For some of us parents, our greatest talent is spreading ourselves too thin.
There simply are not enough hours in the day to grocery shop, go to soccer practice, bring home a paycheck, cook dinner, nurture our children, wash laundry and get a good night's sleep. Yet, day in and day out, we wake up telling ourselves that today, armed with coffee and juice boxes, we will get it all done.
One of those days in particular comes to mind, not because of what I was doing, but because of a text I received from our favorite babysitter. During my lunch break at work, I was trying to schedule doctor appointments for the kids, buy a wedding present for a friend online and line up a babysitter.
The babysitter's reply made my day for two reasons. First, she was available, so my husband and I could spend some long overdue time together. Second, she called me a modern-day Superwoman.
I am no Superwoman (Superwoman did not even have kids!), but it made me feel good to know that my hard work did not go unnoticed. As most parents have discovered, it takes an enormous amount of work to keep the so-called machine spinning and everyone happy.
I am not alone when I say it is downright hard to raise children, run the household, be a good partner to my husband and succeed in my career-or at least just get to work on time.
Does my husband also feel pulled in too many directions? I am certain his answer would be a resounding `yes.' However, is his feeling of being overwhelmed the same as mine? My husband and I both work the same amount of hours on average, yet the burden of running the household and the majority of the parenting still is left up to me.
What about everything outside of earning a paycheck? I make sure there are diapers and formula for the baby, milk in the refrigerator, some semblance of dinner on the table, kids bathed, clean underwear put away, gas in the car, doctor appointments scheduled and attended, toilet paper on the holders, dry cleaning picked up, toothpaste in the cabinet, and field trip permission slip signed, just to name a few from yesterday's list.
The list goes on and on, but I find myself appreciative if my husband simply takes out the trash or puts his dishes in the sink, much less the dishwasher.
So my question is how do we rectify this discrepancy of chore assignment so that we are not constantly pulled in so many directions and spread so thin? Don't answer by suggesting we simply ask for more help. That would be the easy short-term solution, which I have already tried.
During periodic breakdowns, I tell my husband through sobs and nose-blowing that I am not an octopus, I only have two hands and 24 hours in the day, I need more help. He makes a noticeable effort to contribute more with chores around the house and with the kids. However, once the last tear has been wiped dry from my cheek, we fall directly back into our same roles.
I am looking for something more long term.
In the meantime, I will continue to wake up every morning, wear my Superwoman insignia tucked underneath my T-shirt splattered with spit-up stains, and believe that today I will make it through my lengthy list of things to do.
Collett Hudecek is a Chicago mom of three, a paramedic and a firefighter.