In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had several well-intentioned people in my life say something to me that I have found quite hurtful. Their comments were not in reference to me but, being a working momma myself, I couldn’t help but feel stung by their words. “I don’t want to be a parent that let’s someone else raise my children,” “I’m not going to drop my kids off at daycare and not think of them the rest of the day,” and “I want to be the one making decisions in my child’s life.” Each remark was different but each seemed to have the same underlying tone: that working parents aren’t active participants in raising their children.
I try not to let comments like these get to me. After all, we each have our own value system that includes wide ranging and varying degrees of priorities. As I’ve said 1,000 times, what’s right for our family isn’t the same thing that’s right for someone else’s. But, it makes me sad that some people feel that’s what working parents’ lives look like; that we are spectators in our children’s lives and our children aren’t at the top of our priority list. I promise you, if I felt like I wasn’t the primary influencer and caretaker of my son, I wouldn’t be working. It would be that simple. We have an amazing support system and employers who place a priority on family. Childcare providers that we communicate with daily, love N like he’s their own, and who work with us to make the right decisions for N aid in our efforts. In my life, these contributors make being a working mom possible.
I also know that choosing to be a working parent isn’t right for every mom or dad. But, I respect this and try to be aware of how my opinions and words affect other people. And, I certainly don’t criticize or condemn stay at home parents. Whatever the decision, I imagine it is a difficult process for most parents to work through. Though different, there are wonderful joys and debilitating struggles that are a product of either experience.
As I thought more about these comments, I realized at the end of the day, no opinion matters outside of N, Seano and mine. So, here’s what I hope N can say about his working mom when he’s grown:
1. I did not feel less loved because I had two working parents.
Seano and I work really hard to make our time with N count. We hug, kiss, love, discipline, teach, encourage free thinking…you get the gist. We de-prioritize other things that, maybe, aren’t really priorities, ask or pay for help where we can, and give love to N freely during the hours and hours we are together.
2. You still made me the priority.
Seano and I established values for our family, with N and each other being number one. Although sometimes difficult, we work hard to be true to this priority. I hope this is clear to N through our daily words and actions.
3. I understand I had opportunities I may have missed if I didn’t have two working parents.
For our family, losing my income would affect our lifestyle. I expect this is the same for many families today. The cost of living is rising faster than middle class wages and it’s becoming harder and harder to live on one income. I’ve heard people say, “All a child needs is love.” While that’s a nice sentiment, I believe they need much more to thrive and feel safe.
4. You provided a strong example of work ethic.
I work hard at all that I do including being a mom, wife, daughter, friend, homemaker, leader, and an employee. I have never been incredible at anything (I’m not saying this for pity). But, I have had many wonderful opportunities, experiences and successes because I work hard. I know the things worth having sometimes require an extraordinary amount of work. If it’s something important to him, I hope N is always willing to put in the work.
5. I know it was one of the hardest decisions you ever made.
Someday, when N is grown, I know he will understand that deciding to be a working mom was one of the hardest decisions I have ever made. But, I don’t expect him to know this until he is a parent himself. Because, before I was, I didn’t even have a clue.
6. I am a better person because of my education and social experiences early in life.
Children learn and absorb so much from birth to three years. Therefore, the exposure to experiences and education during this time is critical and is a major influencer on their life.
7. I know women can be both successful professionals and awesome mothers.
As I assume with many parents, I’m trying to teach my son by example. I want him to see that my words and actions are aligned. I want him to trust me when I tell him being a mother was my greatest joy but not my only one. And, I want him to see that it is truly possible to be successful at both.
8. I am proud of your professional accomplishments.
While I am sure raising N will be my biggest accomplishment and, hopefully, what I’m most proud of, I hope HE is proud of me too. At our wedding, my dad said, “You’ve made it in life when you’ve made both your parents and your children proud.” I hope he sees my accomplishments, other than him, and knows they are a result of dedication, a commitment to growing and learning, and a strong work ethic.
9. I am a better and more well-rounded person.
Ugh, isn’t this why we do what we do as parents? To raise compassionate, loving, engaging, and interesting people. And, although many families wouldn’t make the same decisions as ours, I truly believe we are all aiming for a similar goal. So, friends, whatever your choice may be, keep working hard for that desired result and happy parenting!
Professional photos in the post credited to Corrie L. Photography.
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