I hate the term “Mommy Wars.” Are we really at war with one another? And if so, I don’t think I want to know the mommies who think that what they are doing is better than the next person–because if you knew motherhood at all, you would know that there is no rule book, no hand book, no right or wrong way to do it. It’s survival. And the minute you think you have it all figured out and you have found a moment of peace and clarity, your kid changes his or her ways faster than you can shove a chicken nugget into their tired, hungry, screaming faces during the witching hour.
I decided to stay home after my first baby was born. I was working at the best job I had ever had, but when I saw that sweet little baby face of hers, it was over. There was no way three months of leave was going to be long enough for me to feel comfortable handing her over to someone else.
Being a stay-at-home mom is hard. SO. FREAKING. HARD.
There were days where I yearned for adult interaction. Facebook and social media became my only outlet into what the rest of the world was doing. During naptime, I would feverishly scroll through news feeds, blogs, anything to feel a connection to other adults and the world, or to make sure that what I was doing wasn’t crazy or wrong.
It wasn’t long before my old colleagues would check up on me and mention certain openings in the department. Conversations like, “hey! How are you? Show me photos of your cute kids! By the way, you know your old job is open, right?” started happening. At first, it was a solid, “nope.” I wasn’t interested in trying to mother and go back to work. I didn’t want to have to deal with other people’s problems and opinions that undoubtedly come up no matter what type of job you have, in addition to dealing with my day to day problems and challenges. I was perfectly content staying home and raising my children, even though it was so challenging.
But, the calls didn’t stop. Every few months it seemed someone mentioned another opening here, another one there. Soon, I really contemplated what it would be like to work outside of the home again. What does it feel like to be a working mother? Is it better? Am I missing something?
I got word of an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up: a part-time, temporary position in my old department doing work that I enjoy. This was it. It was like I had hit the triple sevens on the slot machine – JACKPOT! This would give me the opportunity to ease in and get a sneak peek into what it’s like to be a working mom.
Being a working mom is hard. SO. FREAKING. HARD.
The days fly by faster than they ever have before and it is exhausting — You have to be presentable and ready and on an actual schedule. While I am no stranger to sleepless nights and early mornings, I am a stranger to being in the shower at 5:30 AM in hopes that I can get ready before the little monsters stir and take away all abilities to finish putting on makeup and “presentable” work clothing.
I think about all of the days those two crazies and I had together, where I was complaining about being over touched and how my head thought it might explode if I heard one more whine, and how watching one more episode of “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” would surely – finally – push me over the edge. I remember feeling annoyed about going to the Children’s Museum for the fiftieth time in a month because that was the only thing those little dictators wanted to do. I secretly wanted to wish them into school age so I could finally have a break.
Now, I sit at work when it is quiet and I wonder what they are doing. Do they miss me? I miss them. So much so that it physically hurts. I know that by the time I get home, they are nearing the end of their day, and as I tuck them into bed at night, I feel like I haven’t seen them at all. I feel the extreme mommy guilt when the house is quiet and there are no little hands touching me and the whining has ceased. I miss them. And through the exhaustion, all I want is to wake them up and hold them just a little longer. Time flies so quickly. Those little hands will be big hands before I know it and they won’t need me like they do now. And I will wish to turn back time when things felt so hard because this is the time that they are the sweetest and most loving and these totally amazing, little creatures.
Moms, whether you work or stay home, it’s hard. It seems moms are always either telling other moms that they’re “so lucky” to work, or “so lucky” to be able to stay home with their kids. Why don’t we stop and realize how lucky we are to be doing what it is we’re doing? Or instead of thinking we have it figured out and judging one another, why can’t we stick together? I’ve started making it a point to tell the moms I know, especially when they are visibly struggling, or complaining, or (insert motherhood struggle here) that they are doing an amazing job. In a world that constantly seems to tell us that we are doing it all wrong, why don’t we start telling one another that we are doing it all right?