Why I’m not enjoying this time in my life more

Have you ever turned the handle on a jack-in-the-box, and as it cranks and the tinny song plays on, you start to feel nervous, anticipating the pop of the freaky clown? So you slow your cranking, maybe even lean back to protect yourself from the explosion. That pretty much describes how I feel when I open my childrens’ folders from school.

Permission slip not signed for field trip. Money late for school pictures. Request for help at school seen a week too late.

The school folder is the tip of the working-mother-iceberg.

Covering the olympics in Sochi, Russia..I did not have to think about school folders

Covering the olympics in Sochi, Russia..I did not have to think about school folders

I have friends who work and friends who stay home. None of it’s easy, but I have spent ten years trying to forge a balance between my marriage and my career and my kids and I’ve decided that balance is a dirty word that exists to make us feel bad about ourselves.

I do many things, none of them well.

One of my best friends and I talk about this when we’re in our cars, driving to and from our jobs. We discuss the kid we’re most worried about that week, we compare the bandaids we’ve stuck on issues we don’t have time to deal with, we swap hell-week-at-work stories.

There is one thing we talk about that stays with me — the kind of thing I think about in bed at night, when my whirling brain will not quiet.

We ask each other, “Are we going to regret that we didn’t enjoy this time in our lives more?”

We discuss and debate it, even though we know the answer is yes, so it’s like we’re preparing ourselves for this specific avalanche of guilt.

“Do other mothers enjoy this time more than us?” We’re pretty sure the answer is yes, but for whatever reason we’re not those mothers.

We’re us.

I know I’m going to blink and they’ll be grown and gone. I know it flies by. I know I’m doing the best I can. I know I should take time for myself. Yep, agreed on all counts.

Then, I click on Facebook.

There they are, doing a 1000 piece puzzle together on a Saturday night, parents and kids beaming their familial delight to the camera. There they are walking through the quiet woods on a Sunday morning. There they are ‘At the Eiffel Tower!’ ‘Hiking the Grand Canyon!’ ‘Kayaking class 4 rapids!’ 

I wince. This is I how I was going to parent, before I became one.

As someone who is guilty of committing a Facebook brag post, I know there are stories behind these photos — that maybe the kids didn’t want to get out of bed early on a Sunday to walk through the “stupid woods.” That maybe they wanted to play Grand Theft Auto, not put a “stupid” puzzle together because, “I don’t need family time, Mom! I already have to live here.” That maybe Mom and Dad didn’t speak to each other all morning at the Grand Canyon because of a fight the night before.

Facebook doesn’t show you the imperfect reality behind the perfect images. But imagine if it did.

‘Little Jimmy got suspended from school for running a math test cheating ring. Here’s the letter from the principal.’

Or, ‘After we fought over money for the third time this month, my husband called me a sexless shrew. Here is a picture of him sleeping on the couch.’

Or, ‘Ran into that uber volunteer mother at the kids’ school again — the one who always comments it’s such a shame that I’m never around. Here’s a picture of me giving her a wedgie in her size 2 pants.’

Yes, they were fighting just before this picture was taken

Yes, they were fighting just before this picture was taken

I would so like those posts. I would comment and check back to see what other people wrote, and those people would be my Facebook soul mates.

I’m pretty sure I could do a better job at the trifecta of marriage/job/kids.

Until I figure that out, I’m going to ‘enjoy this time in my life more’ by taking a photo of my daughter hitting my son in the head because he won’t share the remote.

Be sure to like my picture.

 

 

 

 

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11 comments on “Why I’m not enjoying this time in my life more
  1. Jane says:

    A thousand times DITTO!!! Love this, Jaye! True for this mom. Hugs!

  2. Sharleen says:

    You just put in words everything I am feeling these days – I love what you write – it makes me feel somewhat normal in a world where there seems to be so many standards that don’t seem possible to live up to! I too juggle a career, very active kids, volunteering and recently my husband taking a job promotion 2000 miles away! I do nothing well but I don’t think I’d change anything – we aren’t perfect but we seem to be doing just fine!! I do need a reminder now and then though!!

    I especially loved “I would so like those posts. I would comment and check back to see what other people wrote, and those people would be my Facebook soul mates.” – this made me laugh out loud! They would definitely be my FB soul mates too!! 🙂

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Thank you for reading, Sharleen. Oh my, your schedule sounds crazier than mine! You win with the job promotion 2,000 miles away. We are a mess, but a pretty happy mess…and I just realized I made my doctor’s appt tomorrow for the exact same time as my son’s parent teacher conference. I’m not joking. Off to apologize and try to fix…

  3. Jim Grey says:

    I’ve decided that every smiling family photo on Facebook is 100% PR and marketing. That’s made Facebook a lot easier to tolerate.

  4. Simona Capece says:

    Enjoyed reading this. So honest and refreshing in this world of fake facebook perfection. Lots of women can relate to what you are describing in different ways. I think having a career you love is a great reason to feel “out of balance” at times.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Simona, thank you for reading… And you’re right. Sometimes doing what you love comes at a cost to those you love. And therein lies the struggle and the guilt and the rest of it. And even on the toughest days, it’s still pretty awesome.

  5. Teresa Jane Fullerton says:

    Right on the money! My children are grown, but I wonder if I did everything right? NO! But I did would I could, and that’s enough.

    • Jaye Watson says:

      Teresa, that’s it. You did what you could. I’m doing what I can. It will have to be enough. The screw ups make for a fun stories later anyway… Thanks for reading.

  6. Lea-Anne Jackson says:

    Well, you know how I feel about this one…but just in case, Nailed it! But I can’t talk right now, we’re at the beach having family time. Be sure to like my pictures!

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