My sister is currently working as the marketing director of a missions company and a few days ago she posted an incredible picture with a very transparent caption. In short, it said, “… It looks like I am on top of the world, but the truth is when my head hits the pillow at night — I miss home.” She described scrolling through her news feed, prior to accepting her current position, feeling jealous of the amazing adventures being portrayed in insta-form. I so deeply relate.
My son will be one this week and since becoming a mom I have thought at least 5 times a day, ‘Why didn’t any of my awesome mom friends realistically prepare me for this?’ and/or ‘Why don’t mom’s talk about how hard this is?’ But I too have been deterred by the culture of comparison that social media creates. I talk myself out of being transparent, of reaching out to my community in fear that I’m alone in this, in fear that they will simply judge me. You see, I received a promotion professionally this year (nine weeks after my son was born). I put my faith in God and felt like I was being obedient by taking the new position. My son started daycare just under 5 months old and my new career journey began. Not only was I still juggling the life-altering responsibility of becoming a new mother, I also began embracing each unpredictable day in a new building with new people in a new role with new responsibilities. They load was heavy and I quickly found that I couldn’t do anything else well if I wanted to be successful with my family and career. My beloved time at the gym turned into occasional Saturday morning workouts. Time with my friends became a fleeting thought. My husband and I enjoyed an exhausted hour or two together after getting the baby to bed and the food prepped for the next day, unless I had enough energy left to complete a quick workout video before bed. My social life was found in an app- scrolling through pictures of my stay-at-home girlfriends and their gorgeous kids out exploring the city and soaking up the sunshine.
Today I had an emotional breakdown. I left a meeting early that I really wanted and needed to be at. I rushed to my office, grabbed my things, and practically running to my car to pick up my son before his school closed realized — I couldn’t find my keys. I sprinted to backtrack my steps, dumping everything from my purse. I checked coat pockets, crawled under desks and chairs… to end up bawling like a baby on the phone with my husband asking him to leave work early and pick up our son to give me enough time to take a second and third look for the keys before he came to get me. My husband is my life saver. He takes on whatever is needed to fill in the gaps of our “teamwork” and rarely complains. Tonight he listened to me sob, comforted me, told me how proud he was of me, and picked up take out without missing a beat.
You see- I lost my cool because it’s been an extremely busy month and I haven’t made it home before my little boy goes to sleep more than a few times lately. I work really hard to make it home to cook and share dinner with my family and help put my son to bed more than three nights a week. When I couldn’t find my keys, I knew I wouldn’t be meeting my goal again. Simply put — it broke my heart. I felt guilty, deprived, and inadequate. To add to the mix of it — I felt like I didn’t accomplish what I needed to at work before leaving. Lose — Lose.
It’s days like these I wish people were more honest. I know there are other working parents out there fighting the good fight. And as jealous as I am of the “messy bun, spit up covered, un-showered” stay-at-home mom at times — I know that their fight is just as difficult as mine. So, here is my courage in writing. If you can relate, I hope you know that you aren’t alone. Join me in setting aside the mom-guilt for the reality that is work-life balance.
The struggle is real.