When I was on maternity leave, I thought being a stay at home mom was the hardest job in the world. Then, I went back to work and thought, no, “this is the hardest job in the world” (The truth is they’re both equally hard in uniquely nightmarish ways) But then, last week, I found what is truly the hardest position: A Working Stay at Home Mom. (A WSAHM© Jess Mottola)
Yes. All the deadlines of a working mom with all the bathroom breaks of a stay at home mom (that’s 0. You get 0 bathroom breaks at home).
Parents of older kids get a special additional title: Ms. WSAHM. Because now, they’re also teachers! Enlightening their kids on the wonders of long and short vowels. Common core math. Blackmail and bribery.
And somewhere between all that, you’re still supposed to do your work, which once took place in an open floor plan and now takes place largely on the floor. This new work environment works a little something like this:
Give baby a snack, Dial-in, mute, take the baby down from the couch, unmute, present, mute, take the baby away from stairs, play with Legos, unmute, present, mute, turn on Sesame Street again, unmute, respond to a question while fishing something out of baby’s mouth, forget to mute, fetch a ball from under the couch, smell poop, make too much noise, apologize, mute. Put baby in your lap. Play keep-away with your computer. Unmute. Say bye, hang up.
And that’s just the 10 am status.
The solace is we’re all experiencing it together. Mommy wars may have been real in the past, but since my son was born a year ago, I’ve never found myself in the midst of one.
Fellow working moms agreed staying home was hard. The stay at home moms in my life agreed working was hard. The most common refrain in any conversation was: “this shit is hard” It served as a greeting, a reply, a sign-off, an exclamation, you name it. There was never a sense of us vs. them because we realized the only reward was a title none of us wanted: " hardest job in the world.” ……BUT JOKE’S ON US, ‘CAUSE NOW WE ALL SHARE IT. Routines are disrupted, childcare contingency plans are out the window. Parents are left to raise their children. alone. Without any help. Just you and maybe your partner, and that kid you created, all day every day. Parents solely responsible for 100% of the care of their own children.
Madness! What a world we live in.
This is the part where most articles would give you advice for how to manage this brave new world. Practical tips, examples of others who have done it successfully in the past. I don’t have any of that. I have no idea how to do this. All I can offer you is my empathy and our shared rallying cry:
This shit is hard.
Now get back to work.