May 9, 2020

Sara Rusniak

Running With Rusniak: The “Right” Way to Be a Mom


There are a few topics that create automatic controversy and have no “right” opinion. The working mom versus stay-at-home mom debate is among those explosive subjects. As a work-from-home mom, who runs her own business, I’m fortunate to experience both sides of the dispute. In celebration of all moms on this Mother’s Day, I’m on a mission with this blog post to resolve this argument once and for all. There is no one “right” way to be a mom. All moms are important, whether it’s one who stays at home or one who works.

What’s a Working Mom During a Global Pandemic?

Many parents have been involuntarily experiencing what it’s like to be a work-from-home parent over the past month or two as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. Stay at home orders issued by government officials have forced parents who usually work full-time outside of the house to scramble to find ways to work full-time at home while providing full-time care for their children.

For weeks, my two-days-a-week babysitters (my daughter’s grandparents) stayed home out of an abundance of caution. I adjusted my work schedule to ensure that I could still provide my clients with the services they’ve become accustomed to, while also entertaining my three-year-old daughter for 12-13 hours each day. I’m fortunate that my workload is more part-time in nature, and, ultimately, I am my own boss with the freedom to set my own hours. Still, I experienced struggles in adjusting. I can only imagine the challenges faced by parents that work full-time for someone else during this pandemic.

What’s an “Essential” Working Mom During a Global Pandemic?

Then, there is an entirely different camp of parents. I’m talking about those whose roles still require them to work full-time outside of their homes (healthcare workers, grocery store employees, etc.). The difference for them is that they might be without their typical access to childcare programs and schools.  Many daycares were forced to shut their doors. How these parents can perform such essential functions in our society—amid worrying about the new normal for their children—is amazing. Thank you to them for making this sacrifice!

What COVID-19 Taught Me About Being a Mom

Being locked inside my home for nearly five weeks has taught me a few things about motherhood. It’s taken me back to those first few weeks post-partum where survival is the only focus and goal. It has also helped me gain some clarity about how I approach motherhood:

  • Regardless of the type of mom you are, I’m sure you doubt yourself from time to time and feel like you’re not doing a good enough job. We have to find ways to stop shaming ourselves.
  • With competing priorities (careers, housework, the stress of a global pandemic, etc.), it’s impossible to feel like you’re present all of the time and being the “best” mom for your children. But, to them, you are the only mom they know, so just being you is best!
  • Your kids do not notice that you feel like you’re failing at everything. They do not understand the unrealistic expectations you’ve set for yourself. They haven’t a clue that you feel distracted at work or defeated because they’re watching another episode of their favorite show on a streaming service. Let’s just allow them to watch TV, okay?
  • If you’ve had a rough day, in the words of one of our favorite Disney princesses, “Let. It. Go.” Try again tomorrow.

The Only Expectation We Should Set is to Love

Sometimes, it’s okay to do just whatever you have to do to get through the day in one physical and emotional piece. A global pandemic is one of those times. I encourage you to throw out all of your expectations except for one: love your kids. At the end of each day, do your children feel loved? That could mean a multitude of things on different days. Did they eat their favorite meal? Did you sit with them to watch five minutes of their favorite show and laugh together? Did they get a hug?

Amelia has recently started interrupting a book we’re reading or a meal we’re eating to say, “Mommy, I have to tell you something.” She’ll then take her two little hands and put them on my cheeks, touch her nose to mine, and, while looking into my eyes, mutter, “You’re the best, Mommy.” This often occurs at the exact moment I feel like I’ve used up every single ounce of energy I have for the day and am frustrated that I have nothing left to give.

The type of mom I am is all that she’s ever known, and to her, I am the best. When I feel like I’m not doing enough for her, or I’m not getting my work done, or the house is drowning in tasks to be completed, I want to go back to that moment. I want to remember that, to her, exactly what I’m doing is the best, and that’s all she needs.

Join me in never forgetting that YOU are the best mom for your children, whatever type of mom that is—working mom, stay-at-home mom, work-from-home mom, tired mom, or TV-watching mom. That’s all that they need.

If you’re looking for more inspiration, read this insightful article from the Harvard Business Review for ideas about how to let go and have less stress.

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