Choosing to be a working mom is not an easy decision for a lot of us. The decision could already be made for us based on finances, but it doesn’t make it any easier. It is important to make sure that we are confidently making the decision for ourselves and our family and not because of outside influences.
I teach high school English and I love my job. Absolutely love it. There is something about it that energizes me and gets me excited to go to work every day. Some days it’s hard knowing my little girl is having fun learning new things at daycare and not with me, but I can’t imagine not teaching. It is a nice breather from home and a great reminder of how important my little family is to me.
Filter Out the Negative
With that said though, my confidence in my decision would shake at times when people would ask me why I wasn’t staying home, when I would quit my job, or if I had to work because my husband didn't make enough money. It could be hard when a new teacher would join our team and mention that she had taken time away from teaching to raise her kids, or -- heaven forbid -- that, “I just didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of someone else raising my kids.” It cut deep. I would think, do they really believe I am not raising my own child? Is it okay that I just want to work and be a mom too?
I knew what I was doing was right for me and my family, yet questions and comments like that still bothered me. It was important for me to realize remarks like theirs weren’t made to make me feel bad. If other women chose to stay home, that was best for them and it didn’t need to be a source of guilt or competition for me. Maybe the women who made those comments had seen situations where children truly were raised by people other than their parents because their mothers worked outside of the home, but that wasn’t my example.
Take Comfort From Good Examples
I grew up in a home with a working mother and father. I felt equally loved and paid attention to by both. I never felt neglected or that their work mattered more than me. Seeing my mother take pride in her job made me proud of her. She instilled a love of learning in me and made me set goals early on to become whomever I wanted to be. My mom found immense fulfillment as a mother and accomplishment in her career. She had both, just like my dad.
My parents raised me -- regardless of a few hours or weekends I spent in daycares, with nannies, or at my aunt’s home. That wasn’t the question. The question turned into how did my parents raise me in a way that I knew I was a priority even with both of them working? It was just that -- I knew my brother and I were priority over everything else. If I had a doctor’s appointment or gymnastics meet, they would request that time off to be there. If something spur of the moment came up, they would try and trade around to get the time off.
My dad dropped us off at my aunt's once before a work trip and minutes afterwards my brother hurt his foot pretty bad. We called my dad and my dad called his work and said, "Sorry someone else has to go. I have to be with my son." When we started school my mom changed jobs and only worked the weekends so she could be there to drop us off and pick us up.
Provide Consistency in Love
I saw both of my parents working to provide for me and working to show how important I was to them. When I was with them, I was with them. They didn’t bring work home and ignore my brother and me. There was always a consistency in love, even with sporadic work schedules.
Remembering everything that my parents did for my brother and me growing up gives me the confidence that I can work and be a mother too. It puts me at ease knowing not everyone’s story is that of a working mom not actually raising her own children. I had a wonderful childhood to on which to base my kids' childhoods!
Is it going to be easy? No, but is any way of parenting easy? No way. Could my parents have done it differently and made my brother feel less important than their work? Totally, but that wasn’t the case and it won’t be the case for my littles either.
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