When does 1 + 1 = 0.5?
When you are a full-time mom working full time. At least, that is how it feels to me.
Like many families, in order to pay our mortgage and put food on our table, I need to work full-time. If that was ever unclear (it wasn't), it became crystal clear when my husband lost his job and was out of work for six months. Had I not been working, we would have easily lost our home.
So work is not an optional activity for me.
Just as mothers who stay at home (SAHMs) hate for their role to be diminished, mothers who have jobs outside the home don't want their efforts to be viewed as less than they are.
The media frequently call SAHMs "full-time moms." But even though I spend approximately 40 hours per week at an office, I'm no less of a full-time mom. I'm there reigning in my mental wanderer when a flyer, a print on the wall, the dog, or an empty envelope distracts him during homework. I'm there at doctors' offices, which we've seen many of since Dylan was diagnosed. And I'm not only there at the Cub Scout den meetings - I'm there in uniform as the official den leader.
When I am working, I try to put 100% into my professional responsibilities. That is, until I remember that I haven't added the latest doctor's office appointment to Outlook. Or until my mind wanders to try to figure out when we are going to pick up a present to bring to Saturday's birthday party. Or until I recall a new ADHD treatment/compelling parent story/potential tutoring option that I wanted to look up. There are days that I feel so distracted by all of these thoughts and concerns that I wonder if I have ADHD (I don't).
It actually makes me feel jealous of the SAHMs. I don't want to. I know that it can be equally hard to be there all the time. To not be able to escape it and focus on something else. But it does seem to open up more options.
I hear frequent tales of parents pulling their ADHD kids out of school so they can homeschool them. I don't even know how I feel about homeschooling in general and I think I would be terrible at it in specific, yet...I can't help but wish it were an option on the table. Or even that I had more time to work with Dylan after school instead of even having to consider hiring a tutor.
And besides all that, none of the above even leaves room to consider me. What I might or might not want to do to nourish me. Surely, searching for "me time" is not something that only working parents struggle with, but at least in theory, SAHMs (the ones who don't homeschool) have the hours that kids are at school to at least consider some of their own needs.
I am not trying to purport a position that one is better or worse. Both positions (really all positions since I haven't even touched on WAHMs) have their pluses and minuses. I'm only speaking for working moms who struggle to get it all done. Work, homework, the breadth of health needs, and even the "extras" like Cub Scouts. It's like a road race but the finish line keeps getting pushed further and further back.