Letter from Baltimore

by Katrina on December 1, 2010

It’s been quiet around here for the last week. I took some time off to focus on my kids. (“Happy Chicken Day!” says my daughter, Ruby.)

Kids are back in school and today I’m catching up on a few bloggy things.

Thanks to everyone who left their suggestions to my question about what you’d like to see here on the blog. (It’s never too late if you’d still like to leave your suggestions here, I would still like to read them.)

It’s clear that just about everyone wants more stories of real women struggling with our competing obligations and, when possible, finding answers.

So in that spirit, I’d like to share an email I received recently from a blog reader named Ami who works as a college administrator in Baltimore. (She kindly gave me her permission to post it here.)

Like many of us, she’s feeling overwhelmed with her responsibilities and frustrated that there’s no obvious solution. (And she’s the second person I know who will admit she fantasizes about going to the hospital because it would be a vacation from regular life.) She would love to hear your thoughts (as I would) on what we can do.

From Ami:

Your site was exactly what I needed.  I am so far over the edge and it is reassuring (if that’s the right word) to read that other moms feel as insane as I do. As background, I am a full-time working mom of an 11 year old boy.

My son has Asperger’s and a host of co-morbid disorders. It is impossible, and I do mean impossible, to juggle work, battles with the public school system, and raising a difficult child. I could go on and on, but let me get to the reason I wrote…What can we do about this untenable situation? I would love to know if other women feel as trapped as I do.

When I graduated college, it was assumed that I would work full-time and bring in 50% of the income. My husband grew up in that environment, as well. But, as we all know, we are now expected to work full-time AND still be full-time moms, wives, etc. If I had known how hard this was going to be, I never would have had a child.

I stumbled back to work when my son was 6 weeks old. He had colic and chronic ear infections, so I really didn’t sleep for a year. No exaggeration. I would fantasize about having a minor car accident on the way to work. Nothing serious – just enough to lay me up in the hospital for a few days so I could sleep!

After 11 years of this life, I’m starting to have those fantasies again. I know that wishing does no good, but I really wish that I had remained single my entire life and had my tubes tied! How did we get to this point?

I have thought and thought over the years about a way out, to no avail. My husband won’t even entertain the idea of me working less than full-time and, honestly, we can’t afford it with all of my son’s medical bills. I feel like a zombie. I’m not really living my life. And I just love that advice about “taking time for yourself”!  How? When? There is always, always something left undone.

I don’t know what the solution is. It may be that there isn’t one for our generation (I’m 39).  But I surely hope that the next generation of women learns a lesson from our agony and wises up. Don’t go into marriage and family thinking you can “do it all.”  It’s a crock.

So, what do we do now? Is there any hope of relief for us? I feel that the only thing we can do at the moment is to vent to one another. At least we know we are not alone in this mess.

Thank you for starting a blog that really hits at the heart of the matter. The mothers in this country are slowly but surely being driven insane.

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Have a story to share about this modern day mess of working and raising kids? We welcome your war stories, happy stories, opinions, crazy ideas, questions, and brilliant solutions. Leave a comment on the blog, or email me at katrina@workingmomsbreak.com.

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