Dear Working Mom,
I have never been in your shoes. I can pretend to know what it is like to get up Monday through Friday or whatever your hours may be, but I do not. I left my job as a nurse when I was 30 weeks pregnant with my first child. It was a choice that my husband and I made for our family based on calculated financial and shared responsibility before we actually knew what it was like to be parents, but one we have continued to renew. I say this because I know many people have no choice in whether or not to work, so I just wanted to acknowledge that up front. I also thought it was important to highlight that I made this choice to end my career having zero parenting experience.
I Am Often Jealous of You.
I’ll be real honest here, often times working seems like the better gig. Leaving my house looking put together with no one else bodily fluids on me to use my brain and have adult conversation. Lunch hours alone. Peeing alone. Car rides alone. Someone to call me by my actual name instead of just demand snacks. Your day isn’t filled with laundry loads started and then forgotten. Cleaning up the same mess 47 times. I did the same wooden jigsaw puzzle, no joke, ten times today because some how the pieces kept ending up scattered. I miss the fulfillment that comes from really being good at something measurable.
There is no progress report in motherhood, and if there were I am pretty sure my dirty house and sometimes ill behaved children wouldn’t earn me a raise. I am also not good at the stereotypical parts of my role. The dust bunnies under my couch multiply like well bunnies. My mom flirting is awkward. And I cannot craft, but rather Amazon Prime everything. I feel like I am always behind checking no boxes because my “work” is never done. I am envious of a project with a completion date
But Then I Realize Sometimes I Just Miss the Old Me.
It’s not so much that I am jealous of you because when you wake up extra early to make yourself presentable, stay up late working on all of the household tasks that I could allocate through the day, you are just as much of a 24/7 mother as me. Our ways of doing things may look different, but you still need clean underwear just like I do only you have to manage it outside of your regular job. That and helping kids with homework, providing dinner (like every night…these kids!), waking up with nursing babies. Everything. You do it too.
What I am really missing is my pre-mom self who had no idea how simple things could be. I would never wish to actually go back to that because my heart is so filled both with love for my tiny people and their father helping me raise them. I do have moments of clarity and self reflection, however, somewhere around that third cup of coffee/second glass of wine feeling, where I wish I could reach back five years and shake my own shoulders.
Maybe that’s why I like to direct my envy at you, darling working mom. Maybe in my own way, you look like you haven’t lost yourself quite like I have. Somedays it’s the most blissful loss filled with giggles, hugs, milestones, and of course coffee stained yoga pants. But other days it’s lonely and exhausting and boring.
I hate that from a young age we’ve been ingrained to point fingers at someone different than us to explain away our shortcomings. Maybe you look at me and see someone with no drive or ambition wasting my education. Maybe somedays that’s fair, but mostly I wish we could each see how lucky our daughters and sons are to be living in a generation where women are so strong. They are free to financially rule the home with a baby on their hip, they are free to run a business from nap time, or command a courtroom after a pump break. How about I just tell you that you, working mom, amaze me and I am so happy to point you out to my daughter. Let’s be in this thing together.
A Stay at Home Mom