"I'm Always Sacrificing Something": Women Are Sharing What It's Really Like To Be A Working Mom, And I Need To Give My Mom 1,000 Hugs

    "Why should I agonize and feel guilt for going to work and paying my bills when every day millions of men do the same thing?"

    Recently, we asked working moms in the BuzzFeed Community to share the things they wish more people understood about balancing childcare and a career. Here's what they had to say:

    1. "It's so much harder than I anticipated it would be. We have no family within 300 miles, so any childcare we have to pay for. Every time I pick our daughter up from nursery and the key workers tell me how she's done something new, behind the smile I'm so hurt I didn't get to see it because I was working. I feel judged whatever I do."

    mom buttoning up a toddler's coat

    2. "Everyone assumes when you have a baby that you should WANT to be a stay at home mom. I worked hard for my degree and my position, and taking an extended leave would have been detrimental to my long-term career goals. Yes, I wasn't there for every field trip to a pumpkin patch, but my son got to see that I would always be there for the big things."


    3. "You must have a supportive equal partner. This is not a nice-to-have. This is an essential. Also, working moms are the best employees. We know how to lead teams, be supportive, the balance of when to use gentle encouragement and when to demand more, are super organized, and in general, we get shit done!"


    4. "It's no different than being a working dad. My husband and I both have full time careers. We balance our home responsibilities. Why should I agonize and feel guilt for going to work and paying my bills when every day millions of men do the same thing?"

    woman taking a coffee break at work

    5. "I’m a freelance writer, so I luckily can work from home on my own schedule. But that means I end up being a full-time mom PLUS full-time writer. So I’m mom all day, then stay up until 2-3 a.m. every night to work. And no matter what, I feel guilty, either for not giving him 110% of my attention or for not getting things done for work."


    6. "That it’s really hard to feel like you’re doing a good job with your kids, job, and home all at the same time. You might get a little confidence boost in one of those three areas, but most of the time, you’re in survival mode with each. And there are so many expectations and opinions from teachers, doctors, neighbors, coworkers about all three of those aspects of your life. It’s an exhausting thing both physically and mentally, and I struggle with not taking constructive criticism negatively. I feel like I’m working so hard but not seeing the benefits of it most days."

    —Mallory, Georgia

    7. "Weekdays suck! We get up super early, and by the time we get home, all we have time for is dinner, playing a bit, and then bedtime. My kiddo is 4; we kept her home for a year during COVID, and I seriously miss the days where my husband and I were working from home and I was able to take breaks and hang out with my kid. Both us us being back at work and her being back at school means not being able to spend much time with her during the week, and it sucks."

    Tired mom cuddling with her daughter

    8. "I have two kids under the age of 4 bringing home every germ in daycare, getting themselves and me sick what seems like constantly. It causes massive stress and anxiety knowing that I’m taking more time than my childless colleagues, falling behind, and results in my trying to take off as little time as possible.

    "Two weeks ago, I went to the ER on a Monday night, got home after 1:00 a.m., then was logged on by 8:00 to do whatever I could to try and diminish the disruption to my team and colleagues. That’s ridiculous, but we as working mothers have to parent as though we don’t have a job and work as though we don’t have kids."

    —Irene, Seattle

    9. "That it’s hard to get the time off for doctor’s appointments or emergencies. I called in to ask for a day off since my son was ill and there was no one who could watch him for me. I was rejected and was told I had to come in. A colleague told me to call in sick the next time. My son got sick at school one time, and I had to have someone else pick him up for me since I could not leave.

    "When I was pumping, I was legally allowed to pump for two hours. I could choose when…not! They dictated when I could pump. Vacation scheduling was a pain. Everyone wanted the school vacations, and you had to bargain with another co-worker for vacations. I no longer work there, but I had to endure 11 years of that nightmare."


    10. "I hate the phrase 'full-time mom.' There's nothing wrong with being a stay-at-home mom, but I do not stop being a mom when I go to work."

    woman holding a baby in her lap while working from home

    11. "I work remotely full time and have two kids — one stays home with me while the other is in school. I have Zoom meetings where my daughter is visible, or I have to tend to her. I do my best to schedule meetings during nap time, so I’m seen as a professional. I’m constantly battling my colleagues’ ideas that I'm unprofessional and distracted. In reality, I work harder because my day is split with taking care of my little one.

