Friday, April 28, 2017

Working Mom Update

**Written over the course of this week during some low moments... and maybe a couple of high moments. It isn't all bad. Just hard. And this is my attempt at some honest documentation.

I'm not sure where to begin. I mean a LOT has changed for us over the past several weeks. And it's hard to describe and put into words all the emotions and craziness, successes and failures. It's been a wild, challenging, and constant ride so far. Other than Spring Break, life has felt constantly busy, constantly overwhelming, and constantly exhausting since I began working full time. As in never ending of all of the above.

I believe without a doubt that this transition and adjustment has been hardest on me and Layton. We've been together basically full time since he was born. So this new arrangement and schedule has definitely taken a toll on the both of us. He still has mornings when he asks, Where we goin? Like he's confused about why I'm getting him dressed and why we have anywhere to go. He's also cried a handful of mornings because he wants to stay home with me instead of going to Granna's or Nana's. BREAK. MY. HEART. It's the worst! He's more clingy to me than ever before and wants me to do everything for him. Which can wear a mama out fast.... which then triggers the guilt when I just can't handle the clingyness or mama-demands anymore because I'm worn out! He's also been more prone to meltdowns and emotional outbursts since I started working and those have been almost 10 times harder on me because I'm working. We've both shed many tears over my new gig.

I know in my heart that he's well taken care of and he has so much fun with all of his grandparents while I'm working. Probably way more fun than he'd have with me if we were home together. He even gets excited about going lots of days which makes me feel much better, but, I have never had to work full time while any of my boys were home and being away from him all day every single day is a huge adjustment. The weeks are long! LOOOONNNG I tell you!!! I don't have opportunities to teach him anymore and I'm just missing out on the little things. Rocking him before naps, lunch together just the 2 of us, reading to him, our little "educational" activities, running errands with my sidekick, just to name a few. It's been pretty hard on both of us. I've worried about him being ready for school like my older 2, I've worried about him being spoiled as the "baby", and I've honestly worried about how me working is effecting all of my kids. I'm definitely not my best self when I'm crazy busy, overwhelmed, and exhausted.

So, it's been challenging. And being in the middle of baseball season hasn't helped. Thankfully we only have 4 more games. Allll. Most. There. Coming home twice a week to immediately begin tutoring, coming home once a week to immediately begin homework/eating/baseball game prep, and coming home once a week and getting ready for at least one practice has been tough. Not to mention Saturday doubleheaders for our family almost every single Saturday. It's been crazy just finding time to do laundry and keep everybody fed. We have honestly struggled with how and when to get to the grocery store each week! Our house has started to suffer the consequences as well. I try to do a little at a time but sometimes you just have to prioritize eating over cleaning the house. And sometimes you're just too exhausted so you prioritize rest and sleep. And sometimes you literally don't have the time in the day to do anything house cleaning related. Sigh.

I have discovered that doing as much as I can in advance is the most helpful, time-saving, sanity-saving trick I've learned. We try to start and empty the dishwasher in the same night so it's empty and ready to load with breakfast dishes each morning. I also lay out clothes for all the boys the night before, make lunches for the week on Sunday afternoons, make snacks for each afternoon in the morning, lay out my tutoring materials the night before tutoring days, and pick out my clothes for the whole week on the weekends. It's a lot of prep work, but for me, it's needed. If I wake up and have to empty the dishwasher it makes our morning more hectic and rushed. If I don't have snacks laid out for after school when we get home, it makes for an even crazier and busy after school time. If I don't decide on my clothes for week over the weekend I would be standing in my closet the night before every single night wondering what I should wear. The prep work is work, but it makes life a little easier so I'm trying to keep it up. I do think all the "prep" is what makes for the feeling of a constant, crazy pace. So that stinks and stresses me out. But I haven't found a better way yet.

I will say that the biggest blessing throughout this crazy change is how much I've enjoyed teaching. Teaching can be both physically and mentally draining but I really am enjoying it. I am loving Kindergarten. The age, the fun, the curriculum. And I'm so thankful for the smooth transition God has given me being back in the classroom every single day. After 8 years away, I went in pretty intimidated and nervous. But after a few days things started to come naturally and I found myself confident and at home. Plus I really love my class. So I'm especially thankful that despite being overwhelmed and exhausted all the time now, teaching itself is going really well.

I am facing some unexpected challenges at school that are out of my control, but I know God is in control and I'm trying to fully trust Him with the unexpected. Unfortunately I feel like I'm giving the best of myself to my school kids while my family is getting what's left of me every afternoon and evening. Which doesn't feel fair or okay at all. Because what's left isn't all that much! It's definitely not tons of patience and energy and positivity! I've never worked full time as a mom of 3 and there are just so many factors and emotions and dilemmas I never faced when I worked full time before, pre-kids. Being a mama has DEFINITELY made me a better teacher. Everything I do at school is filtered through my mama heart and it just makes me all around better at teaching and loving those babies. And I think my heart for teaching and my background in teaching has made me a better mama at times for sure. However, working full time has not made me a better mama. I could beat myself up and have a pity party and really let myself get upset over the fact that I don't feel like I'm handling it all as well as I should. And I've had my moments for sure. Moments of feeling panicky because I'm so overwhelmed. Moments of falling apart because I'm so worn out. Moments of losing confidence. Moments of complaining. Even a teary Friday morning last week because of being tired and overwhelmed by our upcoming busy weekend. Ahhhhhh. I'm hoping that doesn't happen again. Friday mornings should be good, happy, and peppy!

I've also doubted myself quite a bit, especially when it comes to my ability to continue as preschool SS director. I feel like I have VERY little time at all to devote to it. I'm enjoying my role on Sunday mornings still, but the extra responsibilities (things that have to happen on my own time not on Sunday mornings) are reeally hard for me to keep up with. I've struggled with the expectations and commitment big time recently. I'm going to try to stick it out but I have to be able to do a good job and to keep my sanity. I want to follow where God leads so I guess we'll keep praying and keep serving in the meantime.

I am super thankful that Terrell has been so supportive throughout the craziness. I still haven't adjusted to my new routine but he has handled it all with ease. I know he's had moments of not knowing how to help and probably been over my complaining and exhaustion more than once, but the way he's done whatever he can to lessen my load has made a huge difference and meant more to me than he probably knows. EVERYTHING around here is a team effort and I feel so blessed to have him.

Thankfully the big boys seem adjusted too. They do worry about me and check on when they know I'm exhausted or zombie-like at home... or overwhelmed and emotional. Bless them. I hate for them to see me so worn out all the time but unfortunately it's just a fact of life right now. For the most part, nothing major has changed for them so that's been good.

Throughout this transition of becoming a working mom and facing more challenges than I ever expected, I've reminded myself a lot that God provided this opportunity and He will give me grace to see it through. God's plans really are best and can be trusted. It hasn't been easy obviously but I'm trying hard to be intentional about trusting Him.... through the highs and lows, the questions and frustrations, the exhaustion and the busyness. My prayer life has taken a hit and so has my time in the Word, (which has been frustrating), but I know He knows my heart. And trying to be thankful each day for this provision has helped me through the times I've wanted to give up. A thankful heart can really make a big difference in your days.

The good news is we only have 4 weeks to go before we make it to SUMMER. The bad news is the weeks are just super long. Ha. Maybe I'll find some energy along the way and we'll have some extra downtime coming up. A mama can dream. =)

I'm not sure what the upcoming school year will hold for me but I'm trusting His plan. He knows what He's doing and He is in control. Blessed assurance sure is sweet!

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