There are many downsides when you have, or choose, to be a working mom. Sure, there are the looks and comments from people who judge you for not “raising” your children. Then comes the sleep deprivation that leaves you disheveled and out of sorts when you first return to work. There’s the breast pump malfunctions and all the annoying paraphernalia that accompanies you to the office everyday…that has to be washed over and over and over. And let’s not forget the enormous guilt.
When those babies start to develop from little lumps to little humans, things really start to change. You sadly may miss the first smile, first words, or first steps. Then later you might not be able to make that performance or Mother’s Day tea at preschool. It’s a nearly impossible balancing act, trying to masquerade as the ultimate professional and devoted mother, and inevitably someone always ends up disappointed. And it’s usually you.
But there’s one thing that really sucks, more than any of the other trials we face every day when we have to leave our kids…and that’s when your baby is sick. They want and need their mommy, and instead someone else is left to comfort them. A babysitter, teacher, or family member is cuddling them, holding them, rocking them and caring for them. Your baby needs you, and you can’t be there. Instead you sit anxiously at work, checking your phone every few minutes for updates, pictures…any sign that lets you know that they are okay.
The massive guilt I felt when I left for work last night was the heaviest I’ve ever experienced. My shoulders ached with tension and my heart hurt terribly as our nanny pulled her away from me, crying that she wanted to go with me. Our littlest has a high fever, which terrifies me because of her history of febrile seizures, and all day she just didn’t feel well. She wanted me to hold her. She didn’t want to play or eat, and she napped for nearly four hours as her little body tried to fight the infection. And when it was time for me to leave for work, her little lips quivered and her eyes filled with tears, as she asked so sweetly, “Can I please come with you?”
It’s in those moments that I want to quit and “just” be a mom. As if that’s an easy job. It’s not…trust me, I’ve tried it and failed miserably. But for me, this is the single worst thing about being a working mom — and it seems to get tougher with each passing year.
Working in the freelance world has its distinct advantages. I can be home more than a normal 9-5 schedule, and can plan edit days and some interviews when they are in school. But, unfortunately, there are those months that when the work comes, you have to take it…and if you don’t, they won’t ask you anymore. And, of course, it is during this busy time that our kids need us most.
I’m sorry to all those moms who I worked with when I first graduated college who would come to work late because of their sick children…and I silently judged them. They were tired, they missed things that needed to be done, sometimes they even made my job harder. But now I know what they were battling at home, and they deserved my utmost respect.
The term working mother is redundant, because no matter where we go, our kids are always with us. Tomorrow I’ll return my focus to work, where she’ll always be in my heart. But today I’ll savor every second we can be together.