Mom’s Facebook Post Perfectly Nails the Unreal Expectations Society Has of Working Moms
Every once in a while, someone comes along and perfectly captures the stress, hardship, and absolute intense pressure and unreal expectations on working moms. And today, that person is Sarah Buckley Friedberg.
In a Facebook post heard 'round the world, Friedberg, a mother of three (including a new baby) put into words exactly how impossible so many of our lives feel on a daily basis. In reading her words, I found myself practically spitting my coffee out as I nodded along, shouting “YES GIRL” the more I read. Because it's one thing to live in the lonely, crippling burden of working motherhood; it's another to realize that other moms feel exactly the way you do, too. And that it's not just you–it really just is that hard.
Friedberg's post captures pretty much all the unreal expectations you've ever heard about motherhood, from how soon you should go to back to work, to the importance of “self-care,” to sleeping, to maintaining your friendship, hobbies, body, career, home, beauty, marriage, and of course, enjoying every last frickin' moment, because it's all too magical. Honestly, when I read her post, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry, because every last word of it rang true to me and my life.
There are times, as a mom who of four who happens to work full-time from home, that I start to wonder if I am, in fact, invisible or if this whole working motherhood thing is really that hard. Especially here in America, I feel like we mothers get the message over and over again that if we just push a little harder, wake up a little earlier, work out a little more, meal prep a little more, get organized a little more, than we will at last finally discover the secret to “having it all.”
Except, of course, we are attempting the impossible and often doing it with no maternity leave and the expectation that we have unlimited resources, free time, and this elusive “village” that I keep hearing about but have yet to see. When you are the one living in the thick of working motherhood, you can start to lose perspective of how difficult it really is. You see everyone else doing it–and in fact, you start to imagine (falsely, I might add) that other women are actually doing it way better than you–so you start to think the madness is normal.
If your neighbor had to go back to work at 2 weeks, suddenly your measly 6 weeks of unpaid leave looks like a dream comparatively; if your best friend has a husband who refuses to lift a finger for the kids and yours willingly does bath time–even if he has to ask you where the shampoo is and what pajamas you want on the kids–you feel like you have no room to complain. And if you're able to leave work to attend a kid's doctor appointment, well then, you feel like you should just thank your lucky stars.
But here's the thing: none of that is actually normal.
We know, in theory, that the U.S. is the only industrialized country without maternity leave, but because we live it, we don't fully grasp how absurd it is that we function without it. We know, in theory, that parenting should be equal and that no one partner is “helping” the other, but again, because we live it and are just trying to survive, we don't have the energy to step back and question how to make it better when it inevitably feels like we are in the lead and our partners are playing a junior assistant role. And we know that taking care of our kids is equally as important as work and we shouldn't feel guilty for having to leave early once to attend a school play–but yet, we do.
We believe these things and accept these things and don't have the time to really take a good, hard look at the impossible expectations we have for moms in the US because, frankly, we're all too busy just trying to stay afloat. Friedberg's post, however, will snap you right back into reality, so I encourage you all to read it ASAP.
And just in case you're wondering if it's really worth the read, let me just leave you with this snippet from her post, which really gets to the heart of the message: “I don't know about you, but I'm ready to lean OUT. Thanks for coming to my Ted talk.”
If you take away one thing from her words, take away the message that when someone else spells out what you have accepted as “normal” in your life–from the fact that you should work out, date your spouse, enjoy your kids, be spontaneous, get up hours before your house yet still sleep a full 8 hours, meal prep and plan, do your hair and make-up, take care of yourself, clean, oh, and you know, work–you can realize for yourself how ridiculous the expectations we have for moms are.
And if that just helps you give yourself a break this Mother's Day weekend, then it's all worthwhile. Because you really and truly do deserve it, mamas.