Confessions Of a Working Mom and Other Stories from our Fellows

Kenyatta Elliott, ‘21

Being a working mom is best captured in this quote by Maya Angelou: “We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”

Many go through work mom guilt, but you can be a good mom and a working mom. I am living proof. When I reflect over my career and mothering two girls, I remember being in the school drop-off lines in the morning, praying there wasn’t an accident on my way into to work, making me late. I remember using my precious vacation time to stay home with my babies when they were too sick for school. I remember crying all the way into work when my preschoolers didn’t want me to leave them at daycare. Or when I was in grad school and my 6-year old would sit on floor in my home office as I wrote papers, just to spend time with me. But when I hear my daughter, who has embarked into early adulthood, tell me, mom you’re a “Boss,” and how much she appreciates my grind as a working professional and mom, it makes all the sacrifices worth it.

Kudos to all my working mom colleagues!

Emily Moorhead, ‘21

Ten years ago, I never imagined my daily schedule would look like it does today. On most days I am out of bed by 4:30 am. This enables me to work an hour or two, complete a quick workout, and see my kids at the breakfast table before heading to the hospital. My workday usually ends between 6-7 pm (if I am lucky). After which I rush home to prepare a family dinner, do the dishes, make lunches for the next day, and try to crash into bed before 10 pm. And thankfully, I am not alone in this. I am blessed to have a partner who does the bulk of the care giving, food prep, and filling in when I am working late. We are in this together and I am glad I chose the man I did. We work as a family team, and I know I couldn’t do it without him.

But this confession piece is not about my husband. It’s about my own guilt… Do I give my kids enough time and attention? Do my kids get too much screen time? Do they go to bed too late? Am I too lenient? Too strict? And amidst the pressures to be perfect, reality sets in… I’m not perfect. I don’t feel bad that I work a lot. I work for a wonderful non-profit healthcare organization, and I feel good about the work I do. Sometimes I choose to do an early morning yoga class instead of seeing my kids to school because I deserve time to do the things I enjoy. And splurging on a massage makes me a better employee, spouse and parent. Yes, even mommy needs a respite every once in a while. When I make mistakes, I talk to my kids and admit my downfalls, so they also learn it’s alright not to be perfect too.

And you know what? My kids love me. We have fun together. Sometimes we go to bed late. But we like sneaking outside to look up at the moon or making cookies after dinner or binge watching the latest Netflix series (even if it means we skip evening bath time). It’s a balancing act – being there for the kids while knowing I need a life outside them.  I may look back one day and wonder how I did it all, but when I do, I intend to smile and think of what a great time we had!

Elisabeth Erekson, ‘21

I don’t call it “work-life balance”.  To me, balance implies that there might be an incredible physical feat that I could contort myself into that would allow me to do more than I am already doing. Instead, I believe it is more about the simple act of choosing…how I consciously choose to spend my time as there are only 24 hours in the day and 365 days in a year. I find that being fully present for dinner, for a hockey game, for bedtime, is more important than always being there but being distracted, not able to carry on a conversation, or constantly looking at my phone.

Michelle Figueroa, ‘21

I am a working, married mom with four kids ranging from ages 14 to 21. When I was pregnant with my last child, one of my senior managers suggested that I return to the workforce in a few years, once my kids had grown up a bit. It was shocking that a women would be the person who would give me this feedback; however, her feedback wasn’t part of my plan, so I ignored her suggestion.

However, I never forgot how it made me feel, and therefore, when I have an opportunity to work alongside a young woman who is in the midst of raising children or having children, I ensure that they know that I support working moms. I don’t change my expectations or standards, but I am flexible and will help to support their ability to maintain work life balance.

After having my last baby, I found a new position which afforded me more career opportunities, and I never regretted my choices.  I love being a mom and a career woman. Both of these jobs give me a chance to feed my soul and allow me to live out my destiny.

As a working mom, you need thoughtful, honest, insightful feedback and to find people who are able to fill you with this kind of support. It’s hard enough to navigate motherhood and career, therefore keep your circle full of people who want to see you and your family soar!

Fellow Mother, ‘22

Becoming a first-time parent in middle age to a pre-teen is not easy.  Eight years ago, my husband and I adopted a 12-year old boy from Colombia, South America, and it turned our lives upside down. We thought we were prepared to adopt but soon realized we had no idea of what it takes to parent.  We took training classes, read all the adoption and child rearing books, and built a support team of friends and family. It wasn’t enough.

When our son arrived, we couldn’t talk with him. Our son did not speak English and, despite taking Spanish classes prior to his arrival, our language skills were very limited. The first several months we ran around holding up our phones with google translate and crying a lot because we couldn’t figure what he was trying to tell us.  For our son, the culture shock of moving to a major urban city from a foster home in a small village outside of Bogota was traumatic.  He threw up in the car during every trip for a year because wasn’t used to riding in a passenger car. He didn’t like the food and would only eat tuna and rice because he was familiar with it. Worst of all, he especially hated me. He would hiss at me if I came near him, throw things at me, and call me every bad word he knew in Spanish and English.  I cried every day for the first six months because I knew I was failing him and didn’t know how to be a good mother.  I couldn’t wait to go to work because that was my only respite.

Fast forward a couple of years and life for us slowly improved. Our son became fluent in English, made friends at school, and became the soccer star on his team.  However, what really saved us was a wonderful Spanish-speaking therapist who specialized in attachment disorder and adoption of older international children. Every Sunday, for two years, we drove an hour away as a family to meet with her.  She helped him understand that what he was going through was normal.  She helped me understand that our son really did hate me, but it wasn’t my fault.  He told her that he cared for his previous foster mother, and it broke his heart when she didn’t adopt him. He wasn’t willing to take a chance on me and go through that pain again.

It took years for the two of us to bond, but it eventually happened. Once he felt sure that I wasn’t going to leave, he started to talk to me. We are now very close, and he is thriving. He went from having a 4th grade education and not speaking English to getting straight A’s and making the National Honors Society in just a few years. He’s a very caring person and thanks us every night for making him dinner.  Next year he will attend college at his top choice and received a merit scholarship for his grades.

Today, he’s a typical teenager. He begs me to buy him $200 sneakers, watches too many silly YouTube videos, and tells me that I embarrass him in front of his friends. I couldn’t be happier.

Tammy Simon, ‘19

As a working mom, there have been many days when I start my day exhausted and think, how am I going to get through today?  While I was very tired much of the time, I was also energized as I was able to work and raise my children at the same time. The hours I worked changed based on the needs of my family, working 4:00 PM-Midnight and then waking up at 5:00 am with my children.

I did all of the cleaning, cooking, and primary parenting, taking children to dentist appointments, doctors’ appointments, and activities, as my husband worked Monday-Friday 7-3:30. As I reflect back, I ask myself why I did not ask my husband to help more with these tasks. It certainly was not due to him not wanting to help. It was about me believing I needed to work and carry out these tasks.

My best advice for all women: I encourage all working women to ask for help, take care of yourself and share the work of child rearing and taking care of the home.