Words to working moms on not being there every time

by Heather B. Iseminger, Guest Columnist |

ORLANDO (Christian Examiner) -- Last night I broke.

I've been fragile lately, because we all get that way sometimes. The normal chaos of life has been compounded by a move across town. Packing and sick children and wrapping of memories and car pools and car loads of boxes have worn me down. My cracked places have been held together by thin strips of tape.

And then.

Prince Charming and I realized neither of us could go with our son on his field trip to the zoo in a few weeks. Like impossible. Like I would lose another paid day and my PE teacher husband is in charge of field-day on the same day kind of impossible.

And then.

The guilt I feel because I haven't been to a single event for the Court Jester all year, I can't volunteer, and I can never be room mom, bubbled up and over the buried places of my heart.

And then.

My cracked places shattered and the ugly cry that came after still leaves me weepy around the edges this morning.

Yesterday, when I realized my son would be walking through the zoo without his father or me, it wasn't okay. And nothing anyone can tell me will make it okay.

I've been a stay-at-home momma. Now I'm a full-time working momma. Believe me when I say SAHMs—you work. Hard. I know. Your job isn't any easier because you don't work outside the home. Anyone who says otherwise is blinded to your reality.


Full-time working momma? Our struggles are different, and it is your heart I want to cradle just for a minute or two.

Because whether working is a choice or not, our hearts will always break when we can't be there for our children. A mother's first instinct is to protect her children, guide them, nurture them. When work keeps us from being able act on our instinct, the internal conflict is palpable.

Yesterday, when I realized my son would be walking through the zoo without his father or me, it wasn't okay. And nothing anyone can tell me will make it okay.

There are a million rationalizations we give ourselves just to be able to leave our children and go to work. We say remind ourselves of things like:

  • He'll be having so much fun he won't even think of me.
  • My friend will be chaperoning, so I know he'll have a good time with her.
  • Times like these will teach him independence and self-sufficiency.
  • He won't end up in therapy because I miss one field trip.

Most of the time these are accurate. They're true. Most of the time they're enough to keep us putting one foot in front of the other as we do our jobs, our important jobs (because they are.)

But sometimes, the truths we remind ourselves of, are not enough to ease the ache.

It just hurts.

I won't tell you to suck it up. I won't tell you it will be okay. I won't attempt to ease your mind with platitudes that do nothing to bandage the wounds of our momma hearts.


I'll tell you it's okay to be hurt and cracked and torn.

I'll whisper in your ear -- You're not alone.

We're a tribe of mothers, whether we work outside of the home or not. We all hurt when we can't meet the needs of our children. We're never alone in that pain, because there will always be moments when mothers can't fix the lives of their babies.

The burdens we bear as mothers are heavy and words on a computer screen will never be enough to lighten the load.

But we have a Jesus that will scoop up the broken fragments of our hearts and cradle them close. And it's okay to cry in the arms of Jesus. And it's okay to hurt. We don't have to be strong. We have a Jesus that is strong for us.

So, today, working momma?

It's okay to not be okay.

-- Heather B. Iseminger, a high school English teacher and blogger at PetalsofJoy.org, lives with her husband of 16 years and two children in Central Florida, where they actively attend First Baptist Church in Eustis, Florida.