Here in Northern Colorado, it feels like a big percentage of moms stay home. I have no problem with that. However, I am not a stay-at-home mom. I am really passionate about my work and I have no desire to stay home while my children are little. I feel called to be exactly where I am in this phase of life.
I have friends who are stay-at-home or work-from-home moms and I absolutely love them. I can’t imagine my life without them. That being said, our struggles are different, even if our kids are the same ages. There are parts of our life that don’t relate and that can lead me to feeling isolated as a working mom.
For example, I feel guilty when they talk about their struggles that I don’t have. I get a break from my amazing, smart-but-sassy, bossy, coming-into-her-independence little terror of a toddler. I talk to adults at work. I get to live out my purpose and passion outside of raising little ones.
And I also feel like opening up about my challenges are unique to my situation: my issues with work/life balance, pumping at work, missing my baby, the things that wake me at night with a pit in my stomach because of the stress of running a business, cleaning my house, missing time or activities with my daughter, etc.
But when it’s hard to pour out your struggles with motherhood and life with the friends you have, it can make you feel even more like you’re on this path alone, wading around in the dark, praying to God that you’re not messing everything or your children up.
The Messages Working Moms Receive
I have heard all of these so many times that I have lost track. You can’t be a good mom if you aren’t home with them. You are missing out on every new milestone. That is time you can never get back. You’re trying to have it all. I was even told by a family member that taking a child to daycare would cause abandonment issues.
I’ve been told that if I am working then someone else is raising my child for me. That one made me literally stop in my tracks. I can see how that is portrayed in movies; CEO mom who is too busy to see her child is begging for her love and attention. The nanny gets called mommy because she is around more than the parents are.
You’ve seen them. That stings. Honestly there have been times where I re-evaluate. Am I messing her up? Is she not going to have memories with me in them? Am I missing everything I am supposed to experience with her? Am I a terrible mom because I work?
And then I see her. I am her favorite person in the world (sorry husband). I dare someone to tell me that I am not raising my daughter. Try it.
The Struggle of Missing a Village
I want to reiterate that I work with stay-at-home moms everyday who deal with the incredible isolation that comes with being a mom at home with littles. In no way do I want to minimize their struggle, I just want to address the challenge that comes with being a working woman who is also a mom.
When becoming a mom, we hear about the joys and trials of raising our small ones. But rarely do we address the true, at your core, isolation. It takes a village to raise a child. Our society is not built like that.
As a culture we are starting to make changes so that moms can keep our sanity. Self-care, mom’s night outs, play dates, events that are focused on moms are a common theme now (as they should be). However, many times working moms aren’t involved in these, for a few reasons.
- Events are planned during the week, during working hours especially for moms who are not working to keep their littles busy during the week. It is rare for play dates or toddler gyms to be scheduled on weekends.
- At the end of a work day, I want to be home snuggling my baby or spending time with my husband so going to a mom’s night or an event to meet or spend time with friends is low on my priority list.
- I also need time to decompress from work. I spend all day around people and it’s really nice to ome home and be done for the day. Putting on cute clothes, make-up and a fun attitude is not easy after a long day that is both physically and emotionally draining.
Isolation isn’t just from missing events designed for moms. It’s the actual missing of a tribe. Mom friends are HARD to make. It’s even harder to make deep soulmate-level friendships that go deeper than: “you’re dealing with terrible two’s? Me too!”
We all know how important it is to have mom friends. Not that when you pop out a baby you should drop your friends who don’t have littles but it is important to have friends who are in the trenches like you are.
To Working Moms Out There: You’ve Got This
Mom guilt is, without a doubt, a devil. It can hit any parent for a million reasons. But for the working mother, it’s pretty easy to spot.
So, to those moms out there working, missing your littles, coming home exhausted from one shift to start second shift at home, feeling defeated some days, please know that you are killing it.
You are fierce. Even on the days where you dropped the ball. You are setting a great example for your kiddos. You are showing your children how to manage their time, prioritize their life, love their family and still find time for life. You are a warrior.
Find yourself a tribe. Have other working moms be a part of that tribe. Have accountability partners to help you stay “balanced”. And the next time someone makes you feel like you’re trying to have it all, tell them, “You’re darn right! I am!”
I struggled (and still do) with asking or accepting help. I am an independent woman! But this motherhood thing is not meant for independence. It’s meant for bringing us together.