1. When you had an early start and the baby decided it was time to keep you up all night
Babies are lovely, but they also seem to have an internal clock. If you have an early morning meeting, big presentation or an early flight to catch, that's exactly when they choose to get sick and/or wake up at night to play. You, being good at this work responsibility thing, had probably calculated the exact number of hours that would give just the right amount of energy to be at your best the next day. But you can forget about that now.
If you ever wonder why parents don't get haircuts or see the dentist, it's because scheduling appointments for the kids comes first.
2. When you can only schedule a doctor's appointment at the most inconvenient time
Keeping our babies healthy is an important part of this whole parenting thing, so we will sometimes have to bend over backwards to fit well-baby and dentist and eye appointments into the schedule. If you want your co-parent to also attend, then it really becomes a complicated jigsaw puzzle. I have often said to my partner, "If it's not on the calendar, it doesn't exist."
If you ever wonder why parents don't get haircuts or see the dentist, it's because scheduling appointments for the kids comes first. I've been wanting to get my haircut for about a month now. I hope it happens sometime before this summer.
3. When you planned on catching up on work after the baby went to sleep
Our son has maintained a pretty strict bedtime most of his short life. Our goal is for him to be tucked in, bathed and read to by 8 p.m. Of course, our cute little toddler often asks for milk and foot rubs. He'll climb out of bed numerous times before actually falling asleep. Yet, for some reason, I still cling to the hope that he will fall asleep quickly, so that I can get other work stuff done. Why do I need to work after hours? Because this is America, and we are expected work all the time! Well it might be because of the next reason.
I admit, we are new at this whole running a family thing. There's always something to be done.
4. Leaving for work is an emotionally charged experience
My son is now in toddler preschool two days a week, the other days my mother cares for him in our home. While, in many ways this is the ideal arrangement for us, it seems that he is either sad when we leave him at school or sad that we leave him at home to go to work. Either way, mornings include tears and desperate pleas for us not to leave. Nothing pulls at my heartstrings more than my child's tears. It is absolutely heart-wrenching every single day. (I confess sometimes I shed tears in my car on the way to work about this.) It hasn't gotten easier. I pray that one day, I or my partner finds work with a more flexible schedule.
5. When you realize you might want a third person in the relationship to pick up the slack
I admit, we are new at this whole running a family thing. There's always something to be done. When we are falling behind on life management tasks, like getting our taxes done or calling the plumber, I remember that, before, women would stay home. I fantasize that this would make things easier. Since no one is giving up a career in our home, I wonder if a third person might help. Then I feel guilty, because my own mother was single for a large part of my formative years. I don't know how she did it. Then I proceed to feel guilty for being so inadequate.
Of course, these are just moments. Balancing all these various roles and responsibilities is something we should all take one day at a time. I was a stay-at-home mom for the first year of my son's life, and so I know that being home with a child is not idyllic. The work at home also doesn't stop.
But here's what doesn't suck: The excitement on my child's face, every day, when I come home. Those hugs and kisses remind me of why I do what I do.