I woke up before the alarm this morning.   I snuggled deeper under the covers.  Fridays are my “fun day.”  (Fun, here,  is a relative term. It means I run errands, maybe grab lunch by myself or get a coffee at the bookstore and browse. But, I get out of the house- so it’s fun, to me!) I thought I had a few extra minutes before I had to get up.

That is, I thought it was “fun day,” until the alarm clock, rudely reminded me, that I had to get up. I had to go to work today. Ugh. Before I could hit the alarm button, I also remembered that this was: data entry day. On an excel spreadsheet. that was important.

My stomach felt queasy, before my feet hit the floor. Nerves. I was afraid  the universe would implode if I screwed up. I tried to remember what Kathy, my friend and boss-du jour had told me to do.

I blanked.  “Oh well, she wrote it down, I’ll figure it out when I get there.”

Fortunately, getting ready this morning was much smoother than yesterday.

  1. No one missed the bus.
  2. I didn’t run anything over. (However,  I disappointed Noah, by not taking out any garbage cans.  I assured him, I’d likely hit something, sometime soon.)
  3. I actually had time to fold a load of laundry and do the dishes before I left.
  4. The beagle  peed on demand!

I was running early. An excellent (and rare) start to the day.

The drive to work was un-eventful.If you don’t count seeing a red bra (inexplicably) lying on the ground at my freeway exit. (Someone’s lookin’ like a fool with her bra on the ground, is all I can say about that.)

I actually was *gasp* a few minutes early! (I took a picture of the clock, as evidence for the doubters, I can hear you mocking me.)

It only took me a few minutes to settle in to my data entry job.  Once I got my bearings, looked at the notes Kathy had left for me, and took a deep breath. I started.

You know what?  I did it! It took me a few hours to enter all the data for four different sites, but I did it! (I think I did it, anyway.  I obsessively double checked each entry and saved the file, so it should still be there on Monday.)  I may have set a new record for world’s slowest data entry, but it’s done.

Data entry, surprised me. I actually kind of liked it. (It was infinitely better than dark-room uniform organizing.) I worked downstairs, in the main office. it was nice to hear office chatter.  And I even got a chance to talk to a few people. (Nice since as a SAHM, I can go for days without interacting face to face, with another adult. But I digress, today I’m a working mom!)

However, I was concentrating and trying (not to wreck the database and thus stop the universe) to do my best- so I didn’t take time to chat. (FYI- it’s a very good thing they’ve gently moved me into tasks. Today?  I’m not sure if I could have answered the phone and done the data entry at the same time. I was thankful every time the phone rang, and I didn’t have to answer it!)

I think I may have committed my first office faux pas. They were ordering pizza.. and I passed. Honestly… I felt shy and a bit intimidated, for lunch with the crew. (Weird, I know. But apparently shyness can strike even me.) And, I was hoping to get home in time to pick up Noah at the bus, so I worked straight through.  I hope I get a chance to go back and hang out at lunch, sometime.

Once finished with the data, I did some filing. Where I was reminded, once again that: HANDWRITING MATTERS. Especially on Driver’s Manifests. Hello, if I can’t read your driver number or the date, it’s kind of hard to: FILE IT, BY THAT. (sorry, a little messy handwriting rant.) As an aside: Driver’s Manifest’s are not the subversive documents that could result in governmental or cultural change, that they sound like. They are (basically) driver’s logs. Where they went and when.  They are important. But still. Not revolutionary.

Filing went well, until I dropped a pile of papers. I panicked, slightly, like a second grader who knocks over a chair.   For a moment, I wondered if I broke them. (Umm yeah. I’m keeping it real here… I seriously wondered if I wrecked the pile by dropping it.)

I picked them up and put them back in order. Duh. They are paper. They weren’t broken or wrecked.  It took me a few extra minutes to fix my mistake, but, that was it.

And then. I finished! Early!  I was glad to meet the bus today. I had no idea how hard that time between 4 and quitting time is for working mom’s. I call it the 4:00 pm effect. Worry distracted me. I worried a lot. I worried whether his big brother met him at the bus. (He didn’t, he forgot. Noah walked home just fine. He sometimes does if I don’t make it to the stop.) I worried whether he had a good day at school. I worried whether needed me and I worried if he had a snack. Yeah. A lot. Also-very quickly. I finished work around 4:45, yesterday!

