Motherhood is weird, no matter how you slice it. If you are a stay-at-home mom, your day is freaking strange. If you're a work-from-home mom, you're day is super odd. And, you guessed it, if you're a working mom, you're faced with your own set of unique challenges that can make things, well, awkward. Thankfully, the weird things every new mom does when she's working are things that are understandable, necessary (I'd argue) and hilarious, so once you get past the fact that, hey, this is real life now, you can laugh at the bizarre string of situations that is motherhood.
Right after my son was born, I went back to work but, at the time, work meant I was working from home. As a freelance writer with my own schedule, sitting on a couch and nursing a newborn while I typed away on the computer was, while exhausting, somewhat feasible. Now I go into an office every day, which requires me to actually separate from my kid. Yeah, that's much harder than I originally thought it would be. I was so looking forward to getting out of the house and being around human beings who know how to use toilets, but I didn't realize how hard it would be, too. I couldn't wait to advance my career and do what I loved around like-minded, creative people, but it meant I wouldn't be spending as much time around my son and that, well, was somewhat devastating.
That strange mix of happiness and sadness, of excitement and dread and of accomplishment and failure, is one of the many reasons why new moms do some very strange (albeit necessary) things at work. Here are just a few, and things that I definitely did when I returned to an office. Hey, solidarity, right?
Stares At Every Picture She Has Of Her Kid
My first day at work after having a kid (a day that meant I had to go into an office and leave my son at home) was a tough one. I was so excited and overwhelmed and, well, kind of sad. Thankfully, iPhones are a thing and taking multiple pictures of your child on said iPhone is also a thing, so I had enough pictures to stare at (for an extended period of time that I will not fess up to) without breaking down in tears. Thank you, Steve Jobs.
Checks In On Her Kid Multiple Times Throughout The Day
I'm constantly sending text messages to my partner, asking how our son is doing. Like, it's obsessive, because my partner is a great parent and clearly my kid is happy and healthy and having the most fun. I just can't help it. I try, you guys. I really do, but I can't. Even if I'm super busy or in a meeting (sorry boss) or under a deadline, I will stop and make sure I have enough time to check in and see how things are going. It's weird, but it's my thing.
Considers Work An Actual Vacation
Alright, how freakin' weird is this, right? I'm almost absolutely positive that parents are the only group of humans who consider work to be something of a "vacation." Still, that's what happens. There are days when I just know I am having an easier time than my partner. There are days when I really, really look forward to work because I can actually take a break and relax. That's, like, not normal, you guys. I mean, it is, but work shouldn't feel like a vacation. That's weird. That's life as a parent, to be sure, but it's weird.
Talks About Her Kid Constantly...
I always feel somewhat awkward talking about my son all the damn time. For one, while I find him fascinating, I am well aware that the comings and goings of the average toddler don't necessarily make for riveting conversation. Two, you can really only hear about a kid saying that one word (usually a one syllable word) for so long. Still, every now and then, I'll talk about my kid with absolutely no shame and until someone politely tells me to stop (or just walks away, which is always an option, I guess). Thankfully, I have wonderful coworkers who humor me from time-to-time. They're the best. Oh, and have I mentioned, so is my kid?!
...Or Doesn't Talk About Her Kid At All
It'd kind of weird (but mostly sad) that there's this judgment attached to working mothers. Working moms are judged for working and not being around their children every hour of every day and, sadly, they can be judged by coworkers or supervisors, now that they've procreated and are no longer "reliable." (Oh, the rage, you guys. So much rage.)
Due to these fictitious assumptions and judgments, I'm not always inclined to talk about my kid as much as I want. I want to keep him to myself, at times, so that I can show that I am a dedicated worker who is just as valuable as people who don't have children to pay attention to. It's honestly weird that we put ourselves (and others) through such a mess.
Asks Someone To Put Their Kid On The Phone, As If They Haven't Talked To Their Kid In Forever...
Alright, truth time. I may or may not (but definitely have) asked my parter to put my kid on the phone so I can hear his tiny little voice, even though I just saw him a few hours earlier and even though he can only say a few words, at best. Look, you guys, I am just going to blame this on hormones because that's what they're there for, right?
...Or As If Their Kid Can Even Talk
These honestly very weird and unnecessary phone calls don't last very long, and aren't very conversation heavy. Doesn't make them any less necessary, though.
Takes "Pumping Breaks" (If She Can And/Or Chooses To)
Obviously this particularly weird act isn't one every mom experiences. If you didn't want to breastfeed, or you were unable to breastfeed, pumping at work wasn't an issue. If you didn't want to pump at work, so you pumped the night or day before to have enough milk for your kid, or simply supplemented with formula, this wasn't a thing, either.
But for the breast pumping moms who returned to work with their breast pump in hand, you have to admit, this is strange. Even your work breaks are you working, albeit at something completely different from your job. It's just strange and weird and still completely normal and just part of your every day life now.
Why is this a thing? Like, why? I have stopped myself on more than one occasion, almost angry at myself for allowing myself to feel guilty about working. Honestly, why would anyone feel guilty for providing for their family, financially? Why would anyone feel guilty about doing something that they love? Why would anyone feel guilty about setting a positive example for their children? It's just ridiculous. It's just weird. It's just the patriarchy hard at work and, well, screw that.