I am a “working mom.” During the day, I work as commercial loan officer for a nonprofit bank, funding schools and minority owned businesses. After the work day ends, I start my second job as a mommy. I’m blessed that I love both of my jobs. My son is the best part of life, but I’ll tell you what, even though I love him to pieces, I often breathe a sigh of relief as I listen to David Green on my way to work. Between my day job and my mom job, the latter is definitely more challenging.
After my son was born, I took two months off from work to stay home with him, and it was the hardest thing I have ever done.
Every day was an exhausting blur. Hours of crying (him and me) and desperately trying to interpret what he needed. Baby, are you tired? Are you hungry? Is it gas, or you just crabby? When in doubt, I usually just stuck a boob in his mouth or a pacifier, once I discovered those little wonders.
Every day I felt frantically busy. When my husband came home I was exhausted and often couldn’t hand off our son quick enough so I could sit in the bathroom and just stare at the wall. But when my husband asked me what I did that day, I never quite knew what to say. Every day I did the same things: fed our son, put him in tummy time, read to him, and then rocked him in my arms for several hours because it was the only way he’d consistently nap. Some days he’d actually sleep in his bassinet and I would rush to vacuum or shower as quickly as possible.
As I heard myself repeating the same things to my husband, I started to feel like the work I was doing was trivial and that I was somehow being unproductive. How could these seemingly basic activities be so hard? How come as the weeks marched on, the work never seemed to get any easier?
Over time I realized that the exhausting part was that I was dedicating my entire self, my every thought and action, to the welfare of someone else. It is exhausting to be completely and utterly needed all the time, particularly by someone who seemingly only complains about your efforts. When that overwhelming level of need exists, there’s no time to focus on your own wellbeing, and that takes a major toll.
When you’re a stay at home mom, there are no lunch or bathroom breaks.
Working in the home is a 24 hour a day job. You can’t close your office door when you’re tired of your coworkers and need just a minute alone. Or alternatively, there’s no one to share gossipy conversations with over coffee in the break room. It’s a lonely job without coworkers; it’s a job that you don’t get to walk away from at the end of the day. You can’t walk out on your boss and your job if you’ve had it – your boss is a tiny little person with whom you can’t even have a rational conversation.
Working moms work incredibly hard as well. I put in 9 hours a day at my job and then come home to my other job: taking care of my son and husband and trying to keep our home from turning into a pit of filth. It can be exhausting, but while it’s tiring, what keeps me sane is that I’m never stuck in one role or the other.
If my kid is having a tough night, I’ll often psych myself, saying “Only 6 hours until you go into work. You’ve got this!” Alternatively, when work is crazy, sometimes the only thing motivating me to grind out the last few pages of paperwork is the thought of picking up my smiling chubster from daycare. This ability to switch back and forth between roles often gives me a reprieve just when I need it the most. I know that I’m lucky to have this.
Parenting is hard work no matter your situation.
A dear friend of mine frequently says “we’re in the trenches together,” which is my favorite phrase to describe parenting. I never fully appreciated how hard parents work until I was thrown into myself. I can say without reservation that being a parent is the hardest job I will ever have.
That being said, I want to take a moment to raise a toast to all the stay at home moms (and dads) out there. You’re my hero.