I left work 45 minutes late today because I believe in the sisterhood of motherhood. My job floats me between hospitals, and today was the first time I've been back at one of the sites in a few months. So today was the first time I saw Jane* since she came back from maternity leave. On my way out the door, I asked how life was, back at her full-time job with a 4 month old at home. Boy did I open a can of something...
"Is it supposed to be this hard?" The floodgates were opened, and the last 4 months just came pouring forth. I smiled, nodded, and said "yup" a lot. She joined the chorus of all of the working moms I know. "There's not enough time in the day. Daycare gets her best hours. I'm always stressed. I'm always behind. I never feel like I'm doing a good job. I love coming to work. I love my job and don't want to give it up. But this sucks. And daycare is so expensive. And nobody at work understands. And none of my friends are working with kids. Am I doing something wrong?"
I did her the favor of not sugar-coating things. I wasn't telling her anything she hasn't already noticed herself. Being a mother is a full time job. And having a career that you love outside the home is a blessing. But having both can feel like a curse.
Moms know this. That's why moms need other mom friends. So we can vent after a long day of work about how much something sucks. Society isn't so understanding of that need to vent. "You chose to have the child, right? You chose to go back to work, right? So why are you complaining? There are so many childless couples who would LOVE to be in your shoes. There are so many unemployed families who would love your job. Stop whining!"
But moms know what it means to be that candle burning at both ends. And we know the isolation it brings about. Motherhood is supposed to be so fulfilling, so wonderful, so all-consumingly joyful that all inconveniences are too petty to mention. But many of us don't feel that way. Some of us experienced failure for the first time as a new mother. Sleep deprived, oozing hormones, and feeling helpless at the hands of a colicky newborn, motherhood does not always feel like sweetness and light. To deny this is to devalue motherhood. Because it's hard. It just is.
So if you believe in the sorority of moms, find a way to support another mom this week. Take the new mom at work out to lunch. Surprise her with a mid-afternoon latte. Just stick around and listen. Or offer to help her out with something so she can go home early. She probably needs it.
*Of course her name's not Jane