I was a stay-at-home mom for 15 months before I went back to work and my daughter entered daycare. I had always hoped I could make my freelance writing career flexible enough to allow me to care for my kids while working from home. Turns out, at least for me, that was a terrible idea that definitely didn't pan out as I had imagined. Instead, I have found myself with a list of things I'm sure every working mom wishes other moms just knew, and that includes my former self.
When my niece and nephews were little and their moms were working, I had no idea what it was like to drop them off every day and count the minutes until you could pick them up again. I had no idea what it was like to wonder where they picked up a new skill while I was away from them for hours at a time. I had no idea about the daily scramble out the door, and how you nearly always forget to pack at least one thing, usually more, your child will definitely need (or at least want).
I firmly believe that working moms and stay-at-home moms have equally difficult jobs. Those difficulties just present themselves (sometimes) in very different ways. Still, I do wish I realized some of these things before becoming a working mom, and it would definitely be beneficial if the mothers around me knew them, too.
We Miss Our Kids Most Of The Day
Yes, I drop her at daycare every morning and usually, until I pick her up, I miss her with my whole being. Every day when I go to pick her up, I am so excited to see her face and hold her in my arms.
We Envy You...
There are days I wish I could just stay home every day and spend every minute with my kid. I envy moms who are able to do just that. Some days I wish I had married a millionaire who could support my stay-at-home dreams until my kids are in college. Some days, when my kid learns something new without me, I just wish I could have been there for that moment.
Then again, I also don't envy stay-at-home moms. I am grateful that, for five days a week, someone else does the nap time battle and cleans up after her lunch mess that inevitably ends up all over the floor. I do not envy those things one bit, and value the time I have away from my daughter, too.
We Love Our Work
Despite missing my baby girl every minute of the time we're apart, I also love my work. I love being able to use (almost) my whole brain to work on something that isn't parenting related, because I know my daughter is being well-cared for. I love writing and I love teaching my high schoolers how to read and write and express themselves more clearly.
Sometimes We Feel Like We're Terrible Moms
Like when I'm hoping my daughter's fever is just low enough tomorrow that she can go to daycare because I really can't get out of work to stay home with her. Being a working mom means you're pulled in one big direction that doesn't always lead you to your kids, which is a tough balance to maintain. When kids turn up sick or have to leave daycare early, what was a "normal" day can turn into a guilt-filled chaotic mess.
We Wish We Could Have Both
I wish I could be at home and also work. Some people manage to make this work, but jeepers, I get absolutely nothing done when my daughter is home. I am the kind of person who needs her whole attention in order to write, and when I'm with my daughter I want to be fully with her, not staring at a screen and trying to finish a paragraph. You know what would help with that? More affordable part-time daycare options! That would be such a happy combination.
We're Grateful For Daycare
I'm grateful my partner and I can afford daycare and that we were able to find one that didn't have a two year wait list. Yes, I kid you not, daycare waiting lists are crazy. I am so grateful that I do not worry one bit that my daughter isn't being taken care of.
We Hate All The Germs
Honestly, the only time I feel truly stressed as a working mom is when I find out my kid picked up some virus or bug from her classmates. It's an early introduction to what I'm sure all kids deal with when they get to school age, but feeling pulled between my motherly duties and my working duties is the worst. While I know my place is nearly always caring for my daughter when she's sick, I also feel terrible for letting my students, editor, and principal down when I have to leave unexpectedly.