This morning I rode the long journey of the employee elevator up to my busy floor where patients awaited me eagerly to assume their care, and as I waited I stood in the company of other professional women like myself. We all talked back and forth, and they, knowing I had recently returned from maternity leave, asked about the baby and if coming back was hard.
2w1`Of course I agreed it was, but then we laughed about how work was a break from the responsibilities of home life. Which it was. But still… Leaving my young infant, regardless of her crankiness at times, had hurt my mommy heart this morning more than just a little bit.
The truth was, being a working mom was hard. I stay home with my babies through the week, and I can definitely vouche for stay-at-home mommies. Their gig is crazy hard, it’s true, but there’s something about leaving your children at home that fractures your heart like nothing else.
Working moms work on more than just their job when they’re away; they also work on taking their mind off not being home. That’s not a simple task.
To the working mom I would say this.
I see you. I see you focusing on your job, and giving it your all, even though a piece of you is still at home with your children. That takes skill.
I see you giving all your energies to other people’s families while someone else takes care of yours. That’s not always easy.
I see you intent and purposeful in your day while a sick baby is in the back of your mind. Your focus and attention to detail despite your concerns over your personal life is professional and admirable to say the least. But I also know it’s hard.
I know your heart breaks some days. I know you long to hold your babies in your lap. I know it’s not always a walk in the park to wave goodbye while they cry wailing tears as you go on your way.
I see you come home late eager to see your children, but greeted only by sleepy, cranky kids eager to go to bed.
I know your off days are often spent catching up around the house, when all you really want to do is snuggle little people. I see your priorities reevaluated, and even your guilt when you decide to do something simply for yourself.
I see your tired eyes when you arrive to work after staying up with a newborn or a sick child. I see you struggle through the day in exhaustion, and then I see you fight to stay awake once you’re home just so you can get some quality time in there. Your heart wants time together; your brain wants time with your pillow.
I know that sometimes you’re dumbfounded as to how your desires can be in two places at once; loving your work at work, but also loving your work at home. I know sometimes you feel like you’re being pulled in two different directions, and you’re uncertain how to feel about that.
I see how you enjoy providing financially for your family, but how also you enjoy providing hot, home-cooked meals. Those two things don’t always go hand-in-hand without extreme effort.
So I see you striving and struggling to be the best in both worlds, and often times feeling like you come up short. You feel like you’re failing at one or even both.
I don’t see a failing mom; I see a working mom. I see a woman who is compassionate enough to fully nurture her children, yet strong enough to leave them when she must. And I can tell you from personal experience that getting up and leaving your home when it hurts your heart so much; that takes real courage. So bravo.
Job well done working moms. You manage to hold two completely demanding roles, yet you pull them off with grace. Though you may not always feel like you do it with ease, you do it. And that says everything.
This article originally appeared here.