The Gnashing Of Teeth

Mom works hard. Give her a break this Mother’s Day, before she snaps

Arriving home at the end of my workday is always a big deal. As soon as I step through the door, my son runs towards me, arms uplifted, and says: “Up! Up! Up!” in his squeaky little toddler voice.

I’m sure many other working moms out there can relate to the overwhelming exhaustion that sometimes washes over me at this moment. I’m happy, but sort of half resentful that my work day just goes on, and on, and on.

When I arrive home, my partner sighs with relief and slouches off to the balcony for a beer and a smoke.  Not that I blame him. I know how hard it is to stay at home all day with a small child. There are days when just putting my son down on the floor provokes a long and protracted screaming fit, complete with head rolling, arm flailing and the gnashing of little toddler teeth. Everyone needs a break from that.

Moms, however, often forget to take a break. With Mother’s Day coming up this weekend, I felt moms might need some extra encouragement in enjoying some of the special treats coming their way. Hubby offers to do the laundry? Take him up on it. Grandma offers to take the little pooper for an afternoon? Go for it. Don’t feel guilty, because not taking care of yourself can have terrible consequences.

A friend of mine in Ontario recently nailed the working mom dilemma for me. She described watching her toddler play in her backyard on a sunny summer evening. She didn’t need to do anything at that moment but enjoy spending some time with her kid. But she couldn’t turn her mind off. There were dishes in the sink, the house needed repairs, and she had to be in bed in an hour or two if she wanted to get a full night’s rest.

Raising kids takes a kind of patience and flexibility that the workforce, with its deadlines and timetables, doesn’t really prepare you for. And it’s extremely hard to switch gears between the two.

Relationships suffer too. There’s a reason so many marriages break up after children arrive on the scene. Another mom I know, who I won’t name because I’m sure she’d dismiss her complaint as unimportant, admitted that while on maternity leave she became increasingly resentful towards her husband. He would come home and instead of giving her a break, would head out to the garage for a couple hours.

Seems like a small thing? Well maybe, but as every married or common-law person knows, these small things add up.

A couple weeks ago I came down with a horrible cold and just about lost my voice. My son was going through one of his sleepless periods, which also seems to go on and on and on.

No sleep and no alone time makes mommy crazy, and that weekend I had roaring fight with my partner. There I was, my voice whittled away to nothing but a high pitched scratch, doing my best to scream at the one person who was helping me, and who was under just as much strain as myself.

In the end, we both agreed take more time for ourselves, and I think it’s doing us some good.

So go ahead and enjoy Mother’s Day this weekend. Everybody deserves a break, especially moms.

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