This year I had a baby and became a first time mom. I’m a mom to a beautiful, spunky little girl who is the light of my life. Before my little girl came into this world I also had another baby…my career. I had invested a lot of time, money, and energy into building my career. I obtained a Master’s degree from a top business school and shortly after started working for a Fortune 500 company at a job that I loved.
I have always been one of those women who wanted a career. I wanted to earn my own money and be able to contribute to my family financially. Once I found out I was pregnant with a little girl I had daydreams of showing her how she could be a strong, independent woman. I wanted to show her that, if she chose to do so, she could successfully have a family and career.
Having my little girl made me question my desire to have a career for the very first time in my life. As I mentally prepared to return to work from maternity leave so many questions ran through my mind. Would my daughter one day resent me for not staying at home? If I did stay home would she resent me for our family not being able to afford the luxuries she could have if I did work? Could I be fulfilled staying home? Would I be disengaged at work constantly thinking about her?
Once I returned to work from maternity leave I quickly realized my passion for work again and knew in my heart that I was doing the right thing for me and my family. What helped me the most with the transition was finding an enormous amount of support from other working moms. Many of these women acknowledged that even though they love their careers it was still hard to be away from their kids. When they had a bad day at work they sometimes fantasized about staying at home, even though they knew that, for them personally, having a career made them happier mothers. Many of these working moms experienced “mommy guilt” being a working mother. The mommy guilt could be from traveling away from their family on a work trip, missing bedtime because they had to work late, or even going to have drinks with girlfriends after work in order to maintain a social life.
Many of these moms all had different stories of why they worked too. Some couldn’t afford to stay at home and they had to work. Some women had invested years of hard work to build successful careers that they didn’t want to let go of. Some women were proud to show their children the role model of a mother who is a strong, working woman. These women made me realize that all of the feelings I had about being a working mom, both positive and negative, were all very normal!
I respect a woman no matter what her choice is. Whether she chooses to stay at home, has no choice other than to work, or has a high power career for her own fulfillment, we are all moms. As mothers I encourage all of us to stop buying into the debate of what is better, to work or to stay at home. The most important thing as women…as mothers…is that we support each other.
For the first time in my life my work isn’t just for me and my own success, it is for my little girl. My little girl can hold the world in the palm of her hand as long as I show her how to do it. Maybe one day she will end up with a successful career or maybe she will end up staying at home with her own kids, but when she gets to that point in her life I’ll be happy to look back knowing that I followed my heart as a working mom. And that is why I choose to work.
Kristen, great perspective. I look forward to reading your upcoming posts on this topic. My twin boys are 6, and I still have many, many days where I miss being with them or being the one to pick them up from school. I remind myself that family time should be about quality time, and not to obsess about the quantity of time we have vs. other families.
Alissa, I totally know what you mean! You are right that the quality of the time is what counts. I always remind myself as long as my daughter is happy and thriving then I am doing a good job as a mother. I too feel guilty when I can’t leave work early to pick her up from daycare or on days when I can’t stay home with her if she is sick and my husband has to instead. To make my time with her quality time I work to be fully present and engaged with her. I wait to focus on answering work emails, texts and engaging on social media in the evenings until after she goes to bed! You’re doing a good job mama!
Thank you for talking about the working mom guilt. I was lucky to be able to stay home with my daughter for the first year of her life. At 12 months she went to daycare and I went back to work full-time. I miss her every day. I constantly question if I am doing the right thing and if I should have stayed home with her. It’s hard. When I feel sad about it I remind myself of all the positives about her being in full-time daycare, and me working:
– we love her daycare, they are wonderful and awesome and we feel totally comfortable leaving her there 5 days a week, 8 hours a day
– more importantly my daughter loves her daycare (we call it “school”). She is excited to go and frequently just wants to keep playing when I pick her up
– she is learning SO MUCH at daycare. Her vocabulary, motor skills, everything is rapidly developing.
– the socialization is so good for her, she has many friends and is used to playing with kids her own age
– having two incomes instead of just my husband’s allows us to do more things
Looking forward to more posts from you Kristen!
Meg, you take the words right out of my mouth! I too remind myself of everything you just listed when I am having a hard day and missing my daughter while she is at daycare. My daughter learns so much at daycare. She started crawling before she was even 8 months old and I swear it is because her daycare worked with her on it so closely! I always love the socialization part as well and the two incomes means I can give her life experiences that she would not be able to get if we were just on my husband’s income. Thank you for your comments!
Thank you so much for posting such honest and telling truths as working moms, but most importantly, as Moms period. I just went back to work full-time after having an extended maternity leave with my first, my daughter. I’ve been finding the transition somewhat difficult and I miss my daughter every minute of every day I’m at work, but also know that she is receiving great care and learning and growing in profound ways. I’ve been career focused for the majority of my life, pre-baby, and this new role as working-mom is a new and sometimes scary road, but one I know is right for me and my family. Thank you for sharing your experience and encouraging working moms that it’s okay to have a career, a family, and dreams! You’re so right, no matter what choices moms make, to stay at home or work, we’re all moms and we’re in it together and need to support one another! I look forward to reading more of your posts! Thank you!
Carrie, it is definitely a difficult transition to go back to work. We are leaving the lights of our lives in the care of others, but continue to work and follow our dreams so we can set the example for them that they can do the same! Women need to support each other no matter what our choice or circumstance is! It’s a wild journey no matter what path we take, to work or stay at home, but we are better mothers if we support each other! Thank you for your comments!
It is so great to see the working mom perspective on TCMB and so nice to know we’re not alone! I am also a working mom who is passionate about her little 15 month old daughter and her 7+ year career. I know “mommy guilt” all too well and working in a male-dominated engineering environment, my coworkers don’t necessarily understand the struggle of being a working mom. I am lucky to have some awesome working mom friends who have been extremely encouraging and a very supportive husband who continuously reminds me that I AM a good mom when I begin to doubt my decisions. You and the other ladies who have commented listed all of the things I remind myself of during those hard days too (blessed with amazing daycare, able to provide a life for her that I am proud of, etc.).
I love that you remind us that it is not a competition for who is being Mom best or is that Mom making the right decision. We are all mothers. All different. Our children are different too. And we’re all trying to do what is right for our families and that is different for each family.
Looking forward to reading more from you. Thank you! (:
I love how you say “We are all mothers. All different. Our children are different too. And we’re all trying to do what is right for our families and that is different for each family.” This is so spot on that I want to print it and frame it to have at my desk at work! It is so true. We are all mothers with different children and different families, who are all on different journeys through life. As mothers we do what we feel is the best for our family and the journey we are on with them!
Continue to always remind yourself that you are a good mom. I am happy to hear that you are able to find support through other working mothers and a supportive husband. You are blessed!
Thanks Kristen! I say you should frame it and set it up at work. I will do the same. Mommy mantra, per se.
Hope you have a good week!