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Don’t Quit Before Your Parenting Shift is Over

Mar06

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I had been working in Chicago for the past month, and I was about to take a flight back to Houston on a Friday afternoon. Fridays are the worst for traffic and standing in line at the crowded airport.

My flight was delayed, as usual, and there was nothing to do except stand next to the bar at an airport restaurant and wait out the bad weather and storms.

Finally, it was time to board. Strapped into my reclining seat and looking forward to arriving home, the flight was going to be just two and a half hours. I was going to get to be back in my apartment, hug my cat, and sleep in my own bed.

The flight attendants were nice, helpful even. They gave us drinks. They checked on us to see how we were doing.

The weather was awful, however, and the pilot couldn’t land the plane. We kept circling over Houston International for hours, and then we went north to Dallas to refuel.

The flight attendants were not as helpful anymore. They ushered us off the plane, but the airport gate was closed because it was the middle of the night, and we didn’t know how we were going to get home. I considered renting a car and driving the last two hundred miles.

After much confusion, we passed through security again, boarded the plane (now refueled), and tried the trip again. I have never been through such terrible turbulence from storms in my life. By this time it was three in the morning, everyone was exhausted, and we had been in those reclining chairs for hours.

The flight attendants were mad now. Their shift should have ended, and they were not pleased with these passengers who hadn’t eaten dinner or seen the beverage cart for hours. We were more than an annoyance. We were a problem, and they were finished with us. No more smiles, just scowls.

We did make it back to Houston eventually, after twelve hours at six in the morning. The luggage didn’t make it, of course.

Yesterday I felt like those flight attendants.

The afternoon had been busy, and dinner got off to a late start. The diorama was finished for a school project for the next day, but I still had a lot of work to do for myself. I stood at the sink washing the dishes, and I was tired. I saw the kids’ bedtime get delayed, and I got frustrated. I just wanted to clock out.

I needed the kids to go to bed so that my mommy shift would be over. Those evening hours are the ones that we sometimes push through. My husband and I show up for the dinner and bedtime shift even when we’re sick and we have other work to do.

I remembered just in time that my kids are the passengers, not the problem. I stopped frowning at them. I got them into bed. My shift hadn’t ended, but I didn’t quit. Sometimes we just need to push through it.

Have you felt like that too?

Photo credit: Thinkstock

About the author


http://smallnotebook.org
Rachel Meeks is the voice behind the popular blog Small Notebook, a resource for simplifying and organizing your home. (Because it's so much easier to be a parent when you're not surrounded by a ton of stuff.)


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14 Responses to “Don’t Quit Before Your Parenting Shift is Over”

  1. Erin Mar 06 at 11:22 am Reply Reply

    Yes! For me, Fridays are the day people look forward to most but for me it’s my Monday. I’ve spent all week cooking, cleaning, dressing two kids as well as myself. I’ve wiped faces, washed hands, put on and took off 4 shoes multiple times.

    By Friday I wake up and just want to check out, everything starts to irritate me and I imagine I do a lot of frowning. But I know that my irritation rubs off on them so I force myself to smile through it and soon I’m smiling without even thinking about it. It helps and gets us through that LONG Friday.

  2. A Mar 06 at 11:47 am Reply Reply

    Erin, I’m with you! Mondays I am full of energy and by the end of Friday I’m just happy we’re all still alive!

    My worst time is the witching hour – that time while I’m trying to make dinner and everyone’s hungry and tired. Sometimes I have to repeat my mantra from Finding Nemo – just keep swimming, just keep swimming . . . so I can push through and get everyone fed and in bed. There are days when I lose it, but most days I just try to dig deeper and find more patience.

  3. Jadzia@Toddlerisms Mar 06 at 3:23 pm Reply Reply

    Absolutely.  In our house, we actually ARE on shifts.  Both my husband and I work from home and we don’t yet have any childcare help, so there are defined times of the day when we need to switch off.  And SOMETIMES there might be a little clock-watching before it’s time to punch out.  Which is not admirable and I am working on it.

