I sat at my dining room table trying to position myself in front of the nicest wall in my house. I adjusted the computer screen, dimmed the lights, opened the shades. I wanted everything to be bright and professional; it was my first day, after all.
I remember being so nervous as I joined the virtual staff meeting. Everything about this job was new, and I was committed to making it work.
I knew everything about this job would be different for me. The actual work I’d be doing, the hours required, the ability to work from home. But I’d also been so drawn to the mission of the company, to the flexibility they offer, the company culture they spoke of. I was so hopeful this would turn out to be true, but I was guarded.
I wasn’t half way through my first day when my childcare provider called. “She’s running a fever; we’ll need you to come pick her up.” Cue all the emotions.
My poor daughter, sick on her first day in a new place. And how did I not notice she was off this morning? That couldn’t have come on that fast! Ugh, I’m so selfish I would send her to childcare sick. Not only is she in a new environment, I made her go when she didn’t feel good! She’s never going to want to go back.
How am I going to tell my boss? He must have known when he hired me that I’d be unreliable. I’m a mom of two little kids! how reliable could I be? I came on just 10 hours a week and I can’t even make it through my first day. this was a mistake.
Okay, please tell me I’m not the only one who does this to myself?
Has this ever happened to you? And you start beating yourself up from both directions? Well, all that horrible self talk came to a screeching halt for me on that day. As I got on my laptop to join my team meeting for the afternoon, I apologized. I told my boss and my two new co workers that I had a sick kid and I had to go. I asked if I was allowed to work while my daughter was at home, then I could try and get back on the call after I got her home and settled. I’ll never forget what my boss said to me.
“Absolutely you can work while your kids are home. Heck they can be on your lap! But, if she’s sick and needs you, don’t even worry about the meeting. You’re a mom first.”
He wasn’t patronizing me. He wasn’t dismissing me. I didn’t feel inferior to any of my other co workers in that moment. All I felt was seen and understood. I realized I was at a company where I didn’t have to choose. I could work hard and I could mom hard and there was no shame in my game!
Sister, are you hearing this? Are you taking it in?
You don’t have to make any apologies for being a momma. Rushing to be with your kids when they’re sick, or wanting to drop them off and pick them up from school, or taking them to daycare so you can invest in your career… It’s okay!
Balancing being a mom and an employee has always gotten the best of me. I’ve honestly felt like if I’m doing one well, I’m completely failing at the other. But then I found a company that embraces the stage I’m in. They appreciate the work I do and let me do it when I can. That means late at night, early in the morning, from 1-3pm (hallelujah for nap time, amiright?) You catch my drift. I do have childcare now, but that’s been a process to figure out for our family.
I know that not all mommas get the choice. Some of you have to work full time, traditional hours. Some of you are home full time and feel very called to that. But I think we can eliminate these guilt trips and unrealistic expectations on ourselves whatever we are trying to balance with motherhood. Raising kids is such an incredible and terrifying and redemptive opportunity we have. The last thing you need is one more critic.
So, be good to yourself. If you are looking to find more balance between work and motherhood, look for jobs that offer flexible schedules, working remotely, company values that include family and self care. Look at who the company is already hiring. Are there other young parents that work there? You can tell a lot about what a company values by who they employ. Actions speak louder than words.
And at the end of the day, remember this: you are the only momma your kids want. You’re doing a great job! Whether you feel like you’re working too much or you feel guilty because you want to work more or you’re somewhere in between, be gentle with yourself. The pressure to have it all figured out has never been stronger, and there is so much beauty and sanctification in the journey <3