By Eileen Turay of Liv & Leen
It’s so easy to look at parents before you become one yourself and have 27,834 thoughts that start with, “When I’m a mom, I’ll never….” And then you become a mom, and you do _____, _____, and _____, proving yourself wrong 27,834 times.
One thing I have become particularly humbled by recently is my new experience as a working mom. The leap from full-time SAHM to full-time career woman wasn’t overnight, which made it easier to acclimate to; however, once I really started increasing my part-time hours to full time, it began to overwhelm me more than I predicted.
Here are some of the things I have learned and why I am writing this apology to the working moms.
1. Working moms may work TWICE as hard.
I’ll openly admit that before I worked, I would silently judge the working moms (and if any SAHMs say otherwise, I would challenge their honesty). Must be nice to have grownup time all day. Must be so easy to just leave all the responsibilities and worry behind with the daycare. She is SO lucky she gets a break from diapers, spit up, crying and messes all day.
Not that I was a bitter SAHM every day, but I’m sure most can admit the “grass is always greener” scenario rears its ugly green head on the roughest days. SO yes, I made judgements, and for that I am SO SORRY.
I am sorry because I know that just because you are not at home, does not mean you are all of the sudden relinquished of your duties as a mom. Rather, you are now a mom AND an (insert career title here). You get to work and are not only worried about whether or not your child pooped enough this morning, if your baby would learn to crawl without you, or if his fever was from teething or a serious deadly illness, but you’re also worried about all of your job responsibilities on top of that.
It really dawned on me one morning on my way to my new job (it was only my second week there), knowing that my daughter was on day two of a 103 fever. I knew her daddy would take great care of her, and I was even so lucky to have her granny in town that week. STILL, I worried. I was texting them all day, giving medicine directions on my break, and constantly checking in to see if she was feeling better yet.
This brings me to another thing I’ve come to know…
2. The GUILT is debilitating.
I don’t know why I assumed that working moms just had a great ol’ time in grown-up land in a guilt-free bubble where they came and went as they pleased. All day I constantly feel guilty. I feel guilty that I’m away from her. I feel guilty when I get home because I left 30 minutes late. I feel guilty every morning when I leave without seeing her because I know I should let her sleep more. I feel guilty that I’m spending more time all week with children who aren’t even my own.
The part that stings the absolute most is when she tells me herself, “I don’t like you when you go to work.” It sucks. It really really sucks. And again, I am sorry. I am so so sorry that I ever doubted the immense amount of guilt that is felt by the working mom all day. I had NO idea.
3. You feel like you aren’t able to take credit for most of her new skills.
I always loved receiving compliments about my daughter’s demeanor, manners, and intelligence. When people said, “She is so polite” or “She talks so well,” I felt like I was partly responsible and I took so much pride in what was being noticed. I was proud because I knew that I was succeeding somehow at parenting.
Though I still take so much pride in her growth, now I know most of her “new tricks” are courtesy of her dad. Some of her latest silly quirks and jokes come from a part of her world I am not there for. I feel left out more times that not, and it’s hard to ignore sometimes.
4. It is possible. It is important. It is rewarding.
With all of the guilt, work, and all that I miss out on, it makes my shorter moments of time with her SO important. I prioritize the quality of time we have together because the quantity is so small.
When I am home, I am present. I make sure that whatever is happening outside of her little world is completely left outside our front door, and I enter HER world wholly. On Saturdays I get up early. Even though I am up early all week and would die to sleep in, I know how LONG a week seems to a three-year-old, so I wake up with her on the weekends. I make sure to acknowledge her sadness when we talk about Mommy having to work; though like I always have, I use it as a teachable moment. We talk about how Mommy helps other people at work who are sad and need help…how some people don’t have a mommy AND a daddy and that she is SO lucky that she gets to have time with her daddy all to herself.
If I view my time as a working mom as a positive experience, teach my daughter that it is a positive experience, and live by example, showing the benefits of contributing to our external world, then I know she will be able to see the positive side of it as well.
BUT I truly am sorry to all the working moms because I really underestimated how wrong I was. As they say, “The grass is green where you water it.”
So if you are a SAHM or a working mom, make your time count. Make every moment worth it. It doesn’t matter if you are physically sitting with your child or sitting in your office, obsessing about her all day; you are a mom. Be a GREAT one!
This post was originally published on Liv & Leen.
About Eileen Turay
Eileen has her Masters of Science in Counseling with a school specialization, she worked with children with Autism for a few years using ABA (applied behavior analysis), and she has taught at both preschool and elementary levels. (She’s even put in quite a few years waiting tables…don’t knock it till you try it 😉 Eileen is from a big family, making leadership naturally forced on her as a necessary skill being the oldest of five kids and second oldest of 22 cousins. Eileen writes at Liv & Leen