Dear Working Mama,

I know sweet mama. I understand. I stand with you and for you. I feel the guilt in the pit of my stomach just like you do, and I can relate to your tired eyes all too well. Its not that being a working mom is better or worse than other options. Its not a battle of whose job is harder or more socially acceptable. Its more about the moments that make you think “Is this really all worth it?”

It’s the alarm going off at 5 am because you know if you aren’t ready by the time you wake up your kiddo, then you won’t make it out the door on time. The rushed showers and half effort of putting on makeup. Finding an outfit that doesn’t have yogurt splattered on it and that will be deemed “appropriate” by your peers. An outfit that says, “I am a powerful woman that can do anything,” and that hides the “I’m so tired. All I really want to wear is workout clothes and a messy bun.”

It’s the morning drop offs at daycare. These are the ones that still get me. Her little face looking at me as I rush inside, trying my best to seem put together, but also desperate to come across as thankful as I am to the people I entrust my most precious possession with each day. It’s the hand off I must make to take my baby off my hip and into the arms of her caretaker. Her arms reaching back to me and her eyes filling with tears as I try to choke my own tears back because even after two years of daycare, it doesn’t get easier. “Have a good day baby” and I always make a point to say “thank you” to her teachers because they spend more time with my child than I do, and they deserve all the appreciation in the world.

It’s the drive to work. “I hope she eats a good breakfast.” “I pray she is watched over and safe.” “I wish I had more time with her.” All these thoughts tugging on my heart as I gather my wits to go into work and be a leader for my team. Guilt fills up my stomach, but I remind myself that it will pass once I am at the office and the buzz of my to-do list is in my face.

It’s the end of the day decisions. “Do I go to the gym and miss another hour of her life or do I rush home and spend as much time with her as I can before bed?” “Should Mark and I really do another date night? I mean, we had one last week and we could just spend that time with McCartney.” “Do I take my computer home? I have so much work to do, but I won’t start on it until she is asleep, and by then, I am so tired I am not sure I can think straight.”

And then… then there is the moment. The highlight of my day. I walk through the door after my working hours have passed to an instant yell of “MOMMY!” from the living room. The pitter patter of her feet sprinting through the house to get to me. Her smile, as wide and toothy as ever, smeared across her face and her arms stretched out wide for a hug. The second she hits my arms, I let out a deep sigh and remember why it is worth it. It’s her.

It’s the example I am setting for my daughter. To see me rise in the morning, work as hard as I can at a career I love and then come home to my family feeling accomplished. It’s the extra money we have to take her to the zoo, the museum, the aquarium and not have the burden or worry if we can afford it. It’s hearing her say her ABCs, sing ‘Old McDonald’, and name off all her friends from school. It’s the way she reacts when she sees me and no matter what happened between 8 and 5 doesn’t matter anymore.

So, yes mama… it is hard, but have you ever had anything worth having that wasn’t? Remember each morning when that alarm goes off, you are amazing. Remember when you are driving her to daycare, that you are doing your best. Remember when you are in your board meeting, that you are killing it and you should be so dang proud. And most importantly, remember how you feel when you walk through the door and see them again and the smile on their face was made just for you. You are incredible. Don’t ever forget that.

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