Shop the fall collection ➔

The working mom’s day is rushed from the time she opens her eyes until the time they shut at night. She wakes up overwhelmed with her to do list for the day, at home, and at the office, and goes to bed still overwhelmed knowing the list will fill up and overflow again tomorrow.

She wakes up to her husband next to her, whom she fell asleep with talking about their day at work because there is still meaningful conversation left to have between them. She lives a life outside of her kids that contributes to her fulfillment and her passion.

But she feels guilty for the late nights, and for the trips taken without them.

She feels guilty when she drops her son off at daycare. Every. Single. Day. Not for the benefit of social interaction a 2 year old needs, but for the benefit of her own social interaction she needs.

And that makes her feel guilty.

She hasn’t made it to a parent teacher conference in a year, except by phone, because it’s impossible to drive the hour long commute and make it at the scheduled times.

She can’t make promises she will be at her son’s soccer game, or her daughters dance recital.

She can only promise she will try.

She knows trying means nothing to her kids. What matters is showing up. Being there.

It’s not easy working full time and having a family, she has heard this time and time again from family members and friends trying to lift some guilt off her guilt ridden shoulders.

But it doesn’t work because there is a lot that goes unspoken between mothers.

She likes to work. No, she loves to work.

Sometimes on Sunday nights she fantasies about drop off the next morning, and getting to the office where she can drink a cup of coffee, in one sitting, never re heating it, and without it being knocked over, all by herself.

Because she hasn’t done that all weekend.

And she missed it.

She doesn’t tell people that although she looks forward to the weekend and spending quality time with her kids, that well- sometimes she doesn’t.

After a week of not being surrounded by them 24/7, (because by the time you get home and eat dinner, it is almost bed time with small children) a weekend being surrounded by your kids can prove to feel demanding, laborious, and burdensome. She wonders is it normal to feel like this? But as fast as she lets these thoughts slip into her mind she pushes them back out, because admitting these things, even to herself, feels like a disgrace.

Especially to the stay at home moms.

She has done that before too with her first kid, with good reason for not doing it the second time around.

It was isolating. It wasn’t what it was supposed to be.

It was supposed to be planning arts and crafts in the morning, and baking cookies in the afternoon. (Instead it was losing her temper for the third time, and playing Sesame Street on repeat so she could have time to herself.)

It was supposed to be a sparkling kitchen and a spotless living room. (Instead it is crusty substances on the counter, expired milk, and empty fruit snack packages littered in the living room.)

She was disengaged with them, even though her time was free to make her whole world revolve around them. She loved them more than herself, but sometimes they got on her nerves.

A lot of the times.

She daydreamed about going back to work, and the way in which she would twist the truth to justify her decision, so it sounded like she didn’t have a choice. When in reality, it was her choice, and what she wanted and needed was to feel like she achieved something more worthwhile than breaking up a fight over a Pokémon figurine.

She knew her job was important.

More important than the working moms at work, but she still couldn’t fight off the feeling of emptiness and unhappiness that haunted her and tormented her for days after hearing from her working mom friends and relatives.

So, with the birth of her second child, she decided she wouldn’t stay at home as long. She decided she would go back early but part-time. She felt grateful because most women do not get to choose. If they do, it’s usually a matter of you either work full-time or you don’t work at all due to the outrageous costs of daycare.

She was grateful for the choice, but even more grateful for the chance to experience both worlds.

She decided staying at home is hard. She decided the mommy wars are stupid, but that if she had to pick a winner, it should be stay at home moms. They are making a sacrifice she tried to make, and failed at. She knows they feel like they are failing every day, but they are sticking it out. That is something she couldn’t do.

Realizing all of this makes her feel guilty, like she should be impeached from her household as their mother, but she is also happy to have found what makes her happy, and a better parent.

She decided the choice to stay home or work is more personal than she ever thought it would be before having her kids. It is one that nobody should be judged for and one she wishes she could speak admiration of to a stay at home mom without them thinking she’s being passive aggressive.

Being a parent is many things she didn’t expect. The biggest one being- it is a job. And we need to be happy in our jobs.

She needs to do what makes her the kind of mother her kids will look back on and be grateful for no matter which choice she made. She can’t give them those kinds of memories if she’s living empty with no fulfillment from staying home or guilt ridden from working. The choice is no one’s but hers.

She decided you can’t have happy kids without being a happy mommy.

Stephanie Portell

A single mom to two boys and a part-time writer. I’m a lover of literature and bookstores. I write engaging content on parenting, child development, and anything that combines research and personal experience. I have also been a professional in the medical field for 10+ years and have written in the Medical niche as well. I’ve been published on Huffington Post, Disney’s Babble, Parent.co, WorkingMotherMag, BrainChildMag, Mamamia, The Good Men Project, HerViewFromHome, TheToddle, Scary Mommy, and several more. Proactive, witty, and innovative, I would love for you to check out my website at morethanmothers.com

Our Friend Steve Is Back! Get Ready for the “Blue’s Clues” Live-Action Movie

In: Kids, Living
man in a trench coat and green tie looking out door

We just got a letter, we just got a letter! Except this time, it’s even better! ’90s kids rejoice, because one of our favorite classic Nickelodeon series, Blue’s Clues, is getting a live-action makeover. Not only that, but it will also feature all three of the show’s hosts, which means our beloved Steve Burns will be returning to the screen after all this time! You may remember, Steve popping back into our lives unexpectedly last year for the 25th anniversary of the show to explain why he had departed so suddenly. He hit us all in the feels when he...

