For some reason I woke up this morning with the thought what about me? What about me, the working mom? I’ve read many blogs, posts, articles, comments and feelings on the stay at home mom. Their many sacrifices, the difficulties of staying home and the lack of understanding the world and often their husbands have for them. Well, I think the world has a lack of understanding for me too, for all working mothers! The working mother has also made a host of sacrifices and much like the stay at home mom, it takes a shot at her career.
#1 Sacrifice: I’ve returned to work after each maternity leave and I’ve often wondered where does all the juggling really get you? I’ve had the thought many times that I certainly have potential to be in the top ranks of some business by now if it weren’t for the “mommy track”. What’s the mommy track? I’m glad you asked. The mommy track is that very invisible line corporations draw between you, your actual contributions vs. their perceived contributions. In plain English it means, “I can work late whenever you want, I can be here as early as you need me, I’ll never want to chaperone a field trip, I’ll never have to leave work five minutes after I arrived for a fever at school, and I’ll never-never never ask for a week off at time to be home for (choose one, there’s too damn many) break! Yea, that’s actually what they want to hear. The reality is, that’s actually EVERYTHING the mommy track will ask for plus working from home if you’re really a negotiator! Ha! Unfortunately, the mommy track often leads to your actual contributions being perceived much lower than actual value. Surely a semi chaotic, very spontaneous, semi inflammatory, I mean explosive (not helping) calendar worth the tapered lenses we’re often viewed through? Society says?? (insert your opinion here)
#2 Guilt: In addition to the ticking time bomb calendar there’s also days where I’m quite certain we could equal our body weight in the number of tears we’re fighting back heading to the office having sent a child to school a little unsteady. It can be a lot of guilt! STOP! Before you judge, by unsteady I mean; a splinter in a foot, a cheese sandwich with no cheese (oops), an unsigned permission slip, a hole in the khaki’s, a permission slip marked cannot chaperone etc. Yes, we’re ALL mothers…fevers, green goo, pink eye etc. YES! We stay home too. Clearly, all items are survivable, but none the less the things we beat ourselves up about all day long (while working).
#3 The Trophy: Ahhh, the sought after “trophy wife”. I’ve read in so many blogs this is the part where stay at home mom’s often say we have the advantage? We get the pleasure of heading to husband’s Holiday Party, cocktail party etc. and having an all too impressive resume to dazzle his coworkers. It’s more than “I’m a mom.” In reality the five-minute elevator speech about our high-powered careers left out the following; before work I wrestled with a blood blister on a ballerina’s foot, frantically ran after boys making sure they remembered deodorant, picked out a tie for the hubby, asked myself 100 times should I iron this shirt or not? (the answer is always not), fussed in the carpool line while listening to my email notification “bing” my ears to death and calculating if I have enough time to grab coffee. Note: Traffic never allows time for coffee.
I also left out while at work; sat on hold to request a fax from the Dr’s office for one child, while taking a business call on my desk line, responded to the teacher’s email, got a phone call from the school about said blister and also managed to accomplish returning an insane amount of emails, attend meetings on time while earning that paycheck baby! You don’t get to say all of this at the Holiday Party but it’s what you’re thinking! Note: Assistant? Something to consider.
#4 Adult Interaction: Let me keep this short and sweet. The adult interaction at the office often leads to emails that raise my blood pressure, conversations that raise my blood pressure, meetings that raise my blood pressure and unhealthy frequent lunches that raise my blood pressure. Do you see the pattern here? An advantage? I suppose it depends on who’s paying for lunch? Okay. I am glad we cleared that up. Moving on…
#5 Lack of Understanding: If I read one more blog that says “my husband doesn’t understand what I do all day.” Ladies, they’re men! Do you think being a working mother somehow mysteriously makes him an all-knowing expert on any one thing I juggled in a day on top of item #1, #2 and #4. Husbands don’t get the working woman either.
So you see ladies, the moral of the story is we have it hard too. Some would say harder but that’s not for me to judge. We all made our choice. I haven’t walked in any other shoes but my own and I make an effort to understand all walks of life and that’s all I’m trying to do here (be understanding and be understood). The common thread between all of us is motherhood! We keep our guilt, our adult interaction, lack of understanding etc. in different places in different ways. There’s no right or wrong choice, and we’re all being challenged to raise our kids the best way we know how.
To all mothers…keep being amazing!