The hardest part of being a working mom is feeling like you’re “having it all” but doing it all, well, rather badly. When I was a SAHM, the day had its challenges, but I was mostly doing okay. The kids were fed, we were all clean, and we usually arrived places on time. When I went back to work, suddenly there were a lot more moving parts to juggle: drop-offs and pick-ups; babysitter, preschool and kindergarten schedules; and lunches and dinners to be prepped in advance.
I felt like I was dropping the ball in all areas of my life. My family was eating crummy dinners, I was late all the time, and my work was rushed and often not up to snuff. But even so, the transition has been worth it. (It helps that I like my work.) I keep reminding myself that it’s okay to be bad at being a working mom. Below, my six best reasons why.
1. You might be better than you think you are. Ever heard of “imposter syndrome”? It’s a belief, generally suffered by women, that they’ve somehow tricked people into believing they’re more competent than they really are. Women with imposter syndrome are afraid they’re always on the verge of being found out. In other words, you’re probably fine. Keep on posing as a competent person.
2. Even if you’re bad at it, you’re still pulling in some money. As my friend Jan says, don’t fire yourself, girl. There are plenty of idiots in the working world who collect paychecks. You’re not an idiot. You deserve the paycheck. Keep cashing that paycheck.
3. You’re still keeping your skills up by osmosis, even if you feel like you don’t know what’s going on. At my first job back in the workforce after four years, the 25-year-old HR guy showed me to my desk and flipped on the computer. He said, “Just message Joe when you’re ready to get started,” and I was so nervous that I said, “Where’s the messaging program? How do I use it? How do I know what Joe’s address is?” The HR guy clearly thought I was an idiot, but he showed me. The messaging program functioned just like Outlook. If I hadn’t been so nervous, I would have seen that right away. Things change quickly in the working world, but the changes are not necessarily profound. And if you’re in it, day in and day out, you can absorb all the little adjustments without too much strain.
4. You’re developing and maintaining social connections in the working world. I loved my life as a SAHM, in no small part because I made some good friends who were also at home with their kids. But the best social life is a diverse social life, and I like meeting people in my field. That’s good both for my mental health and for my career.
5. Doing something is better than doing nothing, when you’re figuring out what to do. I stayed out of the workforce for longer than I wanted to, partly because I couldn’t figure out exactly what I wanted to do. But part of the process of figuring that out is simply doing something. No one comes up with a perfect plan in a vacuum, in advance. You work and you figure it out simultaneously.
6. Perfection isn’t necessarily the goal. We’re all aiming for full, happy lives. But full doesn’t necessarily have to mean perfect. Good is good enough, and at this point, I’d rather have a good life with a lot of moving parts. Even if I’m late all the time.