On more than one occasion, I've considered touching base with some of my former bosses to thank them for their patience with my consistent ability to just barely know how to get to work on time (or, be slightly late) on a regular basis. Now that I'm a mom, the idea of getting myself — only myself — out of bed, dressed, and to work by 9:00 a.m. sounds downright luxurious. But for some reason, it was practically impossible for me a couple years ago, which, if you think about it, is kind of a big deal since one of the most important parts about going to an office is, you know, actually being there when you're supposed to be. Hindsight is 20/20, I suppose. Anyway, my point is that becoming a mom has required me to pretty much attack my mornings. It's one of many in a whole new set of skills that I barely imagined someday possessing in my pre-kid days. And that's really the big, ultimate joke of parenthood: You never realize how relatively simple and effortless your life before kids was until you are no longer living it.
Now that I'm a working mom, I have a whole bag of tricks that childless me would've killed to know.
Before we dive in and acknowledge/celebrate/bemoan the skills that working moms have the opportunity ("opportunity" hahaha — OK, more like "no choice but") to master, I want to make sure to acknowledge that these skills, while greatly honed by the experience of being a working mom, are not exclusively possessed by working mom. Stay-at-home moms have just as many, if not more, awesome abilities developed by their own routines. I mean, I tried being a full-time, stay-at-home mom, so I saw firsthand that it is really damn hard to keep the boat afloat (or the train chugging, or the pages turning, or whatever your kiddo is asking for in that particular moment). So, I'm not trying to say that working moms are the only ones who develop a specific set of skills; far from it, in fact. Just that we develop a slightly different set of skills. Without further ado, here's what I'm talking about:
The Efficient Post-Goodbye Recovery
Saying goodbye to my son doesn't get easier. I've just now had more practice with getting through the feels. Perhaps by the time he hits middle school I'll have this part under control (but probably not).
Getting Your Little One Ready In A Timely Manner Without Screaming Obscenities (Hopefully)
Getting a kid out of the house is hard, in any situation, at any age. But when you have to do it as part of your regular morning routine like most working moms do, it's not that it gets easier, so much as you just get better at weathering the battle.
Confession: My partner is the one who actually drops our child off at daycare, so my morning role is strictly related to helping them get out the door...assuming our son can be peeled away from my husband's leg long enough for me to actually dress him and feed him. It comes as no surprise that mornings are a whirlwind of socks and snacks, coffee grounds (usually spilling, let's be honest) and asking our toddler where his shoes are.
The Speedy And Masterfully Choreographed Exit
As it so happens, since I work from home, sometimes I'm the one who needs need to step away to to get a few things done when my son is here. This has given me plenty of practice with making a smooth transition to my desk without fazing my little.
Quick Decision Making
Does my child need something when we are otherwise occupied? Yes. The answer always yes. Is he asking for a snack when we're three seconds away from zipping up his coat? Is he sniffling and acting sick while we're putting his shoes on? Is he waking up from his nap while I'm trying to make a deadline? The answer is always, always yes. The only question is how I'm going to handle it. And with much (so much) practice, I've gotten pretty damn good at making those quick decisions.
Switching Gears At The Drop Of A Hat (Or A Crayon, Or A Cup Of Milk)
Once a nose has been wiped, a mess cleaned, a tummy fed...then what? Typically, we've got to get back to whatever we were doing, requiring the ability to change focus and switch gears with laser-precision. OK, maybe not fancy-laser precision, but like, one of those hand-held pointers that professors use.
Mastery Of Self-Care
Yes, yes, I recognize the the concept of "self-care" is a buzzy, Millennial concept that's making the rounds these days, but that doesn't mean we're not totally onto something when we talk about it. If I only have a few minutes everyday sandwiched between chores and bedtime, you can be sure that I'm going to use it wisely. And I don't mean leisurely scrolling through Netflix to seeing what strikes my fancy. I mean intentionally doing whatever it is that I need to do to refill my tank (usually, it involves nail polish and some juicy fiction).
Wardrobe Malfunction? More Like Wardrobe FUN, Son!
Working outside the home when you have small children reminds one to be diligent about clothing, checking constantly for bodily fluids, random food stains, Cheerios stuck in weird places, and precariously placed stickers (shout-out to my toddler). Having a spare shirt, or at least a fabulously chic caftan that you can cover your entire body with, is always recommended.
Images: Mike Liu/Flickr; Giphy(7)