In order to dispel the notion that she simply “waltzes” into work every morning, one mother took to Facebook to detail the three-hour routine she goes through every weekday to get her four children ready for school before she starts her day job.
Like most parents of young kids, Liz Petrone, of Syracuse, New York, has a hectic schedule. She wakes up as early as 6 a.m. to get her four children ready for their day, and according to her fitness watch, she usually takes more than two miles worth of steps by the time she sits down at the office. But after hearing so many people say, “It sure must be nice to be able to waltz into work at 9:00 a.m.,” Petrone made it a point to set the record straight on behalf of herself and other parents out there who usually start work as soon as they wake up.
“A lot of people in society tend to only validate the hours we spend earning a wage as work, but some of the hardest work that I do, and some of the hardest work I know other moms are doing, is done outside of the office,” Petrone, 38, an IT professional and blogger, tells PEOPLE. “It’s beautiful to have children, but it’s hard. Just because we’re not earning money for it doesn’t mean it’s not work.”
Petrone took to Facebook on September 20 to lay out the start of her typical weekday, which begins after her husband leaves for work before sunrise.
“This morning I woke four sleepy humans. Some I gently patted, some I prodded, and one I pulled the covers off and tried to roll onto the floor when the pat and the prod fell short. I’m not proud of that last one,” she wrote on Facebook. “I made five beds, one twice because someone snuck into it and tried to go back into sleep. It may have been me.”
After she pours herself a couple strong cups of coffee, Petrone dresses her children, reminds them to brush their teeth, asks them to stop their screaming, drives her older kids to school (and drives back again to drop off the things they forgot), and then waits for two buses to pick up her two younger children before she begins the long process of dismantling pillow forts and doing laundry before getting to work at 9 a.m.
Petrone’s post has resonated with many parents over Facebook, and dozens of commenters have left messages saying they can relate to her early morning routine.
“My life in a nutshell! I feel you sister!” wrote Jaime Raffinengo.
Others commenters expressed that they, too, have had encounters with people who didn’t quite understand that they didn’t simply clock out once they left their jobs.
“This is so many of us,” wrote Mary Elizabeth Collins. “I’m told repeatedly that I have it so easy because I ‘only’ work six-hour days… My job is mentally and physically challenging, and some days I wonder just how it’s all going to get done. But we just plug along.”
Petrone says she often finds herself feeling mentally and physically exhausted, and often cancels plans with friends or family, just so she can keep her schedule going and have her own time to decompress (she just finally got around to finishing Breaking Bad).
“I feel as a mom, just like any other parent with small kids, you’re just constantly apologizing for being late, for being absent, for not showing up at the last minute, canceling plans, or just generally being scattered,” she says. “I’m sort of tired of apologizing for something that I’m not really sorry for and something I don’t think I have to be sorry for.”
Petrone is comforted to see she isn’t alone in the situation, and that, hopefully, she shined a light on the misconceptions parents can face.
“There are a ton of working moms who are going through the same thing, but there are also a ton of stay-at-home moms that are dealing with the same things, too,” she says. “I’ve also heard it from fathers and from grandparents—anybody who is living in this modern time seems to feel they’re being pulled in a million different directions.”
To mothers everywhere, Petrone is raising her cup of coffee in respect for all that they do.
“To the working mamas, I feel you. I feel you so hard right now,” Petrone wrote. “You keep on doing you, sister, whatever that looks like.”