I was reading a blog the other day that chronicled the life of a typical office worker. The description of the long and tedious commute, occasionally made even less enjoyable by bottlenecked traffic and obnoxious drivers, made me once again congratulate myself for working so close to home. It was only after I began to calculate the time this commuter spent getting to work in another city and the time it takes me to get to work in my own town that I realized something incredible. His trip was shorter.
How could someone travel from the suburbs to the city amidst rush hour morning traffic and still get there ahead of me when I have to travel only a few short miles across town? The answer is quite simple. He's not a mother.
With all the talk about the juggling acts of working mothers, balancing career with home life and children, no one ever discusses the amount of work a mother has to do just to leave the house and actually get to work. A mother doesn't just have to get herself ready in the morning. There are children to get out of bed and ready for school, arguments to be had over clothes and shoes and the possible necessity of jackets, hats and gloves. There are backpack inspections to confirm that they all have the necessary snacks, juice boxes and lunches packed as well as bathing suits for the YMCA, and in the case of The Boy, some comfort items from home - a deck of Pokemon cards or the interesting rock he found outside yesterday. Then pencil in about 10 minutes for them to search for some missing item, make one more bathroom stop and try in vain to fake illness so they can stay home. If you are well practiced, these maneuvers can be accomplished in about 30-45 minutes - unless they are cranky, then count on an hour. Unless I am cranky, then we go whether they are ready or not.
When The Boy was in daycare and The Girl attended grade school, I left the house a full hour before I had to be at work. I picked up a co-worker, drove to the other side of town to drop The Boy off at daycare, drove in a diagonal direction across town to drop The Girl off at school and then swung around to where I began to finally head for work. The trip to the office that was "just down the street" took me 55 minutes and I had traveled 14 miles.
I think before we start analyzing how tired working mothers are at the end of a long work day, we need to assess how tired they are when they arrive at work only to start their second job of the day.