The Anatomy of The Working Mother
I had a hard time gathering my thoughts for this one. I over thought and wondered if my version was the same as every other working mother's version. I also thought about the fact that mothers who work are called "working mothers" while dads who work are called employees or dad. Never simultaneously and I'm not really sure why the distinction or label has to be worn if we are such. Then I really thought about what an honor it is, you know, to be a working mother. It's a well deserved crown that can sit atop messy buns, blowouts, or curls on any given day, because on the weekends, she is still a working mom. The anatomy of the working mother is complex. It's a work of art. It's mysterious, and just a little bit sadistic in a satisfying way.
In anatomy class, we learned all the body parts, layers of skin, components of blood, brain functions, heart blood flow, and all the systems that run on auto pilot all to make sure we perform. Perform for our families, our friends, and our jobs. All of these functions are critical in understand how the body moves and sleeps and wakes up everyday. Digests our favorite foods and reacts to emotions. There are so many fascinating parts about this body of ours. Then let's not forget, the reason why we are called working mothers, is because we became mothers-by either growing a human in our bodies, adopting, step-momming, and momming by proxy. It's an amazing thing truly if you sit back and watch the cycle of life mature. So the working mom thing, what makes us so different? What makes us tick a little differently? What gives us drive everyday and what makes our bodies and brains function so intricately that we somehow manage to land on our feet. Or heels. Or flats.
I'll tell you, working with a working mother you'll see that her head is everywhere. The brain is firing away as it maps her responsibilities. "Did i pack enough for his lunch?" "I wonder if he is napping ok at daycare" "I should've finished this report yesterday" "Did I add the 3pm meeting to my calendar?" "I need to respond to those emails before I leave" "I hope I make it back to the kids on time for pick up" "I really need to find an alternate route for traffic" All these questions are dancing along the brain waves. Self reminders laced with anxiety. Affirmations laced with doubt.
In her eyes, you might see distance, thought, and additional processing of the brain functions all while still managing to attentively respond to you graciously. And sometimes not so graciously. She'll shift her tired eyes around and maybe blink a few times, because they're a little dry. Maybe someone's sick at home and she didn't get much sleep. Maybe the baby woke up early. Maybe she just laid there running down her to do list for the next day, because back to the brain, it never stops.
Her nose is attune to smells, wondering what if what she ate for lunch is healthy. Because she sits most of the day she makes a conscious effort to eat well. She smells the food in the office or her workplace and again back to the brain, "practice self control" she whispers to herself. She catches a whiff of her perfume and feels accomplished that she actually remembered to spritz before dashing out. Bonus points.
While her lips move, they may not match what she is actually thinking. She is phenomenal at multitasking, she added it to her resume. Her words are eloquent some days and other days short and to the point, often mistaken for rude and impersonal. When really she's just out of words to say. She talks all day and all night you know? In the morning she's telling her little ones to get dressed, reminding them to eat their breakfast, all while asking if everyone slept well. She's talking to her partner if she has one, making sure they get the proper acknowledgement amidst the throws of the morning. She's wishing her kids a good day at school, kissing the baby dropping him off at day care, she's sending "I love yous" to her children to carry them through the day-and also her. Wishing everyone at work good morning she gets to her tasks while the brain is still functioning. Keeping a polite tone in the meetings, speaking up when necessary, and a sometimes difficult conversation about PTO later she realizes the only quiet moments she's had today, with her mouth closed is in the restroom.
Her shoulders are tense holding a little weight of the day and stress from worrying about traffic on the way home. She's been sitting all day and her arms have been the most mobile. Shaking hands, high fives, baby hugs in the morning and fingers typing away. Is that carpal tunnel? Nope it can't be. She wills it not to be. Maybe a pinched nerve from sitting all day. Or standing all day. Goosebumps have made a permanent home out of her arms. Offices are cold like that. Back to the brain, she reminds herself for the 8th time this week to bring a sweater. Swinging open the door, her legs take her somewhere.
Her legs are swiftly yet gracefully moving in heels, or flats. Either way, she gets where she is going. She heads to the break room to meet another coworker. A friend really, for some chats. They speak about their days, their kids, their bosses, and a few fun things like personal aspirations. They get caught up before 15 minutes is up, she takes a brisk walk outside to breath in un-recycled fresh air. Deep breathe into the belly.
Her belly is full she's been snacking all day. Or it is empty, she hasn't had a minute to eat. Her lunch break might've been spent on running errands, perhaps the bank? That line can be long during lunch. She'll grab something on the way back if she has time. Back to brain, wondering if there's traffic and if she'll make it back to school or daycare on time before she'll be charged late pick up fees. Maybe she should ask someone to pick them up just in case. Just a thought.
Her right foot alternates between the gas and brake pedals. Traffic as suspected, but today's a win because she makes it to pick up on time. Shoes are kicked off upon entering the house and back to standing to either start dinner or prepare what she prepped if she had time. Another win if she did.
The hands , arms, and chest are most used at home. For hugs. For high fives and the wiping of tears. For tucking in beds or sometimes carrying a little body to her bed. Little heads rest on her chest so she slows her breathing to calm them-and herself. The eyes are still burning a little tired maybe a little strained from reading or being on a computer or phone. They close. And if she's lucky they don't open for another 8 hours.
Good Morning. Begin again.
Giana, Founder WMC