Are Moms More Stressed Than Ever?
A Working Mom’s Tipping Point Survey conducted by Care.com found that 80% of the nearly one thousand working moms surveyed felt stressed about getting everything done. What’s worse is that a quarter of them reported being so overwhelmed by all of their responsibilities that they cry alone at least once a week.
As a freelance writer with a partner who works full-time, I have the luxury of working just a few hours a week, but even that poses a stressful challenge for me. I work from home, and because I work sporadically, I haven’t hired a nanny or babysitter to take care of Stellan while I write. That means my work schedule, bathroom breaks, and meals revolve around his unpredictable nap schedule. While that may not sound like much, when you’re trying to get things done with a crying baby who wants nothing more than to hang from your hair and kick at your laptop’s track pad, it can start to wear on you.
The unfortunate thing about my family’s arrangement is that my husband works 12 to 14 hours a day, so he hardly gets to spend time with Stellan during the week, and I spend so much time alone with our son that I feel like a single parent. Then I think about actual single moms–the ones who work multiple jobs while raising their kids alone–and I feel like a jerk for griping about my situation. I have no idea how they do it, considering how exhausted I already feel from taking care of Stellan and our two dogs and freelancing part-time.
Sometimes I fantasize about working at an office or cafĂ© sans baby, but I feel guilty about hiring someone to take care of Stellan for just a few hours a week. I’m certain that if only I manage my time better, I’d be able to get everything done. But exactly how does one go about managing one’s time with a 4-month-old? So, instead of embarking on the process of interviewing babysitters, I often find myself pecking at my keyboard with one hand while holding Stellan with the other. I’m less efficient, my work suffers and writing’s not quite as much fun as it used to be, but I eventually get it done.
Having family around to help would alleviate some of the burden, but my in-laws and parents live out of state. Moreover, I’m in the somewhat unique position of having two parents with dementia who rely on me to help them manage their affairs. So, rather than being able to provide support, my parents, through no fault of their own, have become the second-largest time commitment in my life–and the most stressful–since Stellan’s birth.
When I compare myself to the neighborhood moms I’ve become friends with, I never stack up. They all seem to have perfect homes, established careers, parents who pitch in and slow cookers that they actually use. Meanwhile, I can’t seem to keep my family’s one-bedroom apartment remotely tidy or put together a balanced meal unless my husband’s around to keep our son busy while I cook.
Knowing that so many working moms are stressed out of their minds and crying about it, while sad and, frankly, rather alarming, does make me feel less alone during those times when I just want to cover my face with a pillow and let out a primal scream. Â I really admire all the moms out there, both working and non-working, who handle the challenge of being their children’s primary caretaker with grace. So many of them make it look easy, although it’s clearly not easy for any of us.
What about you? Is it stressful to be a mom?