I learned some things that surprised me this week:

  1. If I had to work, I could. (I’ve been a little a lot, afraid that maybe I couldn’t cut it, even if I desperately had to.) This week has not been easy. We’d have to make a lot of changes at home if I worked. But, I did it. And I could. Just like the millions of moms who do it every week. Each one with her unique set of challenges. (I have 3 kids, 3 schedules and a traveling husband.)
  2. I’ve always thought I had a problem with being told what to do. I discovered this week, that it’s more that I hate, not knowing what to do and needing to be told. I’d rather anticipate needs a need and meet it. I could not do that this week. I had no idea what needed to be done. I needed direction. It was uncomfortable.  But over time, I think that would improve as I caught on. (And didn’t have to be led around like a trained pony.)
  3. I appreciate more and understand better, how my husband feels about work. (It didn’t cross my mind that this experiment would lead here.) Even doing things as simple and benign as I did this week, it’s hard to “turn it off” at quitting time.  (Something I get mad at him for all the time.) Also: if I worked outside the home, and he continued to travel as he does (He’s gone about 3-5 days a week and is usually in a different time zone.) it would be hard to talk on the phone, let alone see each other. I missed him. (If my tubes weren’t tied, I’d say it would, however, save us a fortune in birth control… but that’s TMI, Funny, but still: TMI.)
  4. My house is still standing, even though I went to work.  True, I didn’t do everything. But I got done what needed to get done. Working helped me prioritize my tasks.
  5. I could see both pluses and minuses for my kids if I worked.  They would need to be more independent. I believe they would rise to the occasion, as they did (for the most part) this week.
  6. A few posts back- I used the word “day dreaming” about what working would be like. I realized this week, that more than day-dreaming, I’ve  been missing things from when I used to work. (Before kids.) Maybe I’ve romanticized the memory a bit, but it’s there, and some part of me, misses it.
  7. Bonus Round: If you work straight through, without stopping for a potty break and text and drive on the way home, you could have an accident (of the soggy type) if a police car speeds up behind you with it’s lights flashing.  You might also throw your very expensive iPhone in the backseat to try and hide the fact that you were texting. You will be very relieved if they drive right past you once you’ve pulled over.

The drive home was slightly more dramatic than the drive in. oopsy.

Now- I have some questions for you! There is no way, I can really understand what it’s like for you, by working for a few days.  You’d really help me, and mom’s everywhere- if you’d answer!

please: email, comment, facebook message, or tweet me to tell me your answers!

Working moms:

1) Does the schedule thing smooth out at all once you’ve established a routine?  (Well, as routine as life ever gets with kids.) I had a hard time this week, and I’m wondering if it would get (somewhat) easier as you (and your people, big and small) adjust.

2) Tell me what you enjoy about working! I like the: interaction, challenge and the occasional pat on the back. If I were being paid, I’d have liked that, too.

3) Tell me what you hate about working! (I hated : not being there when my kids got home, being on someone else’s time schedule and working in a dark closet sorting uniforms…)

4) One of the things I think would help our mothering community is if respected each other more. I think we’d do that, if we understood each other’s sacrifices.

5) What sacrifices do you make as a working mom, and why? (for example-I sacrificed: time to myself, time to write, energy, time with my kids/my husband, some order in my house, being there for the bus stop :(and vulnerability- i’ve been pretty honest here, that’s a risk- risk is a sacrifice.)

Why?  Right now? For this project. Because I believe that we are better together.  I believe that by understanding and connecting with mom’s who are different from me, (and similar) my perspective changes and I learn.  You can make me a better mother, and I just might help you, too.

Working Mom Myths are just some of the Mommy Myths I want to bust!

If I were to continue working, I’d do so to provide my family with things that they need, (hello- next year, I’ll have 2 in college, ca-ching! This is a pertinent conversation, for us! ) Or to fulfill a calling that God has on my life. (The truth is, as I’m writing and speaking more and more, I’m am becoming less SAHM and more Work From Home Mom.)

Now- it’s your turn–working moms of the world…

TELL ME what you want me to understand!

One rule-  My blog is a place for all mom’s. I won’t allow a war to break out and mommy-bashing to begin. This rule holds for the duration… just sayin. The goal is to understand, not to argue who’s right or wrong.  Or, what’s harder or easier. Those arguments divide us. They weaken (I posit they could destroy) the mothering community.

In 20 years of mothering, and working with hundreds of moms through MOPS International- I can assure you of this: Being a mom (of any kind) is hard.  We each have a unique set of challenges, different, but equally difficult. And we cannot mother alone. We need each other.