Cue Fergie’s song “Glamorous”. G-L-A-M-O-R-O-U-S, yeah GLAMOROUS. Are you singing along? Bopping your head and humming the tune? Yeah, me too. That is pretty much exactly how I thought my life as a working mother would be–glamorous. In fact, I think it is safe to say, that society may even imply that working moms have it, dare I say it, easy? The truth, believe it or not, is that my life is anything but glamorous. Have a seat, grab yourself a drink, and relax, it is about to get crazy.
Sunday: As a full-time, work-outside-the-home momma, Sundays are the absolute worst. It is the day where all the loose-ends from the weekend need to be tied up in order for an efficient and productive week. It was hard enough getting everything done as a working mom of one child. Add another child to the mix? Well, let me just tell you that I say daily prayers that in a few years my brain will go back to functioning at its normal capacity (Is that too hopeful?).
Sunday is the day for preparation. Two bags need to be packed with clean sheets and clean blankets. It is the day where I scroll through the school’s cell phone app to make sure the baby hasn’t run out of diapers and wipes. Sunday is the day where I go through piles of school forms. It is the day where the never-ending to-do-list gets looked at over and over again and I find myself asking, “What am I forgetting?” at least every two hours.
It does not end there. Sunday is the day that I finish grocery shopping for the week because the working-mom-guilt is real, and I cannot bear the thought of not feeding my family a home-cooked meal every-single-day. It is the day I restock the school snacks and make sure that there are enough strawberries and raspberries for morning breakfast oatmeal. This all happens while I simultaneously coordinate chaos in my household, because day-to-day life doesn’t stop.
Breakfast, lunch, and dinner still need to be made. The kitchen needs to be cleaned and the dishes don’t put themselves away; crazy, I know. There is nap-time, play-time, and bed-time. Before I close my eyes I run through my list one-last-time. Bags packed? Checked! Breakfast made? Check! Clothes laid out for school? Check! Alarm set? Check! Okay, now, one last prayer for my sweet little children to sleep through the night, ‘cuz this momma has a meeting and five reports to complete and she needs her remaining brain cells to be running at full-speed.
Monday: At some point throughout the night I had to go check on one of the kids. I used my cell phone’s flashlight and mistakenly turned off my alarm. Yes, true story (I still cannot figure out how this happens). My husband’s alarm goes off and I immediately jump out of bed; it is 6:50 AM and I have to be at work at 8:00 AM. Well, there goes my morning shower (good thing I showered before bed). I brush my teeth while I clean my face; I am a master-multi-tasker. During my five minute make-up application (gotta hide those dark circles!) I decide what I am going to wear for the day. Since I didn’t have that morning shower, I also didn’t shave my legs, so, no skirt for me. I know, so glamorous.
Before opening the door to my son’s room I take a deep breath and brace myself, little man is NOT a morning person. In fact, he does not like to be woken up by anyone or anything. There are mornings where everything runs smooth; there are no tantrums and no tears. However, more often than not, I get him dressed as he wildly protests by screaming loudly into my ear. Like I said, not a morning person. We say good-bye to daddy, briskly walk down the stairs, eat our yogurt (we save the rest of our breakfast for school) put on our shoes, and rush out the door. I’m late, again, but what can I do?
We pull into the daycare parking lot, I take him out of his carseat, remind myself I REALLY need to take a sponge to those yogurt stains, and he immediately tries to wiggle himself from my arms. He doesn’t want to be held anymore. He’s decided that he wants to walk himself to his classroom (Yup, I am definitely late).
After what feels like an eternity we make it to his classroom. I take out the contents of his bag and fill up his cubby. I walk to the classroom refrigerator, place his snacks and water bottle in his basket and turn to say good-bye. He senses I am leaving and has grabbed on to my leg. It is going to be a rough drop-off. I come down to his level, tell him I love him and repeat over and over, “Mommy will be back soon.” Some days I leave as he shouts out, “Bye-bye” and some days I leave with a lump in my throat as he follows me to the door desperately calling out, “Mommy, mommy” (those days are hard).
I run through the doors, get in my car, and attempt to regain my composure. As I merge towards the turnpike I realize that I put the wrong blanket in my daughter’s backpack. I frantically call my husband and cross my fingers that he is still home. Phew, he hasn’t left, thank goodness; crisis averted.
I realize I forgot my container of water in the fridge and that I didn’t brush my hair, again. I know, so, so glamorous. Traffic is bad, it has started to rain, and my umbrella is sitting nicely on my desk. Finally, I make it to work, only to realize there has been a change in plans and those reports that were due by the end of the day, are now due by noon (pass the caffeine!). I know, so, so, so glamorous.
By lunch-time I remember that we ran out of honey and I’ll need it for my daughter’s overnight oats. I use half of my lunch period to swallow my sandwich and the other half to run errands. Sure, I could stop at the supermarket after work, but that will derail our afternoon routine completely, and ain’t nobody got time for that.
You see, it may seem that working mothers have all this free-time since they aren’t with their children throughout the day, but I argue that the opposite is true. Our day is spent being pulled in a million-and-one directions by different individuals with surprisingly different needs. I can’t just bribe my upset co-worker with a pack of organic gummies, I know, the tragedy. Our houses still need to be kept, dinners still need to be made, and kids still need to be tended to at the end of the day. When the first shift is over, the second shift begins.
Sure, it may feel like a “break” from the outside looking in. However, as a momma in the working trenches, I can safely attest to that falsehood. Working mothers have commitments, deadlines, and bosses. Not to say that stay-at-home mothers and work-from-home mothers do not. Yet, the flexibility is different. If one of my children gets sick and needs to stay home from school, guess what happens? I need to stay home from work and just like that, I am eight hours behind schedule. This life I chose, is anything, but easy. It is anything but glamorous.
Going back to work was a difficult choice made for all the right reasons; at least for me. In some ways, I am lucky; I had a choice. There are many women out there that do NOT have a choice. Their families depend on a two-working-parent household to survive. We should never assume that a mother’s decision to go back to work was made lightheartedly.
There are some working mothers that wish they could have stayed home with their children. There are some working mothers that didn’t even question their desire to return to work. There are some mothers that went back to work and decided that wasn’t for them. There are some mothers that work part-time. And, there are some women that have always known they wanted to be home with their children.
The great thing is that in today’s day and age, a woman can choose. There is no right or wrong choice. It isn’t a one-size-fits all. For every choice there are sacrifices. For every choice there are advantages and disadvantages.
But is this working-momma-life glamorous? Not for this momma, I’d say it is more like a beautiful mess, but one I am proud to walk my flats through.