  4. Monica Mar 06 at 7:46 pm Reply Reply

    I have a 4 year old, a 3 year old, and a 10-month-old. They are each going through difficult stages, from teething, to the terrible three’s (I don’t know why people say ‘terrible two’s’…it’s definitely the evil, evil three’s that are the problem). Please, someone out there, tell me it is normal to feel like this most nights. I love them dearly, but I stay at home with them and by 5:00 I am just cooked.

    • Isabel Kallman
      Isabel Mar 06 at 11:06 pm Reply Reply

      oh Monica! you are not alone. i hear this often.

      during some difficult times, i feel cooked too by bedtime. what i appreciate from Rachel’s post is that it’s a great reminder for us all. I don’t want my son to see me as the overworked and bitter flight attendants that Rachel refers to. cognitively, it’s a great image to keep in my mind to try to help me snap out of it when i feel that way. but that doesn’t change the fact that i will still be exhausted and SPENT.

      • Monica Mar 09 at 12:04 pm Reply Reply

        Isabel…thank you for the reassurance that I’m not alone. I agree, Rachel’s post was a really great reminder and parallel. Sometimes, on the harder days, it is easy to get sucked into wondering if everyone else has it more ‘together’ than you. If my harried state means that I’m doing it all wrong. Deep down, I always know the answer to these questions, but motherhood is–well– hard! I have to say, these online communities and mommy blogs are so helpful to me. Amy (amalah) was the first blog I had ever read. I didn’t know what a blog was then…now, this wonderful group of bloggers and authors makes such a difference in that feeling of ‘we’re all in this together.’ The support network and real experiences are so valued. Thank you!

  5. britt Mar 06 at 10:28 pm Reply Reply

    omg i feel like this most all the time i am good till its time to go to bed. then its a fight to get them in the tub a fight to get them out a fight to get them dressed and a fight to get them to stay ion bed. till i dont care about story’s or movies or nothing i am burned out at this point i just dont want to fight with them.

  6. Andrea Mar 07 at 1:59 pm Reply Reply

    Absolutely, and this is such an adept comparison. Thank you for the reminder. It is so important not to get burnt out before the end of each day. I’m starting to keep a gratitude journal, where I list two or three things from my day that I am thankful for. It can be the smallest things, like finally cleaning out that craft sink in the basement, or it can be something huge, like my daughter getting her first teeth! It really changes the way I think about things–I look for the positive instead of dreading dealing with the negative.

    Thanks for an excellent post!

  7. Umm… yeah. Totally been there. And (like Erin said) the end of the week is the worst. I think at this point, almost 4 years into stay at home motherhood, I pace myself for a certain number of hours and when that flight is delayed (so to speak) I rarely have reserves left. So when my husband is late coming home from work or bedtime is pushed back– ack. It is a rough feeling.

  8. Yes. Amen. You’ve given me an idea about how this has to be extrapolated to finishing the job of rearing the children to adulthood. Since I’m much nearer that time than you, would you mind if I blogged about it?

  9. pomomama Mar 15 at 12:07 pm Reply Reply

    Four days into Spring Break, with parenting solo thrown into the mix, and I’m feeling that familiar clock-watching evening sensation again. I have so much homework from school and evenings are the main time I get to complete it, so i stay up late and don’t sleep well and then there’s the next day and another evening bedtime routine … oh grouchy!

    I’ll remember the flight attendant analogy from now on. Thnx :)

  10. I feel that on days when I am extra tired and overwhelmed.  And, now, as a single mom, I really have to focus on my true priorities.

  11. Sue TR Mar 15 at 9:18 pm Reply Reply

    Oh I feel this way as well…and to make me feel even guiltier…I’m a SAHM and my girls are 10 (yes, twins!) and leave the house at 6:45 to get the bus and don’t get home until 4:15.  I so look forward to seeing them all afternoon but by dinner time, half the time I am ready to scream…

    Glad I’m not alone

    Feel like those flight attendants!

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