'The Struggle Is Real': One Working Mom's Mantra

PHOTO: Alexis Rodriguez Alvich works with her son close by. Courtesy Alexis Rodriguez Alvich
Alexis Rodriguez Alvich works with her son close by.

(Editor's note: This article originally appeared on the blog Mama Wife Work Life. It has been reprinted here with permission).

The struggle is real. This pretty much sums up #momlife. Especially those moms who juggle #worklife with motherhood. Now, let me make a disclaimer: I think moms who stay at home can have a harder job, but because I am not a SAHM (stay-at-home mom), I can only speak for those working moms like myself who I know struggle with a lot of the same issues that I do.

First and foremost is mom guilt. It never goes away. I felt it when I couldn’t breastfeed my son, when I erased "PAW Patrol" from the DVR and he cried inconsolably, when the kids get shots at the doctor, and especially when I leave for work in the morning.

Working mom guilt is some of the worst kind of mom guilt there is. We are split in two: mom and career. I feel like I’m a crappy mom and crappy employee, although the opposite is true. We also cannot be both or do both at the same time, so we often have to choose…and asking a mother to choose anything over her children is like asking her to cut off her limbs. It’s heartbreaking and gut wrenching oftentimes, and we shed many, many tears.

The thing is, I enjoy working. It’s very much a part of who I am. I have put blood, sweat and tears into building my career and am proud of the work I do – and I have fun doing it. So, I am lucky that I, at least, like what I do while away from my kids. I just don’t want to be doing it from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. every day, never getting to spend quality time with my children. That’s just not the kind of mom I ever pictured being. It isn’t a criticism of other mothers — it’s just not what I wanted for my kids or myself.

There are so many days I spend sitting at my desk thinking about what they are doing. Is H having fun in his art class? What did he make today? I want to paint with him. Are they at the playground? I wonder if E loves the swing? I wish I could push her in the swing. Did H learn new songs in music class today? Did E love music too? It should be me with them, not the nanny.

It’s the inner struggle that I wrestle with daily – the guilt that someone else is raising them. Someone else is enjoying precious moments. Someone else is witnessing the milestones. Someone else gets more hugs and kisses and awake time with them. And I do appreciate our wonderful nanny for loving my kids and caring for them like I would, but she is not me, and therein lies the mom guilt.

I think to myself a lot that there has got to be another way, and I am figuring out what that means for my family right now. I think a lot of women are. More and more, I hear about moms who refuse to be chained to a desk anymore – who are working out more flexible, and, dare I say, more modern ways to juggle work and mom life. Work/life balance is nearly impossible for most, but if you can find a way to take that into your own hands to figure out the balance that is right for you, then go for it. We need to tip the scale a bit more in one direction: less mom guilt and more flexibility, which will result in more happiness and fulfillment, however that looks for each of us personally.

Just a final word to all working mothers -- you rock. You’re amazing and are doing your best. And you are doing right by your children. Working mothers set a great example for their kids, and sons of mothers who work are more likely to marry strong, independent women who will likely also work. So, your babies are lucky to have you as their working moms. I know it’s not easy. In fact, it’s really freaking hard, and it is likely killing you, but you’re killing it.

Alexis Rodriguez Alvich is a working mom of two children, and "is trying to figure out this whole motherhood thing while also juggling marriage, my career, and a (nonexistent) social life." She created her blog to "share my thoughts on motherhood (it’s really hard), marriage (also a lot of work), working full time (there’s got to be another way), and life in general."