In Sue’s recent Oprah Highlights So-Called Mommy Wars post, an anonymous poster posed an interesting question that I’d love to address here. First anonymous asks,
Taking the long view of a woman’s entire adulthood/career life, are the decisions discussed in this blog really fairly temporary ones for the average woman?
She goes on to discuss:
My calculations show me about 10 years where my children will be small and my husband and I will have to make the decisions you all are grappling with regarding work, child care, distribution of responsibilities, finances, etc. Of course childhood lasts longer than that, but it seems from my observations like the early years are the most trying for parents in terms of work, etc.
Guilt: The gift that keeps on giving
I think once you have a child, as a woman, most of us are faced with guilt for the rest of our lives, stay-at-home or working mom. Whether it be because we have to give our child PB&J sandwiches in the car on the way to school because we didn’t have time to prepare breakfast, because we multi-tasked that day and didn’t spend as much time as we would’ve liked with our little ones, or because we couldn’t attend Sally’s dance recital, Bobby’s football game, and Julia’s jazz band concert because they all happened to occur on the same day.
When school starts
Once our children are under a schoolteacher’s care for most of the day, some of us will have to start looking for before or aftercare programs. Most schools start anywhere from 7:30 to 9 in the morning, and end from 2:30 to 3:30, which aren’t most people’s full-time work hours. In addition to being an additional cost, it breaks my heart to think O will be sharing his coloring projects or math test scores with his aftercare teacher before he shares them with me.
And then there are the extracurricular activities I discussed above. I wonder if I’ll be able to attend all of my son’s after school activities, whatever they may be. My parents always made it a point to come to all of their children’s games/concerts/recitals, and it meant a lot to me and my siblings. Will work ever come in the way of that happening with me? I hope not.
If I do end up having another child, there probably will be a time where O can start babysitting his little brother or sister after school. At that point I’ll probably end up feeling guilty for giving him that type of responsibility and not allowing him the freedom to do what he wants after school.
So does parenthood get easier?
In short, once you have children I think your life changes forever. It did for me, anyway, and I’m just six months into this game. There’s always some obstacle to face and I don’t think it gets easier as you go along. As soon as you master one part of the game, life—or your child—throws you another stumbling block.
10 thoughts on “Does Parenthood Get Easier?”
I was under the impression that it would get easier when my kids got to be school-age. My son is just in preschool now, but I’m already coming to realize I was wrong.
When he gets older, I think it’s going to have a whole new set of challenges. After-school care, homework, sports, and activites will cut into a lot of time. There are quite a few SAHMs in my neighborhood with kids ages 8 years up to 17. They’re constantly taking their kids to practices, helping them with homework, trying to find time to help out at school, etc. Homework alone takes up at least 2 to 3 hours of their evenings! I know it’s crazy for them. So I expect it going to be even crazier for me.
I’ve come to the conclusion this parenting thing is going to be an envolving challenge and it’s not going to get any easier any time soon.
Great discussion point! Thanks for bringing it up.
I just thought of something else… how about when kids have the summers off? Who will watch them? And if they’re old enough to stay home by themselves, what the heck will they do all day while I’m gone? Ugh… now I’m freaking out.
I don’t think these are temporary decisions. I honestly feel like the decision I am making now, regarding day care, finances, etc. have a long-term impact on my life and the life of my child.
Having a child impacted where and when we bought a house, what job I chose, where the job was located, what extra-curricular activities I am/can be involved in…these aren’t things that are going to change when my daughter goes to school.
I made a conscious decision to put my long-term ambitions and goals on the back-burner (maybe temporary, but most likely forever) in order to find a workplace that was family-friendly and stable which for the most part equates with “less challenging”.
I often feel guilt about being a working mother. When I drop off G at daycare, their is this strange awareness that I have left my most precious gift with a relative stranger and in the back of my mind (buried way deep, so that I can actually make it to work) I wish I were a stay at home mom. But do stay at home mom’s feel bad when they finally send their kids to school at age 5? No – they assume that school is developmentally (socially and mentally) good for their children.
So why do we feel any different about sending our kids to daycare? Aren’t they learning things socially and mentally as well?
I guess I just don’t understand why it is socially acceptable to send your children to school to spend most of their day with a teacher (relative stranger), but there is all of this guilt, if we as working mothers do the same, we just chose do to it prior to the age of 5.
Everything I’ve heard from moms of older kids says that it never gets easier–it’s just different as kids age. I guess maybe when your kids are old enough to be financially independent and living on their own, it’s easier. But my mom still worries about me all the time! Plus, now she has my daughter to worry about, too.
I couldn’t help but notice that ‘anoynmous’ doesn’t yet have children. I think its really hard predict how you will feel before you actually have a baby. It really does change everything! It changes the way you look at the whole world.
And, I have to agree with everyone else here, its not like something amazing will happen in 10 years and the work/life balance will get easier. Or that parenting will get easier for that matter. This is your child forever. There are many ways that I still depend on my parents. And I’m 32!
I am guilty of thinking, the ‘next thing’ will be easier. Fertilty treatments were really rough, and I prayed to get pregnant. That will be so much easier. Well, pregnancy was tough on me, and I thought, when the baby gets here it will be easier. Well, guess what? Its wonderful, and such a HUGE blessing, but its not easier. I finally had to tell myself to stop wating for the next thing and live in the NOW! Time goes by so fast as it is!
Cara and Susan are right. It’s never EASY, it’s just different.
When you are leaving work “early” for the 3rd day in a row to pick up two children from after school care, dropping one off at one practice, dropping another off at their practice, going back to practice A to pick up that child, and hoping to God your husband gets out of his meeting on time to pick up the second child, that’s hard. When you get to start cooking dinner at 7:00 pm while cleaning the breakfast dishes that have festered on the kitchen table all day, then sit down and go through backpacks, making sure the crushed goldfish is picked off the homework, and…Oh! Look! Tomorrow is 100 Day and I’m supposed to send my Kindergartener to school with 100 of….something “cool” he says, that’s hard.
I really think that in terms of guilt, mothers just need to come to terms with the fact that you. will. not. be. there. for every moment of your child’s life. That is true of stay at home moms. That is true of working moms. And you know what?
Your children will be just fine.
By the way, Cara, in the summer there are tons of summer day camp programs for kids up through teens. Stay at home moms send their kids to these camps too – they’re fun!
I am finding that being a working mother is even harder as the kids get into school. Before, I usually had one stop at daycare and then we heading home for dinner and the rest of the evening at home. Now, with a 8-year old and soon to be 3-year old, there are soccer practices, school meetings, and snacks to be picked up for Scout meetings. And forget about Saturday cleaning days when there are playdates to arrange and soccer games to attend. Life is quickly becoming a blur and I often wonder how we can just slow down and enjoy “normal” family time at home.
OK, ladies, we are all too hard on ourselves. As a working mother, I have guilt, we all have guilt…that’s why we’re here right.
But, I also know that my mom was a working mom, I was a latch key kid and home on my own in the summer. They missed a lot of my games, etc and I can tell you I have NEVER felt like they were not there for me or disappointed me in any way. I know I can speak for my brother and sister who would agree. It was what I knew, it was normal and they were always there for the things that mattered. One thing we don’t want to do is to keep aplogizing to our kids for not being there. We are there, in the best way that we can be. And I can tell you from experience, it does not get any easier. It is different, but not easier. Having 3 granddaughters and a 11 and 14 year old still at home, it’s always something. Your right Cara, when you say it is evolving, but the challenge is still there.
thanks for letting me share!