In honor of National Small Business Week and all of the moms who work at home...
You're not ruining your children.
It sure feels like you are though, right? With all of the emails to write and respond to, the phone calls to make, the things to do. Your list is never-ending.
Some call you a #MomBoss. You feel less than a boss and more like a hot mess.
I think it's okay to be both.
IT FEELS LIKE SO MUCH ALL. THE. TIME.
Doesn't it? It's because it kind of is.
And yet, you somehow keep going.
You wake up early to start your day, building your business and working your butt off, before the babies or kiddos spring out of bed and need to be fed and dressed.
With one hand typing on the lap top sitting on the counter, the other stirring the pan of oatmeal, you simultaneously make breakfast and answer emails.
You comb the strands of hair in front of you and think about the next thing needing done on your work-list, wishing you could instead bake some muffins or fold the laundry or go on a walk.
You tell your kiddo to go grab a book as you attempt to finish an assignment really quickly. Hold on, just one more.
Guilt settles into your soul like grains of sand, growing into its own sort of sand dune: didn't I decide to work from home so I could be present with my children?
Your brain, mushy as a cream filled pie, somehow manages to simultaneously think through all that needs to be done all the while tending to the precious humans who give you the title mama.
IT FEELS LIKE YOUR WORK ISN'T TAKEN SERIOUSLY BY SOCIETY, OR EVEN YOUR FRIENDS.
Most of the time when people ask you if you "just stay home with the kids," you answer with, "Yes, but I also work from home." You are dying to scream how hard it is but instead smile at their response, "Oh that's nice. I wish I didn't have to go to work. I could use a nap."
And you get it. Because that's exactly why you're a Work At Home Mom: so you can stay at home with your children while also paying the bills. You could also use a nap.
But what you want them to get is how hard it is; how hard you work; how much you don't sleep; how you don't actually nap when they nap; you have legitimate deadlines and legitimate to do's and your job is legitimate.
But it feels less than legitimate too often.
Sometimes you covet the mamas who work away from home, with a shift that starts and ends with predictability. You covet their time at home, the ability to be fully present and not worry about the nagging deadlines and work to be done.
The grass always seems greener on the other side, huh? I see that green grass too. Our side of the fence also has it, it's just easy to miss when you feel like you're drowning.
"HOW DO YOU BALANCE AT ALL?"
Your brain and maybe your mouth screams that you don't. You don't feel balanced, you feel out of control. Your brain is mushy and your body is tired.
Your little people perpetually need you but so do the deadlines you're barely meeting.
You feel out of balance as you hold your finger in the face of your child, annoyed at their interruptions, only to later feel utterly guilty and frustrated at yourself...this is why you work at home: so you can be home with them and yet the only thing that feels "with them" is your body.
Your body consists of more coffee than water because maybe it'll help your eye lids remain open.
If you're like me, you do anything to keep your kiddos distracted for even 5 minutes so you can attempt to get things done. Example: let them play in a pile of spaghetti noodles.
Nap times? You are either snuggling them and simultaneously typing/working one handed OR they're in their beds while you frantically run around doing as much as possible.I purchased a bubble machine with the hopes to keep my toddlers entertained.
Laundry and dishes? They pile higher than Mount Everest.
Being a work at home mom is a privilege. But that doesn't mean it's not hard.
Balance is a concept no one quite reaches.
Balance is non-existent, if you ask me.
Constantly feeling behind in work or feeling neglectful in parenting, balance is out of reach and you wonder what people see when they ask how you balance it all. You wonder if you're ruining your children or if you'll lose your job because one or the other is constantly getting the back burner.
Work At Home Mama, I see you and I know you work hard. I see you and I know you feel swallowed up whole by the constant wondering how to do it all and stay sane. And you know what? I like you.
And you're not ruining your children.
Keep going mama, one day at a time.
One moment at a time.
#MomGuilt is for real, but so is #MomBoss. Rock the latter. Believe it for yourself. And it's okay to be a real hot mess. We all are. (I hope).
At the end of the day, (which feels like never if you have two sleepless babies like me), your brain may be mushy and full but take a look at your heart too. Your heart is gorgeous, you know?
Give yourself grace for forgetting things and feeling like your brain is broken...because the truth is, your brain is doing so much. Your brain is amazing.
All the love,
Versions of this piece have been published on Natalie Brenner Writes.
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