To Every Exhausted Working Mom: I See You. I Am You.

We are the glue that holds it all together (even when it feels impossible).

Joanna Schroeder working mom Joanna Schroeder

This is for all the full-time working moms:

I see you at the grocery store on Sunday night at 9 pm. Buying snack pack crackers and frozen dinners. Checking your phone for the first set of emails to roll in for the week.

Double-checking your list while tapping that calculator app as you put things in your cart, keeping on top of that budget. 

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I see you arriving home, carrying all those groceries in by yourself (all in one trip, because you're not wasting time going out there two or three times) even if it nearly knocks you over. Unpacking them by yourself and re-organizing the pantry so everything is just right. 

I know, just like you do, that they will wake up looking for that food, and they'll never really wonder how it got there.

I see you, late at night while everyone is sleeping, doing up the dishes, folding the clothes while you sneak in a little TV time.

Taking in a deep breath at ten-thirty knowing you'll be tired in the morning if you don't go to sleep soon, but stretching your quiet, alone, do-nothing time as long as you can. 


I see you waking early so you can sweep up and put that laundry away before everyone is up and needing their morning stuff — their toast without any black spots, their sandwich with two slices of cheese, not three, please. Their banana sliced, but not their apple, please.

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I see you trying to squeeze in the answer to one more email between pressing the toaster button down and having to spread the butter on after it pops. 

I also see you at school, sitting near me in the auditorium, checking your watch at the school play when it starts late or runs long. I see you hoping your little one is up there first, so you can make it to your meeting in time, too.


I see you hoping that little one sees you there, so they know you made it. Recognizing your face in the crowd and feeling important. That's why you're there.

It's not the music or the backdrop other moms and dads had time to volunteer to make.

It's that little face when it finally recognizes you after searching all the faces, all while singing and trying to remember all the dance moves the teacher taught them.

It's that smile when they see you. 

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I see you as you read that headline on Facebook about putting down your phone and simply being present.

I see you reading headlines about all the things kids need, how they need you, and not the daycare provider or the babysitter or their aunt who watches them every afternoon. How they need free play and time to get bored, but also how they need to be guided by you in every area of life.


I see you wonder if it's possible. Not just for you, but for any parent. 

And I know how guilty you feel.

I know how it all falls on your shoulders. If the kids get sick, it's your work that is set aside to grab them from school, to take them to the doctor.

I know how it's you who rises in the middle of the night when you hear that cough change from probably nothing to definitely something. 

It's you who will miss work to care for that sick child, and as stressed as you feel being at home on a workday, I know you are also trying to enjoy the opportunity to sit still on the couch next to your little one and just watch all the shows you usually only hear in the background as you clean up or finish up that expense report. 


I get it. I feel you.

I was raised by a working mom. I am a working mom. I see you. You're doing good work.

This is also for you, solo dads, and the fathers who work and hold it together at home as the primary parent.


We are the glue that keeps everything together.

Our children will be inspired by seeing how dedicated we are to being good at our jobs and following through on our commitments.

They'll be strong from seeing moms who pay the bills or help pay the bills. 

We should be proud. Proud of our work, and proud to be parents, too. 

Our kids will be proud someday. They probably already are.

Joanna Schroeder is a feminist writer, editor, and media critic with a focus on parenting and gender issues.