Why I won’t apologize for being a working mom anymore

daughter-watchingThe paper had to be a few years old. I could tell by the scrawling penmanship, the misspelled words. It was from a long past Mother’s Day, one of those sheets kids are given to fill out about their moms.

One line jumped out.

“My mom always …”

In a kindergartner or first grader’s messy scrawl was the word “works.”

“My mom always works.”

For a second, I cringed. The all too familiar angst of mom guilt flooded in, and I could feel myself slipping into full wallow.

Shouldn’t that sentence have ended with something about love or hugs? Wasn’t there supposed to be something mushy and gushy, some sign that she knows she’s adored beyond belief? Am I failing my kid, I wondered, in the way every mother in America asks herself at least three times a day.

But then I looked around her bedroom, at the American Girl dolls propped up in a netting strung from the wall, at the bed covered in warm flannel sheets, at the basket of clean clothes ready to be stowed away in drawers, at the three bookshelves filled to bursting.

I did that. All of it.

Sure, my husband helped. He too works a lot and hard. But as a working mom, I help put food on our table and oil in our furnace. I bought those warm flannel sheets and those bookshelves — all three of them.

I love my daughter, fiercely and like nothing else in this world. That’s how it should be.

But I love to work too. I love to run my hands furiously across a keyboard, knowing that the words spewing forth can make a difference for someone out there. I love having a say in how a website is shaped, decisions that people may never know I made but will reap the benefits of anyway. And I love the paychecks I receive as much for what they stand for as what they do: they’re proof positive that I do something useful every day.

This is not a knock on stay at home moms. Far from it. They do wonderful things for their kids every day.

I do too — in my own way — and that’s a gift to my daughter. It’s true that  I’ve “always” worked, from the time I returned to the paper seven weeks after giving birth. But I’m not going to be guilty for showing her my love for her in the things I provide with my work but also for showing her a love for myself and for what I do.

I only hope that one day she finds something she wants to “always” work at too.

 

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