It’s been a rough week. A few, seemingly small incidents have compounded to trigger consuming and downright painful ‘working mom guilt’.

It started when a last minute party was planned for my daughter’s preschool class. While all the other moms texted with excitement, I panicked and cursed, afraid my daughter would miss-out because of my business meetings. Thankfully, we scrambled to find transportation so she could attend, but alas, she was one of the only kids there without her mom present. Classic working mom fail.

Then, I was invited to join an exercise class with some ladies. One of my favorite things in life is working out with friends, so I was pumped…until I learned that the invitation was for 10AM on Tuesdays. Mid-morning on a weekday is ideal timing for every mom, right? You’d think so, based on typical schedules for mom support groups and playdate gatherings. Sigh. My frustration grew, mostly fueled by envy.

And then, to top it off — I received notice of a school field trip just a few days out, which my daughter can only attend if a parent drives her. I’m still trying to figure out transportation for this one.

Small, but unexpected hurdles can feel colossal to a working mom. Just one extra ball added to the mix of those we are already juggling throws the entire system off, putting us at risk of dropping them all.

Before my oldest daughter was born, I remember people telling me, “It will be hard to come back to work after maternity leave, but it gets easier.” I’ve been a working mom for over five years now; it has not gotten easier for me. I detest rushing my girls out the door in the morning. My stomach churns when they cry or cling as I drop them off (which happens often). Then, I, myself, end up crying while driving away. I long to take my oldest to school, chat with her teacher, meet her classmates, and pick her up at the end to hear all the details, just like the other moms. Oh how I wish I could read to my youngest before nap-time each day and hold her as she drifts off to sleep. And yes, I also wish I had more time to myself — to cook, to exercise, to be with my husband, to sleep. I have two years worth of magazines stacked up on the counter in the laundry room, just waiting to be read. And in case you’re wondering, I’m currently crying as I write about these longings, but studies show that most working moms cry at least once per week because they are overwhelmed, so I’m just doing my part to uphold the statistic.

I could go on and on about the challenges of being a working mom, but what would that accomplish? It would only enhance the feelings of desperation. Hardship may look ugly, but there is hope in every hardship, and the beauty of hope outshines the ugly.

My two little girls know, without question, that women have a voice in the workplace. That women can lead, drive change, and inspire. That there are needs in this world to be served and that women have gifts and talents to meet those needs. They know that moms and dads can partner to carry the burden of work, dishes, and laundry. They know that hard work and dedication is required, but that they can pursue any dream. They know this because it’s what they’ve experienced to be true, not just because someone told them.

According to the National Women’s Law Center, women typically earn 80 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. What’s worse is that working mothers earn only 71 cents for every dollar paid to working fathers. Society doesn’t think working moms can cut it. We can’t change their minds if we don’t show up. So that’s what I’m doing — showing up, leading, serving, pushing onward.

In the midst of my self-pity this week, I found myself up late one night, writing a poem (which is not a norm for me) with my good friends red wine and dark chocolate. You could call it an anthem…an anthem for working moms. I hope it brings a chuckle, an ‘amen’, or some small glimmer of hope. Carry on, working moms. We’ve got this.

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