How do we do it all?
Can we do it all?
Do we even want to do it all?
I ponder these questions a lot as I thoroughly drain myself working long hours away from home and then when I get home continuing to work, which my profession requires, all while attempting to squeeze in anything resembling a stable family life. If any of this sounds familiar, I know you can relate to my next statement.
I completely understand the divorce rate. Nowadays we’re expected to be magicians. Sometimes I feel as if I hardly ever see my kids – of course, when I do, I feel as if I never leave them, but I digress. It’s tough having to be away for so many hours at a time, and my heart truly hurts. Depending on my teaching schedule, they can be asleep when I leave and return. If they are awake when I get home at night they’re in a zombified state, curled up in the sheets/war zone scene of Cheerio remnants and strewn sippy cups with Daddy. Adult conversation is always a valuable trade-off, however, as much as I adore discussing dragon attributes with my 4-year-old and playing the super fun game of “Dump Anything and Everything on the Floor and Watch Mommy Clean it Up” with my youngest. It’s such a versatile game, too — it entails cups of juice, bags of sugar, boxes of cereal, bags of chips — you name it! I just love that game.
As wives, we are expected to be vixens in the bedroom (as if any of that lingerie is getting use with two toddlers in the midst) and Julia Child in the kitchen (sorry about the husband’s luck — not my best room in the house — although I do manage to start small fires on a regular basis, which he seems to find enjoyable considering his profession). With the outside grading that my job requires (and did I mention that I have children?) it’s seemingly impossible to maintain anything remotely characteristic of a romantic relationship. Once the weekend rolls around and we’d both like to relax, I’d swoon at the chance for a candlelit dinner followed by a movie and all-night …“conversation.” The reality is closer to his attempting to watch sports on the couch with a permanently fixed beer in hand, a well-deserved reward for working long, sleep-deprived hours at his own job, although he ends up mostly refereeing the kids who are intermittently screaming, crying, and fighting. I fit into this equation by dutifully grading essays in the next room, just barely suppressing the urge to pull each and every hair out of my head.
Between working, parenting, maintaining a marriage, and attempting to retain an ounce of sanity, it can feel like having four full-time jobs and feeling as if my job performance for each one is poor. There’s a lot of guilt when it comes to being a parent anyway, and when it comes to my job, it kills me to think I might not be fulfilling my potential. I’m no Donna Reed, so a wife, I just assume on a daily basis that I’m failing miserably. It can be overwhelming at times and the sheer exhaustion of it all can, and sometimes does, bring me to tears.
I dream of a hopefully not-too-distant future in which I strike a nice balance among work, kids, and my husband. (As far as friends go, thank God for Facebook or I’d forget what they look like.) I do realize how lucky I am — I have a job, great kids, and a wonderful husband. I’m not a single parent or an army wife, and I cannot even imagine — seriously, a standing ovation to you. I still can’t help but wonder — someday will I get my grading done at a decent hour, play with the kids and snuggle up to my husband before 2 a.m.? I mean, after I scrape the Cheerios off the bed.
Sara Berelsman lives in Delphos with her firefighter husband Andy and their kids Adele and Eleanor. She teaches college English and psychology courses and would like to wish a fellow hard working mother and wife, SAFY’s Melissa Rodriguez, a very happy birthday today.