This post is a part of a blog series of stories of working moms. I’m excited to share 13 stories from real working mothers. I also really would like to hear YOUR story and I’d love to hear it. Keep the conversation going in the comments & on social media using #wellcraftedworkingmoms. A huge thank you to the women who volunteered to share their stories, Mary Boyden of Mamma Bear Magazine for her photography and Madeline Roosevelt for hair and makeup!
I’m very excited to share this story today. I met Tina the day we did the photoshoot for this story. She radiates happiness—or, at least she did that day and in her words below. She tells her story in such a beautiful way. She shares about a song in part of the interview, I linked to the song, I’d highly recommend playing the song in the background as you are reading her words. Get a good cry out today.
Meet Tina, a working mom
Tina Lee and her husband of six years were high school sweethearts who started dating nearly 15 years ago. Tina had the couple’s first child, Austin, is almost three years old when she was 27 years of age. She is currently expecting another child (“girl?boy?Your guess is as good as mine!”) by the end of June. She plans on working up to the last week of her pregnancy as she did the first time around.
Four days a week Tina works as an ambulatory care clinical pharmacist for a large healthcare system here in Portland. She isn’t the kind of pharmacist that you see behind the counter at your local neighborhood drugstore, instead you’ll find her stationed at a primary care doctor’s office. She generally works with diabetic adults and those who are at high risk for heart attack or stroke. She helps patience optimize their medication regimens to reach their goals.
“People are surprised when I tell them that much of my work often has little to do with adjusting medications, and more to do with empowering patients to make changes with their diet and lifestyle to become healthier,” Tina says of her job,”I work closely with doctors, nurses, dietitians and others as a team to take care of our patients.”
She continues, “I LOVE my job. It’s the perfect mix of using my left and right brains. This has been my dream job since the day I started pharmacy school.”
(See why I like this gal!?!)
A typical work day in the life of a pharmacist mother of one and one on the way
“I’m a procrastinator, so I refuse to get up a minute earlier than I need to,” says Tina of her day.
She typically gets up at 6:30 AM and takes about ten minutes to throw on her day’s outfit and get cleaned up and ready to go. Her son often wakes at 7 AM and then next half hour is dedicated to getting him ready— “the half hour between 7 and 7:30 becomes a huge blur of teeth-brushing, dressing, and eating breakfast.”
She leaves the house around 7:30 am to go to work and her husband walks their son to daycare as it is close to their home. She usually works eight to five so she gets daycare pick-up duty. She makes dinner while Thomas the Tank Engine or other entertaining character fills her television screen until six. The family eats dinner together and then play until around 8 PM when they begin the bedtime routine with the goal of getting Austin to bed between 8:30 to 9 PM.
After bedtime Tina begins prepping for the following day (meals, laundry, etc.), completes chores, enjoys Netflix and a shower with her bedtime hitting around midnight. Two days a week her mother-in-law comes to her house to watch Austin making those days more relaxed since they don’t have to worry about the drop-off and pick-up schedule.
When my kids are adults and look back at their childhood, I want them to know…
Tina shared a touching story as to what she hoped her kids look back and think about her as a working mother:
A few weeks ago, I took a picture of my new office and sent it to my husband, who was home with my sick child. Being almost three, he immediately launched into questions, which went something like this (according to my husband):
Austin: “What’s mommy need to work right there for?”
Daddy: “Mommy is helping people”
Austin: “What’s mommy helping people for?”
Daddy: “Because she likes it, and that’s her job.”
Maternity Leave, Childcare & Mom Guilt… oh MY!
I absolutely had to ask a few questions about some of the topics that often come up for the working mom such as maternity leave, childcare, and the challenges & joys of working. I love the answers so much that I felt it was best to just put it in their own words. Read on to learn about the ups, downs, ins and outs of Erin’s working mom experience!
When did you go back to work after having your children?
I took 3 months of maternity leave after I had my son. The best way I can describe my feelings is…mixed. On the one hand, I really did hate the idea of leaving my son, even if it was just to my own parents and in-laws. I still remember that the day before I returned, I was driving in the car with him and I heard the lyrics of a Maroon 5 love song (Daylight) for the first time. It beautifully describes the sentiments of a person’s last moments with a loved one. I remember bawling like a baby the entire way home, wondering how I could ever survive being away from my tiny love bug. On the other hand though, the professional in me was more than ready to go back. In my adult life, I hadn’t ever taken a break from school or work longer than a college spring break. I missed my co-workers. I missed my patients. I missed doing something that I already knew I was good at.
What type of childcare solutions do you use in order to work?
When I first returned to work, Austin was cared for only by grandparents – my parents would split the days with my mother-in-law, and it worked out really well. My husband and I were both raised by our grandparents while our parents worked full time, so we wanted our son to have a similar bonding experience. We paid both sets of grandparents a small stipend for their time. This was a good arrangement until about 16 months ago, when my mom was diagnosed with cancer and needed to undergo surgery and chemotherapy. I really wanted my dad to focus on taking care of my mom, so we looked at alternate options for childcare. At that time, Austin was getting close to 2 years old, so I was much more comfortable with the idea of letting him go to a daycare center. Luckily, the one closest to our house was one we really liked. He now goes to daycare 2 days a week, which costs us almost $200 per week. My mother-in-law still graciously drives 30 miles to our house to take care of him on days that I can’t. It’s not the most affordable solution, but fortunately, this particular center gives us a lot of flexibility – we can always increase or decrease his days with very short notice, which is nice with a grandma who is also an avid traveler!
What challenges do you have as a working mother?
What joys do you have as a working mother?
One of my secret pleasures every day is the simple satisfaction of seeing my toddler at the end of my workday. When I see him a big silly grin appears, and he drops everything he’s doing and runs full-force into my arms. Now that’s a sweet reunion. I admit, being a mom did also help me become a better pharmacist too. I’ve become so much more efficient at everything I do (bathroom breaks don’t take more than a few seconds now). I’ve learned to laugh a lot more and have grown thicker skin when I’m learning and trying new things. I’ve learned to ask my patients what or who, they want to get healthier for.
How do you fulfill the other needs in your life (going back to school, working on a dream business, seeing friends, being creative, etc.) while working and being a mom?
How do you prioritize your family and children as a working mom?
Studying for the board certification has taken a lot of time out of my personal life, but I’ve made myself reserve time every weekend to stay out of the books to make room for family time. At least one day out of the weekend, we haul the whole family (me, the husband, the kid, the dog, and a plethora of toys) from Beaverton to Gresham for the entire day to hang out with my parents and my in-laws. Is it a pain in the butt to make this trip every single weekend? Sometimes, yeah. Is it worth it? Seeing my mother’s big, cheesy grin as she feeds Austin her famous homemade dumplings for lunch? Absolutely, I would say that’s a yes.
Thank you! A huge thank you to Tina for sharing her story as a working mom and participating in this series. Does her story resonate with you? Share in the comments below or on social media with #wellcraftedworkingmoms !
Check out Momma Bear Magazine for more articles on motherhood and to check out the great momma swag!