I’ve survived my first full week as a working mom. It wasn’t easy. I’d left my son at the babysitters a couple of times this summer when I had to go in to work for partial days, but I never got there before 9 am and never picked him up later than 3 pm until last Monday. Monday I dropped him off at 7am, spent a few minutes updating his sitter on a few changes, including the addition of his first tooth and then after kissing him three times and standing at the door waving to him for several minutes, I got in my car and left.
The drive from the sitter’s to school is tedious. It’s a straight stretch, but 50% of it is farmland. This is not a shock in the Midwest, I know, but it is also peppered with small towns which require me to slow to the unheard of speed of 30 miles an hour. There are also three school zones which regardless of the fact there are no children anywhere around force me to slow to an even slower speed. I don’t believe for a second modern cars are actually designed to drive 25 mph. That’s more like coasting.
Once I got to work things should have been better. When I focus in on a task I can complete it to the exclusion of everything else. I had seating charts to make, books to organize, handouts to photocopy, lessons to double check and students to get to know. For awhile this made the day not only go pretty fast, but kept my mind from wondering what my baby was doing without me. Then I left my classroom. Every person I passed in the hallway asked me how I was adjusting to life without the baby at my hip. The barrage of well-meaning questions kept my mind wandering back to the fact that I couldn’t hear him laugh, or feed him his bottles or even kiss his tiny little toes, activities I’d done half a dozen times for the last five and a half months. This is when things got hard.
Even though I wanted to race out of the building as soon as the bell rang, there were things to do first. I had to clean my boards of the day’s writings and post new info up for the next day. I had to make sure all my lessons were in order. I had to make last minute copies. I had a teacher’s meeting one day. The earliest I got to pick him up was 3:45 and the latest was 4:45. When added to the 40 minute drive home where he generally fell asleep, I had 2 ½ – 3 ½ waking hours with him and that made me sad. I’ve vowed to spend all my free time with him, making up for the fact I have to drop him off for the majority of his day.
Since Monday was only a day of teacher’s meetings I got ambitious and actually made dinner. It was just tacos, which only took about 20 minutes, but even after that I was exhausted. Every other night saw a quick microwaving of leftovers or something pre-cooked from downstairs in the freezer. I spent less than 10 minutes cooking each meal. Instead I spent the time playing and cuddling with my baby.
While he was napping this weekend I planned next weeks meals, complete with taco leftovers, spaghetti pie leftovers (from tonight), crab cakes (from a box—15 minutes from frozen), and a soup block from the downstairs freezer. The crab cakes are the only thing I’ll even have to turn the oven on for.
My house is a bit of a wreck, but I figure that’s the least of my worries. It’s not actually dirty, just a little cluttered. Clutter I can live with, even if it drives my husbby nuts. He can clean it if it gets too bad for him.
I don’t know how most women do this, but my hats go off to them. While I think I’d get awful fidgety being a full-time stay at home mom (and we couldn’t afford it anyway), if I hadn’t made all those meals this summer, we’d be living off boxed mac and cheese, frozen pizzas and the occasional spaghetti from the jar, all of which are so full of fat, salt and who knows what other unhealthy things that I’d no doubt weight 300 pounds. Either that or we’d be stopping at Wendy’s or McDonald’s every night because cooking, even tacos, is exhausting and takes way too much time. I’m starting to understand why when I polled my journalism kids last year over 50% of the kids ate out at least five times a week. Luckily we can’t afford to do that or I might really be tempted.
I know I’ll get this whole working mom thing down, but man, I’m already struggling a little and it’s only been a week. Not to mention a week with next to no grading. I shudder to think what it’ll be like once research papers start rolling in. I don’t so much mind being tired. I’ve never been a picky eater, so the food issue doesn’t bother me either. It’s the 8-9 hours each day I’m not watching my baby smile up at me or jump in his jumparoo or even screeching for a bottle that are going to make this a really long year.