Keep Reading

Dear School Bus Driver, My Whole World Is In Your Care

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little boy standing on school bus stairs, color photo

To the bus driver I do not know, You don’t understand how hard it is to let go of my child’s hand in the morning and hand him over to you. You don’t know how long it took me to make this decision . . . to let him ride the bus.  Some may say it’s brave or courageous to trust another with your child’s life. I sometimes think it can be daring but also really unwise.  RELATED: Every Time I Leave My Child With Autism in the Care of Someone Else, I Worry In today’s world, we must worry...

Keep Reading

Every Time I Blinked, They Grew—and It Was So Beautiful

In: Kids, Motherhood
Boys kissing mother black and white photo

I thought we were prepared, but we weren’t. Not even close. Not in the tiniest, least little bit. When we hugged our precious, oldest boy and left him to start college just a few hours away, we didn’t know what was coming. The waves of emotion, of loss, of pride, of accomplishment. They say not to blink because your kids will grow up. But despite how much we may not want to, it’s involuntary. We have to blink. They don’t talk about this part. No one tells you what to do when you open your eyes again. RELATED: I Blinked and...

Keep Reading

I Love it When You Smile at Me

In: Kids, Motherhood
Little girl in wheel chair with classmates, color photo

I gained a bit of insight today. We were walking past the checkout at the store this afternoon when we came upon a mom and her children, waiting in the checkout line.   RELATED: A Simple Invitation Means the World To a Special Needs Parent My daughter Chloe rolled by them in her wheelchair. I watched, as I often do, as the children noticed her. One girl about Chloe’s age smiled at her as we walked by. As soon as we had passed them, Chloe turned to me and said . . . “She’s the first person to smile at me!”  Let me say I...

Keep Reading

It’s Okay to Say No to the Promposal

In: Kids, Teen
Boy holding pink sign saying "Prom with me?"

Promposals are cute.  But, even for the sweetest questions, it’s okay if the answer is not yes. I have more boys than girls at my house so the whole meet the boy asking your girl out with a gun posts don’t sit well with me. Boys and girls have an equally hard time negotiating friendships and relationships in high school, and I care equally for both. A young man spent some time, told his friends, made a cute sign, and planned to ask my daughter to a dance. A friend of my daughters mentioned he might ask (and even made...

Keep Reading

I Wipe the Slides

In: Kids, Motherhood
boy on slide

I want you to have the most fun possible at your tiny playground stars program, so I wipe the slides. I don’t want you to have a meltdown if your clothes get wet while I’m gone, so I wipe the slides. I want to have three precious hours of only managing your little sister, so I wipe the slides. RELATED: I’d Rather Serve My Kids Than Have Them be “Self-Sufficient” I don’t want you to feel embarrassed by a big reaction to wet clothes when I’m not there to help you, so I wipe the slides. I want you to...

Keep Reading

One Day You’ll Outgrow Being My Little Boy—But Not Today

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Mother and two sons back-to-school picture, color photo

One day you will come home after your first day of a new school year and not wish to share a single thing. Not today. Today, you got into the car and talked non-stop about every second of your day. I was delighted!  One day you will not have countless first-day forms for me to sign and return the next day. Not today. I signed my name at least four times. I was happy to grant permission for you to play sports, learn algebra, and do whatever else I gave my permission for.  One day you will not allow me...

Keep Reading

The Sports Mom Shows Up For Her Kids, No Matter What

In: Kids, Motherhood
Youth baseball game

We’re nearing the end of club baseball/softball season, and the burnout is real. The time away from home, burning through gas to get somewhere for two hours with half your house packed only to pack back up and turn around and drive to the next two-hour destination is insane. I don’t even like the sport right now. There . . . I said it. I’m so sick of softball fields and wind-blown dirt in my face. I’ve seen so many balls thrown in the last two months that my eyes hurt. But I still show up. I love to see...

Keep Reading

Having Babies and Toddlers Is Exhausting—but So, So Sweet

In: Baby, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Family of four with baby and toddler on bed

I took the girls to one of our favorite coffee shops last week and all around me were parents of babies and toddlers. Their little ones ran about in the grassy area out back, toddling up and down the lawn, when it suddenly hit me with perfect clarity—the sun has nearly set on this season for me. It was a realization marked by internal tension, a mourning of the loss of one season contrasted by the joyful anticipation at the arrival of the next. It came out of nowhere and hit me like a tidal wave. Having five kids in...

Keep Reading

3 Common Phrases to Avoid Saying to Your Kids (and What To Say Instead)

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother sitting with young boy on couch

Learning to love yourself is hard work. I did not grow up loving myself. Instead, I always felt inadequate, and I felt the need to change myself to prove my worth.  I want more for my kids. I want my kids to know their inherent value and worth. I want to empower my kids to love and accept themselves.  My self-love journey, aided by the expertise of a counselor, has helped me realize there are some narratives from my childhood I needed to unlearn. I had to accept my emotions as helpful and not something to be pushed down. I...

Keep Reading