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Katrina Alcorn's new book "Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink" gives an accurate portrayal of the stress working moms face in America.

I fantasize every day about what it would be like if I had more flexibility. What if Lydia could be home with me every single day and I could still figure out how to bring in enough money that all our bills could be paid and we could get out of debt?

How does anyone find flexibility? Isn’t that what every working mom wants?  Better yet, isn’t that what every MOM wants?

I just finished a book by Katrina Alcorn called “Maxed Out: American Moms on the Brink” where she describes how she “had it all” a great career, a loving husband and healthy children and one day decided to walk away from it all because the stress from playing multiple different roles maxed her out and she literally quit on life for a year.

I know that might seem extreme to some of you, but reading her book was like seeing a therapist for only $9.99 (if you buy the kindle version)!  She describes how I feel almost every day of my life.  How do I fit in grocery shopping when my day is planned out from 6:30am-9pm every day– and that is just accomplishing the basics, working, 2.5 hours spent in the car for daycare, feeding Lydia and making dinner.

There has been some criticism about the book that she is describing a privileged life of 1st world problems, even some women who say that she’s attempting a man’s job and she should make her way back into the kitchen.

Are people really so narrow-minded that they don’t realize the majority of families are surviving (barely) because there are two incomes in a household?  What about single moms?  Do they have the option to get back in the kitchen?

No, the problem is that we live in a country who prides itself at being the leader of the free world and yet we have almost the worst working family policies out of developed nations.  I started my blog for the very reason that Katrina wrote her book, there is a fundamental social problem in the United States where families are being met with hostile policies in the workplace.  I wrote an article about this early on called The Problem with Maternity Leave in the US.

Often times moms get so caught up in the mommy wars over our personal choices whether to work or not, bottle feed or breast feed, etc. that no one is really paying attention to the real issue: some women have no other choice but to work and we have no federal protections for these women.  The United States offers zero guaranteed pay for mothers or fathers after the birth of a child.  If you work for a company of 50 or more your employer must allow you to take 12 weeks off (unpaid) and keep your job for you.  Did you know if you work at the same company as your husband those 12 weeks are shared?  My husband and I work at the same company and when he took 1 week off and used FMLA to take care of me after my last-minute c-section, the federal government took 1 week away from me, only protecting my job for 11 weeks instead.

This is a problem.  If you are lucky enough to be able to be at home with your children that is great! I am happy for you!  Not every mom has the option.  A stay at home mom can understand how important it is to be with your children, so I urge you to support a national policy to support women who need a paycheck but want more than 12 weeks to bond with their child.  This is a social problem, not a personal one.

Katrina’s book gave me hope.  I am not alone in my journey through working full-time and trying to be a mom.  When I went back to work earlier this year after Lydia was born I felt isolated, anxious and desperate.  I thought I was crazy because I couldn’t handle the pressure of “doing it all” and now I know, a lot of other women can’t either.

If you are a working mom and often feel alone in your journey, I urge you to read this book.  It gave me tremendous peace to know that others have come before me and felt the same way.  I almost felt like I was reading a book about my life just set in a different town.  It is very rare that I connect to a book like I did with this one!

You can find Katrina blogging at Working Moms Break and you can get involved at  Momsrising which is “a network of people just like you, united by the goal of building a more family-friendly America.”


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  1. I am fortunate to be able to stay home with my son…and I just can’t imagine having to work my previous 50 hour week and be a mom at the same time. I’m heart feels so sad for the women who have to split their time! And you’re right…women, especially mothers, simply aren’t valued in our country! 🙁

    1. I am so happy for you that you can stay home with your son! Enjoy every single moment 🙂

  2. For the last several years I was lucky enough to have my parents living down the street from me. Since they’ve moved over the summer, I am just now realizing the stress and being a working mom. I have developed a strong desire to stay home with my kid and I have realized just how much my mom really handled for me. They’re still close enough if I’m really in a bind, but not close enough to just fill in the gaps while I’m at work like they used to. I just started The Mother of All Meltdowns, but I added this one to the eBooks wishlist for my next read. Thanks for your post!!

