Week 27 & 28, Working Moms

Sometimes I am just amazed that I have been able to hold down a job since I had kids.  Seriously, the effort it takes to get out that door on the daily is unfathomable.  The planning, the timeline, the priorities; it’s a 500,000 piece jigsaw that somehow mom gets together every day.  It just boggles my mind how my husband can just walk his happy ass out the door, (sometimes for weeks and months at a time by the way,) without a clue about how his kids will be cared for while he’s away.  Well, why would he?  That’s what moms are for, right?  So I know you’re the breadwinner honey, but I work too, and childcare is the biggest pain in my ass I have ever had to deal with.  Here’s the thing; reliable, affordable, and convenient childcare does NOT exist.  You will find two out of three.  But not all three.  So you have to choose which two are the most important to you.

Because I don’t work full time, I had to choose affordable for one, since full time childcare costs the same as a mortgage on a small house, and is pretty much not worth working at all.  And since I’m always pregnant, and my husband’s job is highly demanding on the family, I chose convenient for my second.  Convenient to me means in-home care.  Aka, nannies.  Yes, plural.  I have an army of them.  I can barely get myself ready and out the door every morning.  Getting the kids dressed and fed and out the door is equivalent to that 500,000 piece jigsaw I mentioned, but with a timer.  And if that timer buzzes before you are in the car, then you might be fired.  The stakes and margin of error are too high, and I prefer to not take that risk.   Once the Nanny shows up at my door, I don’t care if everybody is screaming and naked, I get to leave.  Convenient!

The other convenience is that we aren’t sick all the time.  Daycare is literally the plague.  When Mav was in daycare, he and I just traded off being sick every two weeks.  Therefore, we spent half of the month every month sick.  So miserable.  But daycare IS reliable.  It’s a stationary building that will watch your kids when you drop them off.  Unlike a nanny who might bail last minute or isn’t available when you need her.  So like I said, I collect nannies.  As many as I can get my hands on.  I want back-ups for my back-ups.  With our first baby, Maverick, Nate and I conducted several interviews each for many prospective girls.  Nate gathered as much intel as he could on these girls to the point where they were probably uncomfortable.  Then Nate deployed, I had a second baby, Nate deployed again, and I just became so desperate and overwhelmed at times that the interviews turned into, “Hi, what’s your name — I don’t care.  Just keep them alive.  I’ll be back in three hours.”

So there are a few one-timers here and there, but mainly I juggle the same three girls.  And on a daily basis, Nate has no clue which one is coming.  If he’s off work before I am, he doesn’t know who he’s meeting at home.  He’s probably surprised when he walks in the door and it’s not me.  And the girls know better than to ask him for their money, because he doesn’t carry any cash, or even know how much to give them.  They just text me the run down of when they left, and any other details I should know about how the day went.  I need to check my phone at intervals while I’m at work to answer any questions the nannies have, and of course in case of an emergency.  Nate leaves his phone in the truck, and trying to call the work phone and have someone track him down is about as likely as hitting only green lights while driving.  When Dad’s at work, out of sight, out of mind.  This is never the case for Mom.

So really, I have two jobs simultaneously.  I never really leave the kids at home, I am their person.  This is a perfect example of society’s gender roles.  My sister-in-law mentioned to me once that she had some commitment to go to, and that my brother would be “Babysitting,” my nephew.  I was like, “Girl, he’s got you brainwashed!!”  Dear brother, you don’t babysit your own child!  Are you kidding me?  But really, it’s kind of true in the sense that dads do not assume full responsibility in this way.  When it comes to the kids, they have appointed you Captain, and they are the First Mate.  Nate mentioned a guys’ night he was planning on going to, and I said, “Oh, that sounds fun.  Who’s gonna watch the kids?”  And he literally just stared at me completely confused.  Whether it’s work, or an invite somewhere social, my first thought is who’s going to watch the kids.  I no longer remember what it feels like to just come and go as I please.  That would be like leaving the house without my clothes on at this point.

And when I get home from work, my job is nowhere near done.  I have to quickly strip off my work clothes and hang them up before some sort of food or other unidentified stain ends up on them.  And then I need to get the run down from the nanny and pay her, all while the dogs are barking to go potty, and the kids are whining and pulling on me for my attention.  Or because I’m ignoring them, they will rummage through my work briefcase or my purse, maybe set off the alarm on my car keys.  And even if the nanny just fed them, when I get home, all of a sudden they are starving.  There is no break in-between work and home.  Like I said before, it’s always simultaneous.

