Everyone talks about the juggling act of being a mother. I never really got it until this week. Up until this week, it has generally been all about Samara, but I have recently had an influx of freelance work that is too good to pass up. When I first became a reporter, I worked for a newspaper that required 2 stories a day from all of their writers. I never missed my quota.
Add in a baby, a house to take care of and only one car between me and my husband and even two stories a week seems insurmountable. But that is exactly what I have been doing the past couple weeks (plus test driving cars, taking care of the stress fracture on my leg from running and trying to make it to spinning class at least five times a week). It is all so much that I forgot to eat until 4 p.m. yesterday.
By the end of the day yesterday, I felt like I had been pulled in 15 directions and was totally exhausted. I conducted an interview while holding Samara, sent my sister to CVS in our car after the baby's diaper blew out and there were no diapers left in the bag, and managed to write two stories in one evening. I used to have a sense of accomplishment when I did that much in one day, but yesterday all I felt was guilt. Guilt at leaving Samara for three hours. Guilt at trying to do my job while I held her and guilt that I was not writing as well as I could have since I always had one ear out for the baby. Does anyone really manage to "do it all"?
The problem for me is that I can't say no. When I first started freelancing, I was just hoping to get enough to keep myself occupied, but enough things are coming through that I feel like I could really make this work for years to come, especially as Samara enters school. I want to be able to have both work I am proud and excited to do (reporting and writing) and time home with my daughter. It is not really about the money, although that helps. For me, it is about doing what I love, finding excitement in something other than my baby. But I feel tremendous guilt about needing that. I feel like I should be content to sing "three green and speckled frogs" to Samara all day long, like I should not want to lose weight or see my name in print, since both of these things mean time away from my baby. Will her brain rot if I am not there to stimulate it constantly?
I have only been at this four months and am still searching for the "balance" that allegedly exists, but between impromptu childcare needs, trying to write while she naps and wishing she could spend more time quiet in her gymini, I am starting to feel like a neglectful mom. How do other women do this?