The look of letting down the one who means the most to you.
Last week, after spending all morning trying to send just one email in the midst of a very demanding toddler episode, I closed my eyes, counted to 10 for a final time, gathered up my children and took them out of the house. We ended up in a cafe, where I hoped that the lure of a sugary treat would bribe Arlo long enough for me to concentrate on this one email. It didn’t.
The other day, feeling massively guilty that I’d not been very available to Arlo lately, I decided that for one whole day, I would set aside all work, and do EVERYTHING he requested. Including about 5 repeats of his current favourite demand – which is that Rory and I sit on a specific spot on my bed and watch him bounce up and down (I HAVE to sit down, I am not allowed to get dressed, put make up on, tidy, or do any other tasks whilst this is going on). But the day ended in tantrums just like usual, and I was left deflated and at a loss.
Yesterday afternoon, after tantrum upon tantrum every time I tried to sit at my computer, we made a deal. A desperate attempt to claw myself back some lost time. I sat on the sofa with him (for the fourth and final time that afternoon). Except he forgot the deal and I wasn’t allowed back on the computer to do my work. Stern words were had. And then he broke me with “It makes me feel scared when you shout at me”.
In my mind, I had planned a slow build up to getting back to work. But it seems to have snowballed and I’m juggling as fast as I can.
What do I want? To be enjoying my time with my babies. To focus on them. To have fun. To not let these days pass us by and then realise that I didn’t make the most of it and I’m never getting that back.
What do I want? To figure out how to make Arlo HAPPY. To stop feeling like he constantly wants more from me but I don’t know WHAT exactly.
What do I want? To earn enough money so that I’m not thoroughly depressed and unable to do anything, like last winter – enough to go for coffee, pay for public transport, go to the odd baby group here and there. To have enough money to pay for petrol and baby wipes when needed. To continue to stop Sam from having to go into the red at the end of the month. To be able to buy things for our family when needed without having to justify to Sam that ALL decent children’s coats cost around the £30-40 mark these days. To be able to keep us afloat during the bad months.
What do I want? To be able to do photography without it inflicting on my time with the boys. To be able to just be a mum, to concentrate on being really good at just that ONE job, to remove the need to earn money. To be able to do the things I love (photography, blogging, being a mum) without any of it feeling like a chore.
What do I want? To press the pause button and have everyone go at my pace.
Every night I go to bed with a mental to-do list swirling around my head. Emails marked to read tomorrow already entering my mind, because I know what they say before I read them. People that I HAVE to respond to because they’ve already chased me up to check I received their original emails.
Every evening, I dump two strung out children upon Sam as soon as he walks through the door, hurriedly listing my justifications for why the email I’ve been trying to send all day needs to take priority over the washing up. At any one time, there are always two things that I should be doing.
Every morning, I write the to-do list down on paper. I start the day feeling productive. Optimistic that I AM in control of this stuff and I WILL get stuff done. Then as the hours tick by, the to-do list with nothing crossed off starts to mock me. It’s like I’m setting myself up for a fall for even assuming that I can get any of this done with two small children around. And then worst of all, I start to feel resentful that nothing is getting done. Resentful towards people who really can’t help it at all.
Every day, I feel like I’m not doing a good job of being a mum.
I don’t want to be feeling like that. That’s the last thing I want to be feeling. I want to be seizing every moment with my children, not getting angry at silly to-do lists. But it’s not that simple when you need to make money, is it?
I feel like people assume that working from home is the best of both worlds, but in reality, especially if you can’t afford childcare, it often feels like the worst of both worlds – no dedicated time for your children and no dedicated time for your work.
How do you make quality time for your children when you work at home and there is no option for a distinction between ‘work time’ and ‘family time’?
Answers on a postcard, please.