Working Mom Jargon 101

S Ralph

By: Shannon Ralph

juggling everything

As a working mom, I often find myself torn between two very different cultures—the corporate culture and the mommy culture. I am a participant in both, but I don’t really seem to entirely fit in with either.

When I am at work, I find myself feeling out of touch with my childless coworkers who breeze in at 7:30AM, impeccably dressed, hair perfectly coiffed, nursing a $5 latte. Most days, I slither in at five after eight in mismatched socks, bagel crumbs on my chin, nursing a bottle of Robitussin® for the wet cough my germ-infested children shared. Try as I might, I am not one of those shiny people with their high heels and bright eyes and phlegm-free lungs.

But I am not a full participant in the mommy culture either. I rush home from the office at 5:00PM. After a full day away from my children, I have dinner to cook, baths to give, and homework to agonize over. I must impart a full day of parenting in a matter of a couple short hours. There is no time for Mommy & Me yoga. There is no time for Story Hour at the public library. There is no time for Toddler Tuesdays at the mall. There is no time for science museums or art museums or those petri dishes otherwise known as children’s museums. There is no time for coffee with my mommy friends.

There is no time.

Much of my scarce mental capacity these days is spent trying to find ways to reconcile the two different worlds in which I live. I have learned that language is often key in bringing worlds together.

These days, I consider myself bilingual. At home, I speak in grunts—simple, barely intelligible English. (Turn it down. Feed dog. Brush teeth. Stop hitting brother.) In my job as a Business Analyst for a global Fortune 500 company, I speak in corporate jargon—complex sentences that are only barely recognizable as English. (I would love to assist you with bucketizing your deliverables, but as the point person and SME in charge of training core competencies, I simply do not have the bandwidth at this time.)

I’ve noticed, however, that there are certain terms which can be successfully utilized in both worlds. Perhaps merging the language of parenting with the language of the workplace will result in easing the struggles of working parents. Maybe we will feel more in tune with both worlds if we speak the same language?

I have outlined and defined 20 corporate terms I believe can be easily assimilated into parenting. Feel free to use them as needed.

Deep dive:

  • Corporate – Extensive exploration of a topic, generally sufficiently tedious to kill all interest.
  • Parenting – What a parent must do when her toddler tosses her iPhone 6 into the toilet.


  • Corporate – To organize information into logical groups.
  • Parenting – What one does with a foul diaper.

Take a step back:

  • Corporate – To pause reflectively as you try to figure out where the hell it all went wrong.
  • Parenting – What a parent must do—despite all instincts to the contrary—when her refusal to spend $300 on a pair of UGG boots for her tween is met with a booming “I hate you!” in the middle of a crowded mall.

Pain point:

  • Corporate – Problem.
  • Parenting – Stepping on your 10th Lego of the day.

Aha! moment:

  • Corporate: A surprising realization. The moment where your boss proclaims “Eureka!” despite the numerous times you’ve told him the exact thing he is finally realizing.
  • Parenting – The moment you forfeit your individuality and accept that you will forever and always been known as “Sophie’s mom.”

I hear what you’re saying:

  • Workplace: LALALALALALALA – I can’t hear you!
  • Parenting: LALALALALALALA – I can’t hear you!


  • Corporate: Agreement or understanding.
  • Parenting – What the zipper on your child’s coat refuses to do at 7:00AM as you are trying to rush him out the door because he is late for school and you are late for work.


  • Corporate – As soon as possible. In an unreasonable amount of time.
  • Parenting – A term that does not exist in the vernacular of your meandering toddler.


  • Corporate – A key fact, point, or idea to be remembered—typically one emerging from a discussion or meeting.
  • Parenting – The Chinese food you picked up on the way home from work because you cannot, for the love of God, look at another frozen fish stick!

Circle back:

  • Corporate – Revisit or discuss later.
  • Parenting – What you must do when your child leaves his beloved lovey at a rest stop in rural Wisconsin.

It is what it is:

  • Corporate – It’s not my turn to care.
  • Parenting – I give up! Eat the damn cat food!


  • Corporate: A conclusion arrived at with little or no mental effort and presented as obvious.
  • Parenting: A term used to describe the mental state of the parent of a newborn.


  • Corporate – Discussing administrative or management tasks.
  • Parenting – The dishes, laundry, vacuuming, and dusting that will never—NEVER, I SAY!—be completed.


  • Corporate – A trip to a picturesque location, far from your normal cubicle space, for the express purpose of being shut up in an airless conference room with your coworkers to “align” and “circle back.”
  • Parenting – The 20-minute drive home from the office alone in your car—the only time in your entire day when you are not at the mercy of your boss or your children.


  • Corporate – Presenting the appearance of doing several things at once while accomplishing nothing.
  • Parenting – Parenting!

Core competency:

  • Corporate – The one thing we have not yet managed to screw up as a team.
  • Parenting – The “new math” that renders you a complete idiot incapable of helping your 3rd grader with her math homework.

Point person:

  • Corporate – The member of a project team who is specifically designated to ignore your emails.
  • Parenting – A term used to describe your child when he mortifies you by pointing at overweight people…and handicapped people…and people of a different race…and that woman in the grocery store with the enormous mole on her nose.

Subject Matter Expert (SME):

  • Corporate – The rare person who actually understands her job.
  • Parenting – What your tween suddenly becomes when you try to tell her anything at all about any topic at all.


  • Corporate – Measurement of success.
  • Parenting – Worldwide standard of measurement you never learned as a child because Americans are pigheaded. Your child won’t learn it either unless he grows up to become a nuclear scientist. (And if his science grade is any indication….hahaha!)

Forward thinking:

  • Corporate – Progressive. Favoring innovation and development.
  • Parenting – Willing and able to make up shit on the fly.

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