12/14/2012 01:06 pm ET Updated Feb 13, 2013

Circus Mom's Juggling Act

Lunch packed? Nap gear packed? Extra clothes and diapers packed too? I hope so, because the car's heated up and I'm rushing to get both the kid and me to daycare for the 7:45 a.m. parent-teacher conference I had to reschedule because I was in a meeting that ran long and totally spaced the conference the week before (bad parent guilt moment)! We get there at exactly 7:45, which is okay, because his teacher's just setting up. Great conference -- turns out my kid is the kid that "falls into arms to express his love" and is just a "joy to be around." I leave the meeting at 8:15 beaming (proud parent moment) but the feeling quickly subsides because I have an 8:30 project meeting that there's no way I'm going to be on time for (bad employee guilt moment).

I get to the office at 8:45 and try to squeeze in meetings and work before I have to leave at 11:45 to run to daycare to pick up my son and then run home to pick up my daughter for a 12:45 doctor's appointment. Yeah, I know, didn't I just get to work (another bad employee guilt moment)?! Oh no! It's 11:50 and I'm still at work, now I'll be rushing (again) to daycare, then home, then to the doctor's office, and I KNOW they'll be running on time today because they only run late when I'm on time. We get to the doctor's office and my daughter needs three shots and I have to hold her down, while she sits in my lap and gets stabbed by two nurses! She's a champ and doesn't really cry... yes, I bribed her, turns out she wants some purple and pink play-doh... We finally leave the doctor's around 2 because I have to get back to work. I lie to my kid and tell her they're out of play-doh at the store. She tells me that her arms REALLY hurt from the shots and that she really wants play-doh (another bad parent guilt moment), but I just can't take the time to go to Toys"R"Us, I have to get back to work. Why didn't I just take the day off, you wonder? Because it really wasn't an option, my team has a critical deadline approaching and we've been working night and day to make sure we can hit it!

This is just the first half of my day, the second half is a continuation of bad employee guilt moments, the need to make dinner and have supper with the kids -- no matter how busy life is we ALWAYS have dinner together at the dinner table -- and bad parent moments. I have more work to do, so I bribe the kids with the iPad, a movie or whichever toy I can find. (I admit, I have no clue where most things are in the house, under someone's bed? Under the couch? I honestly don't know, and depending on what it is, I'll just go buy another one -- that'll save me the stress of finding the original, which you know will magically re-appear as soon as I walk in the house with the new one -- that is, unless it's the iPad that's missing, that we always find, it's quality family time to partake in a scavenger hunt.)

As women, especially working moms, we put all this unwarranted pressure on ourselves. We have to be the perfect mom, the perfect employee, the perfect wife, the perfect... whatever hat it is we have on at the moment. The reality of the situation is we are already perfect at what we're doing and the fact that we're even doing it and committed to the activity itself speaks volumes. We just don't give ourselves enough credit. It's not easy to remember to pack the diaper bag with diapers and wipes and your work bag with your laptop and meeting notes; if you stuffed your meeting notes into the diaper bag and your diapers into your laptop bag and you don't realize this until you get to work, it's okay... BREATHE!! In that moment, you're not a bad mom or a bad employee, you're just a working mom trying to make it through the day. There are plenty of wipes and diapers at daycare; trust me, they've got the kids covered! As for your meeting, you'll get through it, chances are topic number one will take longer than expected to discuss and the meeting will go off track, and then it'll be time to run to your next meeting.

Could we have made it slightly easier for ourselves... sure, we could have packed the bags last night, but we were busy trying to bathe the kids, get them to brush their teeth and into bed before we passed out. Let's be real, though; if we weren't packing the bags in the morning, the time would have gotten eaten up by a kid who wanted his Cars shoes, not his Spiderman shoes; something always happens that ends up making us "rush," no matter how early we start our day. Somehow, we always manage to navigate through this chaos and raise healthy, happy kids, all the while meeting all the demands of our jobs. Now if only we can figure out how to get rid of all this "guilt"...