    1. I wish you luck with your adjustment 🙂 I have both my mom and mother-in-laws help so I can appreciate how much it must sting to lose that!

  3. I hear you loud and clear. I am a working mom who took a year off to be a SAHM. During that time, I was torn. I loved being home for my then 4 year old, but at the same time, I felt like I could be contributing a good work product somewhere … just not 40 hrs/week. The “in-between” is missing.

    I’m now back at work, full-time, but I am a writer, so I’m lucky enough to get to work from home. You’re right – this is not a personal issue, but a social one!

    1. The “in-between” is totally missing! Women who work part-time often put in the same amount of effort and output as full-time employees just so they can prove themselves and yet their hourly rate is hit significantly. Americans, especially American moms are penalized in the workplace for choosing part-time!

  4. Monica Leite says:

    Monica this is a great post! I used to be on one side of the battlefield of the mommy wars when my son who is soon to be 16 was little, but now that I’m older and raising my 5 year old I find more joy in sharing instead of comparing my mommy experiences.
    I keep hearing (even when my son was little) and still today hear or read about a lot of gold stars being handed out to the mom’s that stay at home with their kids, but I’ve learned that I am still an awesome mom even though I work, and my kids seem to be no different than those of the mom’s that stay at home. Simply put today I choose to work and I like it. I don’t earn a huge income and it is challenging to juggle things but for me I prefer working for many reasons.

    I’m not knocking the mom’s that stay at home or those that left the work world to stay at home, I’m merely putting a voice out there for those working mom’s to say there is a lot of great things about being a working mom and it should not be frowned upon. For those of you who are working mom’s either by choice or not should wear your badge of honor just as proud as everyone else, I promise you, you are being a great role model for you kids in different ways.


  5. Thanks so much for your honest and thoughtful post! You’ve given ALL moms food for thought! The mommy wars rage on, even when the kiddos are teenagers…Then you’re warring over “select” sports teams and getting into the “right” colleges. I’m really happy that you wrote about this! I’ve tried working and not working…Being a mom is tough, regardless!

    1. I’m glad you liked it! Being a mom is tough, that is why compassion for each other is so important!

  6. I am a single mom to 3 kids. I own my business and have a home office that I work out of. I decided in October of 2011 that I would be my own boss. Grant it…this is possible because my kids are school age and I have some time alone. It would have been hard to do this when they were in diapers! It has been a tough road (Mac n cheese or top ramen for dinner on more nights than I care to admit) and my kids and I have given up a lot to get to where we are today. Being a mom is the toughest job out there! Thanks Monica for writing your review. I will be sure to check out the book…I could use some much needed therapy for $9.99! 🙂

    1. Thanks for reading Ellen! Women who are self-employed have always inspired me, and you do it as a single mom? WOW!! Kudos!

  7. Thanks for sharing this book, I’ll have to check it out. I’m a single mom who works outside of the home and have been fortunate that I have a job that respects that I’m a mom first. I hate that women feel like we have to choose or feel like we are missing out on something with our choices.

  8. This does sound like a good book, but totally first world problems. Ha. I would still probably like it, even though I am a stay at home mom. And, I think that it’s admirable you are trying to have it all, but I don’t think we really can. I think it’s the lie society is trying to propagandize.

  9. I moved to the US from UK last year so was shocked to hear about maternity leave here. In Britain women can take 52 weeks, receiving 90% of their pay the first 6 weeks and then certain rates up to 39 weeks. I think it actually is mandatory to take a few weeks of maternity leave. I actually left my career when I had my twins as I was an international journalist and news editor. Basically I was on call 24/7 and if there was a major breaking story (such as a war/earthquake etc) I hardly left the newsroom.