A Letter from A Working Mother During a Pandemic

This year may look different for all of us, but we’re doing our best.

By Jaimee Williams-Caldwell

December 01, 2020

These past eight months have been anything but normal for many of us, especially parents, and more especially, mothers. As I sit here writing this, I’ve got a baby in one arm and a toddler playing with Legos at my feet. The dog lies in the corner, needing to go out. My email is pulled up next to spreadsheets filled with accounts I need to work on this week. My husband, in the construction industry, is deemed ‘essential’ and still working out of the house.

A few months into this, I imagined I’d feel more at ease and comfortable living this way. Turns out, it’s just as stressful, if not more, as time goes on, because there’s no end in sight. We are all just trying to adjust and figure it out as we go, but not always with the ease and grace we’d like. Trying to fit in zoom meetings and keeping up with tasks at work, all the while juggling virtual school, making more meals at home, and tackling that never-ending pile of laundry. It’s not easy.

I constantly feel the tug of war between being a good mother and being an exemplary employee, two people who are ideologically incompatible. You can be one or you can be the other, it’s impossible to be both. I worry if I step away from my virtual desk, or if I miss a call, will they wonder where I am? Is my performance being judged because I am caring for my children? I feel that I need to respond instantly to any email that comes in. And if that’s not happening, then I’m dropping a ball. It’s a constant battle, and one that will never be won, for either side. No one can give 100% to career, your kids, your spouse, those dirty dishes in the sink – something has to give. And I’ve come to realize, that’s OK.

I feel fortunate that my kids have adapted, we’re all healthy and doing well. I’m also grateful to have an employer who is flexible with what hours I’m working (mostly during nap time and after bedtime). Yet, that does not change how incredibly heavy this situation is. The pandemic has caused so much uncertainty, the unending messiness of parents working full time feels impossible at times. But we get up each and every day and we do our best to get by.

I take things one day at a time, instead of looking at the big picture. It’s the only way my sanity will survive. Typically, by this time, I’d be planning for the year ahead, scheduling travel and making budget goals. But now, I’m focusing on what I can accomplish today and trying to serve my clients in the best possible way. This year may look different for all of us, but we’re all doing our best. And for now, that is enough.


Jaimee Williams-Caldwell can be reached at [email protected]