Working Moms Are My Support Group, Because Regular Moms' Groups Failed Me
I go to my moms’ club everyday of the week, but not usually on weekends. My moms' group is a place I can always count on finding fellow mothers who understand the daily struggles and triumphs of parenthood and of juggling life’s responsibilities. Depending on the day, we talk about behavior issues with our kids, our husbands’ penchant for leaving everything they own in a pile next to their side of the bed, or being exhausted from our lack of sleep the night before. We unload on each other, sometimes with tears welling up in our eyes. More often, with laughs that won’t quit. Then, when we’ve said what we need to say and we feel sufficiently rejuvenated to face the day, we turn back to work. Not housework, mind you. We return to grinding away at our outside-the-home jobs. Working moms are my support group, and it’s every bit as real as any stay-at-home-mom club.
My moms’ club is informal. We have no club name or designated meeting times. The snacks are whatever we have in the candy jar on our desks. Despite its lack of structure, my moms’ club is highly effective at promoting bonding among its members. For me, my work friends provide a haven that I couldn’t find in traditional mom groups.
When my son was a baby almost six years ago, I took part in a meetup for a stay-at-home-moms’ club. I couldn’t find a working moms or all-inclusive club in my area at the time, and decided to give the stay-at-home-moms' group a try.
I went to a meet-up one of the few times I was off work, and brought my 1-year-old son to the gathering at the park. Watching my son trample around the picnic blanket as the other, docile babies sat quietly in front of their moms brought to mind Godzilla. My son wanted to run and play. The other babies wanted to sit and stare at a teething toy.
The other moms wanted to talk about sleep training and a million unfounded worries. I wanted to poke my eyes out. Didn’t these moms have anything else to think about, besides whether they should let their kid cry for 30 seconds or a minute before they rescued them from the confines of their comfy cribs?
That mothers' group was not a good fit, and I never went back.
I’d prefer to miss the crap out of my kids while I’m away doing work I find rewarding.
My working outside the home has never been a question. My family relies on two incomes, and I enjoy working outside the house. Really, if anyone in my family would work from home or be a stay at home parent, it’d be my husband. He’s an amazing cook and is killer at separating out colors from whites in the laundry. Domestic life is not my forte. I’d prefer to miss the crap out of my kids while I’m away doing work I find rewarding, and then especially relish my time with them in the evening and on weekends.
Let me be clear, though, I truly admire stay-at-home and work-at-home parents. I find weekends home with my kids more exhausting than a day in the office. Choosing to be a stay-at-home parent is a noble sacrifice in my opinion, both financially and as regards your personal time. And when it comes to working at home, I can’t even fathom the challenges.
Parenting groups for stay-at-home parents make all the sense in the world. Who better to relate to the challenges of stay-at-home parents than others having similar experiences?
But these groups don’t work for me.
What does work for me is work and the coworkers it brings.
When I was a young mom and newspaper reporter, I sought comfort in the advice of one of my editors who was a more experienced mother, for my son’s high fever.
Later, while working in marketing for a hospital chain, I shared a small office with a coworker who was also a mom. We became friends, sharing our days and nine nauseating months of my pregnancy with my second child.
I looked forward to coming into work each morning, laughing with my officemate about the events of the previous night or weekend, and swapping stories.
We connected over the difficulties of handling kid activities and also a full-time job, and had advice for each other on easy meal ideas and chore hacks. We were able to cover for each other when one of our kids became sick,or I needed to run over to the on-site daycare to nurse my daughter. In addition to encouraging each other with our home lives, we encouraged one another professionally.
Several years later, when I’d moved on to a different job, I was still there to offer her support when her husband died suddenly and tragically.
Now, working in public relations for a city government, my office neighbor is a mother a few years older than me. We make a habit of checking in on each other, offering suggestions for tough love and trying to top one another’s bratty kid moment tales.
We reminisce about newborn baby smell, and remind each other to treasure all the good and not-so-good times.
The office is full of moms, grandmas, dads and grandpas. All madly in love with their kids and grandkids. All committed to their careers.
We get each other, and I’m so grateful for my special brand of moms’ club.
Check out Romper's new video series, Bearing The Motherload, where disagreeing parents from different sides of an issue sit down with a mediator and talk about how to support (and not judge) each other’s parenting perspectives. New episodes air Mondays on Facebook.