Confession: Can Work Save Me from Mommy Moments?

Self-Aware Moments of Motherhood

This past Tuesday was tough.  This past Tuesday was a bad mommy day.  The memory of last Tuesday hurts me. That day made me realize that the journey of motherhood is never-ending.

What happened?  Did anyone die?  Did anyone get hurt?  No.  But I realized that I have to escape mommyhood sometimes.  I have to look at my wonderful, amazing, energetic, smart, fun, adorable and loving toddler and say “I need a break from you to be a better mom.” And on Tuesday, I took that break by going to work.

The day started like every day – up at 5:30 am, workout, shower, prep breakfast for munchkin and me … but  it all went down hill the moment she got out of bed.  She was initially happy, but still getting over a cold, so a little snotty and I was watching her closely to see if school was an option.  But she seemed OK … playing with toys, eating her O’s, drinking her milk, hanging out with her Elmo doll.  So I proceeded to go into the other room and blow-dry my hair, all while keeping a hawk-eye out, or so I thought.  I thought … “this day is going to be great.”

After turning off the blow-dryer I happily fluffed my hair and walked into her room to find the following: A child who had stripped herself down to her diaper and was holding a pink lipstick case in her hand and, you guessed it, had lipstick in her hair, on her face, all over her body and all over the carpet.  I wish I had taken a picture, but — to be blunt, I was too flustered to do so.  Thinking … “We have to leave in 30 minutes, I have to go to work … there are things to do, people to be seen!!!”

So, after my initial bellowing of “STOP!!” I proceeded to put her on the changing table, and found … you guessed it … diarrhea.  So let’s say there was a most interesting mix of elements to clean up; the most interesting combination that I have ever encountered in my short 20-months of motherhood.

Next we had about 30 minutes in the bathtub, three hair washes and some hard work getting the stain out of the carpet before it set.  Not to mention what followed — the computer keyboard that she proceeded to destroy after her bath, or the dolls and toys she threw down the stairs and the weak moment when I finally sat the now obviously still-sick munchkin in front of the TV and said “here watch Elmo.” Not because she wanted to watch Elmo, but because I needed a moment.  I needed a long moment.

Luckily I have an amazing family, and a mother who helps me continue to work and support my family by babysitting munchkin after school ends several days a week.  So after a frantic text and call to Oma, she agreed to entertain my snotty, frustrated and surprisingly sick-yet-energetic toddler for a few hours so I could get to work and push through some deadlines I had in the office.

So we headed off to Oma’s house and all was well for a little bit while in the confines of the car.

Then, within a few minutes of arriving at Oma’s, munchkin decided that it was time to throw the dirt from Oma’s much-loved and cared-for potted plants all over the carpet, share her lunch with the gaggle of family cocker spaniels under her chair and climb-on, take-on and throw around every toy or non-toy breakable item that she could.

Then the time came, time for her nap and for my exit.  My exit to the office.  Which, mind you, is not stress-free.  But it is toddler-free.

So I kissed and hugged munchkin good-bye, ran my fingers through her wonderfully curly hair, said a quick mental prayer for her final healing and headed out to the car.

And you know what, when I got in the car, I sighed.  I sighed a sigh of relief.  As if the stress was over for the day, as if I was happy to be leaving my only child for a while, and as if I needed to be rescued from the stress of motherhood by the bustle of work????

How could this be?  How could I want to leave my loved, adored, heart-filling child and escape to work?  This is not how it should be!  I should escape work to get back to my child.  But, wow, I had reached my limit that morning.  It was too much.  I was just too much.

So, am I a bad mom for escaping?  Am I am mom with mixed-up priorities because I picked work over staying home with my sick child? Am I messed-up mom for needing a break from a sick child after several days of it?  Do I need to return to the hospital where I gave birth and turn my “mom card” in or take the child-rearing class again?

I don’t know … I feel so conflicted about this because I love my “munch” with all my heart and soul.  The main reason I work is to provide for her; to give her the best. But are my priorities off? Do I need the adult interaction of work and the stimulation of work to keep going and thriving as a person? If I do, is that selfish?

I just don’t know.  I don’t know.  All I know is that this child is my heart, she is my soul. And I would do anything for her.  I just need a break from the hard moments every once-in-a-while.  If that makes me weak in some eyes, perhaps it makes me human in others.

My heart, my soul ... my munchkin.

Julia Montgomery Stewart

Nicknamed “Julia Child” at a young age, our own Julia is most at home in the kitchen. Lately, she has combined her culinary talents with a new hobby—fitness and healthy living. As a result, her recipes reflect an intriguing balance between eating well without sacrificing flavor. Outside the home, Julia is a consummate event planner, and spent the first ten years of her career as a publicist before expanding her portfolio of talents with the launch of Live Pretty in 2010. Balancing the busy demands of career and family, Julia lives with her husband and daughter in Orlando, Florida. In addition to her work in marketing, she serves a number of community organizations and initiatives in Central Florida.

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4 Responses to “Confession: Can Work Save Me from Mommy Moments?”

  1. wendy — March 10, 2011 @ 2:39 pm (#
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    Word!!

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  2. Heidi Hebden — March 13, 2011 @ 12:11 am (#
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    First of all, I would like to comment on the makeup job…I remember (or was told) that there was a particular Sunday right before church that I was able to find myslf engulfed in my mother’s “blue!” eyeshadow and red lipstick. There was much talk at communion…As for the feelings of motherhood and when to depart from such “hood”, well, only we mothers can truly understand each other in the need to escape while at the same time, continuing our roles as mothers. Funny, being a mother is the hardest job and yet, it is so unrecogized as such…Just remember, sanity is a “state” of mind and one needs to do anything to remain in that zipcode!

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  3. Katherine Blazek — March 22, 2011 @ 10:34 am (#
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    No this does not nake you a bad mommy quite the opposite. The fact that you recognize that you need a time out from the munch makes you a great mommy. My daughter who is 5 has heard her mommy say she needs a “time out” so she now takes her own “time outs”. I am Mom to twin 5 year olds and there are times when it is better to take the time out than to lose it in front of the kids.

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  4. Katherine Blazek — March 22, 2011 @ 10:34 am (#
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    No this does not nake you a bad mommy quite the opposite. The fact that you recognize that you need a time out from the munch makes you a great mommy. My daughter who is 5 has heard her mommy say she needs a “time out” so she now takes her own “time outs”. I am Mom to twin 5 year olds and there are times when it is better to take the time out than to lose it in front of the kids.

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