As a mother to a baby boy with special needs, Lauren Nicole Shelor is particularly attuned to the moments she’s missing out on with him because she has to go to work—from big things, like not getting to hear his first word, which he said at daycare, to small things, like eating lunch together daily. That’s why it was especially hurtful when another woman decided to pass judgment on the Virginia-based mom, insinuating she didn’t enjoy spending time with her baby, when she found out Lauren was a working mom.
“I was in the line for the fitting room at T.J.Maxx last weekend when the lady in front of me commented that she really liked the pants I was holding,” Lauren wrote in a post for Love What Matters. “‘Thanks’, I said. ‘I’ve really been needing to buy some post-pregnancy work pants and I really like these too.’
“‘Oh, where is your baby while you work?’ she asked.
“Nonchalantly, I replied, ‘He goes to daycare and really loves it there. He has a lot of friends!’
“As she walked away and made her way to her fitting room, she mumbled, ‘Must be nice to have a vacation from your baby every day, woman.’”
Really?! This woman assumed that by going to work, Lauren was taking a vacation from her child. The mom wrote that she started to tear up.
For half a year, she had been out of work helping her son, Sawyer, recover from an eight-hour open-heart surgery that saved his life when he was only 3-months-old. Nicole’s boss had fought to let her keep her health insurance to help with the costs of the procedure. Sawyer’s medical bills totaled $1.8 million, though insurance covered most of that.
“She didn’t see the way I sobbed until I couldn’t breathe the day I dropped him off at daycare for the first time,” Lauren wrote. “She hasn’t been there for any of the weeks that I’ve ran back and forth 20 times between daycare and work to take Sawyer to all of his therapies and medical appointments, while also trying to be a valuable member of my team at work.”
Lauren went on to write about the challenges of being a mom to a child with special needs, and the advocacy it requires of her. “The weight of all the time we’re missing sets in and we wonder if our children will suffer because of the decisions we’ve made to be working moms. Are we wrong for loving both our jobs and our kids? Are we, as special-needs working moms, selfish for wanting to work hard to provide every resource, support and therapy our children need to reach their fullest potential?”
She continued with a resounding statement that all working moms can get behind: “Working moms aren’t on a glorified vacation. We’re missing our kids every minute of the day, wondering what they’re doing, counting down the minutes until we’ll see them again, and cherishing every single minute that we get with them in the evenings and on the weekends.”
She went on to note that without job-appointed health insurance, there’s no way she would be able to support Sawyer in the ways he needs. Her story is a potent reminder of the judgment every mom faces, no matter how hard she’s working to provide for her family.