Mom's Viral Post Calls Out Society's Unrealistic Expectations for Working Mothers

One mom's post struck a chord with working parents everywhere, as her justified rant about the pressure to be a Pinterest-perfect mom in every area of life has been shared more than 82,000 times.

Working mom
Photo: George Rudy/Shutterstock

Being a working parent is tough. And for many moms who work, it's not just the kids and career that prove exhausting. As one woman's viral Facebook post has pointed out, society puts a huge amount of pressure on mothers to be perfect at home, at work, and everywhere in between.

In 2019, Sarah Buckley Friedberg posted a 1,000+ word rant about the unrealistic standards for working moms, which has since been shared 82k times. When she wrote it, Friedberg's children were just 1, 3, and 6 years old, and she was working full-time as a microbiology manager at a medical device company. Her post, she told Good Morning America, was basically "a verbal dump of everything" she was feeling at the end of "one of those days where everything seemed tough."

In the entry entitled, "Society to working moms," Friedberg explained that while her husband Michael, a pediatrician, is a "fantastic partner," she always feels that there's more pressure on her to keep the household running smoothly. "If my husband takes one kid to the grocery store, he gets a parade...I take three kids to the grocery store and don't get [that]," she told GMA. "It's just the way society is. He puts the kids to bed, cooks, cleans—it's sort of the 'extra stuff' that doesn't fall to him."

And that "extra stuff" adds up. As Friedberg wrote in her original post, when it comes to heterosexual, two-parent families, it's usually mom who's expected to make sure "the kids are learning to swim, play an instrument, read, ride a bike, be a good human being, eat vegetables, wear sunscreen, drink enough water, say please and thank you."

Then there are the birthday parties, parent-teacher conferences, school volunteering stints, doctor's goes on and on. As Friedberg pointed out, mothers are supposed to "maintain a clean, Pinterest-worthy house. Take the Christmas lights down. Recycle. Be Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, the birthday planner, the poop doula (seriously when will this end), the finder of lost things, the moderator of fights. Be fun. Be firm. Read books. Have dance parties."

The busy mom lamented that many working parents are using their own vacation time to cover gaps in child care—only to have their clueless employers tell them, "You should go on vacations, though. It's good to relax and unwind from work. Makes you a better employee."

And mothers aren't just expected to be great parents and great employees. As Friedberg noted, they're also supposed to have hobbies, read, exercise, make time for dates, cook, and keep up with pop culture and current events. The list is never-ending.

Sadly, many working moms feel that they have to "do it all" right from the get-go. As Friedberg put it, society tells women, "Go back to work 6-8 weeks after having the baby. Go back to work before you have finished healing or have had time to bond with your baby. Keep your mind on work, and not your tiny helpless baby that is being watched and cared for by someone other than you."

"Make sure to break the glass ceiling and excel at your job—you can do anything a man can do!" she added. "It is your job to show society this! Show the world that women can do it all. Rise to the top of your career."

It's no wonder Friedberg—like the thousands of other working parents who shared her post—is frustrated. "I'm exhausted just reading this," wrote one commenter. "I think I need a glass of wine after reading this," added another.

Friedberg was heartened by the feedback her post received. "I absolutely love that so many women and parents have resonated with it," she told Parents at the time. "It shows that we all struggle sometimes with keeping it together. It doesn't mean that we don't love the life choices we have made, just that some days are harder than others."

Unfortunately, not all of the comments were supportive. "There's the 'Well, don't have kids then' comments, which are not helpful. It's a little late," Friedberg told GMA. "Then there's the baby boomer generation saying, 'Just stay home.'"

Comments like those seemed misguided to her. "I think what they're missing is the increased cost of housing, the cost of schooling—most families cannot survive on one income," Friedberg said. "That's great if you can make it work, [but] I enjoy working. I enjoy having my career. It's just everything else we are expected to keep in the air."

Many parents reading Friedberg's post empathized with how overwhelming it can be to have a job and raise children. They also emphasized that kids grow up fast and that it's more important to focus on the time you spend with your family than worry about being perfect. Despite the messages society sends out about being a working mom, there's really no "right" way to do it all.

"Do what is best for you and your family," one mother urged parents reading the post. "You will look back in amazement when they are grown and wonder how you survived...then come grand-babies."

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