I’ve been a working mom and I’ve been a quasi-stay-at-home mom (I’m in Canada and have three kids, which means I’ve had three year-long maternity leaves). Both can be wonderful, and both can be difficult — in very different ways.
Being a working mom comes with its own unique set of challenges. Number one on that list is the heavy dose of mom guilt that you’re confronted with almost every day. Guilt that you’re missing important moments with your kids when you’re at work, and, on the work front, guilt that your priorities have shifted and work is no longer number one. There are positives as well. You get to use your training and education, challenge yourself intellectually, and stay in touch with who you are beyond “Mom.” But there’s no denying that it’s hard.
There are certain realities of being a working mom that are almost inescapable. Here are 16 realities of life as a working mom that — if you’re a working mom — I suspect you can relate to:
1. You get to drink hot coffee. Your (child-free) co-workers do not understand why this makes you so happy.
2. You’ve developed the ability to function on an incredibly small amount of sleep.
3. You’ve gone to work with spit-up or boogers or crusted food on your shirt at least once.
4. Waking up to a sick child means intense negotiations between you and your spouse about who is going to stay home.
5. Seeing daycare’s phone number on your call display at work fills you with a sense of dread, and has you frantically scanning your schedule for the rest of the day.
6. You miss things. Whether it’s Mother’s Day brunch at daycare, a school play, a soccer game, or the countless other activities that your children have, you simply cannot be at them all.
7. The hours between 5:00 and 8:00 PM are a frantic sprint every day…
8. …as are the hours between 6:00 and 8:00 AM.
9. You pay a daycare bill each month that rivals (or in many cases, greatly surpasses!) your mortgage. You wonder what you did with that money before kids and dream about the high-rolling lifestyle you’re sure to have once all of the kids are in school.
10. You pry your little one off your leg in the morning at daycare drop off, give them hugs and reassurances with a big smile on your face, then get to your car and fight back tears. Other times, you show up at daycare excited to see your child after a long day and they will barely acknowledge your arrival. Sometimes both of these happen in the same day.
11. Supposedly well-meaning strangers and acquaintances remark that they “couldn’t imagine having daycare raise their kids,” or “didn’t have kids just so that somebody else could raise them.” I have yet to find an appropriate response to this.
12. You’re asked incredibly personal questions about being a working mom. I can almost guarantee that nobody has ever asked your husband how he feels about being a working father.
13. You feel like you are always struggling to keep your head above water. You can’t give 100% to work, and you can’t give 100% to your kids. It’s a constant juggling act, and you’re always questioning if you’ve found the right balance.
14. You’ve become more organized and efficient than you ever imagined (or cared to be, for that matter).
15. Putting your child into daycare was the hardest thing you’ve every done. Yet, slowly, over time, your child’s teachers have become a crucial and cherished part of your “village.” Your child will learn things they wouldn’t have otherwise, and will form attachments with his or her teachers and classmates. Your village will grow, and your child will reap the benefit of having even more people who care greatly about him or her.
16. You are setting an incredible example for your daughters and you’re setting an incredible example for your sons.
To my fellow working moms: I know how hard this is. You’re amazing.