I am a working mom. I have worked steadily since I was 16 years old. When my boys were born, I worked part time around my husband’s schedule. I returned to full time work when my youngest son was in 1st grade. I am unapologetic and do not feel guilty. Society tells me that I should feel guilty. Goodness knows that there are enough articles and morning shows about working mom guilt. I think it is time that those of us who don’t feel guilty are heard. I want a TV segment entitled, “Proud Working Moms Who Raised Good Children.”
I grew up with a stay-at -home mom. I believe that my mother was very happy being home. My mother was where she felt she needed to be and that fulfillment made her a good mother. Much to her credit, she knew that being home might not be the choice made by her daughters who were growing up in a different era. My parents wanted us to be happy and to have options. I knew that there was an expectation that I would go to college. My parents gave me two great gifts – that college education and their example of striving to be great parents.
Great parents come in many forms but, I believe, are all rooted in the same psychological place. Great parents work to be complete and fulfilled humans in their own right. Both working moms and stay-at-home moms have the same potential to feel fulfilled in their worlds. No one is less than anyone else and there is no right answer. Whether we work because we need to contribute to the household income or because we simply enjoy having a career, working moms are doing what they need to do. There is no reason to apologize for that.
I know myself well enough to know that I need a life outside my family. It makes me happy. I am a better wife and mother when I am authentically me and I know that I am someone who is fulfilled from being in the working world. I need to have an identity separate and apart from my family. My boys are 16 & 20 years old. At this point in our lives, I actually have two careers. I am a school director and I write, lecture & facilitate workshops about parenting & education. My husband and children are excited that my career is going so well and in so many different directions. Over the years – especially when we are on vacation – I have teased my family about changing course and staying home. My boys have always emphatically said, “NO!” They tell me that I would be bored. They say, “That’s not you, Mom.” They know me well. They are two well-adjusted, self-aware young men who would tell you that they haven’t suffered from growing up in a household with two busy, working parents. It’s time for people to stop trying to justify their own choices, fears or lack of understanding by pointing at ours and passing judgment. Maybe that TV segment should be called, “I Don’t Care How You Structure Your Family and You Shouldn’t Care About Mine.”
Cindy Terebush, Early Education Consultant & Speaker
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