It was just one of those mornings. I couldn’t find the strength to get out of my yoga pants, let alone dream of putting on makeup and going into the office. In a prior life, days like this meant calling in “sick,” curling up on the couch in pajamas, and turning on Netflix.
To say my dual role as mom and business owner doesn’t allow for this luxury anymore would be the understatement of the year. Working from home, though, seemed like a decent enough compromise. My 2-year-old was out with her nanny. I had the whole house to myself to make some calls and be productive.
After catching up on some long neglected paperwork, I had my first call of the day with a client whose son was a student in my online tutoring business. Not even two minutes into the call, I heard the front door burst open. From down the hall a loud shrill sweet voice yelled, “Mama home?!” This was way earlier than I expected my daughter to be home, but as a working mom, being able to adapt on the fly is mission critical. So I muted the phone, ran over to my happy toddler, and gave her a kiss. I put my index finger on my lips and whispered, “Mommy is working—quiet voice sweetheart,” and walked back to my home office.
As I unmuted myself and continued the call, I couldn’t help but hear some rumblings in the background. My daughter was potty training and over the past few days there had been a lot of near (and also some impressively far) misses. I could only hear bits and pieces of what was going on, but from what I could make out, my daughter had put it all together and miraculously managed a successful potty experience.
As I was doing a silent potty dance and simultaneously listening to the client tell me her wishes for her son’s bar mitzvah learning, my bare-bummed daughter busted into my office with an ear-to-ear grin on her face. Before I could mute the call, she proudly and excitedly yelled, “Mama! I made huge poo poo! Huge, Mama!” And then in the blink of an eye she was gone, giggling and running away.
It was one of those moments that you remember forever. Here I was thinking I was doing a great job at juggling a million balls at once: I am a rabbi, I have my own tutoring company, and I consider myself to be a present and hands-on mother. I had never anticipated poo would end up being a topic of conversation with a client.
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry from humiliation, but figured the former was the better approach. I explained to my client that I was working from home and that my 2-year-old was very proud of her most recent accomplishment. The mother graciously reassured me and said, “We’ve all been there, Rabbi.”
This was a critical moment for me in my journey as a working mom. I had always thought I needed to segregate my role as a mom from my role as a business owner and vice versa. But on this day, with my daughter’s mid-phone call poop declaration, my dual roles came crashing together. This experience made me realize that not only was it impossible to keep them separate, but I didn’t want it to be that way. I am only one person and both of these responsibilities are a significant part of who I am.
For all of us working moms out there, it’s important to keep some perspective. We can’t freak out about these inevitable collisions between family and work. There’s no avoiding the fact that being a working mom can be crappy at times (literally and figuratively). Yes, it is stressful. Yes, there are moments that leave you unable to decide whether to laugh, scream, or cry. Yes, it can test your patience. But getting caught up thinking about how hard it is doesn’t make it any easier. Instead, we should simply take a deep breath, embrace our reality, and count our blessings.
Being a mom is tough. Being a working mom is stressful. But at the end of the day, with a little patience and love, I can do it. We can all do it. Not perfectly, and often with a little background noise, but all we can do is give it our best try.
May all of us working moms find the love and patience for ourselves as we embark on our daily adventures: whether we are at home or at the office, being a mom is messy. Sometimes we have to just push through. We may get dirty, even a little poopy, but with a little bit of laughter, we can make it through.