My husband and I have been married for six years but for 40 hours a week, I’m pledged to another. She’s a colleague with whom I’ve shared an office for the past 10 years and who’s affectionately referred to around our workplace as my “work wife.” No, we’re not entangled in a lusty office affair; our relationship is strictly platonic, but as another working mother, she supports and encourages me in ways that my “home husband” can’t, like:
1. She makes Mondays much better. Between rushing out of the house to start the week and dealing with a sense of sadness that our weekend family time is over, I often struggle with Monday mornings. But as soon as I enter my office, I am greeted with a warm smile and a sincere interest in my weekend. And as we eagerly catch each other up on what we’ve missed, I am quickly reminded that my workweek relationships mean a lot to me as well.
2. She has my back. Who takes over for me when I’m home with my sick daughter and have a work deadline to meet? Who offers to pick up my child if my husband and I can’t get to daycare in time? Who talks me through project-related problems? My work wife. In today’s workplace, where there’s more competition than cooperation, it’s so comforting to know that instead of vying for promotions and praise, she serves as my safety net, there to catch me if I fall.
3. She understands my work-life balance struggles. She’s a working mother, too, so she recognizes how hard it is to be both a mom and an employee. And lucky for me, she’s gone through it first. She’s the one who advised me on the best way to arrange my pumping schedule and suggested I choose full-time daycare instead of part-time. Anytime I feel overwhelmed with juggling working and motherhood, I know she’s a sympathetic and understanding ear.
4. She inspires me. My work wife is awesome (I know, I’m biased), both in the office and at home. At work, she’s smart, bold and assertive. Watching her professional successes doesn’t make me envious—it motivates me to work harder and push beyond my current limits. And she’s just as inspirational when it comes to motherhood. She cherishes every moment with her daughters in ways I’m still learning how to do and her dedication to breastfeeding was probably one of the biggest reasons why I nursed for as long as I did.
5. She reminds me that I’m a good employee. Since becoming a working mother, I often worry how my personal life has altered the employee I used to be. I’m not able to work as late and or travel as easily as before. I have to call out whenever my daughter is sick and I am often running on disrupted sleep. But whenever I start to doubt myself, my work wife is there to point out all of my strengths.
6. She reminds me that I’m a good mother. What working mother doesn’t question how working is affecting their parenting? During my first months back from maternity leave, I worried about whether or not I was making the right decision to leave my baby at such a young age. And one day, I came into work to find a simple but powerful gift left for me by my work wife: a mug that read, “You are a good mom. That’s all.” And that’s all I needed to know.