“I was in the line for the fitting room at TJ Maxx last weekend when the lady in front of me commented that she really liked the pants I was holding. ‘Thanks’, I said. ‘I’ve really been needing to buy some post-pregnancy work pants and I really like these too.’
‘Oh, where is your baby while you work?’, she asked.
Nonchalantly, I replied, ‘He goes to daycare and really loves it there. He has a lot of friends!’
As she walked away and made her way to her fitting room, she mumbled ‘Must be nice to have a vacation from your baby every day, woman.’
I felt tears well up in my eyes, because I know she didn’t see it. When she said that —I knew she just didn’t know.
She didn’t know that my boss moved Heaven and earth to help me keep my job and health insurance after being out of work for half a year to help Sawyer recover from the eight-hour open heart surgery that saved his life at three months old. She didn’t know about the $1.8 million dollars that his medical care cost last year.
She didn’t see the way I sobbed until I couldn’t breathe the day, I dropped him off at daycare for the first time. The weight of everything that I was going to miss was so heavy. I don’t know that that feeling every really goes away.
She hasn’t been there for any of the weeks that I’ve ran back and forth 20 times between daycare and work to take Sawyer to all of his therapies and medical appointments, while also trying to be a valuable member of my team at work.
She doesn’t see the tears that fall onto the top of my sandwich some days during lunch as I scroll through pictures of my son, wishing he was there to share that sandwich beside me.
She couldn’t have been thinking about way that I wake up every morning at 5 a.m. to get everyone in my house ready to get out the door on time — stopping to cherish a sweet hug and kiss from Sawyer in between hurriedly packing his bag for daycare and going over the presentation I’ll give later that day.
She wasn’t thinking about the way I often feel guilty for leaving work on time, not being able to stay late, or attend evening functions — because those evening hours are the only ones, I have with my family each day.
She doesn’t know about the way my heart races with anticipation every time I pull into my parking spot at daycare to pick Sawyer up. She doesn’t see the tears welling up behind my eyes when he beams from ear to ear as soon as he sees me round the corner. I know he missed me.
Surely she wasn’t thinking about the video I got from daycare last week that showed me the joyous moment of Sawyer’s first word — one that I missed — and one of many many firsts that someone else besides me will be there to experience while I work hard to provide for my family.
And I know she wasn’t thinking about how much it breaks my heart that I get to see my son awake for ONE AND A HALF hours a day during the week. We get home at 5:00, break our necks to get dinner on the table before Sawyer gets tired so we can enjoy dinner together as a family, and still in those work pants I bought at the store that day and heels — I give him a bath and try to comfort him as he cries himself to sleep in teething pain. I missed the eight hours of laughter and smiles and joy today. I got the fussiness — the bedtime meltdown instead.
I throw in a couple loads of laundry and a tear slides slowly down my cheek. I think to myself, Was I good enough today? Does he know just how much I love him? Does he know I do this so I can provide for him? Does he know?
Some days are really really heavy. The weight of all the time we’re missing sets in and we wonder if our children will suffer because of the decisions we’ve made to be working moms. Are we wrong for loving both our jobs and our kids? Are we, as special needs working moms, selfish for wanting to work hard to provide every resource, support, and therapy our children need to reach their fullest potential? Are we being judged from every angle for prayerfully following a path to both work and parent?
Working moms aren’t on a glorified vacation. We’re missing our kids every minute of the day, wondering what they’re doing, counting down the minutes until we’ll see them again, and cherishing every single minute that we get with them in the evenings and on the weekends. Many of us are working hard to provide resources that they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy apart from our decisions to provide those things by working. Many of our children with special needs are desperately dependent on the health insurance that our employers provide. And many of us have been on our knees for countless hours crying out to the Lord to help us make the best decisions for our families, whatever that decision may be.
So, when we say we’re working moms, trust that we’ve prayerfully made that decision. Trust that we’re all just trying to do the best we can with the circumstances we’ve been given.
And we were created to hold one another up in love and encouragement, not to tear each other down. Our world has enough malice, enough hate, enough judgment. Let’s give each other the benefit of the doubt — heck, let’s sit in the weight of these hard things together – lifting each other up in prayer and loving each other well.
Whether we’re working moms, stay-at-home moms, or anything in between — we’re all just doing the best we can.
And that — is enough.”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Lauren Nicole Shelor, 29, of Virginia. Follow her journey on Instagram here. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.
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