By Vicki Little
While many stay-at-home moms say they feel misunderstood, many working moms say they feel judged. They have heard statements such as “I could never let anyone else raise my child”. They have stared at the floor when the teacher asks who can help in the classroom. You may recognize this mom as the one who is speed-walking in her work outfit back to her car right past the groups of chatting women. Some may judge that she will be missing out on that day’s field trip. What she is really thinking is that she hopes she won’t be late to work again or she won’t be able to be in home in time for dinner to hear all about that field trip. The one thing that was in common with most of the working moms I talked to is that they are tired of feeling judged, and they are tired of people thinking they aren’t good moms, too.
Here are ten other things working moms want you to know:
1. Their reason for working may surprise you: Some work because they want to, it is true. Not because they want to be away from their children, but because they feel they are a better role model when they are doing something they love and feel fulfilled. Some work because they have to in order to put food on the table. And some choose to work so that they can give their children opportunities they never had as a child.
2. The guilt is overwhelming sometimes: They do not enjoy missing the first step or the first lost tooth. They do not enjoy being ten minutes late to every play or concert. They don’t like hearing their child say they wish they would volunteer more. It hurts them. A lot. But, going back to number one, they are working for a reason.
3. They feel left out: In the times they are not rushing to work or they get the chance to join a field trip or volunteer at an event, they feel like an outsider with a big green wart on their nose. Most other parents don’t know who they are, and they don’t make a huge effort to include them. No one likes to be picked last for dodge ball.
4. They have to get up with the kids, too: Just because they work outside of the home doesn’t mean they get a pass on nightmares, monsters under the bed, or projectile vomit at three in the morning. And when their alarm clock goes off they still have to function at their peak at work. Falling asleep on your desk has a few more consequences than falling asleep at the lunch table. (well maybe, this has yet to be confirmed. Kids with markers are dangerous for a sleeping person)
5. It doesn’t mean having your cake and eating it, too: Straight from the mouth of a dedicated mom who happens to work. It is a huge balancing act. One day their work is priority, the next something at home is. But usually something is taking the back burner. That isn’t an easy decision on what that needs to be-especially if it is their child’s event they will have to miss.
6. They don’t choose work over their kids: Choosing TO work is different than “choosing work”. Working moms are good moms, too, and they put their children and their needs above everything else. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, it can be both.
7. They aren’t leaving their kids with Freddy Krueger: Yes, we have all heard the horror stories about daycare. We have also all heard horror stories that could have happened to any one of our children-even those with stay-at-home moms. Working moms do their research and pick their sitters/daycares carefully. Sometimes it isn’t a good match and they have to search again. It is a lot like dating that way.
8. They depend on their SAHM friends to help them: Even with every event and function on their calendar, working moms are bound to forget something or overschedule themselves, or simply won’t have time to make 20 batches of cookies for the cake sale (that they signed up for because they felt guilty). They depend on their SAH friends to help remind them of important things, help with carpooling, and maybe take a picture or two at an event. They are willing to repay the favor…on the weekend when they aren’t working and their friends can use some shopping time.
9. They don’t get a lot of “me” time: When they aren’t at work and facing the pressures of their job, they are at home and facing the pressures of activities, school, dinners, etc. And when they are home they may be exhausted from waking up for a nightmare and then getting up early to finish their project for work. There is always something taking their time, and often the only alone time they find is in the stressful traffic-filled drive to and from work.
10. Quantity may not always be there, but the quality matters: They may not have all the time they want to spend with their kids, but they treasure the time they do have. And they make sure to put quality in the time they do have.
One working mom summed it up beautifully by saying “We just are… we are mothers, daughters, wives, girlfriends, sisters and friends. We make it work.”
What do you want to say about being a working mom?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. When she isn’t writing or trying to keep up with her kids she can be found volunteering, reading, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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July 8, 2014 @ 11:26 am
This is perfect Vicki. Working moms can’t be there all the time and don’t choose to work to feel disconnected. It’s constant balancing and quality vs quantity. I actually feel like I’m a better mom because I work. I’m teaching my daughters that they can achieve dreams and be a mom. It also gives me a sense of accomplishing something myself while also raising good citizens.
Everyone has to understand that moms come in all shapes and sizes. One size does not fit all. Or determine good or bad mom.
Daria @ Mom in Management
July 8, 2014 @ 1:23 pm
Absolutely adore this post! You have captured so many of the issues/facets of being a working mom. I’d also like to mention that many employers are becoming more aware of the value of work/life balance and are allowing the flexibility to be able to go on those field trips and volunteer in the classes. While it’s not perfect and you do miss some things, SAHMs miss things too. A tooth can fall out and first steps can happen while they are doing groceries or at lunch with a friend. The only way to not miss any time is to have your kids with you 24/7 and to be honest I think that comes with its own price of not modeling healthy “me time” and fostering independence in your kids. But really, why this divide between working moms, stay-at-home moms, work-at-home moms? We ALL are doing the best we can and making the choices we think are best for our families. What works for me may not work for you, same as what works for my oldest doesn’t work for my middle child when it comes to incentives and discipline. The beauty of life is in our differences and our unique journeys, isn’t it?
July 8, 2014 @ 3:34 pm
YOU said it! I have experienced both sides and I feel fortunate and blessed, as well as frustrated and stressed. I am happy I studied gymnastics because some days I am very flexible and other days I fall off the beam.
December 7, 2014 @ 12:40 pm
One thing, not touched on, is lifestyle. Working Mother’s cannot always join a happy hour after work or have time to attend a holiday event. We have to pick up our kids from the bus or care giver. In my case, on my longer days, I have to relieve my husband from being home, so he can go to his second job. Working Mother’s have to do all the things, stay at home Mom’s do. However, we spend the majority of our time in the workplace first. We are tired, exhausted and when do arrive home, we don’t have a lot of energy. We need to get dinner going, homework started, baths, everything prepared for the next day and some rest. So if you are working Mother, stop feeling you have explain yourself all the time. Just do what you feel you can handle! We cannot make it to everything and it’s ok.