I usually don't like making universal statements about any version of motherhood because, truly, there aren't any. That said, from my experience as a working mom, and from talking to many more, there are thoughts every working mom has when she comes home at the end of the day. Maybe she doesn't have all of these thoughts every single day, but chances are they have crossed her mind at least once.
My personal relationship with work as a parent is weird, mainly because it's changed numerous times over the past few years. When my first child was born I was a working mom. After my daughter was born almost three years later, I stayed home. A few months into life as a stay-at-home mom, I thought, "Yeah, turns out I actually need some sort of professional outlet" and began working part-time from home.
No matter what choice, at any given moment there were a million different thoughts flying through my head. Being a mother who worked a traditional 9-5 outside of the home, however, came with a truly unique set of joys, sorrows, conflicts, determinations, and perspective. Often, they all can come rushing at you the minute you step through door at the end of the workday.
It's been a long day, but now you're with your beloved babies. You can take off your bra, slip into some yoga pants, and just enjoy the comforts of home. You've earned this moment, mama. It's hard out there, but your home is safe and cozy and you've crossed the threshold into the realm of domestic bliss.
"This Is When It Gets Really Tough"
Except, oh wait, you don't just get to sit back with a glass of pinot noir and zen out in front of episodes of some trashy reality show. Your kid is here, along with everything around the house that they need you to do for them. By the way, did you know that kids require all the stuff done for them? And did you know that, as a working mom, you have less time to do it than a stay-at-home mom (whose day is no walk in the park either, even when she takes her kids to go walk in the park)? Strap in, lady, because your day ain't done yet!
"Get Over Here & Give Me All The Cuddles"
"I've been gazing longingly at pictures of you on my phone for hours. Now you're here, in front of me. So I hope you're ready to board the Love Train, because the 6 o'clock is right on time and it's carrying a shipment of hugs and kisses and snuggles and tickles!"
"For The Love Of God, Give Me Three Minutes To Myself"
"For the love of Big Bird, child! Am I never to have a moment to myself ever for the rest of my life?! I love you, I do, but it would be ever so nice to have a couple of minutes to decompress. Truly, everyone benefits. So please, I know you're excited to see me and I'm so excited to see you, but let me orient myself. Give me some space."
"Ready, Set, Second Shift!"
Being a parent is a full-time gig, it's just a question of how and where you spend that time. Working parents spend part of their time out in the world earning money for their families, and part of their time in the house handling the moment-to-moment needs of their children and home. Stay-at-home parents do only the latter. There are drawbacks and benefits to each, and different people prefer different roles.
However, speaking from the experience of a working parent, that transition from "parent at the office" to "parent in the home" is daunting. You're going literally from one highly demanding role to a second highly demanding role with basically zero downtime in between to transition. Stay-at-home mom life can be grueling, but at least you have the time to get in "the zone." Coming home to a second shift can be exhausting, disorienting, and even demoralizing at times. But, day after day, working parents manage with aplomb.
"Oh Look, That Mess I Left This Morning Is Still Here"
"Didn't we recently get a house-elf to clean up after us? I thought we did. I'm pretty sure that wasn't a hallucination brought on by the fact that I haven't slept in two years. I very vividly recall him scuttling around the house with a broom. Wasn't his name Dobby? Oh sh*t, did someone give Dobby a sock and set him free? Balls. Oh well. Guess I know what I'm doing after the kid goes to bed."
"I'll Just Put The Mail Here"
"This is a great place to dump the mail because I see it every day. So there's no possible way it's going to turn into an enormous pile of cluttered trash that will one day threaten to fall and trap us all underneath its crushing weight. No. I'll totally go through that tonight. I know that's what I said last month, but this time I really mean it... right after I do the dishes and tidy up the rest of the house... and also maybe clean the bathroom, because it's a mess."
"What Happens If I Just Quit?"
"Like, what's the worst that can happen? Aside from not being able to pay rent and not having insurance and going hungry? Other than that what can possibly go wrong? Because it doesn't seem as bad as going without seeing these amazing little humans all day. I miss them so much and I hate going into a job that I feel so-so about, with co-workers I mostly hate. Seriously: why do I have to spend more of my waking hours with those people than my baby, whom I love more than anything? There must be a way I can quit that wouldn't result in destitution and homelessness."
"OMG I Am Never Quitting"
"I love my children and my home, but my job is amazing and working outside of the home is an important part of my identity, life, and wellbeing. Having a career is a crucial component of who I am as a parent, and it has so many long-and-short-term benefits for my children that I can't imagine them going without. Also, I seriously don't know what my work spouse would do without me. She would probably die of loneliness or get fired because she'd spend all day texting me. I love her so much."
"Now That They're In Bed That Doesn't Feel Like Nearly Enough Time"
"I feel like I just got home and now I already have to shuttle them to bed? I wanted to be able to play some more games with them! This is so unfair."
"I Thought They Would Never Go To Sleep"
"I feel like I've been listening to you scream all damn day. You know that movie 127 Hours, where James Franco gets stuck under a boulder and eventually cuts off his hand to escape? That sounds totally reasonable to me right now, but I don't have that option. I am, in fact, legally obligated to deal with your sh*t until you're 18. I don't know what gods I have to pray to to get you to pass out early tonight, but I am willing to make whatever blood pacts I have to."
"Let Me Google 'How To Make More Hours In A Day'"
There isn't (barring a custom DeLorean outfitted by Doc Brown), but it's the adamant wish of working moms around the world. Kids, home, work, personal life (ha!) — there's so damn much to do and 24 hour allotments feel like a miserly move on behalf of the Universe. So thanks, Universe, for your blatant discrimination against the ladies who want to do it all. Fortunately, for you, they're awesome AF and somehow, magically, make it work.