Working Mother Part 2: What to Say

This is Part Two in a series about working mothers. Part One addresses the “How do you do it?” question that is often asked. Today, Jess talks about what to say to encourage a working mom. 

Now that I’ve been a mom for a while (six years, two months and a bunch of days) and a step-mom (for most of my adult life — GASP!), I’d like to talk briefly about what working moms hear. Not what we hear from our kids or other random noise, I’m talking about what we hear from those around us about being a working mother. I’ve heard a ton of criticism over the years:

“How do you do it?”

“Oh, you work outside the home, that must be so hard.”

“I could never be away from my baby.”

The list goes on and on.

Sunset What Should I Say

I choose to work outside (and inside) the home. So before you criticize moms who work, let’s talk about what might be nice for those moms to hear…

  1. “I know it’s hard to do what you do.” Because you know what? It is hard to do what we do. All of us, no matter what. I think it’s part of life that our brains work overtime when men’s brains don’t always work that way. My brain rarely shuts off which is why I have a ton of lists. I’m always remembering to pay that bill or fold that laundry, sign that permission slip, or seventeen other things. It’s tough to keep it all flowing sometimes, so how about a little empathy?
  2. “You are doing a great job!” I know we learned at a young age that lying is bad and IT IS. But just this one time, even if I’m sucking wind, tell me I’m doing a great job. When my kid kicks me in the face because we’ve been fighting about getting dressed for school for twenty minutes, when the milk gets spilled or the grilled cheese gets burned, tell us we’re doing alright. If you’re anything like me, those are the times I feel like I’m failing miserably even though I know I’m not. (Grilled cheese duty now belongs to the husband.)
  3. “Can I help you with that?” The grocery cart, unloading the packed truck from a Costco trip, folding the laundry, picking up the kids from events, the list goes on. Only ask to help if you are really willing toMailbox help fold my laundry and sweep my floor. And don’t berate me for leaving my mail in the mailbox. Yes, I recently heard the following words alluding to my busyness, “Oh, I know, you don’t even have time to bring in your mail!” Oh, I have plenty of time, I choose to leave that junk in the mailbox in hope that the mail person will take the junk back. (Seriously, someday they will just take the junk back, right? RIGHT?)
  4. “Congratulations on your success in {FILL IN THE BLANK}.” We’ve likely all done something in the last day, week month or year that deserves a little congratulating. Even if it is just getting the kids to school and you to work on time.
  5. “Thank you for doing all that you do!” This might be the biggest one for me. Say “Thank You” to me for whatever it was that I did for you. Say thank you. And on that note, if you’re asking, say please. It will get you less poison in your coffee.

And now a word to us moms, accept the help, graciously accept the complement, be nice to each other. It’s a hard life we live and we need each other.

Working moms — What do you want to hear? Let’s start a great list!

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