To the mothers who work,
The ones who know that staying home with kids is work, too, but who choose who work outside the home because they need to (and, maybe, wish they didn't) or they like to (and, maybe, wish they didn't).
The ones who would like to slow down. Just a little.
The ones who've taught their kids to do their own pony tails in the morning so they can have five extra minutes to shower (because they know it takes exactly five minutes to shower, dry off, lotion up, put on deodorant, and get dressed—if they don't have to wash their hair).
The ones who schedule meetings and phonecalls right after school drop-off and hope they can make it in and out of school without having to chat anyone up.
The ones who would like to chat someone up at school drop-off sometimes.
The ones whose third babysitter quit yesterday.
The ones who take their kids to a daycare center and they wonder if their baby is getting enough hugs.
The ones whose entire paycheck pays for the nanny.
The ones who forget to pump and send a wish out into the universe that their baby will take the formula, just this once, today.
The ones who pump at work in bathrooms, in their offices, or in their cars, trying to relax, hoping for 15 minutes of privacy. (And that they remembered to pull down their blouses on their way back to their desks.)
The ones who schedule conference calls on the way to the pediatrician or while the kids are gymnastics, and who stand outside peering in through the windows so they can still watch those cartwheels and backwards sommersaults (and who wish they could tell whomever they are talking to how cool their kid is).
The ones who schedule conference calls while the baby nurses with fingers hovering over the mute button.
The ones who do the reviews or the reports at 4:00 AM because that's when the house is quiet. Or because they can't sleep anyway.
The ones who worry that because they have children they have to work harder, longer, faster, and that they will still be held to a different standard than those who don't have children, even though having children—more than just about anything—teaches you to work more efficiently and prioritize.
The ones who struggle to keep the smartphone off the dinner table because they are expecting an important email—the one with that signed contract or the final approvals or the boss's feedback—and want to respond right away.
The ones who travel. Especially the ones who travel, who spend hours arranging childcare and creating after-school schedules and calling in playdate favors and prepacking lunches and washing clothes and making and freezing meals (even though you know they'll eat pizza every night anyway) and finding library books (a full time job in and of itself) who tell themselves they'll prepare for that conference or meeting on the plane. Who set alarms—no matter what time zone they are in—to remind themselves to text their spouses or babysitters to pick up the kids here or drop them off there.
The ones who, maybe once, didn't tell their child about a weekend birthday party so you could spend that time together.
The ones who would like to host more afterschool playdates, but can't. And who worry that not being able to host those playdates is affecting their child's friendships. Or relationships with other parents who are always able host their child. (Something they appreciate tremendously, but forget to say outloud.)
The ones who would like to workout more, but can never find the time.
The ones who grocery shop at 10 o' clock at night so there will be yogurts and cold cuts for school lunches the next morning.
The ones whose children know exactly what they do for a living and can tell all their friends. (Which secretly makes them proud.)
The ones who've taught older the child to pour the orange juice without spilling and help the younger child reach the cereal bowls.
The ones whose babies wake up to nurse at 2:00 AM, just as they are finally about to fall asleep.
The ones who, even though they are exhausted and up nursing at 2:00 AM, can still feel their hearts burst with love as the baby grips the front of their nightgowns and tries to pull them closer.
The ones who quietly kiss, cuddle, and play with that nursing baby, even though it's 2:00AM, and they know they shouldn't be keeping that baby awake, but they just can't help themselves.
The ones who lie awake at night wondering if they are spending enough time with their kids. Their really, really great kids.
The ones who make it to the school performance (cursing the full school parking lot as they create a temporary parking space next to the Dumpster) and delight in their childrens' smiles when they spot their mama standing in the back.
The ones who take baths with their kids sometimes so they can spend time together (and so they won't have to shower in the morning).
The ones who bake together, even if it's a box of Trader Joe's truffle brownies, which are still pretty damn good.
To the ones who do all this, feel all of this, live through this, and still find the time to show up, to prioritize, to talk, to carpool, to cook, to cuddle, to succeed at work or fail—
I see you try.
I feel your exhaustion.
I know your sleeplessness, your worry, your guilt.
I also know your caring, your tenderness, your understanding, your integrity, your love that knows no bounds.
Yes, we work, but first, we are mothers.
You are my superheroes.