to hang on my door...Yes, it is hectic and defintely not perfect, and it all feels overwhelming at times, but I'm a working mom and I do have it all!