How to be a Working Mom

by Stella Forth

“Don’t lament so much about how your career is going to turn out. You don’t have a career. You have a life. Do the work. Keep the faith.” – Cheryl Strayed

That quote pretty much wraps it up right there. Every day of my work week, I wake up at 5:20AM, sit up, say a prayer, and groggily make my way to get ready. Then I go pack my lunch, and then walk into my kid’s room.

There he is, sleeping in some twisted fashion – today he happened to look like he was going to take a step out of his sleep, one foot planted on the mattress and the other leg curled underneath him, face smashed to the left with his little baby bird lips all melty and snoring peacefully in sleep.

Then I tell myself: This is why you go to work.

Then I go hug my husband good bye, and I get into the car.

Communication. That’s the number one thing that I need with my husband that makes this whole working mom thing…well, work. It goes way beyond using the phone apps to keep up with our calendar and to do list or shopping needs – though that is something we couldn’t work without. It’s the little notes of encouragement, the kind words, the understanding of each other that we are trying to succeed together. Sure, it fails from time to time – exhaustion, frustration, anger rear their heads – but as we continue doing the small things, validating each other, then the blow ups are less likely to happen.

“Good for her. Not for me.” -Amy Poehler

Yep. I have my kid in a baby carrier at my husband’s football game, screaming for team, photographing as a volunteer and feeding him goldfish crackers from this belt that I’ve outfitted with all of these pockets to help me be a mom, volunteer, wife, supporter, etc…ALL THE THINGS AT ONCE!

I also know that folks look at this and go, “Shouldn’t she be at home rocking the baby to sleep as it’s past his bedtime?”. Good for you, not for me.

Things also in this category, in no particular order:

  • I have fed my kid a happy meal.
  • I’ve decided that I’ll buy him a car one day, but it won’t be a brand new one and it will be only done once he secures a job.
  • I haven’t baptized my child.
  • I have fed him artichokes, olives, cottage cheese, eggs over easy, brie, uncured meats and milk before the age of one.
  • I let him fall and trip from safe heights, while walking, etc…so that he understands, learns and teaches himself.
  • I take him to generally non-kid friendly restaurants to learn how to act right in public.
  • I let him listen to rap music, 50 Cent and Eminem are favorites.

Good for me. May not be for you.

Having supportive friends who are there when I need to vent, cry, ask questions or laugh about the irony of womanhood are priceless.Those women understand and respect who I am, and help me discover the options that work for me, rather than prescribing what only works for them (and therefore, should only work for anyone else.) Surround yourself with these people, “unfriend” the rest.

Because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do. -Steve Jobs

Yep. I believe I can. I think this motherhood thing was my calling in life, not necessarily a full time job. But I’m not trying to just be a working mom. I’m not just trying to be a worker, a mom, a wife, or anything.

I’m trying to be an example to my kid that he can do anything in this world that he wants. I do that by being the multi-faceted person that I am. It’s true, I dedicate the majority of my life to being a mom, wife and worker. But what I do within each of those spaces, that’s what counts.

Learning how to be my true, authentic self in front of my kid has been a challenge for me. Motherhood really knocked me into this mid-life questioning of who I really am, and what I want my child to know about who I am.

I imagine as he starts talking the questions will come, and I have found myself sitting down and journaling about what I’d like to be as a person, and who I am as a person now. Realizing at the stage of the game I’m in, I’m not likely to make drastic changes (nor want to) but do need to come to grips with who I am, and not what I want others to believe about me.

I realize I need to speak up more sometimes. Not always just go with the flow and say I’m fine when I’m not. I need to ask for help when I need it, and stop putting 100 things on my list of resolutions for the year. I need to focus where it’s important, and conquer my impossible, not just check off a list.

I don’t think I have it better, or worse, than a stay at home Mom. I think I have it different. My time with my kid is concentrated and packed and I enjoy that, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Photo Credit


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