It Gets Easier, Just Not the Way You Think
Happy Mother’s Day! We moms have one of the most important and hardest jobs on the planet.
Like all work, there are days it truly feels like a job and a chore, and other days you don’t want to end because you’re living out your passion.
Whether you are a “working mom” or not, I am sure you’ve heard plenty of other parents tell you, “It gets easier, hang in there.”
In my experience, it doesn’t get easier, the challenges just shift. The sleepless nights may turn back into a solid eight hours (unless you have cats, but that’s a different article), but then you trade sleeplessness for overcoming the myriad of challenges that come with having a toddler with big emotions.
Going back to work after maternity leave was one of the hardest, most emotional experiences of my life. I was told that it would be, but that each day it would get a little easier. That may be true only in the respect that you wind up with more practice leaving your child to go to work.
This actual conversation took place recently with my 2-year-old son:
Me: “Goodbye angel, mommy is off to work.”
Son: “No! Mommy no work today, stay home.”
Me: “But if I stay home and I don’t work, who is going to fund your expensive car habit? Work allows mommy to not only make a difference, but pay our bills and get you cars to play with.”
Son: “OK, mommy. Bye!”
Two huge hugs and a kiss later, I left with a broken heart after hearing him ask me to stay. But a small part of me was also wondering if I had just successfully taught my son the value of hard work and the understanding of what it takes to earn a dollar.
According to the New York Times, in a recent study of 50,000 adults in 25 countries, daughters of working mothers completed more years of education, were more likely to be employed and in supervisory roles and earned higher incomes than daughters of mothers who did not work .
Having a working mother didn’t influence the careers of sons, which researchers said was unsurprising because men were generally expected to work — but sons of working mothers did spend more time helping with the kids at home and housework. While this is wonderful news for breaking down the gender specific “norms” of the past, all the seemingly positive statistics in the world don’t necessarily make for an emotionally sound mother as she leaves her child for work.
I write this not to sound ungrateful for the opportunities that have been afforded to me, but to paint a realistic picture for other working mothers who may face this and many other struggles daily. Our journey as mothers is just that, a journey, with moving components and priority (or challenge) shifts. It very well may get easier, just not in the way you think.
Jennifer Sugarman, President and CEO of the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce, is a busy working Millennial mom to son, Emmett. She formed the Cocoa Beach Chamber’s Young Professionals Group in 2016, currently serves on the board for United Way of Brevard and is an active member in Brevard County’s business community.
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