I’m learning the ins and outs of being a working mom the hard way. My mother was a full-time stay at home mom, who didn’t go back to work until I turned 25. All I knew about motherhood I learned from her – moms went for languid walks during the day with their children and had tea parties at each other’s houses. Moms cultivated enormous vegetable gardens and spent a lot of time making organic, homemade baby food. Moms made sure that the house was clean, dinner was on the table, and the children were quiet when dad came home. Moms kept hobby farm animals. Ok, not all moms did that. The point is, approaching a career with a baby on my hip has been a pretty lonely process because my mother can’t relate.
As a working mother I have it very easy. I have an extremely supportive husband who helps me with the dishes, meals, and childcare. I work from home, usually from my kitchen table since I do not have an office. My baby is very good natured and has been sleeping 7 hours a night since he turned 8 weeks old. I have it very, very easy, and yet it feels so very, very hard sometimes. On more than one occasion I have had to nurse Søren while on a conference call; cross my fingers and pray that no one could hear his little gulping sounds. I spend a lot of time typing one-handed and bottle feeding by holding the bottle with my chin and shoulder. Søren’s pack-n-play is right next to my desk and he spends tummy time giggling while I obsess over stressful emails. Last week, I went to a client meeting with a dried blob of baby spitup in my hair. I realized it was there while sitting at a boardroom table.
I cannot fathom how women manage a household, full-time office work, and some semblance of a relationship with friends, partner, and their child at the same time that they are experiencing sleeplessness and breastfeeding. When I meet another working mother of an infant I want to give her a hug, partially out of compassion, and in part because I really need one myself. Don’t take those women for granted. They move heaven and earth every day, both at work and at home, and they deserve respect…and a hug.