All The Other Mommies Can Do Pick Up.

“You’re late!” my four-year-old daughter, Lexi, exclaims when I sit down next to her on the carpet in her pre-k classroom. “You missed all of the holiday songs.” Tears fill her eyes.

 

I was on time when I raced to her pre-school, but my cell phone rang just as I was entering the school.  It was my new, high-profile client, and I didn’t feel comfortable or courageous enough to say that I couldn’t talk because I was walking into my daughter’s holiday party.  

 

After cookies, apple juice, holiday stories and loads of fresh guilt, I give my daughter hugs and kisses and tell her that I have to go back to work.  

 

“Can you pick me up today after school?” Lexi pleads, arms wrapped tightly around my neck.  “All of the other mommies are doing pick up today.”  

 

“I can’t today sweetie,” I say.  

 

The tears are in my eyes this time and guilt gnaws at me. After some more tight hugs and lots of kisses, I fly out the door to catch my train back to New York City.   Pounding down the pavement, running from Penn Station to my office, I can feel myself destroying  my boot heels each time they get stuck in the cracks.  I curse at the cement for ruining my new Cole Hahns and feel beads of sweat rolling down my brow even in the 40-degree weather.

 

“You’re late,” my boss announces to me as I slide into a chair in his office, casually wiping off the mascara that’s now smeared beneath my eyes. “Where have you been?”   

 

“Lexi had a holiday party this morning,” I say matter-of-factly.  “I got in as fast as I could.”

 

He accepts my excuse, but clearly isn’t thrilled by the reason or my tardiness.

 

I used to lie.  Or rather I’d edit the information I shared about my whereabouts.  As long as I got my work done, it seemed to make more sense to not disclose the revolving array of my kid-related activities.  But I’ve gotten bolder with my bosses.  It’s my clients who I still believe in more of a “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.  They want to hear that you’re working on their business, not out playing dreidel games with your child’s pre-Kindergarten class.    

 

These are the times when I feel as if I can’t please anyone.  And no one is giving me credit for just showing up.  “You have no idea how hard it was to make it here,” I want to say to my kids sometimes.  The same thing goes for the people with whom I work.  I want a gold star for effort.  

 

When my kids are up all night with croupy coughs and snotty noses and I have slept a total of 45 minutes and somehow I put on lipstick and drag myself to the office after mainlining caffeine to stay alert, damnit, I want recognition.  I want applause or at least a little sympathy.  Sometimes I feel like shouting, “I’m here folks…I’m a trouper!”  But no one seems to care.

 

A friend of mine who is an executive at a media company and pregnant with her third child recently said to me, “I always think about how much more I could get accomplished at work if I didn’t have kids.”

writermommy
02.05.08

Ditto AmyF. Loved the article but luckily I can't relate. At my company, most of us are moms (or dads) and "I had to go to my kid's Hanukkah play" is as valid a reason for showing up late as "I had a dentist appointment." Two weeks into my job I had to miss a major presentation because I was "Shabbat Mommy" at my 2 yr old's preschool. I told my boss's boss the reason why I wouldn't be there, and he actually remembered to ask me how Shabbat Mommy went. I know I'm lucky here, but just know there are family friendly jobs out there!

AmyF
01.30.08

In response to the post above from showynyc, I don't think the article is an accurate picture of all working mom's lives, but a picture of what it's like for some working moms and for other working moms some of the time. How you work everything with your partner makes a big difference as well. If you cannot attend an event at school, maybe he can.

Bottom line is that you have to do what makes you happy and if being able to attend every major event for your child makes you happy and you have to stay home to do that, then so be it. I just don't think that all working moms miss events at school on a regular basis and I don't think all school events are worth attending either.

Amy
Mom to 3
www.sofiabean.com

showynyc
01.22.08

As a full time working mom of a 20 month old who is considering whether or not to become a full time mom, this article definitely doesn't make me want to stay in the workforce. I don't want my daughter to feel bad because mommy can never be there for the things in her life that she values. And the tale above is wonderfully accurate- you race around trying to make everyone happy, but in the end, no one is really happy at all. They all feel cheated or disappointed in some way, and the mom gets left to feel the same way about herself.

I am struggling with the decision to stay home or not (while we can afford it, things will definitely be tight if I don't work- but I'm lucky to have this choice, I know) and I came to this website to try to find some guidance. All I can say is this article is definitely one for my “stay home” pile. It's an accurate picture of a working mom's life (ahem, my current life!) and to me work isn't worth all the disappointment, stress and drama that it causes.

AmyF
01.02.08

I found after having kids that I worked harder at work because I knew I had to leave at 5 to do pick-up and I knew I wouldn't be able to do work at home at night. Before kids, I knew I could work late or work at home to finish something up. So, I don't think I'd necessarily accomplish more without kids, but I'd certainly spend more time at whatever I did.

Amy
Mom to 3
www.sofiabean.com