Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Tipping My Hat to Working Moms

I woke up at 5 a.m. yesterday. I hit the snooze button (only once).  I got up and showered and got ready for work. Ahem, excuse me, that's right I said work.  Yeah, I got a job.  I am now a working mom and I have something to say...holy woah, my hat is off to you working mom, my hat is off to you.

Reading to my baby who heads off to kindergarten in a couple weeks which makes it more affordable for me to get a job.

I am tipping my pretend hat in honor of the working mom because it is complicated and interesting and wonderful and exhausting and a balancing act and ahhhhhhh.  I've only been doing it one day and I have so much more respect for you. Look, I've always respected working moms and all the juggling and balancing and planning and multitasking you do. Now I just have a deeper respect, a deeper appreciation.

This isn't some "mommy wars" post about stay-at-home moms versus work-at-home moms. Being a mom is intense no matter what. I've just never done the work-at-home mom job with older kids. The last time I worked full time, Peyton was two years old.  

For the past 12 years, I've been a stay-at-home mom who freelances and blogs and creates at night and during nap times or drags my little kids along to meetings during the afternoon to discuss storytelling shows and political campaigns and church fundraisers. I've loved every minute of it, well I mean almost every minute of it. I didn't know I'd love it when I quit my job at a community newspaper after my second child was born because the cost of daycare was more than I was making.  But man, I loved it. I reveled in the beautiful chaos of having four children and all the finger painting and dancing in the kitchen and trips to the library and the movie marathons and the nature hikes and the bike rides and the hanging out and the lunch time conversations and all of it.  I fell in love with all of it and my children and my life.

But having four children is expensive and I needed to find a job that paid more than my beloved freelance writing and video editing.  And the children are older and not needing all the finger painting fun and they aren't loving my kitchen dancing and hanging out as much.  Over the last year and a half I've applied to JoAnne Fabrics, nonprofits and coffee shops.  At every interview I had, I connected with the potential boss and the interview usually ended with a hug, but no job.  "It's just not quite your time," one potential boss told me during an it's-going-to-be-okay-but-your-childcare-issues-just-won't-make-this-job-work-for-you hug.  "You will find the right job when your kids get a little older and are in school."

That nice woman was right. A few weeks ago, Tim sent me an email link to a job opening at a preschool in our kids' school district.  I jumped at the opportunity to apply for a job that would give me the opportunity to use some of my nurturing skills, not to mention my kickass finger painting ability and love of all things silly and fun and preschool.  I got the job--an assistant preschool teacher to a morning class of three-year-olds and an afternoon class of four-year-olds three days a week.  

And yeah, yesterday was my first day. It was a training day--full of meetings and training and a potluck breakfast and meeting my coworkers and my bosses and learning and talking and learning more.  It also happened to be Lucy's sixth-grade orientation for middle school (um, gulp), meet the teacher afternoon at the little boys' elementary school and a day when I had no childcare options except my teenage son.  

It was a crash course in what it's like to be a working mom and well, it's hard.  It's hard to sit in a meeting and focus when you are wondering if your teenage son remembered to give the kindergartner breakfast and hope they remember that they aren't allowed to wrestle.   It's hard to not seem rude or impatient when you want the meeting to end on time so you can run and get your daughter from orientation from her first middle school event and not make her wait and hate you for forever.  It's hard not to seem like you don't get what a big deal middle school is when you pick your daughter up but don't have time to stay and try out her locker combination because you are on your lunch break and you don't want to be late and make a bad impression on your first day and be that mom employee that's always showing up late because she has so many kids.  

I want to be there a hundred percent for my job. 
I want to be there a hundred percent for my kids.

I'm excited that I have an opportunity to work at a job doing something that I value so intrinsically--early childhood education. I'm excited to pay forward all the care my kids received in preschool and that I received. Preschool teachers taught me so much about being a parent, they were supportive and loving and life changing in some ways. I hope that I can provide that kind of care and love to families. And to my own family at the same time.

I have no answers, I totally screwed up my first day. I know once my kids start school and childcare isn't such a problem, it will get a little easier and I look forward to that. I'll find my groove and there will be good days and bad days and calm days and crazy days.

For now, I am tipping my hat to all working moms and suggesting that maybe we all do some sort of flash mob dance to Donna Summer's classic "She Works Hard For the Money" because you do, we do, and there's all the thinking about so much and juggling and balancing and focusing and multitasking and being a good example and  building careers and paying bills and making a difference and mothering and being there and ahhhhhh. 

(click here to watch the video)

My dream is that the flash mob will include all moms dancing together--working/stay-at-home/work-at-home/grandmas who babysit their grandkids/single moms/married moms. All dancing and supporting and honoring all the hard work that goes into taking care of families and paying the bills and having careers and having jobs and living life and lifting each other up.


  1. First of all, congratulations on your new job! Second of all, as a veteran of the working mom trenches, it gets easier and it doesn't. But it works. Somehow. :)

  2. You've got this. You just have to find your groove. And learn how to let some things slide (like housework).

  3. This sounds like THE perfect job for you and yes, it will be less stressful once all your kids start school. I cannot wait to hear how much you like it! :D

  4. Angela! I didn't know you got the job! Congrats and you will find your groove! And have so much fun doing it!!

  5. Angela! I didn't know you got the job! Congrats and you will find your groove! And have so much fun doing it!!

  6. I am so excited for you! I think about how much I adored each of my girls' preschool teachers, and I know that these kids and parents will feel the same way about you. Preschool teachers are with our littles at such a sweet time in their lives. I'm sad that we're done with it, but I'm so happy you'll get to experience it.