Oh, working momma … I see you! I know how early 5:00 am comes. Those few minutes in a quiet house holding your cup of coffee seem so serene. You crave that time to plan the day and do your best to look presentable. The few hours it takes to get everyone out of the house seems so daunting. You do your best not to fight with your little ones over the outfits they need to wear for the day because you don’t want to spend the precious moments you have in the morning fussing or fighting. Getting everyone in the car feels like the hardest part of your workday. Socks & shoes – check. Wait – did we go to the bathroom? Did we brush teeth? Did I brush MY teeth? Book bags – yes. Count the kids (I really do this) – 1,2 – check. Seat belts, done. Snacks for the drive/traffic, go back for it! Push in that CD of Disney songs. Ok, ready set go. Feels like you just put in your 8 hours for the day, right?
I pass you each day coming in and out of the daycare where we both drop off our little ones. I know, too well, how walking out alone isn’t nearly as fun as walking in holding on to those little hands. I know the empty feeling that comes up every now and then. The way you question yourself – Is this wrong? Could I do this differently? I know how you sneak out of the office on time hoping no one notices that you put in your exact 8 hours and not a minute more. The best part of the day is picking them up. You close your eyes when they run up and hug because you can tell they have missed you, too. That feeling of being missed – a double edged sword. I soak up the moments on the car ride home … using that time to sing songs and ask questions about the day. Sometimes that seems like your time to pour into their precious hearts and grab their attention. Then there’s that guilt popping up as you pull into the driveway … chicken nuggets or hot dogs again tonight because it’s too close to bath time to cook a whole meal. Seems like there isn’t enough time to fit it all in. Then bath time and snuggles and you stay up and answer emails so you can stay on top of it all. I get it! I see you, momma. You aren’t alone. This is my life. And when my life’s journey leads me to connect with another woman walking a path similar to mine, I just want to hit the pause button and sit down and have a cup of a coffee. The questions I would ask her … Am I doing this wrong? What important things am I missing? Is it wrong to wish I had more time to read a book, take a bath? And why do I feel guilty for taking a night out with the girls?
I have heard and read so many things since becoming a (working) momma that say – You Can Have It All.
Friends, it is my firm belief, after 4 years of this gig, that you just can’t. You can have what you choose to have when you have it. The choice is easy for some and hard for others. No matter which way you go you will have guilt. I always joke and say that I work so I can go to the bathroom alone. There is some truth to that. And no doubt there are some selfish motives in my heart for working. I want us to have more things … I want so much to provide security for my boys. I am not convinced I can teach them the things they are getting in the stellar school they attend. And when I encounter my stay-at-home momma friends, there are lots of times I believe their job is way harder than mine and I am just not sure I could do it.
Truth is, they are both hard. And we have all made our choices. My challenge to you (and myself) is not to go about surviving these years but to LIVE in these moments! Choose to be in the moment you are in … when you are at your desk … rock it! Answer those emails and check your lists off (you know you have them, it’s the only way we momma’s survive) and take 5 minutes to build relationships with the people you work with. They may be the biggest chunk of your friend base in some seasons of life. Then at night, when the day is done … run, don’t walk to get those babies of yours. Put your phone down – focus on them. Let them catch you watching them play out of the corner of your eye. Talk to them about their day, their friends. When they are able, let them know that the choices we make as parents aren’t easy; and we will make mistakes, but you will always put them first. Make sure your babies know they are worth more than any job you could ever have. Don’t let them see you chasing it all. Let them see you living every minute in the moment and let them feel you soaking them up.
And momma, give yourself some grace … and pass it on to a friend you come in contact with who is on the same journey; encourage the heck out of her. Tell her that you get the lack of sleep and you know the guilt that creeps in on the rough days. Don’t check off the days and wish them away in this season of life with your itty bitty ones. Capture it with pictures (on that iPhone) or in your mind. Write about it at night when they go to bed. And on the weekends, get up early to soak up those quiet moments when you don’t have to go anywhere. Thank God for carrying you through another week. Ask Him to help you forgive yourself for the mistakes you make along the way and to help you soak it all up – today!
Use whatever moments you have to write on their little hearts and no matter what your “other” job is – they are the legacy you leave behind.
Let’s do a working mama roll call. How many working moms do we have in this community? What is the biggest challenge you face and how can we encourage you today?