The Reality of the Working Mom


The Reality of the Working Mom | Columbia SC Moms BlogWe working mothers get too much credit. Yes, we juggle a lot. Sure, we raise well-adjusted children. And you better believe we keep our husbands happy and our houses clean. But it’s not necessarily because we want to – it’s because we have to.

You see, just as our husbands have taken on some of the family’s household duties, working mothers have taken on many of the financial duties. Our families rely on our paychecks, and quite a few of us actually make more than our husbands do. We’ve accepted the role, and do it (for the most part) surprisingly well.

In a few days I leave for an eight day trip that will take me across two time zones. I’ve spent the last two days prepping food, menus and carpool schedules. My five boys have started to watch me – they know something is going on because the black suitcase is out. Again.

My oldest has researched the weather and is in charge of packing my coat and umbrella. The middle is dropping hints for souvenirs and my worrier is reminding me almost hourly what he needs for school while I’m gone (sometimes I wonder if he trusts me at all). One toddler has quietly placed a stuffed animal in my growing pile of packed clothes and his twin has offered me his blanket for the trip.

I’ve always worked. I left my oldest for the first time when he was six weeks old. Over the years, my children have gotten tubes in their ears without me, celebrated birthdays without me and survived surprisingly well on Halloween without me (although a dear friend did have to make an emergency repair to a Power Ranger costume one year). Seriously, they won’t miss a beat during this eight day trip.

I don’t share this with you because I’m proud of it; I share this with you to help you understand that this is my family’s “normal,” and the normal of many other working mothers.

Being a working mother means our life is an on-going team building exercise. The seven of us know how to work together, pitch in and get stuff done.

Working Mom - Lila Anna Sauls | Columbia SC Moms Blog

My mother, who also always worked, counseled me years ago on the best way to balance working with being a mother and wife. She told me to take my boys with me whenever I could – on trips, to meetings, and anywhere else they could learn about what I was doing, and why it was important. 

She also told me to never use my career – or the salary attached – to belittle my husband or make him feel anything but important to our family and me (Note: before I wrote this I even took into account my father-in-law, who has no idea about my career and salary, will most likely never see this post. He also will never understand why I don’t pour my husband’s tea.).

Last week we took the boys out for dinner after a school performance. I had already worked ten hours in the office, dealt with a few “fires” away from my desk, and gotten the middle child (who seems a bit needy lately) backstage in the appropriate costume on time. My whole body slumped into the chair after all the orders were placed (13 tacos made four different ways, three quesadillas, extra mild salsa, cups with lids, and two booster seats).

I looked over at a nearby table and saw another mother, dressed in emergency room scrubs, and her little girl. She looked tired. The same tired I feel at the end of most days. 

Maybe this other working mother had spent her day saving lives. She probably had a long to-do list ahead of her, and a lot to get done before she would be able to sit or even take a shower. But she listened closely to her daughter, and laughed out loud at the story being told. I think I may have even seen her feed a doll a chip.

That’s what we do, us working mothers. We laugh at stories and raise strong children. We love our partners and care for our communities. Most importantly, we serve as role models to the next generation – of boys and girls – and show them that a strong family comes from teamwork, and acknowledging that we all play different and important roles when it comes being strong … together.

Are you a working mother? What keeps you going?

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Lila Anna is the happily unbalanced mother of five boys. She is an advocate for homeless families, a recovering triathlete, and a sleep deprived 40-something who doesn’t see her yoga mat enough. She was blessed enough to have three wonderful boys (Michael, 14, Colin, 12 and Aidan, 10) … then, after a seven year break and just as she turned 40, got what she calls her “buy one, get one free babies,” Heath and Graeme (now 3). Once fiercely independent, Lila Anna now relies heavily on the help, kindness and understanding of a very loyal group of friends she calls her “village.” This village allows her to dedicate her heart and time to Trinity Housing and St. Lawrence Place – the non-profit for homeless and at-risk families she leads as President/CEO – all the while managing to run a house full of baseball and football schedules and four different carpools. Lila Anna is passionate about all children, especially those living at risk or in poverty. She treats her St. Lawrence Place children as her own, and advocates for them at the State House, at City Hall, or on any given street corner. Her position at Trinity Housing gives her the chance to give homeless families and their children a voice. She has been a guest lecturer at USC and Columbia College, and has presented nationally on the topics of child poverty, education and family homelessness. She is a native of Springfield in rural Orangeburg County, home of the Governor’s Frog Jump (thus her frog tattoo), and is a graduate of USC with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She got her Master’s from Columbia College in Organizational Change and Leadership, and graduated a few weeks before giving birth to her twins. Her five boys are just like their daddy, “Saint” Brad – fun-loving, even keeled, and incredibly helpful. She enjoys cooking with the help of at least one set of small hands, running (slowly) with friends, and daydreaming about her next trip to Edisto Beach or New York City. One day she hopes to compete in triathlons again in the Athena division (thus her owl tattoo). Most of all, she loves just hanging out with her boys…all six of them. Lila Anna and her boys live in Forest Acres, where they are two blocks from the ballfield and no more than 10 minutes away from everything else. She is happy to share how she embraces her unbalance … and all the fun and love that comes with it.


  1. I am really blessed to have a daughter who loves school and a great support system. That helps me keep going when at the end of some of my days I just want to crawl in the cave and hibernate with a bear.

    • I learned years ago to surround myself with a strong support group. No place for pride when it comes to this juggling act! Best, LA


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