Some of my first memories are sitting on the floor of my mom’s office begging for candy. She worked as a secretary in the late-80s. Skip ahead a few years and a few more kids, she became a stay-at-home mom. While listening to the horrors of my day over brownies, my mom encouraged me to be anything I wanted. And I wanted to be a career gal.
It took many moons, a stint as a teacher, and a few attempts at corporate life to find my footing in the real world. Just when I had it “all,” a piece was missing. So with that, seven years in, this career gal added mom to her resume.
It wasn’t an easy decision to go back to work, and once it was made it wasn’t a simple transition. After months on maternity leave keeping my tiny human alive, I struggled to feel purposeful in the office. But I kept going back and nine-ish months later I found my footing again.
I built empathy + perspective over those months as I learned to balance my career and parenthood. It brought new meaning to my role fostering a culture for a local tech company. So much so, I even wrote a piece on how being a mom made me better at my job (here) and received a promotion to Director of Culture + People in 2017.
So what’s a typical day in the life of a working mom?
In a perfect world, I wake up at 6:00 a.m. for the Miracle Morning but it’s typically more like 7:00 a.m. or when my daughter, Henley, wakes up. My husband, Quinn, or rather accomplice in this whole shebang, help tag team: breakfast, feeding our rescues, prepping backpacks + lunches, and getting Henley ready. (Our daughter is really into feeding our three rescues, but she’s also stressed by it so it’s necessary to take turns navigating her emotions.)
My company has flexible hours so I prioritize calm, happy mornings over arriving at a certain time. On a good day, we’re out the door by 8:00 AM, Henley’s outfit is one she likes and matches, I’m polished with makeup and curled hair, and Quinn is caffeinated. On a bad day, you’ll know because we’re all a bit frazzle dazzle. Then, into the carpool lane we go!
As often as possible, I take Henley out for a breakfast date. There are days when she’s the first kid at daycare in the morning and the last kid at pick-up, so when my schedule’s light, we do morning donuts or afternoon cupcakes. It’s our version of afternoon brownies. Her teacher says the same thing each time I take her out, “Making memories!”.
But honestly most days, I’m at work for nine hours. Sometimes the day flies by and some days I miss Henley like crazy. It’s a mix of gratitude for having a job I love and guilt for not being the one to teach her all the things. Just when I’m guilt-festing, her teachers bring joy into my world by sending over photos!
Nothing perks me up like seeing Henley thrive at school. She truly enjoys her teachers and friends. Ask about her day and it’s nonstop chatter listing each child in class. Our first day back from the holidays she ran into the room and hugged everyone. Not to mention, she’s learning so much. Did you know water becomes ice when it’s cold? These moments remind me – we’re doing what’s best for our family.
At work, I’m reminded of it again during my monthly Mama Squad lunch. Not only do we motivate + support each other, we eat! Outside of getting to eat lunch, a typical day includes 1-on-1 meetings, developing training, interviewing candidates, and crafting content among other things. We keep it interesting with themed events (e.g. magical unicorn happy hour) and a pet-friendly office. We even have a duck, Ann Maria, that visits. It’s a hodgepodge, but I love working on a small team so I can shift context throughout the day. It helps me stay present and excited.
The shifting of context is a reason why I love being a working mom. When I pick Henley up in the evening, I’m on, I’m in it, and I’m excited. I treasure the time we spend playing, snuggling, reading and so on. Most of my dinners end with a Lego birthday cake and dance party. It doesn’t get much better than that.
In between after dinner silliness and bedtime, my husband pulls the ultimate co-parent move and gives me time to just be while they do bath time. Every evening I run through the same list, “Do I want to hula hoop, read, or work?”. Hula hooping, my version of exercise, is the most likely thing to win because it also means I can catch up on my last remaining show, Grey’s Anatomy.
Then it’s on to perhaps my favorite time of the day, Henley and I crawl into bed to read her favorite goodnight books: Goodnight Moon; Steam Train, Dream Train; and Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site, in that order or else…
We end with a few rounds of “Hush Little Baby” and off to dreamland she goes. If I manage to stay awake through our bedtime rituals, it’s back to hula hoop, read, or work. This is when I typically sneak in work to get ahead for the next day. Because, like I said, Miracle Mornings are rare in this household.
If I’ve made it this far, then I read until I fall asleep. So depending on how good the book is, I’m either asleep in a minute or up all night. Then it’s time to start the whole gig over again.
As Henley grows up, I hope she has memories of sitting on my office floor begging for cashews (she’s weird) and knowing that I’m happy, which is how I remember my mom at work and at home.