What I Wish I Had Known from the Get-Go as a Working Mom


It was always clear to me what I wanted out of life: to be successful in my career and be a wife and mom. I grew up watching my mom flawlessly navigate the world as a working mom. She balanced work, home, and family like it was second nature. Then my time came. I prepared for maternity leave. I had all my ducks in a row. A plan for work, a plan for birth, and a plan to get back to work in eight weeks.

What I Wish I Had Known from the Get-Go as a Working MomIf you can’t tell by now, I have issues with control. I had it all planned out. However, what I didn’t have a plan for was the actual reality of going back to work. No one, and I mean no one, can prepare you for that day and all the days that come after. There are so many things I wish I had known as a new mom before running back into the working world.

Guilt Is the Thief of Happiness

There is that moment as you prepare to return to your job that guilt rears its head and sets in. For me, it was the guilt of wanting to go back to work. Yet the day came, and the guilt of leaving my boy took over. I cried for weeks as I drove away from my mom’s house. Each day wiping the tears as I parked at work. I’d step into a meeting. Then one hour led to the next, and then I’d feel guilty for not thinking of my little man.

It’s this vicious cycle that we trap ourselves in as moms. I am fortunate to have strong women around me that helped me understand all these feeling were normal and valid. At the same time, these women helped me realize that this guilt was stealing my happiness and energy. I clearly remember a friend telling me, “It never gets easier, but it will get better.” There is no truer advice.

Three years have flown by. I have a career I love and a safe and caring place to leave my son each day. It is ok to want to go back to work, and it is ok to want to stay home. And it’s ok to feel all these emotions at one time.

I am proud to be the leader of our site’s Women’s Employee Resource Group.

Instagram Fuels the Guilt

While on the topic of guilt, I am just going to throw this out there. Instagram tends to fuel the guilt trip. I am a lover of the ‘gram, and I can admit I put the shiny, pretty side of life out there. I’ve been asked how do you do it all? Simple answer, I don’t. No one does.

We’ve all felt it. We’re scrolling, and we come across the most beautiful curated sensory box and we wonder–how the heck is there time to do that? I will admit I fell into the Instagram comparison trap and tried to make one. It was a fail. I rushed around Walmart on my lunch break trying to find sensory box essentials. I threw it together, and it kept my kids attention for all of five minutes. Plus the snow and mini toys that wound up everywhere added time to this entire experiment.

You see, as a working momma, we are always counting the minutes and time we get to spend with our kids. We want to make sure each minute is valuable.

It’s ok not to be the Instagram mom. You don’t have to make sensory boxes. Your kiddo will be ok without them. You spend your time where you see value, and don’t let the ‘gram influence you otherwise.

Routines . . . What Are Those?

I wish I knew from the get-go that not having a routine was ok. My husband is a high school football and baseball coach. This means he is busy round the clock, year round.  Falls are spent in football stadiums, and springs are spent at baseball fields. Add his schedule to mine as a full time engineer and an avid community volunteer, and there is little room for routine. Our life is everything but routine! And that is ok!

When I went back to work, I was adamant that I would keep the maternity leave schedule.  It didn’t work. I jumped back into working and volunteering 100%. Keeping that strict bedtime was not realistic for our family. Naps were also pretty sporadic events in our household, always at different times. Our little man is a healthy and thriving three-year-old. It’s ok to not have a perfectly orchestrated routine, momma.

Everyone Needs a Break

I will admit, I thought that because I’m a working mom I didn’t have the “right” to say or feel tired. I don’t spend every waking moment with my kid. Why should I need a break? This could not be further from the truth. No matter what kind of mom you are, we all get tired. We are not superhuman as much as the world makes us out to be.

It is 100% ok to work and still take time for yourself.  If we are not rested or taken care of, how can we take care of our families? Our mental health matters and we need to prioritize it to be fully present for our children. So if your happy place is the salon chair, get your hair done, momma!

me time
My happy place is the salon chair. I make it a point to carve out time for one of my favorite me time activities.

Asking for help when you need a moment to yourself is not a sign of weakness. Give yourself some grace and recharge when your batteries are drained. I wish that I had known this from the get-go. It’s ok to take a break.

There is no playbook for working moms. Or any mom. Any way you decide to mom your children is the right way! Being a first-time mom plus becoming a working mom is a whirlwind of emotions, and you are not alone. There are moms that have paved the way for us in the working world. Continue to break those glass ceilings, and know that your babies are looking at you with admiration.

Originally published April 2022.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author. They do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of El Paso Mom, its executive team, other contributors to the site, its sponsors or partners, or any organizations the aforementioned might be affiliated with.

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Vickie Enriquez
Victoria Enriquez is known to her family and friends as Vickie. She was born and raised in El Paso and spent some time away after grad school launching her career in engineering. By day she is an Environmental, Health, and Safety Engineer, and by night mama to Emiliano, Emi for short. She has been married to her husband Roger since July of 2015. She is a coach’s wife and loves every second of their sports-filled, busy lives! In the fall, you can find her and Emi in the football stands, and in the spring, you’ll find them on the baseball diamond cheering on their #1 guy. In 2018 she became a mom to a perfect rainbow baby, Emiliano. He is a true miracle in her and her husband’s life, and he is the center of their world. Her husband and son are the greatest joys. Vickie spends her free time volunteering with the Junior League of El Paso giving back to her community. She wants her son to grow up in a life of service and giving back, teaching him kindness and compassion. Follow Vickie on Instagram here.


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