10 Things Working Mothers Don’t Want To Hear

I went back to work almost four years ago. I was a stay-at-home mother up until that point and got plenty of praise for that decision from family and random old ladies at the grocery store but it would seem there are few that cheer my life as a working mother. Sure, there is the typical pandering from some- “Wow, you are like a super hero with all you do!”– but I am a smart girl. I know the subtext is often “There is no way you are doing all of this right and you are CHEATING YOUR BABIES OUT OF A MOTHER”.

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These detractors plus a whole host of other daily hurdles can make life rough for a working mom. There are ever-present obstacles for me and my brethren because we are beholden not just to our children, but our employers as well. That juggling act (trying to please the people you love the most while also trying to please the people who make paying your mortgage possible) can be difficult beyond description but I am going to try to shed some light. Please take the tour with me to see the 10 things no working mother wants to hear:

1. “I could NEVER leave my babies at daycare!” It may be true- you may really feel that you could NEVER leave your babies at daycare but some of us are without a choice. And this phrase also reeks of “I’M A BETTER MOTHER THAN YOU!” So yeah, STFU before letting this one escape your lips.

2. “It would be nice if you could spend more time in the classroom- I know your daughter would love it!” My daughter’s kindergarten teacher was awesome and I know she said this because she deeply cared for my child. However, I volunteered PLENTY in her class that year- at every class party and a random day here and there. Parental involvement at school is a thing now. Not that I have anything against it, but it makes me feel awful that I can’t be there all the time. I wish we could just throttle back and make school a place mostly for kids and teachers. Or at least back the fuck off the working moms understanding that we need to save our time off for when our kids have a fleck of booger in their eye and Dr. Daycare says “IT’S PINK EYE STAY AWAY FOR 24 HOURS!”

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3. “Mrs. Williams? You need to come pick up Mini Williams- he has a fever.” Which brings me to the phone call no working mother wants to receive. It seems that whenever it comes, my husband is ensconced in a meeting and unreachable and I am in the middle of a shit-storm and have to abandon my desk and fly to daycare to rescue my kid. Don’t get me wrong, I am not angry with my child nor do I blame him for being sick but I cannot help the panicky downward spiral of “What if this is a bad virus and the fever hangs on for five days and ZOMG I’M GOING TO LOSE MY JOB!” No illness is simple as a working mother- you have to think 10 steps ahead and have a game plan. It sucks.

4. “Can’t you at least be an assistant coach this season?” Um, no. I can’t. I barely have time to make dinner, help with homework and spend “quality time” with my kids on weekday evenings. I definitely don’t have time to guide your Speshul Snoflach away from nose-picking and on to making contact with the ball.

5. “I think next session, we will do the lessons at 4pm instead of 5:30pm!” Ugh, why are so many lessons and practices for kids held at hours that few working parents could possibly adhere to? I know it’s probably better for the kids to do things earlier in the day but all it does is make me feel more alienated for not being able to be anywhere before 5:30 or 6:00.

6. “Wow, that’s a nice purse/hair-cut/bracelet…wish I could afford it.” This might seem innocent but when said by certain people, it is definitely code for “SEE??? You work to buy yourself nice things, not just to help your family scrape by!” I wish I had the life that so many assume that I do as a dual-income household. It sounds pretty baller.

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7. “Maybe he would be less hyper if he got to spend more time with you.” This one hurts and I’ve actually had someone say this to me. Suggesting that my kids would be somehow better off I were around more is like a knife straight in my heart because then I start to wonder if it might be true.

8. “Couldn’t you just work part-time? You are gone so much!” A little known fact among people who have never searched for daycare is that part-time hardly costs less than full-time. Why would a daycare provider, who has to adhere to a certain headcount, accept your part-time kid when they could make the full amount for a full-time kid? I did pursue part-time work initially but once I added up the cost of two small children in daycare part-time I quickly realized I would have to work full-time to turn a real profit.

9. “HOW DO YOU DO IT??” This one might seem like a compliment but in my experience, it is usually something of a challenge. As in, “Go ahead and make me believe that your family is not living in a shitty filth hole and eating Ramen on top of a pile of dirty laundry every night.”

10. “Don’t you MISS the kids when you are at work?” Of-fucking-course I do, genius. Does it bother you enough thinking of that to help me pay my bills? No? Then please, stop talking.

Related post: You Know You’re the Mom in the Office When…

This post first appeared on Mommyish. Read more here.

About the writer

Valerie Williams is a working mother with two school-aged children living in New York (not the cool part). She loves running, reading, snarking, and spending time with her family. Follow her on Twitter.


