The night before I went back to work after having Nora, I was picking up the house and getting my (multiple) bags ready for the morning, when I saw a friend sneaking up the front walkway. She had planned to simply leave the dish of chicken enchiladas, bottle of wine, and bar of chocolate on my porch with a note; but I caught her so she stayed and chatted for a minute.
She was a new friend and, to be honest, we connected initially over something hard she had recently been through. She had never experienced leaving her baby to go back to work herself, yet because she loved and cared about me, she thought to drop off dinner (and other necessary treats) that night so that I’d have one less thing to think about on my first day. I cried.
We rally when someone brings their new baby home from the hospital to deliver gift cards, casseroles, and flowers, but the return to work is often silent and – frankly – a little lonely. Even as much as I talk about my “heart for working moms,” I’d never once thought to serve a friend in that way…
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and I even brought it up on on my blog Facebook page a while back. In addition to taking a meal or sending a Starbucks gift card (which are ALWAYS appreciated), here are a few other (non-gift) ways you can care for and love the working mamas* in your life:
1. Respect my schedule
This one came up a lot on Facebook, the gist being: I can’t let the kids sleep in if we stay up too late the night before, prep my dinner during nap time, or clean house later if it doesn’t get done on Saturday. Please just know that those little things might not seem like a big deal to you – something that can easily be put off until later – but they matter to me. First and foremost, I have to think about my family and how we will function best, so don’t expect me to throw my schedule out the window (often).
On that note, planning in advance is REALLY helpful to me. Especially if I’m going to need a sitter, to make/bring something, etc. If we plan something a week or more in advance, chances are exponentially higher that I’ll be able to do it than if we throw it together at the last minute. Just saying.
2. Plan family-friendly events in “off hours”
Another one from Facebook… I’m away from my kids a lot during the week, so I usually don’t want to/ feel bad if I do leave them in the evenings and on the weekend. That said, I also feel like I miss out on a lot of fun play dates, bible studies, and mom-groups during the week because I’m not free at 10AM on a Tuesday. I’d love to bring my kids over for pizza on Friday night or meet you to walk on the Greenway with our strollers on Saturday. (P.S. I have one SAHM friend in particular who is SO great about planning afternoon play dates etc. I don’t go every time and I certainly don’t expect her to never plan events when I can’t make it, but it really does mean so much to me that she thinks about it!)
3. Be patient with me/ Forgive me for being a flake
I’m probably going to be late, cancel plans, or forget something important at least a few times
every week in our friendship. I said yes in the first place because I really wanted to be able to do it; but sometimes my plans and the actual hours in a day don’t match up. You ARE important to me, but sometimes – when the kids are sick, I’m behind on a deadline, and you can’t see my bathroom floor – our coffee date really is the only thing I can cut out. Please know that I am sorry. I wear guilt like a sweater, and I’m embarrassed to call you to reschedule again. Please bear with me and be quick to forgive.
4. Keep inviting me
Even despite all of the above and the fact that I probably say “no” more than I say “yes”, please keep asking me to do things. I don’t expect an invitation to your 1PM playground date, but please keep sending me texts about going to the library at 5, the Friday night Book Club, and the all day festival on Saturday. Even if it breaks all of the “rules” I’ve already mentioned, please don’t leave me out. I really like feeling included and knowing what’s going on, and sometimes – I promise – I’ll show up!
5. Be gentle with your words
You’re my friend, so I know your heart is good, but please try not to say things like “It must be so hard having someone else raise your kids,” or “I couldn’t do it.” Those things hurt. No one else is raising my kids, and – I assure you – you could do it if it’s what you thought was best for your family. (Listen, I know I make insensitive comments about “what you do all day” etc. too. I’m sorry. Let’s just agree that we are different and love each other FOR that, not in spite of it, k?)
Edited to Add: After I wrote this post and went back to re-read the list, I noticed how completely contradictory a lot of these things can be to each other. This made me realize that 1.) We working moms are tough to be friends with. Those of you that do it anyway, THANK YOU. And, 2.) That’s pretty much just the juxtaposition of being a working mom. Things are always in conflict with something else. In the words of many a smart woman, when we say “Yes” to one thing, we are saying “No” to something else. We often live in that place of feeling like one ball is always on the ground. We’re always letting someone down. It is our reality, and it is hard, but we do our best, and we say “sorry” a lot. If you’re there right now, I GET IT. Deep breath mama. You are doing great.
ALSO: This post ended up having a sadder tone to it than I intended. I’m not sad. I like being a working mom, and it’s a good fit for me and my family. I also have a lot of really AMAZING friends in my life who show me this kind of love and grace all the time!! That said, I have felt sadness over each of these things at some point or another, and I suspect some of you have too. Consider this a friendly PSA. Nothing more. 🙂
So, can you relate? What would you add?
Hope your Monday is off to a great start!
P.S. The Sam & Scout Instagram account is now LIVE! Follow me at @samandscout for photos of what I’m reading, what I’m wearing, things I love, and more. *Tune in tomorrow for A DAY IN THE LIFE. Guaranteed to be thrilling. 😉