I have to start every one of these posts with the disclaimer that ALL MOMS ARE WORKING MOMS. Whether you choose to be home with your kids and put in work there, or work in a career of your choice, we all work. After my first baby, I felt very isolated as I prepared to return to my corporate position after my maternity leave ended. The majority of my friends are stay at home moms, and I thoroughly enjoyed spending my leave days in play groups and focused completely on my parenting. I faced a lot of judgement both societal and within our circle for returning and faced a lot of mom guilt. If you are a working mom in a career journey, hopefully these thoughts will help you feel less alone than I felt and enjoy those remaining days with your babe free of worry. Working moms need encouragement while managing through the confusion and guilt. These are the things I wish someone had said to me. These are things that every working mom should hear.
It’s okay if you look forward to Monday. And it’s okay if you don’t.
Parenting is freaking hard! I know so many colleagues that comment about how they look forward to every Monday and cannot stand having long breaks with their kids home from school. Humans are creatures of habit and like a schedule. If you love the routine of going to work on Mondays while your kids go to school or daycare, that is okay. You do not love them any less, and you can enjoy your serene Monday free of any guilt. If, like me, you live for the weekends and bonus days with your kids, that is okay too. I felt extreme guilt for missing my babies while I was at work when it seemed like all the working moms around me were smiling into their coffee and catching up with their adult conversations. Whichever way your heart feels, is the way you should feel. And there is another working mama out there feeling those exact feelings right along with you.
If you feel more confident as a working professional than you do as a mom, that is okay.
Before you were a mom, you were just YOU. You pursued education and training that you earned and took on various jobs and roles. You did things that reflected who you are as just you. Oftentimes this is evident in our career path. Having a baby that you love more than your soul, does not automatically bring with it a large spoonful of confidence. If you feel more confident and in the zone in a meeting room or at the office instead of at home with your little ones, there is nothing wrong with you. You are still the you that you always were. You will still keep moving forward with motherhood, and your confidence will grow there too.
Your hard work is appreciated.
Whether your work because you have to or because you want to, your decision is appreciated. You are working hard every day to be there for your family and maintain your career. It may feel like it goes unnoticed in the day to day, but it isn’t. You are appreciated for the work you are putting into the family you are growing. You are appreciated for the mom and wife that you are. Your financial contributions and their impacts on your family are appreciated. You are appreciated for staying true to yourself and pursuing your dreams too.
You don’t have to be there to experience it.
One of the best parts of my day is listening to my daughter recount all the wonder from her day before bed. She tells me all the songs she danced to, and projects she did. She tells me about her lunch and her nap and the weather outside. I get to experience all the joys of watching her grow. You do not have to be there, to still experience your children.
Your kids might miss you, but they also admire you.
They may be too little or too busy to tell you how much they admire you. They might cry when you leave and run to you when you walk through the door. But they recognize that working is important, and that you do it for them. They admire the confidence you display when you talk about your job. As they grow into adults they will remember you as a mom, and they will also remember your successes. They will watch you reach your goals as they set their own and they will hold themselves to high expectations. They will watch you overcome adversity and learn resiliency that will carry over into who they become in their own lives.
You may have days where you choose motherhood over your job, and that is okay. You may have days where you choose your job over your kids, and that is okay too.
The best advice I ever heard about balancing work and parenting was from a wildly successful executive that I worked for. He said, “The key to being your best self at work and at home is always knowing where the priority is. To go where you are most needed on a constantly changing basis. If you are needed more by one of your children, then you leave work behind and turn towards home. If your home is functioning smoothly and you are needed more at work, then you make work your priority in the moment. Be fluid and always pay attention to the priority.” The pendulum will swing and you will never feel balanced. You will have weeks where you put in more hours at work and weeks where you need to be home. As long as you are flexible with yourself, you will always know where you are needed most.
You do not love your kids any less than the mom that stays home.
YOU CAN LOVE YOUR KIDS THE SAME AMOUNT AS THE MOM WHO STAYS AT HOME. Choosing to work because it is the best decision for you or your family has no impact on the amount of love you have for your children. I love my kids so fiercely, and choosing to work does not diminish that in the slightest.
You are doing great, exactly where you are.
It might feel like you ran a marathon every morning before you got to the office, but no one else knows that. You might feel like your mind and your heart is pulled in a million directions. But no one else can tell. It might feel like you are never put together, and like things are always dropping. You are doing the best you can, and the best you can is exactly as it should be. You are doing great at work, and you are doing great with your children.
I’m with you, mama. I hope these are the things you need to hear.
All the best,