Lplacette 1 month ago

I think working mothers do the best they can.I am a child provider ,and I see what they go through on a daily bases. Not easy for them. Just doing what they have to do.

Patty 1 month ago

Or, how about this one….”
It’s all about choices!”

Susan 1 month ago

These lists drive me crazy. Apparently no one should say anything to anyone anymore because someone is offended by whatever is said. Lighten up people. I keep reading “being a sahm is hard” and “being a working mom is hard”. Let’s look at this situation from a different perspective. Open your eyes to the horrific things happening in the world today. So horrible that people are literally dying to get to a safe place and start a new life. So awful that moms and dads are leaving their homes with only the clothes on their bodies, risking their lives and their children’s lives to be safe. And we who are fortunate enough to have safe homes argue back and forth over whose life is harder?! Be grateful that your problems are small in comparison. Our lives look wonderful in comparison to people with real problems throughout the world!

Lauren 1 month ago

When a coworker asked me prior to maternity leave where I was going to leave my son when I came back to work she immediately followed the question with, “I hope you’re not taking him to one of those horrible day care centers. Your mom or a nanny is going to take care of him right?”
……. No, I have found a great day care center with plenty of personal recommendations. Also, my mom is not in any physical condition to take care of a newborn baby.
So unless she wanted to: 1. Pay for the extra cost that comes with getting a nanny or 2. Personally take care of my child for the equivalent cost of day care of $179 per week, day care is our only option.

Mackenzie 1 month ago

I send my kids to daycare. I work full time. I don’t apologize for any of it. I like working, and I have since I was 13 years old. I enjoy interacting with adults during the day. You know what else? Sometimes, I take a day off from work and don’t keep my kids at home with me! *GASP!* Oh, and #9 is exactly how I do it… dirty laundry and PB & Js!

Ramona 1 month ago

I could afford to stay home with my daughter but choose not to, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. I have a career that I love, am good at, and worked hard to achieve. My husband feels the same way about his career. I have a flexible schedule and the ability to work from home some of the time, which makes it easier to balance career and mom-time (and it helps that my daughter’s very devoted grandparents take her on amazing excursions and shower her with attention on the three days a week when they watch her, which makes me feel less guilty about the two days she spends at daycare). I think it’s hard for moms to strike a good balance. On one hand, I don’t want my daughter looking at her peers’ stay-at-home moms wishing that she could have more time with me or that I had more time to volunteer at school or activities. But on the other hand, I don’t want her to grow up thinking that women’s careers are expendable or that women are required to put their aspirations on hold. When she pretends to be an adult woman, I want to see her playing at putting on a suit or editing a document in addition to rocking a baby and cooking dinner.

HME 1 month ago

Here are some retorts for the back pocket:

1. You must love your kids more than I do mine.
2. Yes, but I would hate it.
3. On my way – work can always wait. Sick kid can’t. Don’t complain about that.
4. If you can be my maid.
5. How about 5:30am?
6. You can. Get a job.
7. Or maybe he would be a spoiled brat that thinks the world revolves around him.
8. Ever think maybe I like it that way?
9. I never sleep. Literally.
10. Yes, and I am so lucky to have something to miss so much. But, I also have a mortgage and realize that none of us are going to have social security 40 years from now.

Katie Champlin 1 month ago

This will be long, it hit nerves. AS I have been both, I totally get all sides…from MY perspective:

1. RUN and I mean RUN from all daycares. Find a babysitter immediately, if not sooner. “okay mommy I’m coming, just let me pull up my panties” – and this was from a #1 ranked preschool in a very high rated community (Round Rock, TX). The worker’s comment? “I told them not to do that” WTF??

2. I got a ribbon for over 5000 hours one year. Didn’t help my kids.

3. Same feeling if you are a SAHM. Believe me, we aren’t just sitting around waiting to wait on our kids.

4. Can’t relate to sports. period.

5. Which actually helps most families. AS a SAHM, I now eat dinner at 4:30-5PM which is when I used to start thinking about plans for the evening. My kids should not be doing homework at 9PM at night!

6. I can’t relate. I buy what I want and have never felt guilty :)

7. True, so true. I spend 30 minutes with a kid and they immediately quiet down. Sorry, this one is true. With every single child.

8. Agreed

9. I remember when I was thrust into SAHM that I was freaked out at the slow pace of things. Now I really am freaked out at how much other people can get done in a day. I think this really is a compliment. You get used to a slow pace of life as a SAHM and it really is overwhelming. NOT a challenge at all!!

