Being a mom is hard enough, but being a working mom sometimes feels like more than you can handle. We know because we’ve been there.
We’ve been up at 5am to feed the baby, get the kids dressed, get ourselves dressed, quickly smile through daycare drop off as our kids (or we) blink away the tears, work 8+ hours at our workplace, pick the kids up from daycare, make a quick dinner while navigating end-of-day meltdowns, spend one to two hours (if we’re lucky) with our children before bedtime routines begin, bathe the kids, tuck the kids into bed, and collapse on the couch only to do it all over again the next day.
On the days when you feel like working motherhood is like climbing a never-ending mountain, you need to be grounded in truth – truth that you are such a good mom, truth that you are everything your child needs, and truth that other moms have been where you are and we’ll be with you where you’re going. You’re not alone on this adventure, friend. You’re strong, powerful, and a force to be reckoned with.
It’s time to fill our hearts with the truth of who we are and finally dismiss the lies that too many of us have been believing.
Lie #1: You are missing out on the most important moments of your kids’ lives
This lie that you are missing out on the most important moments of your kids’ lives as a working mom was the toughest for me to swallow. It’s the lie that kept me crying myself to sleep and the lie that kept attacking me again and again whenever I thought about returning to work following maternity leave. I so desperately wanted to be there for every part of my child’s life and the thought of missing that first roll, first step, or first anything almost made me decide not to return back to work.
Truth: No mom is present for every moment of her child’s life
But here’s the truth – you probably will miss something along the way, but to be honest, so will every other mother in the world. No mother (or at least I haven’t met her if she’s out there!) is there for every milestone moment of their child’s life. Stay at home moms with multiple kids aren’t giving every moment of their waking time to one specific child. They likely have other kids that they’re feeding, washing, and playing with during the day. On top of that, they’re running a household for goodness sake and are CRAZY BUSY. They aren’t gazing into the eyes of their child all day long.
Realizing this truth gave me so much hope because I was able to realize that even if I was home during the day, I might still miss the moment. Being a working mom didn’t somehow automatically disqualify me from missing milestone moments, instead it made me cherish the ones I was present for even more. And if any of you have ever told your care providers to lie to you if they (instead of you) happen to be the ones to witness those first coveted first steps, well, you can join me in the club of “yes, please lie to my face – it’s helping me cope with life right now.”
So what’s the key here?
One, it’s realizing that yes, you will likely miss something along the way. Your child might roll over for the first time at daycare, but bless their hearts, your daycare workers will lie per your request and pretend like it didn’t happen.
Two, it’s realizing that the quality of time spent with your child is the most important measure of all. If you are present with your child in the moments you spend with them, those are the moments that make all the difference in the life of a child. Give yourself grace and realize that you can’t be a present mom all the time (not even stay at home moms are). Then when you do spend time with your child, be the most amazingly present mom you can be.
Lie #2: Your kids will be “messed up” because someone besides you took care of them during the day
I’ll start this one off by stating the obvious. If you are leaving your child in the care of someone else during the day, you definitely want to make sure you feel good about the person you’re leaving your baby with. That person is fulfilling a very important role and they should be responsible, caring, and safe. With that said, if all of those things are present in a caregiver, you should rest assured that your child will not be “messed up” because someone else took care of them during the day.
Truth: You are the greatest influence on your child’s life
Yes, your baby will be with another person for possibly 40+ hours each week, but you are with them in the mornings, evenings, and weekends…for 18 YEARS. You are the greatest influence on your child and no one could ever replace you. Kids learn by example and while they might learn how to paint at daycare, they’ll learn how to model forgiveness, love, and acceptance by watching you. YOU, friend, are all that your baby needs.
The research proves it
Still don’t believe me? Let’s take a look at the research.
A 2015 study led by Harvard Business School professor, Kathleen McGinn, surveyed more than 100,000 men and women across 29 countries and found that adult children of employed moms reported being just as happy in adulthood as the adult children of moms who didn’t work outside the home. While previous research has shown that young children and teenagers do fine when their moms work, this longer term view into adulthood offers hope for working moms burdened by guilt.
