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It was a Monday morning, and I was late again. Not because I wanted to be late. Not because I didn’t plan enough time to get the kids and myself ready. Not because I am lazy or because I overslept or because I am an irresponsible millennial. 

I was late was because my 3-year-old didn’t like the Pop-Tart I gave him (he wanted the other one in the pack—you know, the one EXACTLY the same as what he had). I was late because my 5-year-old lost her stuffy and couldn’t go to preschool without it. I was late because my kids were melting down over nothing, as kids do, and were running slower than usual. 

Did I feel terrible about being late? Yes. Did I attempt to make my screaming children move faster that morning? Yes. Would I have been on time if it were up to me? Yes. But sometimes things aren’t up to me. 

Sometimes, life throws us an unexpected curveball that can derail an entire week. The problem isn’t the challenge itself or even handling the challenge. The problem is the repercussions of losing focus for even just one minute. 

“She is ALWAYS late.”

I heard the judgment dripping from her voice as she said it, discussing me and my inability to force my kids to get a move on every morning. Believe it or not, I am aware I am late and feel immense amounts of guilt every single day, thank you.

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“Maybe if you’d eat with your kids, instead of feeding them first, you’d have more time to do the dishes and your house wouldn’t be a mess,” she told me one day after I explained I didn’t get the dishes in the dishwasher because I ran out of time. Maybe, if she took a peek into my world, she would see my kids are starving by the time they get home. I can’t make them wait two more hours until my husband gets home to feed them. I either eat with them and never share a meal with my spouse, or I feed them first. 

“If you put the kids to bed too early, they’ll never see you. Someone else is practically raising them,” she informed me one day, stabbing my heart with the shame of leaving my babies every day. I don’t WANT to leave them, but I can’t really take them with me to the office, can I? 

The judgment comes from every angle.

Innocent conversations when I simply share a fact about my previous evening lead to the crushing comments about how I am doing it all wrong.

Little does she know . . . I go home and cry many evenings after the kids are in bed because I feel like a failure.

Little does she know . . . I try so hard to make sure their lives are as good as they can be.

Little does she know . . . on top of her stinging comments, I am already beating myself up for all the things I could have done better.

Little does she know . . . on top of the stressors of work and my kids, two family members have cancer and I am constantly concerned for their well-being.

In addition to the things she knows I carry, I have other, heavy burdens that are weighing me down and keeping me awake.

My husband works all the time, and I do most of the child-rearing alone.

I have to provide for several employees’ livelihoods and a business that I share responsibility running.

Any problem with my siblings or parents comes my way to be solved. 

She doesn’t know. No one knows all of the stressors I am dealing with on a day-to-day basis.

So, please, I beg you. Give me a little grace.

Give every momma a little grace.

We are trying desperately hard to do right by our kids and our jobs. We are working so hard and sleeping so little. And most days, we feel like we are barely scraping by. We are barely getting through. 

RELATED: Dear Working Mom, I See You

And your comments? The ones you slip into conversation without a second thought? They hurt me. They are arrows that pierce my already worried heart. They may not affect you after you say them, but they do affect me.

I promise I am giving my all in everything I do. I am not trying to take advantage of anyone. I am not trying to be late. Please check your judgment at the door. You don’t know what I am dealing witheven if you think you do. 

A little grace, please. It goes a long way. 

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Alicia K. Albertson

Alicia K. Albertson is a mom of two kiddos, two dogs, and two cats. She is partner at a law firm and a wife to Nathan. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, and spending time with her family. 

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