Claire Joines/Romper

10 Things I Never Understood Until I Became A Working Mom

I always knew without a doubt that going back to work after having a baby was a thing I would do...and I would be awesome at it. There was never any question about that. It was just a personal choice that I felt was best for both me and my family. I assumed that I would make the transition into a working mom seamlessly — it was so natural and what I thought — but honestly, I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Admittedly, I was one of those smug women who assumed she had her act completely together. I thought that working as a mother would have been basically the same as it was before I had children. My cool confidence was soon squandered by the combining stresses of rejoining the workforce and coming home to take care of my family. I was in way over my head, as I think most women feel they are when they first dive into any new phase of life. Still, I eventually figured it out. Slowly, surely, and awkwardly, I found my groove, and have been (mostly) thriving ever since.

If you're a already a working mother, or if you're still on the fence about that decision, there are some things that you might want to consider ahead of time. But don't worry, I've got you covered. Hopefully my misadventures will guide you as you begin yours. Here are 10 of the things that I (stupidly) never even thought about before I became a working mother.

Severe Exhaustion Sort Of Feels Like Being Drunk

Who needs vodka when you're running on the delirium that accompanies sleep deprivation? (I'm obviously kidding; There's no good reason not to keep the vodka stocked.) When I was a kid and would stay up too late, I thought the way my body reacted was hilarious. "Is this what being drunk feels like?" I'd ask while rolling around in my bedroom. The answer: Yes. Yes, it does feel like being drunk but it's only fun for, like, 5 minutes. That sort of exhaustion as an adult is not nearly as hilarious and it often results in a pretty depleted work performance.

Multi-Tasking Is A Seriously Underrated Skill

Focusing on 18 things at once is pretty common once you're a working mom. Not only are you responsible for your duties at work, but you're also responsible for the entire existence of your children. I'm proud to say that I can change a diaper, take a call, and feed a baby all simultaneously.

I'm Completely Incapable Of Leaving The House Without Baby Food On Me

Every. single. day.

Punctuality Takes A Lot More Preparation Than It Used To

I typically pride myself in my punctuality. I mean, I hate being late. I was raised by a military father so punctuality is deeply ingrained into my soul. To him, if you were on time, you were actually late, and if you were 10 minutes early, you were considered on time. This isn't a terrible rule to live by, but it's much easier said than done once you've got kids. I don't want to be the mom who uses her kids as an excuse for being late, but sometimes sh*t happens. I mean, sh*t literally happens.

My Kids Get Cuter When I Go To Work

Getting away from the chaos of kids is a nice break sometimes, but I swear my kids get cuter when I leave for work. It's not all that uncommon for me to stare at their pictures on my phone during my lunch break. Yes, I'm that mom and I'm not ashamed about that whatsoever. No one wants to miss a moment when they've got kids. Well... We feel like we don't want to miss a moment, when we're idealizing our sweet babies from afar, even if we sometimes can't wait to get some kid-free time. But until the electric company starts to consider finger paintings as an acceptable form of currency, I'm going to have to miss a few moments. That part sucks, but it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make to have the ability to give my kids the life they deserve.

Money Actually Can't Buy Happiness, But It Can Definitely Buy A Lot Of Other Things

It's true, money keeps the lights on, but it does not buy happiness. As much as I hate the common assumption that working is somehow "optional" or "an indulgence" for moms, as opposed to it being a vital component (if not the whole damn thing) of a family's financial plan, I also have learned since being a working mom that having all the financial stability in the world isn't worth much if we can't still find at least some time with your people.

As long as my family is financially covered, if making more money means losing more time with my kids, than I'm really not interested. I don't want to live paycheck to paycheck (no one does), but sometimes being able to read bedtime stories to my kids is more important than time-and-a-half. I can always make more money, but I can't always tuck my kids in.

Dressing Like An Adult Is More Difficult Than It Should Be

I wish that pajamas were an acceptable form of work attire. If there's not an elastic waste band involved in my pants, I don't really want any part of it. Dressing like an adult poses specific challenges after you've got kids. As previously stated, I almost always leave the house with some sort of food on me and I almost never realize it until I'm already walking into my place of business. (Pro tip: Keep a scarf in your car or desk drawer to cover up any little "presents" your toddler may have left on your top while hugging you goodbye.)

I Understand Coffee Obsession Now. I Am About That Life Now.

Coffee is the elixir that keeps this machine running. If it weren't for that caffeinated cup of bliss, I'd be nothing more than a mindless zombie wandering about the kitchen in search of my pants. I always wondered why adults were so obsessed with their morning coffee. They were basically completely incoherent until they smelled that savory brew, but since I've become a working mother I've got to say that I get it now. I so get it.

Also, don't talk to me until I've met my caffeine threshold for the morning. If you do, the answer is no. Like, I don't even care what the question is.

Mornings Are Like Marathons

From the moment I wake up, it's off to the races in the morning. Even though I prepare in advance there's almost always a borderline disastrous event in the morning that causes me to both pull my hair out and hyperventilate. The thing about kids is that they lack a sense of urgency, so telling my toddler to hustle never results in the intensity I wish to see while he's locating the whereabouts of his pants.

My Appearance Causes People To Constantly Think I'm Sick

My somewhat tired appearance often causes people to question my health. Nope, I'm not sick. This is just what it looks like when your morning routine reflects the spirit of the Hunger Games. It never gets old explaining to people that I don't have a grave illness and that this is, in fact, my actual appearance. Maybe I should put on that scarf. Everyone looks perkier in a scarf.