This annoying thing happens every time I bring my daughter to the doctor for one of her wellness visits. Our pediatrician goes through her regular questions related to our family and home life, presumably checking off some required health insurance list, and we get to the part where she asks me if I’m home with the kids. For the tenth time, I remind her that no, my kids are in daycare because my husband and I both work full time outside the home, and then she proceeds to spend the next five minutes telling me how wonderful she thinks that is, how much she supports working mothers, and that I’m doing a great job.
For the tenth time I nod in agreement, I smile, I say thanks for the support, but deep down I’m frustrated as hell because I already know this. See, I have no qualms about working, and it bothers me that she feels it’s her obligation to convince me of this because society has made most working moms feel otherwise.
I love being a working mom, and guess what? I don’t feel guilty about it.
Sure, being a working mom means I often feel other things like really stressed, exhausted, and overwhelmed… But not guilty. I don’t feel like I’m less close with my children than the mothers I know who stay home with them. I don’t feel like I have missed any milestones or haven’t been able to teach them things. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the Pre-school I pay quite handsomely each month has a much better grasp on teaching children how to spell than I do.
And so it drives me crazy when I hear so many working moms say they love working, but they feel so guilty about it.
But I get why…
Our society, our workplaces, even other moms fuel this notion that a “good” mother is one who puts her children before her career. Not only is this false, it’s sexist, it’s incredibly unfair and oftentimes elitist, as for many, staying home is not financially viable.
Oh and also, it’s bull shit. Ready to have your mind blown?
Today about 70% of mothers work, up from 47% in 1975 (source) and yet mothers today average almost twice the number of minutes spent with their children, per day than in the 1960s. PS. Fathers’ time has nearly quadrupled!
Time spent with children involves everything from preparing their meals and snacks to feeding and bathing them, changing diapers and clothes, putting them to bed, getting up in the middle of the night, unpaid babysitting, providing medical care, reading and playing with them, as well as supervising and helping with homework. (Source)
How is this possible? Well we can all agree that we haven’t gained hours in the day, instead what we’ve inevitably given up to make these numbers work is time to ourselves, time with our partners, our friends, time for exercise, time for mindfulness, and time to veg out on the couch and watch The Bachelor uninterrupted. And while I am not here to say that these sacrifices are healthy, okay maybe the last one is, I personally believe that as a working mom with eight hours of the day already spoken for, I’m able and willing to give up some of these other things temporarily if it means I can be with my kids.
And so I do. And it’s full of quality, it’s totally worth it, and it works for all of us.
So no, we can’t technically have it all right now, but I do believe that as moms we sure as hell can work, we can stay home, we can mix and match however we see fit, and we can all happily eat our cake with our kids too. Save the guilt for the calories, mamas.