I have always worked. At age 10, I talked the neighbor into letting me babysit her kids. At 14, I begged Blockbuster Video to hire me, despite the fact that I was child labor. A job meant money, and money meant freedom from my parents. I was born running, as my mother says. (Not REAL running, obv, like a 5k. Just running towards independence in a very non-cardio fashion.)
I carried this work ethic with me through college and early adulthood, often holding down 2 jobs to pay my bills. I got married, I worked. I got pregnant, I worked. To be clear: I had no choice. We were poor. Not ‘Hey Mom, can we move into your basement’ poor, but ‘it’s ramen for dinner again’ poor. I was between bartending jobs, trying desperately to find someone who would hire me at 5 months pregnant. I gave a very convincing and impassioned speech to the manager of a Dunkin Donuts, but decided no pregnant lady should be surrounded by unlimited free pastries, especially when her feet already looked like 2 giant croissants. I landed myself a job at a hotel, hiding my belly behind the front desk until my water broke.
I read somewhere that 1 out of 4 women returns to work within 10 days of having a baby. Ten days. A human crawls its way out of the best part of your body, leaving you sore and crying and tired (so tired! why didn’t anyone tell you how tired you would be!), and yet 25% of working mothers still feel obligated to go back to work while our insides are still in stitches. Literally. This statistic might sound absurd, it might not even be true. But since I was one of these women, I am inclined to believe it. Granted, I had no choice. I was forced to have a garage sale so that I could afford my monthly allergy pills; we couldn’t miss more than one paycheck. So off I went, with what felt like the weight of a bowling ball between my legs, to slap on a smile and greet hotel guests.
Even though now, 13 years later, I can afford premium cable and wine that doesn’t come in a box, I would still be in that 25%. If I had a baby tomorrow (calm down, never happening), I would race back to work faster than you can say Wage Gap. Why? Women always have something to prove, especially in a world where 96% of CEOs are men. You go back to work looking and feeling like a human-sized bag of marshmallows on an Ambien bender, pretending you didn’t even have a baby so that you don’t look weak. Eventually you cover up the fact that you’re a mother for fear you will be penalized (heh) by your male co-workers. “A parent-teacher conference? Nah, just too much partying with the client last night, you know? Epic hangover. Next time I’ll order the good scotch, amirite?” One wink-wink nudge-nudge and you accidentally delete your kid from existence. Abracadabra, you are a terrible mother.
Being a Working Mom, I have committed the following sins:
- Forgot to pick my kid up from school.
- Forgot to pack his lunch.
- Missed his birthday due to out-of-town meetings.
- Taken a conference call during his orchestra concert.
But my family survived. Women work and we mother, trying to find a balance between the 2 lives, hoping that we can be looked at as strong and talented and heroic for wearing both identities. We keep going, because we are laying the groundwork for our daughters to become CEOs, and topple that 96%. Abracadabra.
© Calling All Cool Moms 2018