For most of my career, I’ve been surrounded by working moms. I’ve worked both for and alongside women who delicately balanced the art of motherhood and work.
I sat in their offices decorated with stick figure drawings headlined with “I love Mommy.” I saw them rushing out of late afternoon meetings, frantic that they’d be late for daycare pickup once again. I saw them face-timing their kids in the airport, knowing that once again, they wouldn’t be home to tuck them into bed.
Truth be told, I saw these women doing these things, but I didn’t really see these women.
I didn’t see the next-level organizational skills required to manage daycare drop-offs, doctor appointments, and parent-teacher conferences in addition to a full 40+ hour workload. In all honesty, I never gave much thought to the whole “working mom” life. Then I became a mom myself and bam.
Lesson #1: Becoming a mom changes everything no matter what your work status is
The reality of being a working mom suddenly smacked me in the face. I went from not having any clue about the superpowers working moms possessed to wondering how in the world they made it all look so easy. My world was suddenly changed in the best way possible, yet I felt more incapable than I had ever felt in my entire life. Everything was different. Everything.
I no longer slept in until the last possible snooze alarm, but rather woke up (multiple times) in the middle of the night to a wailing baby. I no longer waltzed confidently into the office with a smile on my face and coffee in hand, but rather wobbled into daycare carrying a sleeping baby in a how-can-this-possibly-be-this-heavy car seat.
And I won’t even begin to talk about my first time leaving my precious little baby on the daycare floor while rushing out the door with tears streaming down my face while trying to make it on-time to my morning meeting.
It was the worst. The absolute worst.
Lesson #2: Working moms have superpowers that are invisible to the general bystander
As a girl who thrives on schedule, routine, and I’ll be honest – not adventure – becoming a mom has been an adventure in every sense of the word. It’s changed my world in every possible way. It’s been amazing and is hands-down the biggest blessing of my life, but it’s also been challenging for this change-resistant mama.
But you know what it has done?
It’s given me eyes to see – to really see – other moms. I feel like a fog has been lifted and I suddenly see other moms for the amazing superstars they are. And because my day-to-day life means that I’m in the corporate world with other working moms, I’m even more amazed by the powers that reside within a working mom.
Those women do more in a day than I ever imagined. Even just logistically – how they manage to get an entire family dressed, fed, dropped off at daycare, and into the office on-time – is win number one.
Then they absolutely rock their jobs. They Bon Jovi-style rock them. They lead teams and organizations. They sell products that help people and change lives. They care for patients, families, and communities.
They make the world a better place by giving their all, using their talents, and bringing home a paycheck for their family.
Lesson #3: Balancing the tension of home, work, family, and career is one of the greatest weights that working moms carry
To all the working moms out there, I won’t begin to say that I understand the path you’ve walked because I’m only at the beginning of my own journey and your path is uniquely yours.
What I will say is that I’m beginning to see just a glimpse of who you are. I’m beginning to see that the stick figure drawings decorating your office are really masterpieces of infinite worth.
I’m beginning to see those framed family pictures on your desk as more than just a topic of conversation, but rather as the conversation you can’t have long enough. And I’m beginning to see the constant pull and tug you feel everyday – the tension of balancing home and work, family and career – as one of the greatest weights you carry.
As someone new to the “working mom” tribe, I want to tell you what everyone else is thinking. You are doing such a good job. In the moments when you feel like you’re not enough, know that you are. In the moments when you feel like you’ve lost all of your professional mojo, know that you haven’t.
And in the moments when you feel like you’re all alone, know that you’re not. You have a tribe of fellow working moms who are watching you, admiring you, and cheering you on. And I promise that the next time I witness you lovingly gazing at your adorable baby’s latest photo on your phone, I’ll ask to see if you can share more.
I now understand that those photos could never be enough – but in those moments when the pull and tug is real, know that you are enough. You are doing such a good job, mama.
What lessons did you learn after becoming a working mom? In what ways do you feel the pull and tug of working motherhood?