I became a stay-at-home mom the moment my first child was born. It’s been my life for almost 5 years. But now, with my own business, I’m a working mom, too. I’ve got one foot in one role and one foot in the other. And it’s been stretching me in ways I hadn’t prepared for.

Whether you work in the home or outside of it, whether it’s a 9-5 or a side-hustle, working mom life is a tightrope, a balancing act— with a net of guilt and regret intricately woven to catch you when you fall.

And you will fall.

Because despite how carefully you try to tip toe across it, society is always right behind you with a two-handed shove, demanding you move faster.

I’ve started to become keenly aware of the mixed messages society sends to moms, especially working moms:

  • Your kids should be your everything, but don’t make them your whole world.
  • Find your identity in motherhood, but don’t lose yourself.
  • Be present with your kids, but always be thinking about your future goals.
  • Wake up early, but make sure you get enough sleep.
  • Your kids come first, but your career should be a priority.
  • Don’t blink because babies don’t keep, but make sure you’re always hustling.
  • Make time for family, but work harder— because you can do more.
  • Soak up every single moment with your kids, but don’t get behind schedule.
  • Take care of your family, but prioritize self-care.
  • Never miss a family dinner, but stay late.
  • Slow down mama, but keep up.

It’s confusing at best, and agonizing at worst.

I always hear women say “Working makes me a better mom”. And I completely get it. That’s usually my truth, too.

But if we’re being completely honest with each other, some days it makes me feel like a worse mom. I have a hard time staying present, I get stressed more easily, I lose my patience more quickly.

I’m in constant conflict. My “roles” seem to be at war with each other. Society makes me feel like my work is a trade-off, or even a gamble.

I’m gambling time with my family for money to better my family’s life.

I’m gambling an identity in motherhood for one outside of it.

It’s mentally, physically and emotionally exhausting. Is it worth the risk? Am I sacrificing too much? Am I gaining too little?

I don’t have all of the answers, I’m not going to try to pretend to either. What I do know is that I’m a working mom with big dreams and a mama’s heart, and those two things can’t be mutually exclusive.

We’ve seen boss moms like Brené Brown, Jenna Kutcher and Dana Malstaff unapologetically pave the way. They’ve proven that these two roles cannot only co-exist, but can exist symbiotically, mutually benefiting from one another.

Being a working mom is always going to be a balancing act, but it doesn’t have to feel like you’re the one on the tightrope. No, my friend, let’s be the ring leaders— the ones who balance it all. Sure, the spotlight will move from act to act, and stage time may vary… but at the end of the day, let’s be the ones with our feet planted confidently on the ground, running the show.