I still remember the season of motherhood where I had four jobs. FOUR. All at the same time.
My three kids would be in childcare or preschool during the day while I worked my part-time day job (with no benefits) and then I would pick them up and hurry them home where a babysitter would come to cover the transition time so I could get out the door to wait tables on nights and weekends and in the limited in-between hours, I had my computer on my lap working as a virtual assistant and a website designer until the wee hours of the morning.
It was insanity. And I barely saw my kids. But I did it.
Rewind a few years and I could tell you about the season of life when I had finally gotten my teaching license and would teach high school English all day while my babies (just a toddler and an infant at the time) were at an in-home daycare down the street, pick them up after school and bring them directly to the restaurant where I worked. I would change my clothes in the bathroom while a coworker hung out with my kids, order them dinner, and oversee them eating their meal while I started serving a handful of tables simultaneously. The best part would be when the students I had taught during the day would come in with their parents for dinner and I would literally have to look them in the eye and ask, “Would you like fries with that?” (In case you’re wondering, I am not the only teacher in history who has to give their entire paycheck over just to pay for daycare, making a second job a necessity. Not by a long shot.) Eventually, my husband would arrive from work, pick up the kids from their VIP table, and take them home to be put to bed and I would arrive home long after my babies were fast asleep and then I would start my grading and lesson planning.
I barely saw my kids. But I did it.
I’m not saying my story is unique and I’m certainly not looking for sympathy, but I do think it’s important to talk about and acknowledge how draining and exhausting this cycle is for mothers. I was fortunate enough to have the help of my spouse through these seasons, but I know there are countless other mothers out there without the support of a partner or a support system of any kind. We hear a lot about the Boss Babe and Hustle Mentality lately, but I’m here to tell you….it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. It’s draining. It leaves you feeling bone-weary at the end of the day. I spent countless drives home crying silently over the moments I was missing with my kids combined with sheer exhaustion.
Hear me well. From where I’m standing, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a strong work ethic and going hard after a dream or a goal. In fact, I’m in the role that I’m in today because our circumstances changed just enough that I was able to shift my focus in that direction. What I am saying is that we mothers are always going to be the first to lay ourselves down on the tracks in sacrifice for our kids and we will suffer for it. Mentally, physically, emotionally, and relationally — there will be consequences that we have to deal with somehow.
When we are in seasons where Hustle is happening out of necessity, I implore you to build a support system of some sort. Someone who can give you a much-needed breather as often as possible, or who can offer free childcare here and there so you can invest in some self-care away from those stressful environments without guilt. I remember getting home late at night on Friday nights from the restaurant only to wake up bright and early to open it again on Saturday morning, but those Saturday afternoons, when I finally had time breathe for a moment, I often just wanted a nap or to read a book alone or something to recharge, but I struggled with feeling guilty that I wasn’t soaking up every moment with my babies.