    "I stay up late to get things done for work after the kids are in bed and the house is cleaned up. I work through days when I’m ill because my sick/vacation days are used when my kids are sick or when they have doctors appointments. It is a slippery slope to burnout and takes a toll emotionally because I don’t have time for my own well-being. I live in the headspace of 'I’m not a good enough mom, and I’m not a good enough employee' because I’m not doing either job to my fullest."

    —Katie, California

    12. "Being active duty Air Force as well as a mom of two, it's exhausting. Being so 'go go go' in the military and the default parent at home is mentally straining because I rarely think about myself. So many people rely on me, and there's only a handful of times I've felt like I was the one being cared for."

    —Ashley, Florida

    13. "I would be bored out of my mind if I didn't work, but seriously — working to support my teenagers means I have such a limited amount of time to spend with them. I feel like they're growing and changing and coming into their own in ways I will never understand simply because I don't get to spend any time with them. I go to work when they're in school, and I don't get home until they're already asleep most nights. Sure, I make sure they have a roof over their heads and food in their tummies, but I know almost nothing about their actual LIVES. I hate it."

    Mom sitting with her teenage daughters

    14. "It’s impossible to do it all. Every day is a lesson in prioritization. Some days, I barely see my kids. Other days, I have to put everything aside because my kids need me. I am beyond lucky that I work for a company and have bosses who are mothers and get it. However, I am my toughest critic. I have come to terms that there is always guilt. The lie that women are told that 'we can do it all' just sets us up for failure, and we need to be more honest with each other about this."


    15. "I am the breadwinner for my family. I make double my husband’s salary. I know there are sacrifices. I can’t be the room mom at school; I can’t meet other moms for a play date at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday, but the fact that I am completely independent and don’t need to rely on anyone else financially is so liberating. My 12-year-old daughter loves that I'm a working mom, climbing the corporate ladder and breaking the glass ceiling.

    "She brags about it to her friends all the time, and I secretly love it. I want to be a role model for her so one day she can be a boss bitch, too, if that’s the path she chooses. A working mom’s day never ends at 5 o'clock, because that’s when the second shift at home starts. We’re tired!"


    16. "That it can be awesome! I am certainly not cut out to be a stay-at-home mom. I love my kids so much, but I also love my job. Some Mondays, I'm so excited to take them to daycare and have my routine. There are definitely days that I miss them terribly as well. But for me, I love having that balance."

    A woman wearing a hard hat and using an iPad

    17. "I work full-time and have two very young children. We live simply so that my husband is able to stay home with the children while they are young. I feel like I am always sacrificing something. If I want to exercise, I sacrifice sleep. On the rare occasion my in-laws offer to babysit for a date night, I often decline because it means less time with my children.

    "I am gone 50 hours a week. Some days, I only see the baby for an hour when I get home, and that's filled with dinner, bath, and clean up. So on the weekends, I want to squeeze it all in. The baby also sleeps next to me, so I can have more time with him. 

    "I know when they get older, we will have more time for our marriage and for ourselves. I know how hard it is to stay home with the children, so I really try to support my husband and help out with chores or give him a break on the weekends. I love that I can work and provide. I love that my husband can stay home. We are blessed with so much. I am so tired. I am so LUCKY."


    18. "I’m the breadwinner and make way more than my husband ever will. So I get to carry the burden of being the financial backing of our entire life while also being the one to deal with our children, our social calendar, our shopping list, and so on. My husband works part time, and he does a lot, but he’s always carefree. And he can be, because I never get to be.

    "I pick up all the slack, and it's just so commonplace that at this point nobody notices. Not to mention how hard it is to leave your baby with someone while you work. It breaks my heart. But mama has got to pay the bills. I just hope one day my kids look back and realized how much I’m doing for them."


    19. And finally, "I have to be constantly switched on — prepared with a plan at both home and work. My love for my kids keeps me going, but it blows my mind the inequality in my marriage when it comes to managing work, the house, the kids, and everything else we have to deal with because, pandemic! I wish my husband had a clue. I don’t even want a day off; I just want a day with him switched on to be more help."

    Can you relate? Share your experiences as a working parent in the comments.