I work hard as a single mother, and it’s difficult to stop working, even for a moment. Whether it’s preparing food for my kids, sitting at the computer writing articles, helping my daughter with her homework or teaching my son multiplications tables, which (by the way) he knows well know. I was impressed! Other than the parenting I do, I’m continually chasing freelance writing gigs, and working my day job, which thankfully is a remote writing gig. I’m so grateful that I can work from home, but honestly- working from home is work. People need to realize that I’m always thinking about my job, considering what I’m doing on a given day, how much I can manage and I want to please my co-workers even if I’m not sitting in a cubicle near them.
What do my kids see?
My kids see me, probably, as a hard worker, but they also watch me on the computer a lot. I’m writing into the night hours, trying to think of creative ideas for my side jobs, or finishing up an article for my day job. I’m lucky that I get to do what I love, but I worry about the balance between work and home life. I want to do fun things with my kids like go to the playground or teach them how to ride their bikes. But, I’m continually worried about money and maintaining my household. I want to make sure that things are stable for my kids. I don’t want them to worry about anything because I’m worried about them. It’s the sign of a great Jewish mother, by the way, learning how to worry. Worrying is an art form. So, my kids see me on the computer a lot trying to make ends meet, but they don’t fully comprehend what that means.
What I’m thinking and Feeling
I feel guilty that I’m not playing with them more. I want to draw boundaries with my work so that I’m not a workaholic. Sure, I provide for them, but I want to enjoy them too. They’re seven and ten years old now, and these are moments that are passing by so quickly. When I think about it, it makes me a little sad. Right now, the kids are with their dad, spending quality time together. I’m missing them and considering what changes I need to make so that I can appreciate them more than I already do.
Parenting is Frustrating Sometimes
There’s no doubt that parenting is incredibly frustrating, and I feel the brunt of it. I’m exhausted sometimes, and I want to take a long nap. It’s tempting in those moments to want to freak out, lose my patience, but I’m learning that that doesn’t help. It’s not going to benefit my kids for them to see me irritable or angry to the point where I’m not listening to them. Now that I have some space from being with them all the time, I can see what I need to work on so that I can be a better listener. I’m not feeling shame for losing my patience; although I’ve felt that way before, I’m putting a microscope up to what I want to change and actively attempting to change it.
What I can control and what I can’t
I struggle with control issues. When my son or daughter is throwing a tantrum, I want it to stop. I cover my ears sometimes because the noise is loud and overstimulating. What I’ve learned is that I can’t control a tantrum. It’s not up to me to stop my kid from freaking out. They have an emotional reaction, and they’re allowed to feel their feelings. What I can control is how I react to them. I can tell them; you’re not going to get a second donut and try as hard as possible to stay calm.
Meanwhile, in my head, I’m thinking “STOP TALKING ABOUT THE SECOND DONUT! YOU’RE DRIVING ME CRAZY.” My inner monologue is something I talk about in therapy as well as how I can improve my parenting. I obsess over every small thing I sometimes do. But, I remind myself I’m doing the best that I can at this moment, and that’s all I can do. What does this have to do with working? I can control how much I work or take time to be with my kids. That’s something I have autonomy over, and I’m going to remember that next time I want to over-work; because my kids are more important than finishing a blog post.