Being a parent and balancing a full-time (or even a part-time) job can feel incredibly isolating, even though 71% of moms and 92% of dads work. This is especially true when you bring that first tiny baby (or in my case, two tiny first babies) home for the first time, and your day job completely shifts to an all-day and all-night job taking care of the tiny human. We at Austin Moms want you to know – working parents who may be wondering what their life even is anymore – that you’re not alone. We see you.

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We see you silently screaming at the people who ask how your vacation was when you come back for your first day after parental leave and reclaiming your desk from the guy who figured you wouldn’t bother coming back at all.

We see you getting the side-eye from your coworkers when your baby’s first month at daycare also means baby’s first cold, baby’s first diarrhea, and mom and dad playing rock-paper-scissors over whatever paid sick days you have left.

We see you writing your first check to daycare, realizing it’s more than your mortgage, and wondering if the career you busted your expanding butt to build is even worth it anymore.

We see you hooking yourself up to a breast pump like a dairy cow in a converted utility closet they have the nerve to call a lactation suite, laptop open, sandwich in one hand, giant bottle of water in the other. (No, I can’t hop on a quick call with you right now.)

We see you getting up to pump in the middle of the night even after your baby starts sleeping through it, so you won’t deplete your freezer stash.

We see you crying in the bathroom because you saw your child take his first steps over a pixelated cell phone video your nanny sent you in the middle of another meeting that could have been an email.

We see you memorizing the run time of Disney movies so you can guarantee yourself a block of uninterrupted time to get things done when daycare or school is closed for President’s Day, but your office isn’t.

We see you explaining to your boss that being home for bath and bedtime takes priority over happy hour, even if it means your promotion goes to the guy who’s still answering emails at 9 PM while you’re trying not to fall asleep in your kid’s bed.

We see you taking conference calls as you squirt down Mopac: Fury Road for school pickup when you’d much rather be enjoying an audiobook.

We see you feeling exhausted on Sunday night after another over-scheduled weekend that felt like more work than your actual work (but for no pay) and feeling guilty about looking forward to dropping the kids off Monday morning.

We see you lamenting the days when you could take your paid vacation any time of year you wanted instead of paying twice as much for summer, spring break, or Christmas along with everyone else.

We see you stringing together one week of summer camp from 8-12 here, another week from 10-4 there, the day enrollment opens and there’s still frost on the ground.

We see you noping out of a new opportunity with more pay and more travel because your seniority and flexibility at the job that bores the crap out of you is more important to your family for now.

We see you at the PTA meeting at 2 PM Tuesday in the school cafeteria (okay, so we don’t actually see you, because it’s a meeting at 2 PM on a Tuesday and you’re at work).

Whether you have one child or ten, work part time or full time or stay at home, have a village of helpers or are flying (though it may often feel more like drowning) solo – all our families are different and we’re all doing the best we can. At the end of the day, even when I’m scrambling to finish out the workday while attempting to supervise math and reading homework, I think it’s good for my girls to see both working parents going off to work and trying to keep the family train running, even when it feels like everything is going off the rails… because they see me. We see you, too.

Kelly I. Hitchcock is a literary fiction author, humorist, and poet in the Austin, Texas area. She is the author of three books and has published poems, short stories, and creative non-fiction works all over the country. Raised by a single father in the small town of Buffalo, Missouri, Kelly has fond memories of her poor rural upbringing in the Ozarks that strongly influence her writing and way of life. She’s a graduate of Missouri State University, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing. She has six-year-old identical twins and a full-time job, so writing and picking up LEGO are the only other things she can devote herself to. You can find all Kelly's work at kellyhitchcock.com.

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