10. I wouldn’t

Laura 1 month ago

I don’t think it is true that most working moms would stay at home if they could… Because most can and don’t. I’m sure SOME would… It is all about choices. We make HUGE financial sacrifices for me to be able to stay home with the kids. We live in a very small house and my kids don’t have the latest and greatest anything. But they don’t really need the latest and greatest. We are all different and make the choices we make. We don’t need to criticize each other, but we don’t need to act like SAHM are privileged because they are financially well off enough not to have to work. For almost all the SAHMs I know, that is simply NOT true. We sacrifice because it is important enough to us to do it. And not only do we give up the money, we give up our careers. It is very difficult to break back into a career after an extended absence. Let’s just all respect each other’s choices without criticizing and laying on the guilt. Tracy (below)- Domestic slaves???? You mean involved parent? I’m not a domestic slave. I just choose to raise my children myself.

Tracy 2 months ago

The first place I went to to see people about my pregnacy, some lady was talking about these classes for my husband and I to take. She made a comment saying they were in the afternoon because husbands have to work. I told her welcome to 2015, wives work too. Needless to say I went to another midwife afterwards. Seriously, it’s not the freaking 50s anymore. Women are leaders and innovators now, not just domestic slaves !

BoyMom 2 months ago

I have truly experienced both being a working mom (of babies and of school age children) and being a SAHM (of babies and school age). Hands down there is no comparison. It is MUCH harder to be a working mom. MUCH. But you know what? I don’t think one does a better job than the other. One just does two jobs while the other does one. So SAHMs, be kind. Be considerate. Choose your cimments wisely. Because you are very fortunate. You find yourself in a enviable position. And most working moms would stay at home if they could.

Joanie 8 months ago

Holy mommy wars! What the crap are all of you giving yourselves anurisms over here??? This author is obviously enjoying raising all of your blood pressures over a decision that is frankly none of anyone’s damned business. Why do you care what someone thinks or says about what you feel is best for your family? I’m a sahm. I get stupid, shortsighted comments all. of. the. time from working mothers.. “Gosh, you must have so much patience.” Really? I had no idea??? “I could never spend all day with my kids. They’d drive me crazy.” “Oh, you can be the assistant coach, can’t you? You must have so much time on your hands since you ‘stay home.'” Yes, it annoys me, but you know what? I know deep down they’re probably not said to intentionally annoy me or be snarky. I know that maybe, just maybe, they live in a different world than I do and are just speaking out of naivety or just freaking trying to make conversation and don’t know what to say. Sure, some may actually just be a__holes, but to those, why give any of your precious time seething with hatred over? You all are in a rage over something virtually non-existent. Personally, I could give a flip less whether you work or not. I neither pity you, nor am I in awe of you. We are all mothers; we are all women. We all have our own shit to deal with that other people don’t understand because they have their own shit to deal with. Respect. On both sides.

Erin 8 months ago

I have done both. I am a SAHM now. I have read through these comments and while I realize some of you are just venting you are doing the SAME THING to SAHMs. Oh. You work so your kid can see that women can do both? Seriously.? I want mine to know I am too lazy to both…You like knowing there is a back up find? Where as U.S. SAHMs just don’t give a crap. Come one. Not a bad article. And it’s crazy how some people say stupid stupid things…..but it is by no means a one way street and I get waaaaaay more crap as a SAHM than I ever did as a working mom.

sierra 8 months ago

I’m currently just hitting nine months pregnant.. And I’ve even had some of these things said to me.. I live with my dad and my fiancé is moving in soon hopefully, but my dad lost his job recently. Some women don’t have a choice but to work. I’ve had so many people ask me of and when I’m going back to work and theyre appalled when I come back with as soon as I can work again. I have to. My son needs things and if dad and I both aren’t working, we’re going to struggle to even get formula. I don’t want my son wearing towels for diapers or being hungry thank you very much. I commend every working mother and stay at home mother. But seriously, just because you stay home and others don’t doesn’t make you better.

Alice 9 months ago

Im a stay at home 1. My kid wasbinsanely hyper. 2. I lost my job whenthe school called and said my son had a fever of 101 i told them let him sleep ill pick him up after school as i worled for the district so i got off when school let out WELL 20 minutes later they called and said his fever rose to 103. I ran down the hall told the principle where i was i HAD to go now my son had a high fever he said you cant just eave you have classes i told him the kids can live withoit music class for one day or you go teach it yourself . I got my son ran to ER he tested positive for the H1N1 virus then i caught it we were quarentined for 2 weeks. The system does not work with working moms they do not care.

Erin 9 months ago

My personal fav regarding daycare “I could never let someone else raise my kids”. Queue dagger stare.

