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Being a working mom is hard. By far, it’s the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do—leaving my daughter all day long with other people, while I work—to think about her, miss her, wonder if she’s having fun, or being sad, or missing me.


I’ve long sat on the fence between being a working mom and being a stay-at-home mom. Both sides seem to have advantages, hardships and differences. I’ve walked into the office more times than I can count, wiping away tears, missing my kids like crazy while telling myself to “pull it together.” Trying to “stop crying” before I face my team because you can’t be a successful female leader with mascara running down your cheeks.

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Then the weekend rolls around, and a few hours into a Saturday, I’m exhausted, out of ideas, drinking cold coffee, and longing for Monday when I’ll be sitting at my desk ALONE cranking on spreadsheets.

There’s no easy answer: should I be a stay-at-home mom, or a working mom? Which is better?


For all the times I’ve wished to be with my kids and thought about how wonderful it would be to get to stay at home all day—to watch them grow up and to be there for every little milestone—I’ve never been able to pull the trigger. I’ve never seriously considered quitting my job, no matter how big my tears have been.

Mortgages, car payments, college tuitions and future vacations weigh heavily into this decision, as does the fact that I’m successful and pride myself in being a good role model for my daughter. But besides all those things that could be figured out easily if they needed to be, there really is something else.

Someone else.

My daughter’s teachers. They tip the scales. They are the ultimate factor in my decision to work or stay home.


They are the reasons I’m able to go to work every day. I am fortunate to work for a company that has amazing childcare on site. And while all the teachers are great, our’s are incredible. My daughter loves them, they love her, and they love coming to work every day.

Every day, I know that her next eight hours will be safe ones, fun ones, happy ones. I know that she will learn, and grow, and laugh. I know that she’ll paint pictures and run around the playground and stretch her imagination.

And while I know the women who spend her days with her aren’t me, they are the next best thing.


These women have become our family.

They have been the ones who have helped us navigate first-time parenthood, and they are the ones who’ve given us the best tips on how to handle nap times, biting and tantrums.

They’ve given us a heads-up when our daughter bonked her noggin on the playground, and they have given her comfort when she was sad.

They’ve held her hand while she fell asleep at nap and have offered to babysit on their days off.

They know the ins and outs of our family, ask me about my day and drink wine with me on weekends. They have become some of my best friends.

Today I had to say goodbye. Our three-year program ended. Next week my daughter starts preschool, and the teachers we’ve had since she was 16 months old will start over with new babies, new parents, and new memories to make.

They’ll watch a new mama’s struggle with packing bottles for work, tearful drop-offs and sandy-shoe filled pickups. Their days will no longer be filled with wild three-year-olds, but rather replaced with the coos and cries of tiny infants, across the building from where my daughter will now be a short two years away from kindergarten.

And it broke my heart. Saying goodbye was awful. I’d been dreading it for weeks—the countdown to the last day. It would be the last time we chatted about the day, while my daughter ran around the playground with her “boy” friend, begging me for just a few more minutes of fun.

It would be the last time my daughter excitedly told them about what we did the night before, and the last time they would be there to pry my crying daughter out of my arms, so I could hurry to a work meeting.

Today was the last day the women I trusted with my most precious gift would be there for my daughter when I wasn’t.

Physically leaving today was a tear-fest of epic proportions. Another teacher had to cover the room while we walked down the hall. And even then, my daughter just couldn’t let go.

By the time we actually made it out the door of the building, I was crying, my daughter was crying, the teachers were crying, even the front desk staff was crying. My daughter was so upset that I physically had to carry her to the car screaming, while she pinched and poked me all the way to her seat.

It broke my heart. She was in hysterics. She was feeling big sadness for the very first time. We were all hurting to leave.

They’ve given us a gift and formed a special bond with our family, one that three years ago I never could have dreamed of. When I started this whole working motherhood journey, I thought it would be impossible for anyone to take care of my daughter like I could. I thought I’d give it a few months and see how I felt, but I never actually imagined I’d make it this far.

And yet, here we are.

We are happy. We are thriving. We are learning. I’m balancing work and motherhood, and it’s because of these teachers. I’ve found someone to fill my shoes when mine are busy elsewhere — someone who loves, teaches and laughs with my daughter to make her days just as good as the ones she would have with me. To my daughter’s teachers—thank you from the bottom of my heart. You really are amazing.

When I was expecting my first child, I wanted to know everything that could possibly be in store for his first year.

I quizzed my own mom and the friends who ventured into motherhood before I did. I absorbed parenting books and articles like a sponge. I signed up for classes on childbirth, breastfeeding and even baby-led weaning. My philosophy? The more I knew, the better.

Yet, despite my best efforts, I didn't know it all. Not by a long shot. Instead, my firstborn, my husband and I had to figure it out together—day by day, challenge by challenge, triumph by triumph.

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The funny thing is that although I wanted to know it all, the surprises—those moments that were unique to us—were what made that first year so beautiful.

Of course, my research provided a helpful outline as I graduated from never having changed a diaper to conquering the newborn haze, my return to work, the milestones and the challenges. But while I did need much of that tactical knowledge, I also learned the value of following my baby's lead and trusting my gut.

I realized the importance of advice from fellow mamas, too. I vividly remember a conversation with a friend who had her first child shortly before I welcomed mine. My friend, who had already returned to work after maternity leave, encouraged me to be patient when introducing a bottle and to help my son get comfortable with taking that bottle from someone else.

Yes, from a logistical standpoint, that's great advice for any working mama. But I also took an incredibly important point from this conversation: This was less about the act of bottle-feeding itself, and more about what it represented for my peace of mind when I was away from my son.

This fellow mama encouraged me to honor my emotions and give myself permission to do what was best for my family—and that really set the tone for my whole approach to parenting. Because honestly, that was just the first of many big transitions during that first year, and each of them came with their own set of mixed emotions.

I felt proud and also strangely nostalgic as my baby seamlessly graduated to a sippy bottle.

I felt my baby's teething pain along with him and also felt confident that we could get through it with the right tools.

I felt relieved as my baby learned to self-soothe by finding his own pacifier and also sad to realize how quickly he was becoming his own person.



As I look back on everything now, some four years and two more kids later, I can't remember the exact day my son crawled, the project I tackled on my first day back at work, or even what his first word was. (It's written somewhere in a baby book!)

But I do remember how I felt with each milestone: the joy, the overwhelming love, the anxiety, the exhaustion and the sense of wonder. That truly was the greatest gift of the first year… and nothing could have prepared me for all those feelings.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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I was blissfully asleep on the couch while my little one was occupied elsewhere with toys, books and my partner. She got bored with what they were doing, escaped from his watch and, sensing my absence, set about looking for me. Finding me on the couch, nose-level, she peeled back my one available eyelid, singing, "Mama? Mama? ...You there? Wake UP!"

Sound familiar? Nothing limits sleep more than parenthood. And nothing is more sought after as a parent than a nap, if not a good night's rest.

But Mother Nature practically guarantees that you are likely to be woken up by a toddler—they're hardwired to find you (and get your attention) when you're "away."

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