McGinn writes that, “People still have this belief that when moms are employed, it’s somehow detrimental to their children. So our finding that maternal employment doesn’t affect kids’ happiness in adulthood is really important. As we gradually understand that our children aren’t suffering, I hope the guilt will go away. When women choose to work, it’s a financial and personal choice. Women should make that choice based on whether they want or need to work, not based on whether they are harming their children – because they are not.”1
Lie #3: You aren’t capable of excelling in your career because of your commitments at home
There will be days when you feel disconnected from your job because your mind is consumed with thoughts of home. That’s okay. You’re a mom and you are allowed to be human. But there will also be days when you are just killing it at work and you feel energized and proud. Those are the days worth celebrating, because the truth is, you can excel at work and be a great mom. In fact, I think you can be even more excellent at work because you are a mom.
Truth: Being a mother can make you even more excellent in your career
Some of the most powerful women who have changed our world for the better have been mothers and I believe they’ve been more effective because of it. Being a mother forces you to prioritize, master the art of efficiency, and lead with intuition and grace. Why wouldn’t those qualities make you better as a professional? Some world changing mamas include Human Rights attorney Amal Clooney, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, SVP of Retail for Apple, Angela Ahrendts, Deloitte CEO Cathy Engelbert, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, and Former First Lady of the United States, Michelle Obama. These women have all excelled in their careers while being a mother. You and those powerhouse women share some very similar traits, so go out there and change the world.
Lie #4: Your responsibilities at work make you a bad mom
Being a working mom does mean that you’ll have to balance work responsibilities in addition to keeping a tiny human alive. However, it does NOT mean that you are a bad mom because you have work responsibilities in addition to home responsibilities. Your life will likely look different from that of the stay-at-home mom next door, but remember, you are all that your child needs.
Truth: You can be a great mom no matter what your employment status is
Yes, there will be days when you might not be able to cook a homemade treat for the bake sale at school. Buying something from the store will be just fine, I promise, and it won’t make you a bad mom. Having to spend a week away from your child while on a business trip might seem like the most heart wrenching thing you could ever do, but you’ll survive and your child will be just fine while you’re gone. You might even come to look forward to getting a full night of sleep on those trips away.
I like to think that being a working mom makes me a better version of myself because it means I have to be hyper focused. When I’m at work, I am more efficient than I ever dreamed I could be because I can’t wait to leave and see my squishy baby. When I’m at home, I’m strict about setting boundaries from work in order to be fully present with my family. With healthy boundaries in place, you can be a great mom no matter what your employment status is.
Lie #5: You don’t belong in the “mommy community”
This is a BIG. FAT. LIE. You are a mom, thus you belong in the “mommy community.” Period.
Before I became a mom, I thought the ideal picture of motherhood was that of a stay-at-home mom, hosting playdates every day, feeding my kids only the best organic food available, and going to baby yoga classes on the regular.
Friends, let’s all have a wake up call because this is not reality. Ask any stay-at-home mom and they will tell you that the day in and day out reality of their life is not this idealized picture of motherhood. Working mothers would obviously disagree with this idealized picture as well. In both situations, mothers are feeling like they don’t belong in the mommy community because they don’t measure up to this arbitrary state of motherhood idealism in America. Can we all please stop measuring and just extend grace?
Truth: Your career is not a disqualification for community
If you have ever wiped a poopy butt, stayed up all night with a sick child, read one too many bedtime stories, or loved a tiny human more than you ever thought possible, then you are a mom and you belong. Plain and simple. Motherhood might come to you through pregnancy, marriage, family, or adoption. Regardless of how it came to you or what your current life looks like, you are a mother and you are enough.
Conclusion: Let’s stop believing the lies that we aren’t enough and start living into the gifts we’ve been given
So let’s all stop believing the lies that we aren’t enough for our families, our employers, and ourselves and let’s start living into the gifts we’ve been given. It’s only when we passionately pursue the things on our heart that we give others (including our children) permission to do the same.
So friend, let me tell you the truth that you need to hear – you are enough. You are enough at home and in your career and most importantly, you are such a good mom.
What lies have you believed as a working mom? In what ways have you struggled feeling like you aren’t enough as a working a mom?