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Ode to the Working Mom

The term working mom is kind of an oxymoron, amiright? I don’t know of any mom that doesn’t put in the work. Is there a non-working mom? If so, I want to meet her!

Let’s face it – mom-ing is work. It’s work whether you stay home, work from home, or work outside of the home. We signed up for this mom gig, but the amount of work wasn’t listed in the job description – like an ‘other duties as assigned’ kind of disclaimer. It’s not so much what the work is, it’s the quantity of tasks.

working mom

All the things. All the time.

While I’ve predominately been a work outside of the home mom, I have had the opportunity to work from home with kids during 2020 (holy cow, this was hard) and stay home with my babies while on maternity leave (and had the opportunity to take a sabbatical from work for 6 weeks this summer!). While my main perspective is working outside of the home, I’ve had a taste of each – and each with its own pros and cons.

This one, though, goes out to the moms that spend most of their days in the office, school, warehouse, clinic, or retail store and then come home and be a wife, hair stylist, nurse, teacher, meal prepper, counselor, and of course mom. Here’s an ode to you, working mom!

Time for work, working mom!

Crusty-nosed kid wakes you up at 4:45AM. Time to prep school lunches, get the kids dressed, drive them to school/daycare, and make it to work in the nick of time. Maybe you’ll brush your hair if you’re lucky. Breakfast is a cough drop and a cold cup of coffee.

Then it’s time to clock in. Answer emails, fill out spreadsheets, instruct the public, perform manual labor. You’re exhausted and barely have 30 minutes for a quick bite to eat. Yum… yesterday’s leftovers.

Your body and eyes are tired from a long 8 hours of being needed, but you power through – almost 5PM! But wait, your job isn’t done yet!

BONUS: School calls you and says your daughter has a fever. She has to be picked up ASAP. You leave work behind (or bring your laptop home if you’re able) and pick up your kid. You attempt to care for your child while checking email and working, but you find it impossible to do both. You let your child watch way more screen time than normal and immediately feel bad about it.

Work may over, but now it’s time to drive through traffic and pick up the kids. They’re starving and ask what’s for dinner. You haven’t even pulled into the driveway yet.

Let’s eat!

Oops, you didn’t lay out any meat this morning. Frozen pizza it is! Hubby will be late, so you’ll eat alone. Hmm, what to eat? How about more of yesterday’s leftovers? Maybe a few pieces of pizza crust for good measure.

There is no sitting down for dinner as you must clean up food your baby threw on the floor and suddenly the older two don’t like pizza and refuse to eat. You tell them it’ll be there when they get hungry. You scarf dinner down while it’s semi-warm.

You remember you need groceries. Jump into Instacart for grocery pick up later this week. Make sure you planned meals and got enough food for school lunches next week. Crap, that bill is expensive – ouch!

School prep!

Time to check the kids’ bags for homework. We complete the work pages begrudgingly. Zip up the bag and we’re good to go. Wait – there is a family project due end of the week: “Create your own balloon with things that represent your family.” There is no more construction paper, glue, paint, or markers at home. No time to go to the store tonight. “Siri: remind me to go to Dollar Tree during lunch to pick up supplies.”

Now it’s time to pack tomorrow’s school lunch – slim pickins since there are no groceries. We scour through the pantry and freezer for something I can make in a pinch for tomorrow. How about some fruit snacks, carrot sticks, stale graham crackers, string cheese, PB sandwich, and an orange? Kids want a Lunchable but settle for what we have on hand. You feel guilty because you haven’t had time to go to the store this week.

Let’s lay out clothes tonight to make it easier in the morning – kids agree on what’s picked out, but will fight with me in the morning. Sigh.

All is packed, laid out, and ready for tomorrow. It’s another day. Mom can finally sit down…but just for a minute.

Bedtime!

Get a bath ready, pajamas on, teeth brushed, books read x3. First one wants some water, second needs a back rub, and third needs rocked to sleep. An hour later, everyone has doors closed and lights off. Pure bliss.

If I’m feeling adventurous and have energy, I’ll go downstairs to walk on the treadmill for a few minutes. I feel guilty that I’m not tending to the pile of dishes or laundry, but I finally get some “me time” so I let that thought go. I’ll do them tomorrow (which is really more like Saturday).

Mom can finally take a shower. Who knew hygiene could feel like self-care? Hubby wants to start a new Netflix series – 1899. Not really into it, but I watch with him. My eyes are fluttering. I set my alarm for 5AM, but I know I’ll get woken up by someone by midnight.

Rinse, wash, and repeat (on a typical day). This doesn’t include a trip to Dance on Monday, an urgent care trip on Friday afternoon, or an early morning dentist appointment with three kids in tow. Those are just extra sprinkles on top.

How do working moms do it?

I get this comment a lot: “I don’t know how you do it. You’re super mom!” I don’t know how I do it, either. I just do it because it has to be done. I’m no saint. I’m a mom and that’s what moms do. We’re all working moms. We all put in countless hours into caring for our kids, families, and work. We come second. But man, “work out of the home” mamas – I stand with you in solidarity. It’s hard, really hard. Being a good employee, a good mom, a good wife, and still find time for socialization and self-care. Being needed for 15+ hours a day will question anyone’s sanity.

In addition, you miss out on all the library morning story times, and $1 Fun Station days, and are required to take PTO or use your lunch break to do errands or make appointments because everything closes at 5PM. The house is destroyed because you only have so much time in the day for it all and clean floors don’t make the list. I would love to meet up with other mamas on a play date, but by the time I get home and eat dinner, there leaves no extra time. I’m burnt out. Is there a FindWorkingMoms.com that exists where I can find working moms in the same boat? I could use a friend or two. The extra money for self-care goes to my weekly daycare bill (which is pretty much a second mortgage), so I go without massages or haircuts for months at a time. My re-growth is so bad, y’all.

I’m just venting at this point, but it’s all factual. Sigh. Maybe someday things will be easier. “Being in the thick of it” will be a distant memory and I’ll be able to take a breather with a hot cup of coffee on a beach somewhere – surrounded by all my working mom friends as we soak up our first non-workday in years. That will be the day.



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