Working Mama Blues or maybe it’s me

I am not trying to start a Mommy War here, let me say right now. If we are women responsible for the care of others, chances are good that we are master ball jugglers. That said I am a woman, a mother and I work for money outside of the home, at times those competing roles threaten to drown me especially when we add in the other roles I play, wife, daughter, sister, etc.

Lately I have been drowning in a season of emotion as I struggle to deal with my desire for change yet that change is not coming fast enough for me. I come up with ideas and they don’t quite gel and it’s hard I must say to not get discouraged so instead I have a day or two where I turn this bad shit inward and then explode. Totally not healthy but at least I know what I am doing.

Yesterday as a nation we watched as the sitting president had to defend himself against the “isms” that threaten all of us who are not generally white, male or privileged. (Yes, I know there are always exceptions) The very act of having to show proof of his birth, to legitimize his place in the White House in many ways was triggering for me and if you are a regular reader here at Black Girl in Maine, you know I am not a fan of the word trigger. But trigger is the only way to describe how I am feeling.

In my professional life, I have been battling those who would have me believe I am not knowledgeable, oh they will pat me on my head and issue atta girls on certain issues but on meatier and weightier issues I am often told I don’t know. Never mind, that I have been in my career now going on 16 years, or that I have a proven track record at what I do that now spans several states. I won’t even talk about my academic credentials that back up the fact that yes, I know what I am talking about. Instead I am a woman, playing at a table with old white men and that is a struggle, not only am I a woman, I am a woman of color. Change is hard.

I am tired of that struggle yet even in the process of trying to make change happen, I still run up against obstacles. Just last week, I had to make a decision and followed my Mommy heart and lost out on a professional opportunity because the world isn’t all that accommodating to working Mamas. As a friend emailed me last night about the situation, she put it so eloquently “it’s why women can’t get ahead without massive support” yep, indeed. My support system is small and not always able to accommodate me; I thought like a Momma and missed out…sigh.

In the movie Hustle and Flow, I loved the song “It’s Hard out here for a Pimp” Well let me just steal that line and personalize it, “Damn it, its hard out here for a working Mama and it gets even harder when you add race, socio-economics, etc”.

Time is gone and I was a bad mommy

As a modern woman I have always liked the idea that I could have it all…a family complete with kids, loving partner, work that fulfilled me, you get the picture. Yet in the past several days I have been grappling with a low level malaise and sudden realization that at least for me (I refuse to speak for anyone else) that simply is not possible. Now I am grappling with the idea of how do I achieve balance if it is not possible to have it all? The truth is I don’t know. Yet I do know that time is not unlimited, while in today’s world 40 is the new 20 and we see 65 or so as young. The hard truth remains that none of us know how much time we will have on this planet in these bodies. We like to think that if we do XYZ that there will always be time later to do ABC, but as I learned firsthand 7 years ago, life turns on a dime and one day you are here and the next minute you are gone. Tomorrow will mark 7 years since my Mom’s untimely death, 4 days after turning 50. In many ways her death is directly responsible for my daughter being here now, I realized that one can not put off for tomorrow in order to accomplish today.

Yet I have a confession to make…in many ways I am not a good mother. Oh, I am here but often times I am not present. I should know better after all I effectively missed a great deal of my son’s childhood as I was striving for more. I was a mere 19 when he was born and instead of reveling in his childhood, I spent the first several years locked in a custody war. Later on, listening to bad advice, I allowed him to live with his father assuming that my ex would tire of being a full time Daddy and that he would send him back and that we would have more time together. That never happened and we never did get that time. Oh, I did eventually move to Maine to be involved but as always I thought I had more time. Within 6 months of the move to Maine, I started graduate school effectively juggling work, school, marriage and parenthood…looking back I don’t think it worked and it wasn’t worth it.

See, my son is all grown up now, half way through his first year of college and while despite the stresses and challenges we faced, we are close but part of my soul knows I missed out on a lot. Time that I will never get back. Oh, I do meaningful work, I have spent the past 15 years working with those most in need, originally women breaking free of addictions and prostitution and now for the past two and a half years as head of an agency that works with low income families. That’s great but the cost to my family has been too much. Through my meditation practice of late I am realizing that I spend a lot of time not being present and living in the moment. Instead one eye is always checking for the emails that never stop coming in, truth is the nature of my work there is always someone in need, a fire to put out. I do my job and do it well but it comes at the expense of my family and mostly my daughter. I realized this the other day as I did something I have not done in years; I went the entire day not turning on my cell phone. I was present for the entire day and it was a good thing.

Lately I find myself daydreaming about quitting my job, oh I have a plan for the future and I am working on it but really it will take a few years before I make a full transition into life coaching. I find myself wondering do I have a few years to spend being only half present with my family. My girl is most likely my last child for a number of reasons, so this is it…do I want another child who only gets half a mommy? Oh, I have no intentions of becoming a stay at home mom that is not for me…I tried for the first year of the girl’s life. Also being married to a freelance writer/editor we need the second income but lately I find myself thinking I need work that requires less of me. I am passionate about the unfortunate but now I need to spend some passion on my own family.

Time is the one thing that when we use it we don’t always get a do-over and more importantly ultimately none of knows just how much time we really have. So all I can do is be present in these moments and enjoy the time now.

PS: Hey, if you know of any part time gigs for a writer/non-profit administrator/adjunct instructor holla at a sista! If you have serious leads I am open to hearing them, feel free to email me.