UPDATE AT THE BOTTOM
Last week I lost my work key. AGAIN. You might remember that my lanyard, the one I’d had for seven years, the one with my work keys AND my staff ID, disappeared over the Thanksgiving break, much to my complete and utter panic. I was given a single key to my room when I returned to work and now, less than four months later, that is gone too.
In seven years I never lost my work key. Not once. Now, in four months, I’ve lost it TWICE.
The day I accepted the fact that my work key wasn’t just hidden somewhere in my house (or that if it were, I wouldn’t be finding it), I also realized that I hadn’t submitted one class’s grades for report cards. By the time I went online the window was closed, my opportunity had passed. Even though I figured it wouldn’t be a huge deal and that I could resolve it the next day I felt horrible. In almost eight years of teaching I had NEVER been late with my grades. Every trimester, for 22 trimesters, I had turned them all in on time, even when I had eight classes to submit. And then this year I just forget, for no good reason. I just let it slip my mind.
I spent that night feeling really, really, supremely disappointed in myself.
At work the next day I was lamenting both the lost key (I still cannot wrap my head around the fact that I can’t find that key, it was around my neck when I came home on Monday, where the eff could it have gone?!) and the forgotten grades with my fellow co-workers and not once, not twice but multiple times I got the same reply: Well, you’re a mother now. Evidently it was as obvious as that.
I know these women mean well. I know their intentions are good. Their point is only that mothers have a lot on their plates, we have a ton of shit to do and when we are scrambling to get it all done things are bound to fall through the cracks. The truth is, I probably did lose the key while I was clambering to get Isa down for her nap before straightening the house for afternoon guests. And the day I forgot the grades I was home from work with Isa because our fragile child care system breaks down when Mi.Vida is out of town. So both times I could easily attribute my fuck ups to being a mother.
The thing is, I don’t want to.
For the past century women have been trying to convince men that we can do it all. We’ve argued over and over again that just because we are mothers doesn’t mean we can’t also be doctors or lawyers or senators or the president of the United States. Millions of women have pushed past expectations and conventions to give us the opportunities we have today. They have proven that being a mother and being anything else don’t have to be mutually exclusive. If I blame my fuck up on being a mother, am I undoing all that countless women have done before me?
I feel like I have two options: (1) berate my scatterbrained self for totally messing up things I’ve never messed up before in my life or (2) chalk my mistakes up to being a mother and therefore simply too overwhelmed to keep up with everything. Neither seems fair and frankly, both are probably true, at least partly. So where does that leave me?
Is it true that, as mothers, we take on too much, that we’re setting ourselves up for failure? Can we successfully juggle our careers and aspirations while assuming the bulk childcare and household responsibilities? And if not, where does that leave us? Doomed to failure? Left with no other possibilities but to meet the lowered expectations of the men around us? The whole thing just seems so fucking unfair.
UPDATE: I just wanted everyone to know that I found my work key today. In my daughter’s laundry hamper (where I already looked, it was inside something obviously). THANK GOD I FOUND IT!