When my daughter was a little over two months old, I went back to my full time job. I lived an hour and a half away from work, and the hours in publishing were long and grueling. 30 minutes in the morning, and a goodnight kiss to my sleeping baby was all the time I spent with her during weekdays, and I tried to make up for the time during weekends. She hardly saw me that it broke my heart when her first words were “Lola (grandma)” instead of “Mama”—which maybe for others would be “yaya (nanny)”. I feel like we had a long distance relationship with her up until I started my freelance writing career when she was 2 and a half years old.
The tug of war between career and motherhood has been raging on ever since women entered the workforce. The “mom guilt” is ever present, and I’m not just talking about feeling guilty about not being there for your children. I’m also talking about not being able to give a 100% to your work. I felt like I was always not fully where I was supposed to be. It was exhausting to keep up with what I pictured to be as an ideal working mother. But looking back at that time, why was I pressuring myself so much to be the perfect working mother?
I believe that if you ask working moms that question, you’ll get different answers. But if you dig deep, the root of all answers is fear. The fear of your child not being raised well is probably number one. The fear of being thought of as a bad employee is another. The fear of being judged, put in a bad light, or “mommy shamed” feels awful, whether it is coming from strangers or family members. The thought of prioritizing work or providing for your family rather than spending time with your child leaves you feeling like a bad mom.
While some mothers can be some of the most judgmental bunch of people (here’s looking at you, mommy shamers, guilt trippers, and know-it-alls), we can also be the most understanding, compassionate, empathetic people in the world. What if rather than accepting our fate as sad, guilt-ridden working moms, we take the pressure off and learn how to first be kind and compassionate with ourselves?
Let’s treat ourselves the way we would treat our closest mommy friend. We don’t guilt trip them when they do overtime or go on business trips, we don’t get mad at them either when we take the day off to stay home and take care of their child. Apply the same empathy and compassion to yourself. Rather than expecting to do everything perfectly, aim to get things done to the best of your abilities at that moment. As long as we gave it our all, whether it be on an office presentation or your child’s costume, that makes you the best mom ever.
What else will make you the best working mom ever? Knowing this little secret: no one has, or should have a “work life balance”. You’re just one person, living one life, staying in one place, and doing one thing at a time. Each moment of your life deserves your full attention. It doesn’t make you a bad mom if you work from 9 to 5 without video calling your child at home. It doesn’t make you a bad worker either if you ignore a client call while watching your child’s ballet recital. Rather than being distracted, being fully present—body, mind, soul—will do wonders for your career, since you’re no longer turning in halfhearted, rushed work, and no distractions shows your commitment to the job. But the best part out of all this “living in the present” mode is when it’s applied to being a mom. You’ll see the difference in the relationship you have with your child, and with yourself. You’ll be able to appreciate and savor each moment you have with your little one, and you’ll be able to shower your little one with the love and affection they deserve—and they deserve all of you and more.
Nowadays I work from home, and the struggle to stay present and be kind and compassionate towards myself is still as difficult as ever. Using videos as a babysitter so I could get a few hours of work in or bringing my daughter to meetings still make me anxious, but I just keep reminding myself that I am doing what’s best for myself and my daughter as of the moment.
I also think it’s because being a mom IS hard work in itself. All moms, no matter how much help they get, how much money they have, or how many kids they have, are all on the same boat when it comes to trying to do better with this whole being a mom thing. So during those harder-than-usual days when a million things are happening all at once, take a deep breath and deal with what’s in front of you. No judgments, just love.
Maita de Jesus is a writer by profession for over a decade. While her forte are personality profiles and lifestyle pieces, she has since ventured into writing about family and parenting, due to her becoming a mom of one. A graduate of AB Legal Management from the University of Santo Tomas, her deviation from the expected career path was because of her determination to urge others to change for the better through her writing.
If you want to learn more about how to handle the pressures of living the mom life, La Vie Institute has excellent programs that will help you develop the tools to go through your motherhood journey with more resilience and empathy. To know about their programs and ongoing services,
click here: https://www.lavieinstitute.com/programs-and-workshops