Another issue is that I do a lot of work from home.  So sometimes I have the nanny come watch the kids while I lock myself in my bedroom with my laptop.  Most of the time I just wake up at 5 a.m. and work before the kids wake up.  And sometimes on rare occasions I am literally typing on my laptop while pushing the kids off and away from me with my feet.  But you gotta do what you gotta do.  Phone calls are a nightmare.  As soon as that phone rings my kids are like locusts.  Screaming in my ear, following me around the house until I finally lock myself in my bedroom trying to get away, and they just bang on the door and scream the entire time.  But God forbid, my husband gets a work call and the kids harass him, he will give me this look like, “Do something!”  And I’m like, “Nope.”  It actually makes my day a little bit watching him struggle.

So life is already hectic.  Throw in a paying job and a few nannies, and it’s seriously a circus every day.  I love being a mom and I love my job, so I wouldn’t change it for the world.  But I’m not gonna lie, I definitely wouldn’t mind being the first mate, and watching Nate try to balance this cluster.  Just the thought has me laughing my ass off.

By the way, Nate is home from his trip, and here are a few pictures and videos of his homecoming.


Week 25 & 26, Getting Through

Well, Nate is still gone, and we have been a hot mess over here.  I am trying to hold it all together, but most days I just feel like a complete failure.  Because although I may make it through each day, I feel like I made many, many compromises to do so.  For example, there are no healthy homemade dinners while Nate’s gone.  It’s sandwich meat and cheese and crackers at best, and McDonald’s at worst.  When you’re negotiating how many days a week your kids can have chicken nuggets, you know your standards have fallen.  I am consistently asking myself how much I can get away with, rather than what I can do better.

How long can I let the dog poop sit on the side yard before it’s just a health hazard.  How many weeks can I skip bringing the trash cans to the curb before they are just too full that I can’t even fit another bag in there.  How long can I make this most recent Costco trip last so that hopefully I don’t have to make another trip until Nate get’s home.  I’ll supplement Bobo’s dinner with some table scraps so that maybe I can stretch this bag of dog food until Nate get’s home.  I won’t wash the kids’ sheets until someone wets the bed.  When the dog throws up on the turf in our front yard, I give myself permission to drag a piece of furniture over it, rather than clean it up.  This is how I’m making it through each day.

Needless to say, my previous standards are out the window, and I’m setting up a whole new rulebook to follow.  This is how military wives deal.  And we get together and compare notes, and ultimately we make each other feel better about these sacrifices in our quality of parenting, because we have to.  If I tell a non military parent that I don’t really limit screen time for my kids, that, in fact, I pretty much leave the Disney channel on all day long in hopes that it will distract my kids enough so that I can take a shower more than twice a week, I get judgement.  I will never admit to anyone how many times a week I am willing to feed my kids fast food while Nate’s gone, because I don’t even want to admit it to myself.  How about the fact that instead of giving Summerly a nap during the day, we will just power through, and I will put her down two hours early instead.  That means she’s in bed by 4p.m. every day, which is a complete embarrasment to admit to anyone.  But it’s a necessity for my sanity because by that time every day, I feel like I’m about to scream or cry or both if I don’t get a chance to sit down and rest.

That’s just the ways I might cheat through each day.  That doesn’t even begin to cover how I might deal with the constant stream of unexpected issues.  For example, Maverick is an, “Emotional pooper,” in his doctor’s words.  He has apparently decided that he will not go poop while Nate’s gone.  Try as I might to encourage him and bribe him, this little man is holding it in.  When I let the doctor know that Dad will be home in a few weeks and that that should fix the problem, she sternly tells me that if I don’t get this under control ASAP, I will be taking him to the ER in two days to be manually, and painfully evacuated, and also this could cause long term damage to his colon.  Bad mom.  So here I am giving him multiple doses of Miralax every day, Ducolax once a week, and throw in an enema every now and then.  So my almost four-year-old son who was finally potty trained, is now basically shitting water in a diaper every day because he is in distress about his dad being gone.  And I have to let him regress in potty training, wear a diaper, and do a lot more laundry and baths.

Speaking of baths, he will poop almost every bath probably because it relaxes his muscles.  This is a problem when the whole point of the bath in the first place was to get him clean.  Not to mention usually Summerly is in there with him.  So I have to be very quick about scooping them out right away when this happens, dry them and clothe them, and then use an excessive amount of bleach to clean the tub and bath toys…EVERY bath.  And I just have to be okay with this for now because he is sad, and it’s all our fault.

Meanwhile, I am getting to the point where the belly is completely in the way.  The belly is sore and achey all day long from growing.  And that’s why I feel like I want to cry at the end of the day, because I just hurt.  This is not my kids’ fault that mommy is tired and cranky that Dad’s gone, but they are getting the crap end of the stick.  But here’s the thing, I love you two more than the whole world, and although I may lower my standard of care while Dad’s gone, I will never stop loving you and taking care of you.  You can count on me whether Daddy is home or not, and you can count on the fact that when he does come home, balance will be restored.  So just be patient a little longer little ones, and it will all be okay again.