I watched as each woman gracefully walked to her place on the stage. Each one a picture of poise and beauty. Their Runway strut and pivot turns were  “America’s Top Model” perfect.

They were all:
• Beautiful
• Intelligent
• Resourceful
• Unique
• Dedicated
• Incredible

And, vying for the same crown. The competition was fierce. It was game on. I eyed the crown, for inspiration, before I went to take my place along side them. The glitter and prestige made me gag on my insecurity.  Nausea be darned: “I want that crown.” I thought. I strode across the stage.

The music slowed, then quieted. The announcer made her way across the stage to ask the “crowning” question of each contestant. I worked to listen to their answers and reconsider my own well-practiced one, while trying to simultaneously size the other contestants’ answers up.

Each one gave it her best. (This was a serious contest.)

Each answer was more difficult than the next.

I started to feel small. Smaller. Smallest. I don’t mean in dress size. I wondered if my answer would seem petty. I wondered if I should be on the stage with these women, at all. I wondered if I could sneak out, without being noticed.

I wondered which of them would win the crown. It wasn’t going to be me.

What was the question?

“What’s the hardest type of mom to be?”

Not exactly the type of question you were expecting in a pageant?

Well, I admit it. I lied. There was no pageant. I’ve never even been to a formal gowns, bathing suits and brutal stage lighting pageant. Please, being in one? That would be my nightmare.. Especially after 3 kids and more years than I care to count. Let’s just say, the bathing suit thing gives me hives- which might camouflage my stretch-marks, but won’t win me a crown.

I have, however, competed for the Mommy Martyrdom Crown. Several times. Whether it’s a question that’s actually been posed to a group- or one that’s implied, it’s one I’ve competed to answer.

Have you competed for the same crown? It’s a one-up-momship. A “my life is hard than your’s–so- you- should- not complain”  contest.

The thing is, no one wins.

After a winner is crowned, the rest of the contestants line up to congratulate her: “I don’t know how you do it.” “I could never do that” We offer them as blessings, but the words become walls. Miss congeniality ends up feeling “less than.” And the winner? She feels…… “more than.”

The Crowned Martyr-Mom has convinced herself (and others) how awful her life is, while at the same time convincing the others how petty their struggles are. She’s got skillz. We all do. Because we all know how to play the game.

We just don’t know how to win- because – everyone loses. We disconnect because we can’t be authentic with each other.  We’re too busy either trying to top each other or feeling guilty about feeling frustrated by “our little issues.”  In the end- intimacy is lost. Intimacy is way more valuable than a tinsel crown.

The Martyr -Mom  is miserable. So are the rest of us.

What if we stopped competing? What would it look like if we could learn to hear and understand the struggles of others without comparing our own? What if we set aside the Martyr-Mom crown for the crown of friendship?

What if we learned to respect each other’s challenges?

We are all:

  • Beautiful
  • Intelligent
  • Resourceful
  • Unique
  • Dedicated
  • Incredible

We’re also all:

  • Living with challenges
  • Imperfect
  • Frustrated
  • Overwhelmed
  • Grieved
  • Perplexed

At any moment in time- we could each win that crown. But, we could have so much more than that.

  • We could learn the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence.
  • We could grow in compassion
  • We could learn from the struggles of others- before they become ours. (Trust me, it happens.)
  • We could find out we’re not alone.
  • We could find help and hope in the stories of others.

How can we stop the pageant? Maybe, we just need to leave the stage. Together.

I quit. I quit comparing. I want to listen and love. I want to build intimacy not compete for martyrdom.

How ’bout you?

Carrying an overflowing laundry basket, I stomped to the laundry room.  “I can’t believe how much laundry these people dirty in a week.” I punctuated each syllable with a “Stomp. Stomp.  Stomp.” I bent to open the washing machine door and was met by the unpleasant mustiness that is laundry left too long before drying. “UGH.” It was 8:15 am and I was already behind.  I wanted to start working by 9:00.

“Didn’t I tell you guys to switch the laundry from washer to dryer last night?” I yelled to (maybe at) my older sons. They kept quiet.  They knew the truth: I wasn’t asking to get an answer. I was asking to get a confession. After which, there would be no plea-bargaining, only sentencing. I was Mom, prosecutor, judge and jury.  The verdict was already in: my family is guilty. Of what?  Not helping. (At least not helping enough.) The first to admit guilt would be the first to be judged. I didn’t blame them for silently pleading the fifth amendment.