Laura 10 months ago

I just recently returned to work from maternity leave. My fave right now is “who ate you leaving the baby with?” And then all the judgment when i respond with “my friend” or “the neighbor”. (Same person). Seriously?! Everyone acts like I leave him in a crack den for a few hours……drives me insane. I’m sorry you didn’t have trusting amazing friend/neighbors for your kids?!

Regan 10 months ago

So perfect!!!

Eva 10 months ago

I am on the other side, didn’t plan on the SAHM situation (I certainly don’t believe it’s always better for the children), and I am so fed up with judgement from people assuming I’m lazy or useless. My work was much easier in an office than now working for the family. Plus I am more lonely, have no acknowledgement, income, or safety, and seemingly no reason to need a rest. I don’t like taking care of logistics, housechores, administrative tasks, then be with the children without enjoying it because I’m thinking about all what is left to be done before the husband comes back and criticize that I didn’t get around to do this and that and that, and I could have got diner ready earlier, I had all the day to do it while he was working his as off, him. He has dozens of thousands of dollars on his name in the bank and i have $50 on my account, we have a joint account, I take care of buying for the children and the house, which he conveniently translates by “you spend all the money”, and he comments on every expense I make. He didn’t ask me to be sahm, rather would like me to still take care of everything related to the children and everyday life, but also have a job and bring money (which we can do without) I feel frustrated and stupid that I am unable to have a job and deal with the family workload. I hate this situation but no one would be here to take care of all that I do, I feel trapped.
The article is helpful for me because it reminds me that some people believe having a sahm is valuable for the children.

Suzy 10 months ago

I really don’t understand why people come to Scary Mommy if you don’t want to hear someone vent? Single -widowed- parent who works full time and misses many milestones. Alternative is what? Let kids do without basic things or put them into care. Whatever, I think each person has their own battles, own limits, own way of coping. For those on there that like to vent go for it. For those offended by the teachers or the subs or the sahms seriously, this is not the site for you. Just scroll on.

Heather 11 months ago

Ohhh #6. Baller life indeed!

Sarah C 11 months ago

#3… OMG YES.

mamaem 11 months ago

“Don’t you want to stay home now that you have two?” Unless that second kid is coming with a fully-funded 529 and paying off our mortgage, no.

Jenn 1 year ago

Yeah imagine all this, plus my son’s father isn’t in the picture at all, so I don’t even have the slim chance of his dad stepping in to pick him up. Luckily my parents helped me out so I could stay home for the full year after my son was born. But it breaks my heart coming to work, but then at the same time I feel empowered being able to do it all on my own and providing for my son all by myself.
He gets a day with my parents, and then the rest of the time he’s in daycare which he actually seems to love. And I don’t have to give him up every other weekend so I can’t complain. I do the best I can for my son. We don’t eat out or badly, he just spends time in the kitchen with me while I cook and he helps (took some time to get there though!). Think we’re holding it together pretty well under the circumstances!

Mel 1 year ago

I have been a stay at home mom and work at home mom for the past nine years. I have been guilty of saying I could never put my kids in daycare, but that is not to insult those who choose to, to each their own. Im not a judger. But I worked in daycare and preschools for 5 years before having my own kids and I saw way too much!! I guess it left me a bit jaded on the scene, that being said there are certainly some places that are better than others. And as far as the “I don’t know how you do it” comment, guilty again. But never thought it could be taken as an insult, and certainly never meant it that way. I am not nearly structured or self disciplined enough to manage and balance it all, so I am at awe, truly… Of those that can! Honestly, there are days I wish I could bring myself to get out of the house and go to work, I would probably be a healthier, happier person with more balance… And maybe even a better Mom. Being home all the time, I tend to procrastinate more and take my time with my kids for granted more times then I’d like to admit. So when it comes to being a Mom, whether its Working Mom, SAHM, WAHM,…. We are all working hard to give our kids the best we can, and all suffer from “Mommy Guilt” as to whether its good enough or not! But lets just all take a deep breath, cut ourselves and each other some slack, and play nice…. Because, after all… It’s what we would want our kids to do, right!? Let’s instead encourage and validate each others experiences, because being a Mom is the hardest, craziest, most exhausting, and rewarding job there is and we as Moms are the only ones who can truly understand that!

milmom 1 year ago

Military mom here. I love my job, but I missed out on many holidays, mother’s day etc. My job is an experience I wouldn’t miss for the world, but I often feel really sad for my daughter that I can’t be there for a lot of things. I am lucky to have a husband who is an amazing father, and she is a total daddy’s girl, I can leave knowing she is in the most capable hands.

My dad was absent a lot when I grew up, he was military also. I still have a great bond with him, and when he was home we did a lot of things together. Those are very fond memories. I hope to provide the same for my daughter.

