You’ve surely come across that quote that says, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.” This, of course, is applicable to any situation, but somehow it rings so much truer when you relate it to motherhood.
Writer Dana Nichols, who works in a nonprofit organization, put together a piece to reflect on the time she was young and clueless. As a single woman wrapped up in her own life, she had no idea what struggles the working mothers in her office had to go through each day — that is, until she became a mother herself.
But that’s the thing about being a mom — you’ll never know what it’s like until you experience it yourself.
Looking back, she writes, “My goodness, someone go back and talk some sense into her!” — referring to herself.
In her essay, Dana confesses there were many things she didn’t realize, and failed to appreciate, about this special breed of women who tended their jobs as lovingly as they did their children.
“I watched working moms go to meetings that could’ve been handled in an email, work through projects that coworkers were taking way too long on, and read through intolerable memos with the grace and patience of a queen. They knew something I didn’t: Nothing that happens at the office is anywhere near as important as what happened in their life at home.”
Now that she’s a mom herself, Dana knows working mothers lead a double life — the other one commencing as soon as the clock strikes 5.
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“I watched working moms count down until 5 p.m. and race out the door like their pants were on fire. I had no idea they were just getting started on the second part of their day.
“I didn’t realize they’d get into traffic and start calculating how long until they got there, how many minutes until they got home to make dinner, to do homework, to do bath, and bedtime.
“I didn’t realize that the drive might be the only alone time they’d have for the day, and they’d have to be actively shutting off from work mode and into mommy mode.”
She also expressed a bit of guilt for not being more considerate of the moms who had more nerve-wracking jobs to do than the one she had at the office.
“I watched working moms smile at me when I was impossibly rude and couldn’t bother to remember their kids’ names, even though we worked together for years. I politely smiled at their cute little stories but didn’t realize how full their hearts were from those special moments.
“I watched working moms call (and later email and text) to say their kid was sick and they’d be out. And could I cover this? Or could someone call to reschedule that? I had no idea the guilt they’d wrestled with, how exhausted they were from being up all night, and sometimes how relieved they were to just be home for a day. Even if it did mean cleaning up puke.”
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She acknowledges the lives these women lead at home may be impossibly difficult, but it, too may be their only piece of heaven at the same time.
“I didn’t know that some days work was a break from a hard night at home. And some days work took them away from the best night at home.”