I refilled the laundry detergent dispenser and added a few splashing tears along with more fabric softener. I closed the drawer and tried to remember how many times I’d already run it through. ” 3, 4?  Maybe ?” I wondered.  Honestly?  I had no idea. I felt frustrated – but  I wasn’t impressed. (My personal best for rewashing a laundry load is set at 6.  it was an entire week of washing the same load of laundry before actually getting it clean, dried  and put away. I was busy!)

I stomped downstairs to the kitchen and found the sink full of dishes. “Where did these come from? I just did the dishes!” I’m not sure who I was asking, or why… I already knew the answer:  They came from everywhere and nowhere. I opened the already running dishwasher and blindly stuffed them in.  I didn’t even care if they got clean, I just didn’t want to see them in the sink.

It was now, 9:00 am and I was already angry, frustrated and overwhelmed.  With no one admitting guilt, I turned my inner judge and jury loose on my self.

“I can’t do it all.”  I whispered in admission to myself.

My verdict?   (more…)

The washing machine’s barely out of balance “rumble, thunk, thunk” and the dishwasher’s not quite quiet hum, assuages my guilt.  In theory. I am multi tasking.  Housework while writing, or is it writing while house-working? I don’t know. I’m trying to do both while feeling guilty for doing neither, well.

As I type, I am  hoping my second grader is enjoying his mid-winter break sleepover. I am wearing noise-canceling headphones to drown out the sound of two boys throwing paper airplanes to soar across my foyer. It’s possible they are aiming for the cobwebs in the window to see if they will stick, like a fly. My guess is they will. The cobwebs are impressive, even to these- record-setting spiders.

The dogs are barking at each plane thrown. Or maybe at each boy, warning them not to run in the house.

I open this file and stare at the screen:

“Where was I?” ” Was I really drawing a parallel between shaving my legs and shoveling snow?  What does that have to do with being a Work at Home mom?””

I hear running on the steps.

“Boys, no running in the house.” I yell, half heartedly. I know they won’t stop. They are second grade boys with airplanes, it’s not genetically, possible.

I look back at the screen.  The cursor’s blinking mocks me.  It’s blinking line points to the place where I last typed. Unfortunately, it does point in the direction I was going with that thought. I am clueless, or maybe distracted.

The youngest comes back in to the living room. “Mom? When can we go sledding? You promised!”

Guilt grips my heart like a too-tight pair of jeans. It binds and constricts. My heart is divided. I want to take them sledding like I promised. But,  I have a (self-imposed) deadline on this book proposal. I want to have the house picked up before my husband arrives home from a business trip sometime this afternoon.   I need to go to the grocery store or we’ll e ordering pizza for dinner.

The clock ticks on… I am running out of time.

“We’ll go sledding when I’m finished working. The more you interrupt me, the longer it will take.” I snap.

I look back at the screen.  The cursor blinks on a half filled page.  I re-read what I’ve written.  DELETE. DELETE. DELETE.  I’ll have to come up with something else.

“Buzz.” I hear the dryer warn me of impending wrinkle doom.

“Noah?  Go upstairs and re-start the dryer.” I call.  I know the clothes are already dry, because this is the third dryer cycle of the day.  I wonder how much money and natural gas I’d save if I did this less often. “Not very green.” I chide myself. Guilt tries to settle on my shoulders. I shrug it off.

“A mom’s gotta do, what a mom’s gotta do.” I chant. It’s the mantra of a work at home mom.

The problem is, it isn’t always clear what the right answer to the  “What does a work at home mom  gotta do, NOW? question.

  • Should I blow off my writing goal and take the kids sledding?  It is their mid-winter break, after-all.
  • Should I send the college boy to pick up groceries?  Or should I plan on ordering pizza (yet again) for dinner?
  • Should I send the dogs to doggy daycare for a month, so I don’t have to type while holding them apart with my left foot? (The shorkie  puppy is in a “jump on the beagle’s back like you’re in a doggy circus” phase.  The beagle does not like this phase.  She makes this evident by barking, a lot.)  My dividing foot is is all that stands between the shorkie and being a beagle snack. Or, from banishing the beagle to a galaxy far, far away. (Probably cost inhibiting.. as I don’t yet have a contract for this book.  Well- probably cost inhibiting even if I did… Doggy daycare= pricey!)
  • Should I send the kids outside to play in the backyard so I can finish this piece, in peace? Could they sled down the backyard slope and call it vacation fun?  Probably not.

