I’ve seen this article and others like it shared many times on social media by fellow working moms. The article talks about the “ugly secret of working moms” and how as a working mom, the author feels that she is a fraud at both home and work. I cringe every time I see it shared for several reasons. First—having to split your time between multiple responsibilities is not unique to a working mom. It’s no secret that all moms play multiple roles every day and you may feel torn between your responsibilities. All moms have to manage their time and prioritize between several things.
Second—there is no “ugly secret” of working moms. Working moms, stay at home moms, work from home moms, part time working moms, all moms, nothing we are doing should be called “ugly.” Being a mom, juggling a full time job while raising kids, or being a stay at home mom should be associated with adjectives like strong, beautiful, empowering, and courageous. Because that’s what all of us moms are, ladies! We especially shouldn’t be labeling anything we do as ugly! We don’t need to hide behind a supposed “ugly secret.”
I know the article’s purpose was to reach out to other overwhelmed moms so that they know they aren’t alone. And we should be reaching out to each other and supporting one another. But let’s focus on lifting each other up and talking about how strong we are instead of how much we’re failing. Be an optimist instead of a pessimist when you support another mom.
It’s also unnecessary to make a divide between working moms and stay at home moms because the battle of splitting time between responsibilities applies to all of us. We don’t need to discriminate or judge each other, but rather know that we all face the same underlying challenges, uphill battles, and victories, even if we experience them in different ways. Sometimes I do need a mom that can relate to my specific situation and that may be a fellow working mom, but most times, I just need another mom.
The article redeems itself in my eyes towards the end and goes on to say that “You’re not alone. It’s not your fault. And it doesn’t have to be this way.” Which is totally true, you shouldn’t have to feel that you’re constantly losing a battle between the various aspects of your life and moms need to know that. You need to find a balance between the aspects that make YOU happy. You also need to know that someone isn’t just going to give you the gift of work/life balance and time management on a silver platter. You need to reach for it, grab it, and go forth confidently.
You need to teach your kids about life and how to manage responsibilities, so that when they are in your position, they aren’t lost and feel like they are failing. The article made me feel better by ending this way, but I’m afraid that most people who glance at the article by scrolling through their e-mails or news feed may not get to the end and instead take away from the article that working mothers fail at all aspects of their lives, no matter what they do. I certainly take offense to this conclusion because, as a working mother myself, there may be difficult times that I question myself, but overall, I feel powerful and fulfilled.
You don’t need to feel guilty because you aren’t able to give 100% to both motherhood and a career. It’s a constant game of give and take and in order to be successful. You need to accept that you realistically can’t give 100% to everything. This article about Deloitte’s CEO is a great example of how moms can have it all when you define what you want to do. You get to decide what is important to you and, yes, there are going to be trade-offs, but trade-offs don’t need to be seen negatively and make you a fraud. To take this out of a working mom context, if you serve as PTA president for your older child’s school, those responsibilities may take away from time that you can spend working with your younger child’s school, but if it’s important to you, don’t feel guilty about it!
No matter if you work full-time, part-time, or stay home, motherhood is about time management and prioritization. Think back to college—you may have had to manage your time between studying for tests, homework, a job, family, a significant other, and social activities. Those same time management skills apply to motherhood, whether you are shuttling kids between after school and weekend activities, juggling Board meetings and school plays, or a moms night out and reading bedtime stories. Either you work or not, the multiple roles you play as a mother, a personal chauffeur, a cook, a wife, a daughter, an aunt—you have to balance all of them.
You don’t always have to give a equal percent of effort to everything, that’s where prioritization and weighing risks and benefits comes in. Maybe some days your kids get more time and some days your job gets more time. Maybe some days you go out for a movie night with the girls instead of read a bedtime story to your daughter. Maybe some days you leave work early so that you can bring your son for ice cream to celebrate a great first week of potty training. Maybe some days you get a babysitter so you can have a much needed date night with your significant other.
Repeat after me: It’s okay. We are all learning as we go along. Nobody has it all figured out and please do not feel guilty because you can’t focus 24/7 on being just a mother or just a career woman or just a wife. You’re a better mom to your kids because of everything you juggle and you’re teaching them about life, whether you realize it or not.
With that said, you also need to learn when you need to say no. That’s where prioritization comes in. Your kids will learn time management and how to prioritize from you and it will be worth it. That doesn’t mean that you are a fraud in everything you do. It just means that you are human and you can only do your best. Trust me, your best is enough. Being a mom is a beautiful truth and don’t let someone convince you that you have an ugly secret just because your life is full.