It was my first week back after mat leave and as I was fast-walking out the door at 5 p.m. on my race to daycare pick up, a colleague, whom I hadn’t seen in a year, greeted me with “oh right, you’re on mommy hours now.”
Mommy hours?! You mean the schedule where you start your day at 5 a.m. sleep-deprived and in the office before 8 a.m. getting sh*t done before you’ve even poured your first cup of coffee?
Of course I screamed this in my head hours later.
But that moment years ago, my first taste of ‘working mom reality,’ came back to me last night at the preview screening of CBC’s new comedy Workin’ Moms. The series premieres tonight, Tuesday, January 10 at 9:30 p.m.
Starring show creator and director and mom-of-two Catherine Reitman, Workin’ Moms follows the mom life of four women who become friends at a typical but oh-so-true judge-y mom’s group in Toronto. (Yes, it’s shot in Toronto as Toronto!)
The story is drawn largely from Reitman’s own experience returning to work “too soon” (her words) after her first was born, suffering from postpartum depression and in the midst of an identity crisis. (A scene of after-hours meeting is based on a real-life breaking point that kickstarted the idea of this show.)
Kate, Reitman’s character has just returned to her role as a PR exec after a nine-month mat leave, nanny at home, breast pump in hand, and a whole lot of excitement, anxiety and guilt about this new mom-work reality. Written and shot by a majority female cast and crew, Kate’s story unfolds alongside that of Anne (Dani Kind), a strong-willed no-nonsense mom-of-two who is facing a big family change, Frankie (Juno Rinaldi) who is struggling with postpartum depression, and Jenny (Jessalyn Wanlim), a mom who admits that she doesn’t really want to go back to work.
Whether or not your motherhood has followed their storylines, or whether you’re even a mother, you have to applaud CBC’s effort in trying to present the raw and honest chaos and struggles of women and mothers – bare breasts and all.
It left me feeling enraged, uncomfortable and yes judging some of the characters’ choices; shocked perhaps naively at how unsupportive colleagues and other moms can be; inspired at that mama-bear mental and physical strength; uplifted at the hilarity of so many aspects of mom-life; horrified at the thought of spilled breast milk; and so sad. There are some dark moments and for me it hit hardest at the end of the second episode – wait and see.
And this is all a good thing. I hope that each episode will fuel more of these emotions, and more importantly get people talking about them.
Being a ‘working parent’ period isn’t black or white and I hope that this series will illustrate that and encourage more honesty and creativity in how society perceives working parents, and ultimately how parents parent and manage their passion for work and family.