Originally published on Mother.ly
By Shanisty Ireland
If I would have known then what I know now, I wouldn’t have asked.
If I would have known then what I know now, I probably would have asked sooner.
“Without prompting, ask your children these questions.” I know you’ve seen this little activity on Facebook before — you’ve probably had at least one or two friends share it. Perhaps you’ve already challenged your little ones to the test and laughed over the results, or had an aha-moment because of it like me.
A couple of weeks ago, I took the plunge and asked my 3-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son these simple questions about me. I was sleep deprived, and was honestly just hoping for a good laugh.
However, I definitely got more than I bargained for.
1. How old is Mommy? 5-year-old: You are 50 or 60. 3-year-old chimes in: Or maybe you’re 4!
2. How tall is mommy? 3-year-old: Big! Like 40 pounds or 20 feet.
3. What is Mommy’s favorite thing to eat? In unison: Salad! Oh my gosh, Mommy, you lovvvvve salad. Me: eye roll. 🙄
4. What is something Mommy says a lot? 5-year-old: “Hurry up! We’re going to be late!”
5. What is Mom’s favorite color? 5-year-old: Green. 3-year-old: My favorite color is pink. Hey mom, when are we having lunch?
6. How much does Mommy love you? 5-year-old: A lot. You love us when you hug me and when we listen. 3-year-old: I want water please. This is exhausting.
7. What is Mommy’s favorite thing to do? 3-year-old: Work. 5-year-old: Work.
8. What does Mommy do that annoys you? 3-year-old: When you sing, you really hurt my ears. 5-year-old: It annoys me when you work and don’t play with us.
9. If Mommy could go anywhere, where would she go? Long pause. Both kids: You’d probably go to work.
*I’m awake now.*
I’m not going to lie — I had to basically pick my jaw up off the floor and put together the broken pieces of my heart.
Is this really what they see, hear, and feel about me — their mother?
I work from home which means that my kids actually see me working. A lot. This is my choice. I know it’s not for everyone, but I love my job and I love my kids.
So I am just trying to make both of them work for me, the best way I know how right now. It’s important to me that my children witness me working. I want them to know that it’s not just dad that helps support this family. By working at home, I help pay the bills and I hope to promote strong work ethic within my children.
I used to work full time in the news business, which meant I didn’t have flexibility. I had to stop breastfeeding early because reporting on a house fire and jumping in a live truck to pump wasn’t really feasible. I couldn’t leave work early if a child was sick when I was reporting on a homicide on the other side of the state. I know there are a lot of parents in similar situations. We’re all just doing what we can, right?
I wanted to leave my career, and I don’t take that for granted. I realize this is a privilege I have. I know there are many mothers who would love to have that option. I also know there are many mothers who thrive on daily adult interaction at their place of employment and they couldn’t imagine leaving the workforce to stay home with their kiddos.
Working from home has a different set of challenges. I’m here, but I’m not.
The truth is — working from home, working out of the home, or staying at home with our children all have their own unique challenges and their own unique perks.
For me, with working from home, it’s difficult to set my phone down when my daughter wants to show me the same sheet of paper for the 68th time. “Mommy, look! This time I drew a fifth arm on your head.”
It’s challenging to step away from my laptop when my son needs help finding the smallest Lego piece in existence at the bottom of a toy box mixed in with a pile of broken crayons, rouge puzzle pieces and old stickers.
I get distracted from work by my children and from my children by work.
“Mommy! Please set your phone down and look at me!” I’m embarrassed to admit I hear this a lot. But this is my truth, and the truth of a lot of working parents, I’d imagine.
So, kids, I’m now turning the attention of this article from my work to you.
Here are my answers to the questions I recently asked you.
1. How old is Mommy? I am 35.
2. How tall is Mommy? I am tall enough to hold both of you in my arms at one time.
3. What is Mommy’s favorite thing to eat? Any meal with you two and your daddy.
4. What is something Mommy says a lot? I love you.
5. What is Mommy’s favorite color? Yellow.
6. How much does Mommy love you? More than you could ever possibly imagine.
7. What is mommy’s favorite thing to do? Laugh with you. Cuddle you. Wipe your tears. Pray with you. Kiss you goodnight.
8. What do I do that annoys you? Work, I think. Or how much work I do.
This isn’t going to change, but finding a balance will. I’m challenging myself to step away from my work when you need me to. I’m trying not rush to the phone with every alert I get. I’m walking away from my laptop when you frantically need help with your shoe laces.
I’m trying. I’m really, really trying. And I will never stop trying. I’m attempting to find balance in parenting and maintaining a career. It isn’t easy, but it’s well worth the challenge.
9. If Mommy could go anywhere, where would she go? Anywhere with you. I will probably bring my work as well, but I promise I will always pack a healthy dose of balance, too.
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