I have just arrived to my place of employment. Everyone’s all “good morning,” and I’m just doing my best to blend in. Literally, I noticed snot on the front of my dress while I was backing out of my drive way this morning. This is my normal. Carefully selecting attire the night before, only to realize I have to change after I’m half way down the block.
Today, I’m talking about that #workmom life. The realm of insanity where your heart is constantly divided, and you never have enough time. There aren’t enough hours in the day to be a working woman, a good mom and a loving wife. Most days you oscillate between loving your life, and feeling like you are drowning in it. We struggle between thinking we have our stuff together, and then the school calls during your 11 a.m. meeting, and you realize you ain’t got crap.
Here are 7 things a mom probably did before she even got to work.
1. You have probably had your fingers up somebody’s nose, or your hands outstretched wiping someone’s tiny buttocks.
Now just pause with me…when you pictured your life 10 years ago, is this what you imagined for yourself? Wrist deep in fecal matter?
2. You have made everybody breakfast, except yourself.
I’m not pretending anything extravagant has gone on. But at least in my situation, for three different people, sometimes four if my husband is lucky, I have cracked open a box of frozen waffles, spread butter not once but thrice, and turned my kitchen into a school cafeteria assembly line. I can cut apple slices in my sleep and make peanut butter toast so golden brown you’d think my secret ingredient is tanning oil. Ask me what I ate for breakfast and 9 out of 10x you are going to hear me say, “coffee.” After you prepare “eats” for three other people, you forget that coffee isn’t food. You grab a cookie out of the pantry and say “NO!” before your kids even ask if they can have one too.
3. You have yelled.
You don’t want to be this person. No one wants to be the mean mom that is always raising her voice and tickling the curiosity of her neighbors. But right now it’s 7:45 a.m., and you have five minutes to get three small bodies into car seats, with shoes and socks on. BTW it’s “Show and Tell Day,” and if your son doesn’t have something to show and tell about, you will have single-handedly destroyed his entire life. The time for niceties passed when Little Jimmy thought it would be a good idea to take out your mixing bowls and create a hot tub for his action figures. Right now it’s “go time” and that means they either fall in line, or you receive one of those lovely letters from the principal alerting you to how many tardies your child has had that school season. You aren’t a deadbeat. So you yell, “GET IN THE CAR!” loud enough to cut through their chatter, and also the sleepy eyes of your neighborhood. #sorrynotsorry
4. You have cried.
Look, I try to be a Christian woman. I wake up at 5 a.m. to drink the coffee, and meditate on the scriptural wisdom of Jesus Christ. But something happens when you have two kids fighting over who sits in the middle seat, and a baby that thinks it’s in his job description to de-stock the items from your pantry and let Cheez-its rain on your kitchen floor. You snap. You raise your voice. You threaten to smash that dreaded blue bowl into smithereens when it’s the 350th morning straight of hearing high pitch voices argue over who had it last. I’m a Christian, not a monk. I lose my temper and then question whether or not I even deserve to mother these small angels. Before I get to the office and even read your passive-aggressive email that begins with: “as previously stated…” I’ve already lost my crap at least once, and then felt bad about it. I may or may not have cried before I even showed up at work today. Have mercy on me.
5. You’ve probably delivered a motivational speech.
I’m not comparing myself to Martin Luther King, Jr. or anything, but I do do my fair share of Denzel Washington, meets Meryl Streep 3-5 days a week. Every now and then I’ll open my mouth and wisdom just falls out of it. I’m mediating fights, reminding people to respect themselves and others, and dolling out self-esteem sound bites while driving down U.S. 31. I’ve got more inspirational material than a Chinese fortune cookie factory. I’m making America great again.
6. You’ve been barged in on.
My kids and I have this fun game we play where I get in the shower, or go to alleviate myself in the restroom, and then they decide that this is actually the optimum time to tell me about the leaf that blew into the street yesterday. That’s the whole story. That is what simply couldn’t wait. There was this leaf, and it blew into the street. The end.
7. You took a deep breath and prayed.
Maybe you did it in the car after the kids were gone. Maybe it was right before you placed your hand on the door that would lead you to the rooms filled with adult people and adult conversation. Or maybe it was when you sat down at your desk and realized you had 50+ emails to respond too. Either way, at some point, you took a deep breath and tried to transition your headspace from at-home-mom, to workplace-mom. You constantly live in those two juxtaposing worlds and there are days that it is exhausting. It’s that deep breath that allows you to put on the fake smile, try to look normal and pretend you care when Lisa tells you how many ingredients are in the vegan meatball recipe you didn’t ask for.
Some days you get to work already feeling accomplished, and other days you show up already feeling crushed. While everyone else put themselves first, you had no choice but to put yourself last. There will be no accolades to praise you for everything you did this morning. No cameras to capture how selfless you are, and no paparazzi to ask you how it is you make that work-mom life look so seamless.
Women of the past fought hard for the lives we are living now. Our little girls believe that they can be astronauts, doctors, lawyers and bosses because they have mommies who already are. We are the working women raising the value of the dollar while simultaneously fighting for the value of our families. We are so much more than employees, and so much more than moms.
So don’t forget to take that deep breath and give this day to God before it even starts. You’ve earned it.
Heather Thompson Day is an Assistant Professor of Communication at Andrews University. She is the author of five Christian books, including Life After Eden, and writer for The Spilled Milk Club. Facebook her, or check her out on Instagram.