I often reminisce about my childless working days and remember the many working Moms who made it look SO easy. They had it all together; reports ready, prepared for the big presentation, with their hair tied back perfectly. I had no fear of the day I would become a working Mom. If they can do it, so can I! And then, when it actually happened to me, I was completely dismayed as I learned more about what REALLY goes on behind the scenes. Life as a working Mom is like a secret club that you don’t truly understand unless you become a part of it. But if you promise not to tell, I’ll let you in on a few of our secrets …
Before we get to work, we’ve already had a day. We’ve been on our feet for hours. The baby woke up at 5 a.m. AGAIN for no apparent reason. Will he EVER sleep in? We raced to get a flash shower in when our other child started knocking on the shower door to not-so-politely ask for breakfast. (Kids aren’t exactly patient when it comes to eating.) We cut our shower short only to realize his nighttime pull-up had leaked in his bed again. Seriously? We scrambled to get the sheets in the laundry. And oh shit! We almost forgot today is “superhero day” at daycare. We managed to change their outfits at the last minute so our kids wouldn’t be disappointed. We forgot to feed ourselves, but a few stale goldfish from the bag left in the car will have to do. We’ve already been a cook, a counselor, a maid, and a chauffeur … and that’s before we even walked through the doors of our salaried job. But we are here now and will quickly shift our attention to the first meeting of the day. And no one will know what we’ve gone through just to get here.
We wear ponytails. Not because we want to, but because we have to. We are envious of other women in the office that look so put together and trendy. Her hair is curled. And her shoulders look so clean. We fantasize about what it was like to get ready by ourselves, at our own pace, before we had kids. Tomorrow I’m going to curl my hair like her. But then, once again, we sacrifice how we’d like to look for yet another “ponytail day” because our little one needed us when we attempted to actually fix our hair. We have pacifiers in our pockets, spit-up on our shoulders and sticky fingerprints on our pants. But we’ll keep all that hidden, and no one will ever know.
We have the weight of the world on our shoulders. We carry working Mom guilt everywhere we go. There’s no escaping it. Just when we start to feel good about the situation, we get a call from daycare that our little one is sick AGAIN. This time strep is going around the daycare and it’s our turn. These are the moments we are drowning in guilt. We feel guilty for leaving work. What will our boss think about us leaving early yet again? And then it’s topped with the guilt that our child was exposed to these germs BECAUSE we work. When we are at home, we are working hard to make up for the time we are at work with our kids and husbands. And then we go back to stressing about trying to keep up with work.
Work IS our “me time.” It’s very hard for us to find time to ourselves. So we enjoy little things about work that give us some sense of “me time.” We aren’t afraid to admit that we take pleasure in peeing at work because it’s our chance to go without an audience. Or that we thoroughly enjoy slowly eating our lunch without little fingers stealing parts of it. It’s our only opportunity to stuff OUR bellies because dinner time will be all about getting the family fed. We don’t care if we look like pigs to our coworkers. This is our only chance to eat a full meal. If they only knew …
We are ridiculously efficient. We have to be. Our daily to-do list is loooong. We have to finish our latest project before the noon deadline in between the morning’s meetings and daily fire drills. And if we don’t get the updated vaccination records faxed to daycare by end of day, the kids can’t go tomorrow. We spend our lunch breaks coordinating appointments, researching our latest Mommy challenge or running errands for our family. We finish our work by 5 p.m. on the dot and run out the door because we have to. We don’t even waste a minute during our drive home. There are calls to be made or audio books to learn from. Let’s not forget we better stop at the convenience store before we pick the kids up from daycare. There’s just not enough milk left to get us through tonight and tomorrow. We wonder what on earth we ever spent our time doing before we had kids.
We are night owls. We are always SO tired. It seems like it will take years to catch up on sleep, if that’s even possible. If we sit down after work, we know we could end up asleep on the couch, so we don’t even dare. We go right into execution mode. And while we push past the point of exhaustion, we promise ourselves tonight I’m definitely going to sleep early. I HAVE to get sleep tonight. But there just isn’t enough time in the day. After reading just one more bedtime story because quality time with our kids is so precious, we stay up late washing the outfit our little one needs tomorrow for “blue day,” making freezer meals in yet another attempt to stop eating out, and finishing up work because we had to leave to pick up our kids in time.
And guess what? This was just one day. We will do it all again tomorrow.
We are the club of Moms that are masters at making it look easy. But behind our ponytails are actually extremely selfless, hard-working Mamas dreaming of the day we can let our hair down again.
But shhh, it’s our little secret.