Yesterday, I had a front row seat to my daughter’s life as a working mom of a 3-month-old precious baby girl named Harley. It was Saturday and she had asked if I could come over at 8 a.m. to babysit while she did a photoshoot for a friend who needed new headshots. Of course, I happily accepted. This new Sassy (aka Grandma) role is my favorite gig yet!
When I arrived, Harley was just waking up, so I greeted her in that “baby goo-goo voice” that takes over us the minute we get around sweet babies. My daughter laughed and rolled her eyes as she hurried to explain the babies feeding schedule, how many bottles she had been able to pump, and all the other details we mamas want to be sure others know when caring for the most important person in our world. I assured her she would be in good hands and that I’d see her in a couple of hours when she was finished.
A couple of hours passed and my daughter Kaitlyn called to ask if I could stay a little longer. She had been asked to do a photoshoot for the birth of twin baby girls. The mom was in active labor and the babies would arrive shortly. The job paid really well and she mentioned how they could use the extra money. “Of course!” I responded. “Harley and I are good. You focus on that, and I’ll see you in a few hours.”
A few hours turned into a full day that included a Harley hand-off to her Aunt Lauren while I ran an errand to prepare for a move on Monday. Kaitlyn would be home soon, so Harley would be fine. Then, we got word that the labor wasn’t progressing, so it was taking longer than expected. At this point, it was about 6p.m., Harley was out of sorts, and we believe missing the comfort of her nursing Mama. Kaitlyn being the only photographer to capture this once in a lifetime moment for the couple, felt like she had no choice but to stay.
We assured her that it was okay. I headed back to Kaitlyn’s house and relieved Harley’s Aunt Lauren to head back to San Antonio. At this point, we had received another text from Kaitlyn that both babies had been delivered, but there were complications with the mom, so Kaitlyn would be further delayed. At this point, Harley was not herself, so I had been through all the “how to get a baby to sleep” tricks I had learned through my own parenting, but it was clear she needed my daughter.
At about 8:30 p.m. Kaitlyn walked in the door. She was emotionally and physically exhausted. She had not eaten all day. She had just watched a mom bring life into the world and she had missed her own baby. She broke into tears
Kaitlyn had kept it together all day trying to please and support everyone else, but felt that she did that at the expense of her daughter. Of course, Harley was okay the entire time. She was safe, fed, warm and loved but I understood the feeling. The mom guilt is so real.
I listened and responded with, “You sit and nurse Harley, I’m making you something to eat.” One grilled panini and lemonade later she was feeling better and Harley had finally fallen asleep because of the comfort of her mom. Kaitlyn thanked me for my help and told me I could go. I said, “How about I stay a little longer, keep an eye on the baby so you can shower?” She looked at me hesitant to accept, but I could see in her eyes how grateful she was for the offer. Her husband was out of town, so she had been doing it all for several days.
As I left last night, they were both heading to bed. Mama and baby were exhausted from the day and happy to finally be back together. I was reminded how difficult it is for moms to attempt to be all things to all people, to fulfill work and home responsibilities, to stay strong and keep going, to bring home money while maintaining the home and nurturing a child. I know there were many times I felt that if something didn’t bend soon, I would break, and I saw that in my daughter last night.
As leaders, we have people like Kaitlyn on our team. Women who are high performers at work. They’re dedicated, talented, devoted, and dependable, but these same women also want to demonstrate these attributes at home… and that is hard.
We are so lucky to have this kind of talent in our companies and on our teams. I mean have you ever seen a mom in multi-task mode? It is a sight to behold!
I love witnessing companies doing all they can to accommodate, support and value these women and help them be their best at work and at home. We need them in the workforce. They have so much to contribute. Let’s continue to lift them up, understand their role at work and at home and make sure the bend that is required of all moms, never leads to a break.
If we can build that kind of culture we’re not only helping our company, we’re helping our community, our country and our world.