Guilt is something every mom faces.. (more…)

“That can’t be right.” I said to the calendar, mocking me from it’s place of honor on the fridge.

I double checked.

It was. *Sigh.* I’m not sure how I managed to do it.  I’m leaning towards blaming Apple for a syncing problem, how’s that?  I have one appointment on the house calendar and one in my iPhone- for the same day.

I am double booked for next Friday.  Speaking (On Loving Your Strong Willed Child ) and Second Grad Math Mom, in my youngest son’s class.

When I really looked at the appointments, (Skimming can cause undue panic- will I ever learn, that?) I discovered they don’t overlap.  This time. It hasn’t always ended so well.

As a Work From Home Mom, I am on the short list for the school to call.  I get calls to help with parties, to purchase and organize crafts and snacks and yes, to help with math explorations. I don’t just get the calls, I’m expected to do it. Don’t get me wrong,I want to be involved.  I also have other commitments. Like speaking,  meeting deadlines and writing. I can’t do it all. Sometimes I have to say “No.”

Saying “No.” in itself,  is hard.  People make it even harder. I hear things like: “Oh- I thought you were at home?” Or “But, you’re home during the day, right?” Sometimes it’s just a look. A look that communicates the same thing or worse.

I  thought that being a Work From Home mom- would be the perfect answer for mothering. I’d always be there for my kids and always be able to do my job.  It’s not. Sometimes, I have to leave a sick kid with his older brother, because I’m the scheduled speaker.

Sometimes, I can’t have three 7 year olds running through the house- even if it is midwinter break.  I have a book proposal to complete.  (Second graders playing hide and seek, while I write  are a challenge even for this Multi-Tasking-ADD Queen.)  I can’t do it all.

I can do what needs to be done.  I am.

Work From Home Moms-

  • Do you sometimes feel guilt tripped because you can’t do it all?
  • Do others always respect your schedule?
  • Have you ever found yourself double booked?  What did you do?
  • What kinds of things do you have to say “No” to?

I stared at the beagle.  Mentally willing her to stop barking.

It didn’t work. I had met my match in the strong-willed department. She is a beagle, named Sami. She feels a need to bark at every moving object, from snowflake to rabbit.  And this was a day for moving objects of all sorts. There would be no quiet. (I admit to considering a bark collar.. for just a few minutes, well maybe long enough to look them up online…maybe.)

I unplugged my lap top and took it to the family room looking for some quiet.  There I found a teenager and college boy deep in “vent” conversation.  They were arguing politics with the internets.  It was not a battle that would end soon, or well. I hushed them and pointed to my laptop.  They glared back and pointed at their headsets in a “We were here first.” international sign language of annoyance.

I stomped upstairs and headed for my bedroom.  Maybe I’d be able to make my Skype call there. As I reached for the doorknob, I heard a familiar baritone voice.  My husband had beat me to it.  He was working from home today and was on a call of his own.

“Snow days should be illegal.” I announced,  to no one in particular.

I considered locking myself in the bathroom (every mom’s last hope for peace) but ruled that out due to the tell-tale echo. (It’s just not professional to make a call from the bathroom- even if you’re not actually using it as designed.) I Headed back down the hallway. I opened the portal to a post-apocalyptic toy store scene- that is my youngest son’s room. I kicked (maybe not so gently) a few stuffed creatures from beside the bed and cleared a space to set down my laptop.  I sat down on my knees, as if in prayer. Mostly because there wasn’t room to stretch out, I found myself surrounded by action figures, laundry and Lego’s: the trifecta of boy-messes.

I felt tiny shorkie licks on my left foot.  I hadn’t closed the door quick enough.  I’d been joined by Bella. My pup.

I ignored her.  “At least she doesn’t bark.” I consoled myself, clicking the button to open my Skype application. I forgot that she scratches at doors when enclosed.

