From my mid-thirties on I have spoken with many woman whom need to take anti-anxiety medication to survive a day of work, kids and family life. And some of them have two children or less. Imagine life for three or more and then some. It's not as easy as it looks. I've often heard parents of two or more kids say the third puts you over the edge because they are now outnumbered; therefore, what's one more. Imagine how single parents fair?
I'm one of the lucky ones who manage my days and nights without medication or sleep aids. I've even decided for the third year in a row to give up buying wine and having a daily glass with dinner or at night for Lent. That decision is more about vanity and dropping an unwanted winter pooch before the summer comes around and humiliates me. That is not as easy as it looks. I've repeatedly heard comments about my weight, some pleasant and some downright nasty and mean. I need to watch everything I ingest and have to exercise regularly because of a chronic stomach condition I have, which, when it flares up, I get hospitalized. I prefer prevention, especially since we don't have health insurance.
A close friend and former employee whom I left unemployed when I closed my business recently began online classes to begin a career in medical billing. She asked me for some tips on how I juggle everything I do. I said, oh great, we will get together for coffee and chat. It's been about three weeks and I haven't contacted her for coffee-SORRY JEN! I will soon, I promise. Although, I did speak to her before about coloring her hair, we never made a date. It's just not as easy as it looks.
I'd love to hear from working moms who have more than two children and hear their secrets. Sorry to the two and under crowd, I am not diminishing your efforts or anything that you do. It is double everything the more kids you have. I work 18 to 22 hours out of my house in a hair salon with another 20 to 25 hours a week spent writing, blogging, and building my website: http://www.asktheprostylist.com/. The rest of the time I am in the car driving my four boys to and from school at various location and different times, to religion at two separate times, dance five times a week up to four times a day, voice lessons, band rehearsals at two other schools, NYSSMA, performances, concerts, tutoring (they tutor) competitions, play practices, church, doctors, orthodontists, dentists and ophthalmologists and once in a while a friend's house. So when I repeatedly get asked to do something that I simply cannot, I do tend to bark loudly. Oh, by the way, I have one car; a five passenger Ford Focus. I do carpool with two other people and have had lovely women help me out in a pinch. But honestly, adding third parties never works out in my favor. I just don't have the time, so yeh, it's definitely not as easy as it looks.
Don't get me wrong! Even though I run them everywhere, I love how involved they are. I love that they don't hang out and get into trouble. I love that they are all brilliant, A+ students in advanced, challenge and AP classes. I love that my oldest just got accepted into NYU. I'm in awe at the talent every one of them exudes. I love how charming and empathetic they are to anyone in need. I love the work ethic that these kids have which is better than many adults I know. And I take 100% credit for it all! That's right: 100% for giving them the tools and esteem to do what they do, the rest is all their hard work and talent. So, on my not so good days, my days when my amazing kids are making my husband stutter and me scream, I go to bed thanking GOD everyday for another day with them and asking for the strength to go on tomorrow. My prayer and my boys make it look as easy as it does.
So, how do I make it look so easy? I don't think I do. What's my secret? I don't have one. At times I feel content and at ease and at others I feel like a ticking time bomb. I think at 43, I just finally grew up and take responsibility for me. I've learned to say NO. If it doesn't fit into my life, I feel comfortable saying no now. It is my empowerment. All too often, women feel this incredible need to satisfy everyone and let ourselves go. I enjoy my weekly Zumba class. It is my time. My son needed to get picked up in the middle of my class. I got him, but took him back with me until I finished. Oh, how he was pissed. Especially since I wouldn't drop him home for him to "work out"! But, my class was closer for me than taking him home and it was my time! I would've made him walk but he had a trombone and he wasn't in a nice part of town. Earlier that day I got quite angry at a friend who incessantly asked me to go to a Mardi Gras party that I had zero time to stop for. She went so far as to follow my child and whisper repeatedly in his ear to make me take them. Sorry, but I can't be in four places at once and actually, I am not sorry. NO is NO! Saying no isn't as easy as it sounds.
I make time for me with an hour of daily exercise. Happy endorphins make for happy mamas. My husband and I fit in a weekly date and other activities, which time needs to be allotted for and which is ridiculously not as easy as it looks.
For the past seventeen years my wonderful husband and I have juggled schedules and owned our own business to raise our children. Once in a while someone reaches out a hand to help, but we are the only caregivers. My oldest has been tremendous since he can now drive and help baby-sit along with the 13 year old is now chipping in with sitting duties. All my babies have chores assigned to them and things seem to be flowing nicely. (Except for the insane gas prices-that needs to change ASAP!) I am very blessed. Blessed beyond words! Below is a video of how I definitely make it look so easy. Every week, including tonight, one of my boys are in some type of show and I get to witness first hand all of their efforts and mine. This skit was written and directed by my oldest and stars my second oldest with three talented young ladies who happen to be dear friends as well. It is a scene from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in Italian.
Even though I started writing this last week, this morning brought devastating news from Japan. My thoughts and prayers are with all of the people in the Pacific.