Being a mom who works outside the home is hard. Plain hard. It is a division of your time, your energy, your focus. A division of your loyalty.
It is, in a way, being two entirely different people.
The one who gets thrown up on vs the one who calls somebody in to clean it up for them. The one who makes the meal while mitigating the screaming vs the one who orders and consumes the meal while laughing with coworkers. The one who feels in charge vs the one who feels overwhelmed by all these extra people you created.
It is tough to do all the things mom while doing all the things work. It’s hard never being truly off the clock.
What’s even harder is to feel like you are doing a good job at anything.
Mom Guilt is the worst. It’s a total thing. You feel the tug to succeed at your chosen job – your passion, your career – but also you are a mom. And that role comes with feelings that pull almost louder than your chosen direction in life.
The worry that comes with being the designated magnetic north for your little people.
Is their cough getting worse? How is their conflict with that person going? Did they keep their socks on today? Did they eat all their lunch? Do they feel that I love them today? Or did I wreck their day by yelling at them about their socks?
When you’re working full-time, your day as a mom goes like this: wake up before the birds, get yourself ready, wake them up, make sure they’re dressed and fed, get them in the car, dump them at school or daycare, gather your thoughts in the car to your work, put on a new hat and a new smile as you walk into your home-away-from-home, make decisions and put out fires all day, clock out, grab your kids, ask them all the things in the car, make something sort of nutritious for supper, supervise chores and play a little, keep putting the octopus back into bed while you try to do your out-of-office work, and then collapse when either a) you hear silence, or b) your brain stops working.
The working mom pace is seriously tough. Self-care, friendships, marriage are hard to maintain.
Working mom, I see you. You’re tired. You never feel like you’re doing well at anything.
But rest assured, you are.
Here’s what I see.
It sounds creepy, but your kids are always watching you. They are constantly internalizing your actions, drawing conclusions about the world from them, constructing their own value system. They see you working hard. They see you being strong.
And they see that their passions are worth pursuing. They see work ethic exemplified. They see the significance of commitment. They see emotion not being in charge of decisions. They see the reward that hard work brings.
They see you fail, and then try again. They see you have a hard day, but not give up tomorrow.
These are all good things. All these unspoken lessons will contribute to their success in high school, in university, in their own employability, in the family they may one day choose to make themselves.
Following your ambition matters. Not just for you, but for your kids as well.
As a working mom you are the ultimate fast-and-done-well-tasker. (I would say multi-tasker, but neuroscience is proving that’s not actually a thing you can succeed at.)
You see the big task and can intuitively break it into small, achievable ones. Rapidly.
You know what to focus on. You know the next ten steps. You know the quickest way to do all of them.
The person who plays speed chess isn’t a worse chess player than the traditional player who takes ten minutes to decide their next move.
You know you have a limited amount of time to do everything, and you might be interrupted. And you have to leave work early because your youngest kid has a lesson before your oldest has a practice.
So before you do the thing, you already have thought it through and know how you are going to do it. You can complete paperwork at least 6x quicker than your cubicle neighbor.
You are a boss at what you do. And you make it look easy because you do it so well, so fast. You make your task-time count.
Protecting Mom Time
Working moms are the best at making the time they have with their kids fun and meaningful. In true economic law, limited availability of a commodity drives the price up. You have limited time with your kids. It is crazy valuable. For both you and your kids.
When you are clocked out of work, your mom hat stays on. That is who you are, and your work self is just an alter-ego you keep in the tickle trunk.
When you’re in the room with your kids, you are In. The. Room.
They notice that. They notice your presence. They know you are available. They know you will respond to their needs.
Working moms understand the magic of the little moments, like making banana bread together, and they can breathe it in deep. And it doesn’t have to be posted to Instagram for it to be real.
Your kids won’t remember all the moments you weren’t around. But they will remember how you took the limited time you had with them and made it count.
The Power of Mom-Words
You are the compass for your children. Research shows that what a mom says to their children has the most impact, even if they are separate the majority of the day.
Your words have the ultimate power over your kids. And you use that power well.
You build them up. Speak life into them. Affirm their being. Help them solve problems. Enjoy their weird personalities. Let them know they will be okay.
Your kid doesn’t have to be around you all the time for what you say to matter. It just matters, because you are their mom.
This is nature’s gift to you, the nurturer.
You Dress Well
Stay-at-home moms are envious of your wardrobe. They have to dress for exercise because that’s what they do all day. But you – you get to wear nice things.
Scarves, because you have no need to see your feet when you bend over. Necklaces, because they won’t get in the macaroni. Earrings, because they won’t get ripped out. Long hair, because your job is not a full-contact sport. White, because a little ketchup face can’t find you at the office.
You get to reap the confidence that comes with dressing to be around other adults. Cherish it.
Working mom, I see you being a boss. I see you doing well. I see you hold the little moments close in gratitude. I see you be careful with your words and time. I see that you are doing your best in all the things. I see your kids being happy. And I see your kids learning so much from you.
Working mom, you are winning in so many ways.
Stop doubting yourself.