I work full-time from home, and during school days, I am the primary care provider for my two kids: a first-grader and a middle-schooler. I take them to school, work every last minute that they are in school, pick them up, do the homework and dinner rush, then go back to work when my husband gets home and takes over.
And then I do it all again the next day.
I don't have outside childcare, and I'm the default parent when my kids are sick. I’m not saying that my situation is special in any way or that I deserve martyr status. So many parents are in the same boat I’m in. It’s a grueling life, but it is what it is, and in many respects, I wouldn’t have it any other way. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard—so very hard and relentless—or that I shouldn’t complain about that fact.
One of the hardest aspects of it is that I have little room in my life for anything else besides kids and work, and I mean this in a literal sense. My responsibilities begin at 6:30 a.m. and don’t end until 10 p.m., when my oldest crashes for the night. And weekends? Well, between chores, birthday parties, homework and much-needed family time, there really isn’t any time left for anything else.
People need to understand that if busy parents can’t commit, it’s not personal.
It breaks my heart, but I honestly don’t have time for friends, volunteering or saving planet earth. I barely have time to keep up with housework or keep in touch with extended family. Most people are understanding about that fact, but others just don’t get it and seem to judge my lack of commitment as a rejection.
Right now, my priority is my work and my kids. That’s pretty much it. People need to understand that if busy parents can’t commit to anything else, including maintaining certain relationships, it’s not personal. And it doesn’t mean we like this reality—it’s just how it is right now. Most of us would choose to work less if we could or outsource childcare if it was affordable or feasible.
Like many parents, I do my best to maintain friendships and family relationships. But if I primarily connect with you on social media or text instead of call, please know that it’s not about you. It really isn’t. I am trying my best. I love you and miss you. If something serious were to happen with you, and you needed me, I would do my damnedest to show up for you ASAP.
The same goes for so many other things. I would love to volunteer for political causes, learn calligraphy or spend the weekend at a spa. But if it isn’t something I can take my kids to, it’s probably not going to happen. I barely have time to shower, exercise or prepare healthy meals for myself and my family.
And date night? Keeping my marriage ceremonious is a priority too, but date night usually means binge-watching "This Is Us" on the couch.
I tell myself that all of this is only for now. In a few years, my kids will be independent and want nothing to do with me. I’ll have time for everyone and everything then, right? I almost half-believe that.
Until then, the reality is that I really don’t have time for anything besides work and kids—and, yeah, it sucks.