Which she started doing, just about the time my legs had fallen asleep and all of us on the call finally managed to login in to the same call at the same time.

“Well, it’s not as unprofessional as the tell-tale toilet echo.” I thought to myself, trying to concentrate.  Which is difficult enough when I can’t hear:  my husband’s voice in the room next door, the beagle barking in the distance, the raging internet political discussion- escalating  and Yo-Gabba- Gabba blasting from the TV downstairs through the bedroom door.

I think we covered the agenda. Mostly.

Work at Home Moms-

  • Have you lived out scenes like this?
  • Where do you hide- for peace and quiet?
  • How do you manage snow days summer vacations or days off of school?
  • What has surprised you as difficult about Working From Home?

Click here to take survey Let other Moms know what it’s really like for YOU!

Wouldn’t working  from home be the perfect answer for moms?  You can do it all, right?  Be there for your kids, bring in extra income and fulfill the unique call on your life- all at the same time, right?

This week- I’ll be living the work from home dream… or nightmare.

In full disclosure- I’ve actually been a work from home mom for years- I just don’t get a paycheck.:)

Questions for Work From Home Moms:

  1. What challenges do you face as a Work from home mom?
  2. What do you love about working from home?
  3. What common misconceptions have you run into about work from home moms?
  4. What  sacrifices do you have to make to manage working from home?

Barking. Saturday morning, I woke up to barking.

At 7:00 am.

I suppose in comparison to the 5:15 am, I’ve been getting up at, this was sleeping in. Kind of. But, I prefer the alarm to barking. thank you. .

Mommy Myth Busting days 4&5 showed me weekends mean something different to me as a working mom.

Typically, I get everything possible,  done during the week. That way,  the weekend is scheduled “down time” with my family.  Of course, I still do laundry and dishes, child keeping (Child keeping. I like it. It sounds much more Martha Stewart-like than saying “nail trimming, backpack checking and homework supervision etc) but that’s the bulk of my weekend “work” as a SAHM.

Not so much, this week.

As a working mom, I spent the weekend playing “catch up.” Vacuuming, loads of laundry, clutter patrol. (I swear stuff, moves on its own. And for some reason it all migrates to the same two places: the kitchen counter and the kitchen table. Maybe it’s some mystical vortex of mothering. I don’t know.)  This topped off other random errands. None of which were fun. We did carve out a few hours Saturday night for a movie and dinner date night.  But honestly?  I was wishing for my jammies and slippers the whole time.

I grocery shopped on Sunday. (I’d rather remove my leg hair with a blow torch- than grocery shop on  Sunday… not really related.. but both are equally painful and necessary.)

I battled the temptation to stay home from church this morning. I wanted to relax. Even the idea of getting everyone ready and out the door was overwhelming.

We didn’t.  I’m glad.  But I’m also: exhausted.

I forgot how much you have to cram into a weekend when you’re working all week.

ugh.

It’s now five minutes to Superbowl time and I’m looking forward to zoning out, while the guys worry about the end zone.. (It counts as family time- right?)

Things that were different this weekend:

I needed to get my nails fixed, but didn’t want to take time away form the guys. I put it off.

The laundry is mocking me and pressuring me.  (Yes, it’s personal.) I will soon, cave to its pressure-(yet again).   If I don’t, it could haunt me as part of the scenery and rogue killers in a post-apocalyptic nightmare, which would have also been inspired by our seeing “The Book Of Eli” on date night.  You know.. Dirty laundry also kind of looks like a pile of Zombies laying in wait to attack. Just sayin.

The grocery store was out of stock of everything but fruit snacks and tampons.  I swear 2 women were about to throw down over the last box of Mac and Cheese.  It’s wasn’t even THE BLUE BOX. It was store brand. Those girls were desperate. (Well, maybe I hallucinated that scene, due to exhaustion. Not sure.)

Things that were not different this weekend:

It was too short.

And that is Mommy Myth Busting Days 4 & 5…

Off to ignore a football game- more soon!

Questions for YOU:

Working moms:

  1. What are your weekends like?
  2. What do you “let go of” during the week, only to have to do double duty on the weekend?
  3. What (home/child keeping) things do you get accomplished during the week?
  4. Anything else I need to know?  Tell me girls!.. I’m tired– but listening!