Melissa 1 year ago

Not sure where people get the idea that stay at home moms are happily accepted and fawned over. There’s just as much snark and judgment for us for not being “productive members of society” and for “just” being a mom. If you’re worried about what people think, there’s no winning.

Katie L. 1 year ago

I’ve been an almost full time work outside the home mom (meaning part time pay for full time work), and stay at home mom and now a work at home mom. No matter what I’ve done, I’ve received snide comments or the assumption that I either am a bad mom because my kids were in daycare, or I am stupid, lazy and have nothing better to do than to volunteer for activities because “all the other moms work”. No matter what you do, someone will say something. At the end of the day, who you are doing it for is what matters.

Stacey Mooney 1 year ago

#10 was the best

Suzanne Franks Holzwanger 1 year ago

I was a full time working mom only until the last 2 years. Your candor is SPOT ON! Lexi Drake!

brittany 1 year ago

I’m a part-time working mom with a flex schedule, and I had to laugh especially hard at #9. How do I do it? I don’t! And I don’t even work full time! My house is a mess, and my kids ARE eating ramen. But they’re happy to see me when I pick them up, so I must be doing something right. (Oh, and if you DO work full-time… Or even part-time…. and ARE managing to cook and clean every night, and maintain your happy marriage and your sanity, please share your secret! )

Beth Stolte 1 year ago

“Aren’t we really all working moms?” Okay then I have two jobs.

Katie 1 year ago

There are many reasons for the decision to work – some can’t afford NOT to work. Some families require dual incomes to get by. Some enjoy working and are proud of the work they do. Some don’t want to be SAHMs. Bottom line – it’s a personal decision. Judge less, support more.

Emily 1 year ago

All so true! The only other working moms I know are the ones I work with – every single one of my mom friends stays home. While they are all awesome and supportive, it’s great to read this and know other moms out there get what my life is like right now. I sometimes feel left out of all the mom activities my SAHM friends do while I’m at work.

The only slightly judgy comment I’ve ever gotten about working was, “Don’t you want to stay home now that you’re about to have two?” No, if anything, I need to work MORE now that I’m about to have two! My husband is an elementary school teacher, and it’s not feasible for us to live on his salary. I kind of felt like the mom who said that to me just thought I was working for fun, not to provide for my family.

Alexandra Davenport 1 year ago

I am a stay at home mum but will be returning to the world of work when my youngest is at school. I couldn’t justify sitting at home when I have no children to look after for most of the day. X

Hsiuwen Jao-Torres 1 year ago

#3 happens too many darn times!! When I see the daycare caller ID I just think ok what now? Fever really comes and goes, it doesn’t necessarily mean they need a day off. I know, I’m a scary mommy

GreenThumb 1 year ago

Mothers in poverty, developing countries and conflict zones, mothers who have to deal with the loss of a child have it the worst, ok? They win this stupid sahm vs. wohm contest hands down. They don’t have the time or the resources to scan the internet for mommy articles and publish their 2 cents so I’m putting my vote down for them.

And everyone else just get along, please. There are pluses and minuses to every job, every decision, everything. Who cares who has it the hardest? Or who made the best decision. Everyone is different. Perspective can go a long way, people.

Zainab Khan 1 year ago

This is funny but I’m sorry people say this crap to you. I’m a part time working mom and my son just started daycare last week. I’m bracing myself, hopefully I don’t have to deal with people like this. Props to you working mama!

Claudia Escobar-Carlisle 1 year ago

#7 is BS
I was a working Mommy with my first child.
I am now a SAHM with my 2nd and 3rd who are much more hyper and needy hands down. To me both SAHM and working moms have pro and cons. At the end of the day we are all struggle to make it work Moms.

Jamie Giblon 1 year ago

I love my kids but this girl was not meant to be a stay at home mommy! I was happy sending my youngest to daycare cause he’s a mama’a boy, and doesn’t leave my side from wake up to bedtime! Oh… And when hubby asks what’s for dinner after I’ve been at work 12hours and you only worked a half day???? It’s on!

Tanya 1 year ago

My absolute favorite is the smug “I didn’t have my kids so that strangers could raise them.” Because, obviously, I did. That was, in fact my primary motivation: have a baby so that strangers have one to raise. Yup.

Nikki Brookman Craddock 1 year ago

I am pro stay at home moms….and why are things scheduled early….because us stay at home moms stay to a strict schedule and need things early to get things done….if it’s later it’s worse on the kids….and the kids are number one…not work or money

Karen Stump Woody 1 year ago

Wow, not me. As a stay-at-home mom for the last 12yrs I PRAISE working moms! How they accomplish so much is beyond me! Keep up the great work, working moms!


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