A few weeks ago, my friends took the day off to stand-up paddleboard somewhere nearby Pittsburgh on a river. The whole experience looked pretty cool despite the fact that it was in a river (of course, I would say that). Anyway, my friends, both working and stay-at-home grabbed a Living Social deal and off they went.
I must say that I am NOT complaining to my friends in the least, but rather dealing with my own inner-demons in this post.
I was absolutely invited to grab the deal and go, but I knew that I did not have as much flexibility in my schedule during the few weeks that they were planning to go, so I did not buy the deal.
Part of me desperately wishes that I could have gone. It looked fun, athletic, and was outside in the sun which is basically everything I like, but I could not go. Again, I do not wish to complain to my friends or make them feel bad as this was all ME. I made a choice to change gears with my life, so why was I being such a baby? I was tormenting myself over the damn paddle river thing. Tormenting myself.
There is all this talk about moms and work/life balance and personal fulfillment, and let’s not forget, paying the bills. The mommy wars just continues to grow larger and larger. Working moms vs. Stay-at-Home Moms seems to have given way to ‘Working Moms with perceived flexibility’ to Moms who pursue Power Careers. The discussion always seems to include reflection on multiple reasons behind why moms work (money, gratification, both) along with time spent away from vs. hours with children, and was recently ignited big time in The Atlantic (which has been plastered all over the media). Which was so obviously extreme and should not be bothered with … Thank you Samantha Ettus for that reminder!
The discussion always includes anecdotes about missing the school play or ballet recital or soccer championship for a business trip or a meeting. The lack of time to exercise, snag a beauty treatment, or time for sex typically makes an appearance in the commentary, too. To be honest, I know first hand that SAHM’s also struggle to find time to take care of themselves and be intimate. No matter what a mom’s position – working or not – the commentary continues to grow on how to be who we want to be and how to FIT it all in to 24 hours/day, and how our spouses need to be a more equal partner (Amen).
In all of this talk, where is the mention of friends? Do women not deserve friendship or is it not perceived as crucial to our well-being? Perhaps, not worthy of discussion? To me (especially since I have no sisters or sister-in-laws) friendship mean a lot, yet apparently there is no debate on whether losing time with them to career choices or deciding to take care of kids full-time is a MAJOR loss.
Sometimes, I feel as though I owe my friends an apology. Not just my kids, husband, or my extended family, but my friends, too. Not so much an apology, but some long-winded story about why I need to do what I need to do for me and me alone. The gratification of seeing my product move through various stages of development AND writing have become imperative to my self-worth as a person. I feel the urge to make sense of why this whole expedition adventure is vital to me, and say ‘thanks for understanding.’
In the same breath, I would say – I miss you. I miss the birthday lunches that I cannot attend, I loved that night we went to a movie and drinks in sweats a LONG time ago, and I really wanted to go paddle whatever in the river (but I couldn’t and it was my own fault and it sucks).
So, not only did I have to work last week on July 5th and my kids had to sit home with a sitter on a day that I think many take a holiday, but I feel disconnected at times from peer contact. Why do I never see this mentioned in the posts on balance and fulfillment and women and working or not? Are we supposed to derive our contact through work? Our spouse? Or playgroup? I don’t think so. We are complex social beings, and peer-to=peer interaction is a part of that, so in the discussion, we must mention that sometimes friendships suffer and in turn, we as women have yet another area in which do not feel as though we are living up to the standard.
…And for this I feel wretched. I still love my friends and wish that I could be with them a lot more because I need that! If life were the movies, I would be in Abu Dhabi with my friends drinking cocktails and laughing (oh wait – that is a movie). However, there are only 7 nights in a week and my kids need me and often I have networking event or blog assignment and the occasional night with my husband to chat about God Only knows what, and well then, I am tired and I cannot always get a sitter….and, I don’t want to feel sorry for myself, but I wish I had more time for the girls.
Just as the sadness was creeping over me in regards to the paddle boarding and missed opportunities, my friends rallied around me on a few work projects and scheduled a movie night and a cookout and I realized that just like the missed basketball game – there will always be another friend event that is awesome.
No matter what, we struggle as women to be the best mom, wife, partner, and friend while growing a career, business, or managing our house and it just doesn’t always feel right….but, there are those few times that it does work which make all the struggle worthwhile.
Do you feel the crunch of friendships as a mom?