I’m a Half-Time All the pieces and It Simply Isn’t Working
When I imagined motherhood, I dreamed of beautiful, well-mannered, calm children who ate octopus, read Voltaire, and strolled through museums and art galleries in fairisle sweaters. I imagined conversations about literature and God. When that glorious day came when we decided to have kids, I volunteered as a young lawyer to work part time so I could have this magical time with our kids.
I felt sorry for my husband, who woke up at dawn and had to make the terrible commute and work to support the family. I felt victorious. I would spend time with my babies and have a meaningful career. I went into motherhood with wide eyes. I had no idea what drag parenting was. How annoying kids are. How, instead of talking about Voltaire, they talk about poop and Minecraft. They fight and make noise. You don’t eat octopus; they eat chicken nuggets – and don’t even try to make the chicken nuggets from scratch. Parenthood is joyful but full. As the primary caregiver, I am the one who calls the school if there is a problem. We all know the emotional work women do on top of everything else, the notorious mental burden that we cannot get rid of.
I often think of my husband at work at 7:52 am when I ask kid # 1 to just finish his toast and put on his shoes, and kid # 2 to just put on clean underwear so we can go to school walk. At 7:52 a.m., he has a hot coffee and a civilized conversation with his colleagues. I don’t feel sorry for him anymore. I envy him. Yes, he wakes up for work at dawn, but he can go to the bathroom undisturbed. Who else does that? When a mother is on the toilet, she’ll surely go off a silent alarm that only children can hear, telling them maybe to squirt some ketchup into the clean pile of laundry.
On the days that I work, I give my full attention to the work. It’s only fair and it’s only right. But that’s not how motherhood works. There is no option for part-time motherhood. There are still birthday parties to show up, make doctor appointments, organize game appointments, random crap to buy Amazon off that the kids just need mom, please! I love my job and I’m lucky enough to be able to do it part-time. I’m good at it too. But every now and then I wonder how much better I would be if I didn’t have all these other demands on my time and headspace.
It is not just children who occupy my thoughts and time. Like some people my age, I have aging parents and other extended families who need my love and attention. I would love to have tea with my parents without a break, but there is always something that needs to be done. Something that robs me of my concentration. I feel like I am multitasking with everything. Part time everything. I sneak into conversation with friends at the dining table. I know I shouldn’t have my phone and believe myself I know I am addicted but at this point it feels critical to reply to a WhatsApp because when I am not my friend I really love answer, I’ve lost a piece of myself.
I know I don’t have to take this quiz whether I’m a Carrie or a Miranda, but it takes me back a bit. It feels like a little act of rebellion every time I read an article or try to read a chapter on my Kindle before bed, because when else am I supposed to evolve as a person? How am I supposed to be interesting when I’m just a parent, working, and talking to my family? Some days it is too much to listen to my husband talk because after a long day all I want to do is close my door and process my own thoughts. I love my husband. He is important to me and I want to hear everything he has to say, but sometimes, just … shhh.
When you are a busy mom, whether you work or not, finding time for yourself can often be impossible. We need to save time and space so that we don’t just become a running to-do list. When my daughter turned 2, I started doing Taekwondo. I had never trained, let alone made a martial art, in my life, but for some reason I was called to do it. And when I started doing this, I felt like a badass. I felt like a human again. It soon became my obsession and passion, but then life happened. It’s getting harder and harder from week to week because I’m tired.
I’m tired of work, I’m tired of upbringing, I’m tired of rushed conversations with my husband. I’m tired of having a two-minute coffee with friends after school. I’m tired of missing my parents and worrying. I’m tired of living part time and wondering when I can be full time again. To all of my other part-time moms, do you guys feel the same way?
Yasmin Nasser is a part-time attorney and blogs at RuminationsOfYasmin.com, where she writes about career, motherhood, martial arts, and other deep thoughts that come to mind.